By: Valerie Miller
Microsoft Dynamics GP users are still getting their feet wet when it comes to using cloud-based technology. In fact, less than one in 10 customers reports running Dynamics GP in the cloud. But give them time, because ERP and accounting are first in their cloud migration plans.
So found MSDynamicsWorld in a survey that it covered in the recent webinar Microsoft Dynamics GP and the Cloud in 2016: Customer Successes, Challenges and Future Plans. MSDynamicsWorld hosted the webinar with panelists Tyler Doerner, vice president of sales of WatServ and Linda Rose, founder and CEO of RoseASP.
This year’s survey about cloud usage, run in March 2016, covered the breadth of Dynamics offerings including all the ERP suites. The results were based on the responses of 284 participants from Microsoft Dynamics customers, VARs and other Dynamics consultants (excluding ISVs). Of those 284 respondents, 53 were Dynamics GP users and 50 were Dynamics GP consultants.
When asked “Where do you use cloud services today,” just five of the 53 Dynamics GP customers reported running Dynamics GP in a cloud environment – less than 10 percent. But Doerner suggested that new cloud users are more likely to use Office 365 and Dynamics CRM Online as starter projects, “a way to get your feet wet with cloud-based [uses],” he described.
That would explain why the Dynamics GP users surveyed employ cloud for other business uses and processes, including (among others):
Doerner also observed that ERP is a more mission-critical application than, for example, email and CRM. A 15-minute outage in either application is unlikely to grind operations to a halt, versus the ERP backbone; shipping, orders and invoice processing have a net effect on the bottom line. But, the reliability of Internet connections is likely to spur greater trust in cloud-based ERP.
According to Rose, accountants (being a conservative lot) are likely to want to keep their data on-premise; but as servers age, Dynamics GP users are looking for less costly alternatives to deployment, hence, cloud. This is especially significant as 83 percent of respondents had owned Dynamics GP for five or more years.
Asked what type of cloud services they use currently (Dynamics GP or otherwise), about 55 percent of those surveyed used Microsoft Cloud offerings, while another 35 percent used private cloud offerings. Twenty-five percent reported using “other” cloud offerings, 12 percent used Amazon’s cloud while around 10 percent used Google’s cloud product.
The worm turns: ERP/Accounting leads in planned cloud investments
About 50 percent of Dynamics GP users expect to increase their cloud solutions investment over the next year. Another 35 percent expect their investment in the cloud to remain the same, while 10 percent were unsure. Just five percent said they would decrease investment in the cloud.
Asked in which areas Dynamics GP users planned to add cloud services, the largest percentage (40 percent) named ERP/Accounting, followed by time and expense management, integration software, document management, and CRM.
Rounding out the planned investments were Custom applications, Telephony, Reporting, HR/HCM and Payroll, all of which are fairly mature in cloud usage; Dynamics GP users won’t invest anew in these areas because they’ve already invested.
Partner influence and the cloud
Partners report that, for new implementations, on-premise deployment is still the most common method used, with some partners recommending on-premise all or most of the time (about 21 percent, total).
But cloud deployments now have a substantial share of new deployments. Another 21 percent of partners report public cloud-based GP deployments up to 50 percent of the time; still another 21 percent report private cloud deployments among up to 50 percent of new installs; and 37 percent report hybrid cloud installs in up to 50 percent of new installs.
Doerner believes that CFOs have a strong influence on the choice of cloud. “Not a lot of CFOs like to part with large sums of money upfront for software and servers,” he observed, “so in having a conversation about changing the spend from a capital expenditure to an operational one, most CFOs would rather spend a few hundred dollars a month on something versus tens of thousands upfront.”
A cloud deployment also spares an organization from investing in IT horsepower for ERP, not part of most companies’ core business.
Rose said most existing GP customers have already made that investment in the software. “So, really they look it as their annual maintenance,” for service packs and upgrades. She noted that most existing Dynamics GP customers fail to budget for the cost of upgrades, or find it an unpleasant surprise and therefore do not maintain their installs; on the pay-as-you-go model, Dynamics GP customers are more likely to stay current.
Yet WatServ and RoseASP are uniquely experienced with cloud deployments and migrations – and that influences customers’ choices.
One partner (clearly an outlier) reported that “Over 90 percent of the new [Dynamics] GP implementations are done in a tenant environment on Azure. Most of our implementations for existing [Dynamics] GP clients involve migration…from an on-premise to the Azure tenant environment.”
Other partner comments included that “The cost of a SaaS solution seems to outweigh the benefits for the majority of clients I support,” “I’ve seen rapidly increasing adoption of private cloud solution users and [Dynamics] GP environments,” and “Most customers do not want to pay the monthly fees for private cloud.”
All told, Dynamics GP in the cloud is still uncommon, but the data and sentiments shared in the new survey indicate that GP customers are looking to move forward with more business systems off premise.