Yes, you can still buy Great Plains accounting software; it just has a different name.
Change is hard. People who “grew up” in finance departments using Great Plains software still call the software “Great Plains” even though the name officially changed to Microsoft Dynamics GP over a decade ago. (Great Plains Historical Timeline).
In all honesty, I still call it Great Plains too, even though technically I know I shouldn’t.
Here are a few milestones in the software’s name:
Great Plains software released Dynamics 1.0 in February 1993.
Microsoft purchased Great Plains in 2001 for over $1 billion
The name was changed to Microsoft Business Solutions – Great Plains in 2003
Then the current name was introduced as Microsoft Dynamics GP in 2005
The software has certainly improved over the years, but the core features users loved about Great Plains software are still the same. Dynamics GP is still a stable, core financial system that just works.
New Tools for a New Era
Of course, a major change over the years from Great Plains to Microsoft Dynamics GP is that now there is much more advanced functionality. There is a much tighter integration to the Microsoft Office components such as Excel and Word. When Microsoft purchased Great Plains in 2001 that was one of the big areas of investment.
There are also new tools in Dynamics GP like Safe Pay, which allows for electronic funds transfers and online bill pay. There was no need for that in the old Great Plains days.
My favorite improvement was the release of SmartList for Dynamics GP. This allows users to be more independent and empowered to build their own reports and find their own data without going to their programming department.
However I think in retrospect, what’s really changed the most is the way you buy Dynamics GP software vs. the old Great Plains. You get much more with Dynamics GP than you did in the past with Great Plains, and you’re actually paying much less.
Let me explain:
A New Way to Buy
Software packages in the ’80s, in the DOS era, were very simple. You basically bought just what you needed for a specific number of users and everybody used the software in the same way. But in the last 15 years the way you buy software has really changed. Not unlike our lives today.
Now, when you buy Dynamics GP you get the Starter Pack. This includes ALL the modules/functionality available. You don’t buy modules a la carte. So you end up getting a lot more software than you did in the past. On a typical implementation of Dynamics GP you may implement only a fraction of the modules that you actually own. Usually what is installed in Phase 1 are the core financial modules (General Ledger, Accounts Payable, Accounts Receivable, Bank Reconciliation).
In Phases 2, 3, 4 and beyond, you can start using the rest of the functionality you already own, such as Fixed Assets, Inventory, Bill of Materials and much more.
Double the Functionality for Half the Price
We started selling Great Plains when it was the DOS product back in 1997, and Windows product was very much in its infancy, (Version 3). At that time a typical distribution company that was purchasing Great Plains for five users needed to buy all of the financial modules as well as all of the supply chain modules. The cost of the Great Plains software alone was probably in the $25,000.00 to $30,000.00 range
Now if you purchase the Dynamics GP Starter Pack with three users for $5,000.00, and add two additional users at $3,000 each, the software price would be at $11,000. So you could conservatively say that for a small business you’re pretty much at half the price of 5 to 6 years ago. And that doesn’t even take into account that Microsoft regularly offers big discounts on the Dynamics GP software list price that we never saw for Great Plains.
Lower Learning Curve
Back in 1993 software was available, but many companies were just coming off manual-based paper systems which meant that the learning curve was much higher. Now when you switch to Dynamics GP from another software system you don’t have to learn the whole process, you just learn how to do it a different way. Plus, over the years the user interface has certainly improved so Dynamics GP is easier to learn and navigate.
Better Training, Bigger Community
In the old Great Plains days you could have personal training (in a classroom, not online) or you could get a printed manual, or a video to watch on your VCR. Now there is unlimited online training available to every user. Also there are thousands of YouTube videos and blog posts. And if you are still stuck you can post a question on a user forum or attend a user event.
Speaking of user events, the first Great Plains user event, call Convergence, was in Orlando in 1997 with 164 attendees. Last year in Atlanta there were 12,000 attendees at Convergence. That gives you an idea of the increase in scale.
Great Plains is Dynamics GP
There is no reason to try to compare Great Plains with Dynamics GP. The product is the same, just better and less expensive. How often has that happened in the last decade?
If you are interested in buying Great Plains give us a call, we know what you mean. CAL Business Solutions, 860-485-0910 x4. firstname.lastname@example.org
By George Mackiewicz, CAL Business Solutions, Dynamics GP (Great Plains) Partner, www.calszone.com
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