Mid-market Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solutions have transformed significantly over recent years to keep up with advances in technology. However, not all enterprise systems are created equally, and many are built on legacy software features that have not been fully upgraded. This distinction is important when comparing newer applications such as Acumatica against outdated systems like Microsoft Dynamics GP that are marketed as cloud ERP.
Formerly Great Plains, Dynamics GP has historically been Microsoft’s top accounting software for small-and-medium-sized businesses. As Microsoft began to shift its focus to the cloud, the tech giant did the same with GP as they had with other Dynamics products and incorporated a web-based interface to relabel it as a cloud ERP system. Conversely, Acumatica was built from the ground up as a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solution with additional options for private and on-premise hosting to provide users with true flexibility.
Here are the five most important points to consider when comparing Acumatica versus Microsoft Dynamics GP to choose the best ERP:
The history of an ERP product generally provides limited information on its current functionality, but it does help highlight the publisher’s strategy and give insight into which factors repeat themselves. When assessing a younger solution like Acumatica against the historically popular Dynamics GP, it is important to look at the developer’s approach to ensuring their product remains competitive. Acumatica has captured market share from aligning new technology with SMB and mid-market demands, while Microsoft Dynamics GP stood out as being one of the only solutions of its kind until recent times.
What is now Dynamics GP was originally developed by Great Plains Software, which was acquired by Microsoft in 2001. It was initially designed as a solution for a grain elevator by the North Dakota-based developer, yet eventually grew to make a significant impact on the SMB software market after the Microsoft purchase and with additional integrations added to its platform. However, the features that made it prevalent before have long since been surpassed by modern applications.
Acumatica Cloud ERP was officially launched in 2008, making it one of the youngest enterprise software systems on the market. Acumatica has managed to stand out through several unique factors, including a partnership with Amazon in the form of a joint Alexa integration project and featuring multiple former Microsoft executives among its leadership team – one of whom actually ran the Dynamics product line that GP is part of. While Microsoft is ploddingly attempting to bring legacy systems like Dynamics GP into the present, Acumatica is pushing forward with new technology and under the direction of those who know the weaknesses of outdated ERP solutions firsthand.
The primary selling point for both Acumatica and the aging Microsoft Dynamics GP has become the cloud accessibility featured in either solution. As previously mentioned, GP is a legacy system that has been reconfigured for web access, meaning that there are limitations to its cloud functionality. This a concern for any outdated solution that has been repurposed for Internet-facing capabilities, which can also create huge security gaps in networks connected to this software.
The most current version of Dynamics GP was upgraded yet again to feature on-premise, private hosting public hosting and hybrid implementations. However, it still operates on a user license model that does not feature native cloud configuration, which requires your business to go through more steps before you can add this functionality. An additional SharePoint license will have to be purchased in order to connect the solution to the cloud, adding another obstacle to gaining access to the Web through GP.
Acumatica was designed from the beginning to be a native cloud system in which all functions can be accessed directly through a web browser. The seamless environment within Acumatica allows data to be consolidated and delivered to users anywhere and in real-time, without having to go through multiple applications to gain entry to the cloud network as in Microsoft Dynamics GP. With multiple options for perpetual and subscription licenses that avoid user-based costs, and the ability to choose between private hosting or SaaS models that enable you to control upgrade and infrastructure ownership, Acumatica provides consistent and flexible access to the cloud.
The capacity of an enterprise system to be modular is an important factor in choosing the best ERP for your business. Out-of-the-box features may have to be complimented or adjusted as circumstances change or to meet individual criteria. As both Acumatica and Microsoft Dynamics GP are sold through partner channels, your business will rely on value-added resellers (VARs) to customize your solution.
Another downside of GP being an aging legacy system is that the programing language it is written is outdated and proprietary to the point where it is considerably more difficult to update. Customizations to Dynamics GP will inherently be more expensive as a result. It will also have a harder time working with third party software that uses a different development language and this will further add to the final price of modifying the system.
Acumatica Cloud ERP uses more standard programming languages such as .NET so that development is much easier with an experienced partner such as SWK Technologies. SWK is an award-winning Acumatica VAR with personnel who have recognized as experts in the cloud ERP community and firsthand experience in developing third party extensions for the solutions. As the top Acumatica partner with the highest number of subscriptions generated of a VAR and Independent Software Vendor (ISV), we can leverage our expertise and knowledge to ensure your migration to Acumatica Cloud ERP delivers the best value.
Besides customization, external applications may be required to extend your ERP into other areas of functionality that fit your business model. Software integrations allow enterprise solutions to be better positioned for specific proficiencies such as accounts payable automation or electronic data interchange (EDI). These add-ons deliver value by enabling you to mitigate time costs and other pain points through a centralized ERP system.
One of the biggest selling points of Dynamics ERP products is an easier integration with Microsoft Office applications. The ubiquity of Excel, Word, PowerPoint, etc. in multiple workspaces creates an image of a virtual stack that can be capitalized on; however, several competing systems already allow the incorporation of these programs, including Acumatica – Microsoft has even developed their own integrations for the cloud ERP solution. Given that Dynamics GP requires additional licenses to even add certain internal products, Acumatica may provide an easier integration with Microsoft Office depending on the level of customization.
Acumatica has been increasingly integrated with Microsoft products and even the Azure network with each new update so that it provides a seamless experience with your personal Office applications. The cloud solution also features additional compatibility with external applications that extend its functionality for individual processes and vertical requirements. Development by experienced Acumatica partners such as SWK will enable you to build your cloud ERP into a system that mirrors your processes.
5. Cost & Scalability
Cloud technology delivers the most value when alleviating costs and other pain points associated with traditional software installation and maintenance. Without the need for physical onsite hardware, SaaS ERP systems avoid historical upkeep expenses. They also provide greater flexibility in growing operations as the solution may be updated in real-time and without direct interaction by users.
Microsoft Dynamics GP follows an industry standard of employing user-based licenses that prices implementation per user. This increases costs as your business grows and forces you to include equipment concerns when evaluating your labor pool. Users will have to be limited to an optimal level or risk raising your total cost of ownership (TCO) for your ERP system.
Acumatica avoids these additional costs by forgoing the traditional user-based pricing and instead charging based on computing power. No matter which function they are accessing, an unlimited number of operators will be able to interact with your ERP system at any given point. This feature means that Acumatica Cloud ERP grows with you and will always reflect the level of functionality you pay for.
Acumatica vs Microsoft – Which is the Best Cloud ERP?
Acumatica Cloud ERP and Microsoft Dynamics GP are both viable options for SMBs looking to leverage increased connectivity and strong partner and user communities. However, GP relies on outdated technology covered up by new features, while Acumatica a true modern SaaS ERP that delivers scalability and seamless cloud functionality.
Read through Part 2 of our Cloud Migration series, featured as a guest post on Acumatica’s blog, to learn how the technical advantages of cloud ERP can deliver value to your business.
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