If you are evaluating Dynamic GP (Great Plains) accounting software, one question you might not think to ask in the beginning is, “How easy is the Dynamics GP upgrade process and how much will it cost?” But I can assure you, you will certainly ask that question later.

This question becomes especially important if you plan to customize the system or add industry specific functionality.  The good news is that you can plan now to make the upgrade process easier, and cheaper, later. Here are three real Dynamics GP upgrade stories you can learn from:

The Beekley Medical Upgrade Story – Distribution/Manufacturing

Consider Connecticut based Beekley Medical (a division of Beekley Corporation). As a manufacturer and distributor of disposable medical products, Beekley Medical had relied on Microsoft Dynamics GP for over a decade to support their financial, inventory and shipping infrastructure. A decade is a long time, and over the years Beekley Medical built out, or customized, the functionality in Dynamics GP to adapt to their business needs.

But then Beekley Medical hit a snag. The company decided to add Dynamics GP Manufacturing to their infrastructure, only that module required that they use the latest version of Microsoft Dynamics GP. Beekley Medical feared that in updating the core software, they would wipe away all the customizations they’d spent so long developing. Not to mention the expense that would be involved in such a complex upgrade.

So they turned to their partner, CAL Business Solutions, for a solution. Rather than update and completely rebuild Beekley Medical’s custom development, CAL recreated (and even simplified) that same functionality in a third-party add on tool called SalesPad. This gave the company the same solution as before with even more options. And a simple upgrade path.

“Over the years we had customized the actual Dynamics GP code to handle our unique pick/pack process. As a result we felt held back from upgrading to the latest version. Doing this customization in SalesPad, rather than in Dynamics GP, gives us so much more flexibility and simplifies the Dynamics GP upgrade process,” said Olga Glynos, Director of Finance and Technology at Beekley Corporation.

The lesson learned? Look for new ways to add the functionality you need, such as third party tools, to make upgrades smoother and less expensive.

Read the full Beekley Medical case study at: www.calszone.com/beekley

The PC Net Story – IT Services/Distribution

PCNet Inc. trusted Microsoft Dynamics GP (Great Plains) since 2002 to manage their technology and service business. Although they were happy with the platform, extensive customizations made to the source code made it difficult to upgrade to the current version. So this forward thinking technology company felt stuck on their own outdated systems.

In 2010 CAL Business Solutions presented SalesPad as a complimentary add on to Dynamics GP.  This solution allowed PCNet to upgrade to the latest version of Microsoft Dynamics GP then easily personalize the SalesPad system to fit their needs without making customization to Dynamics GP.

Eric Soto, Vice President General Manager, PCNET says, “The fact that we’re able to easily customize and personalize SalesPad based on our business processes and workflow,  that has been the biggest benefit for us.  We’ve done so many little tweaks along the way to constantly customize it to meet our needs.  I feel Microsoft Dynamics GP with SalesPad will benefit anybody who has a sales order process that needs to be customized for their business.”

The lesson? They customized SalesPad instead of the Dynamics GP source code which allowed them to upgrade Dynamics GP easily.

Read the full PCNet case study at: www.calszone.com/pcnet

The PrideStaff Upgrade Story – Staffing

PrideStaff is one of the nation’s fastest-growing temporary staffing organizations. PrideStaff struggled with an outdated front-office staffing system that did not integrate well with its Microsoft Dynamics GP back-office accounting system. Due to the staffing software’s slow pace of development, PrideStaff was forced to use older versions of Microsoft Dynamics GP.

“It was always very frustrating to hear about all the great things the latest version of Microsoft Dynamics GP could do and knowing we couldn’t take advantage of it because of the staffing system we were using,” said Christine Huebert, Controller, Pridestaff.

When the company implemented a new front-office software for the staffing industry they chose to work with Connecticut-based CAL Business Solutions to update and support its existing Microsoft Dynamics GP system and connect it to the new staffing system. CAL Business Solutions created a flexible integration tool that provides seamless data sharing between their staffing system and Microsoft Dynamics GP.  PrideStaff is now able to run the latest version of Microsoft Dynamics GP.

The lesson? Choose to work with industry specific packages that already integrate with your Dynamics GP system OR choose to work with a Dynamics GP partner experienced in creating new integrations if needed.

Read the full Pridestaff case study at: www.calszone.com/pridestaff

What can you learn from these Dynamics GP upgrade stories?

If you are in the ERP software selection process OR if you already own Dynamics GP, think about how you can simplify future upgrades.

1)    Look for alternatives to customizing the Dynamics GP source code.

2)    Add third party tools to handle industry specific processes. (www.calszone.com/marketplace)

3)    Work with a Dynamics GP partner that has experience creating integrations to other packages that can be easily upgraded. (Dynamics GP Integration Experts)

These three companies would all give you the same advice, plan now for a future Dynamics GP upgrade and you will thank yourself later.

By Anya Ciecierski, CAL Business Solutions, Connecticut Microsoft Dynamics GP partner Serving Distribution Companies.

Read original article at:  http://www.erpsoftwareblog.com/2013/12/3-customers-share-lessons-on-how-to-simplify-a-future-dynamics-gp-upgrade/