Updated: Apr 29, 2021
With temperatures slowly warming as Spring moves towards Summer, we continue to look forward to helping both you and your fellow GP users get the most from your Microsoft Dynamics GP business software system. We attempt to do so by providing information about your GP system that you may not be aware of. So read on below to learn about resources and tips that could hopefully permit you to do your job easier and more efficiently.
Integration Manager Update
I’m not sure if you’re familiar with the GP Integration Manager module, but Integration Manager has been a module that has been offered for Dynamics GP for over 20 years. This is Microsoft’s tool that can be used to bring data into Dynamics GP from an Excel file or any other data source.
When Microsoft introduced the new Ribbon command layout as a new feature in GP 2013 R2, it created a problem importing very large files using Integration Manager, and Integration Manager would error out. These errors didn't occur until approximately 1,000 records had been successfully imported, then the integration would fail at the same point every time.
Because IM is at heart a collection of 'macros on steroids', essentially mimicking a user with really fast typing skills, the new button layout doesn't seem to conform completely with the IM Destination Adapters. We recently found out when debugging an issue for one of our customers, that this is also a problem with any third party or custom program that uses macros to input large amounts of data.
The temporary resolution in either case is to change the setting for the window layout in a new area in User Preferences called the 'Window Command Bar'. The default setting is 'Action Pane'. You need to set it to 'Menu Bar' to make IM, or any macros, play nicely with GP.
After changing the setting, log out and back into GP for the setting change to take effect.
Microsoft's Modern Lifecycle Support Policy for Dynamics GP
With the October 2019 release of Dynamics GP (version 18.2), Microsoft moved Dynamics GP to its Modern Lifecycle support policy. Here’s how Modern Lifecycle works and what it means for you as a Dynamics GP customer.
The New Support Policy: Modern Lifecycle
Starting with Dynamics GP 18.2, all future versions of Dynamics GP are part of Microsoft’s Modern Lifecycle support policy.
The Modern Lifecycle policy offers continuous service and support, including new features, bug fixes, and tax updates, when you install one of the three yearly updates for Dynamics GP. In other words, to receive full product support from Microsoft in any given year, you will need to be on one of the versions of Dynamics GP released that year.
This not only keeps Dynamics GP up to date but it also ensures you do not get multiple versions behind in supported versions. This support model is very similar to that used for cloud-based software platforms.
Dynamics GP versions prior to 18.2 are still governed under the Fixed Lifecycle policy, which means the products are supported for 10 years (5 years of Mainstream support and 5 years of Extended support).
Let’s look further into what this change actually means for you.
Finite Support vs. Infinite Support
Under the Fixed Lifecycle policy, each version of Dynamics GP has a definitive end date for support. Under Modern Lifecycle, support is continuous—there is no fixed end date.
Even if you don’t upgrade to the latest version of Dynamics GP in any given year, you’ll still receive support. Microsoft will always answer your support questions and help you use your software as long as your annual maintenance plan does not lapse.
However, if you’re using an older version of the software and experience a problem that has been fixed in a newer release, Microsoft will ask you to upgrade to the new release to fix the issue. They won’t offer an alternative solution.
Large, Complex Upgrades vs. Continuous Updates
Under the Fixed Lifecycle policy, Microsoft generally released one or two versions of Dynamics GP each year. But the timing was inconsistent, and sometimes more than a year went by before new functionality was released.
This means, historically, Dynamics GP upgrades have been large, complex, and expensive.
Under the Modern Lifecycle policy, Microsoft is committing to three updates a year, at least one containing new features. And they’re on a fixed schedule. This means the updates will be smaller, more manageable, and less expensive. Not to mention easier to plan for and fit into your schedule.
With Modern Lifecycle, Microsoft’s expectation is that you’ll update your Dynamics GP system once a year, so they’re making upgrades easier than ever—more like a patch and less like a full version upgrade.
But You Don’t Have to Upgrade if You Don’t Want to
While neither Microsoft nor Micro Force recommends it, there are still companies out there using Dynamics GP 2013! There are loads of benefits to regularly upgrading your software—new features, tax compliance, more predictable costs, better security—but it’s up to you to decide how often you do it, even under the Modern Lifecycle policy.
As mentioned above, if you run into an issue that’s been solved in a newer version of the software, you’ll have to upgrade to fix it.
Dynamics GP Lives On
Microsoft has been making some big moves with the development of Dynamics 365. The release of Dynamics 365 Business Central especially have left many wondering about Microsoft’s commitment to Dynamics GP.
This shift to Modern Lifecycle is a good indicator that Microsoft sees Dynamics GP as part of its long-term strategy.
Microsoft already uses Modern Lifecycle support for numerous products, including Office 365, Azure, Dynamics 365 CRM, Dynamics 365 Business Central, and Power BI. Adding Dynamics GP to this list signals that Microsoft intends to continue to develop and support the product, not retire it.
The Modern Lifecycle policy for Dynamics GP lists releases through 2024, which is further into the future than anything else we’ve seen from Microsoft about Dynamics GP. It feels like Microsoft has every intention of backing this product well into the future.
Remember, the Modern Lifecycle policy only applies to Dynamics GP 18.2 and beyond. It only applies to you if you upgrade to that version. So, when should you make the change?
On average, we recommend that you upgrade your Dynamics GP system annually. Ultimately you’ll have to decide what’s best for you, but here are some things to consider:
If you’re using Dynamics GP 2013 or 2015 or 2016, you’re in Extended Support, so you should be thinking about an upgrade now.
If you’re using Dynamics GP 2016, Mainstream support ends in July 2021, so you should be thinking about an upgrade now.
If you’re using Dynamics GP 2018, you can take advantage of several more years of Mainstream support under the Fixed Lifecycle policy. However, you should be thinking about your business strategy and when it makes sense to schedule an upgrade.
Ready to Learn More?
Introducing a Modern Lifecycle policy for Dynamics GP is kind of a big deal. It will change the way you manage your Dynamics GP system, and it points to Microsoft’s plans for Dynamics GP in the future. If you’re feeling a little overwhelmed, contact us. Our team will break it all down and help you understand the nuances behind the Modern Lifecycle policy and what it means for your as a Dynamics GP customer.
For more info about your GP system and business software in general, visit our blog site at https://www.micro-force.com/blog
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