GPUG Summit: Expect True-to-the-Mission Content from People who Believe in Microsoft Dynamics GP

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By:  Dann Anthony Maurno

Dynamics GP may have seemed like an afterthought in 2016, given dearth of visibility it received at Microsoft’s inaugural Envision event.

Don’t believe it; early indications from registered attendees for October’s GPUG Summit 2016, indicate a deeply invested and interested user base.

GPUG Summit’s Director of Programming Bob McAdam also serves on the Summit’s Programming Committee, and saw those user requests first-hand. Attendees are eager to see more of Dynamics GP 2016, a preview of GP 2016 R2, and a roadmap for Dynamics GP 2017, among other topics.

And Microsoft will lead those discussions, while user content dominates perhaps seven in 10 sessions. In fact, Microsoft executive vice president for the Cloud and Enterprise group, Scott Guthrie, will deliver the keynote address on October 11 at 2:00 pm.

McAdam is a veteran of the channel, having been a Dynamics GP consultant with Tribridge. In addition to McAdam playing host of GPUG (a first-time honor for him), he is vice president of finance at Dynamic Communities, Inc., the professional association that encompasses GPUG, AXUG, NAVUG and CRMUG. McAdam continues to lead sessions annually at GPUG Summit (he’ll be involved in five sessions), hosts periodic webinars, and provides training both live and in virtual classroom settings for the GPUG Academy (he is a Microsoft Certified Trainer). On top of that, he co-hosts the Enterprise Software Podcast with Todd McDaniel of Dynavistics and Darcy Boerio of Website Pipeline.

McAdam told MSDW more about GPUG Summit 2016, what and whom to expect, and why the GPUG Summit has shaken down to be the go-to Dynamics GP event of any year.

MSDW: What’s your role in the Summit this year?

Bob McAdam: For GPUG Summit which is celebrating its 10th anniversary this time around, my role is director of programming for the event. I have attended and been on the Planning Committee and presented at each GPUG Summit before this one, but this year I get to actually be the host and it’s quite the honor, needless to say.

What is a host’s responsibilities that are extraordinary?

Probably the biggest responsibility is compiling a group of end users and partners to be the Planning Committee. This year we had over 20 people, half end users and half partners, who make up the GPUG Summit 2016 Planning Committee, and my job has been to get them together, break them up into groups based on the tracks or sessions we’re offering, and then scour through the proposals that were sent in by community members for session ideas.

So that’s quite a challenge, but enjoyable; working with a lot of people that I’ve known for many years, getting all that together to make sure we put our best foot forward for GPUG Summit 2016 where content is king.

In fielding requests for content, were there any surprises?

I don’t know that there were any surprises. I have my finger on the pulse of the community pretty well. And I’m an end user myself, because we run Dynamic Communities on Dynamics GP and Dynamics CRM.

But certainly there is interest in workflow inside of Dynamics GP and the new Jet Express for Excel, which was introduced this summer as a financial statement compilation application.

One thing I should have mentioned is that Power BI has come to the forefront, because it is now integrated with Dynamics GP 2016. So we have Power BI covered pretty thoroughly this year, needless to say.

I don’t know that there was any one topic in particular; people know that [presence of] Microsoft has increased over the past couple of years. They’re anxious to see what the newest pieces of functionality are, they’re anxious to hear how best to upgrade. So I don’t know that there are any surprises, but certainly a lot of topics that people seem to flock to.

Wasn’t there a Power BI UG Summit last year?

The Power BI User Group is relatively new. I don’t believe it had a formal presence at GPUG Summit at Summit 2015 in Reno. We ramped it up a lot this year because of course Microsoft is pushing Power BI pretty hard. There will be some Power BI sessions that cross UGs in Tampa, but there’s so much interest – not just with GPUG, with all the user groups – that each of the user groups will have several BI sessions, on top of what the BI UG plans to present while in Tampa.

Does Microsoft’s greater participation somehow indicate that Summit will pick up where Convergence left off?

Certainly Microsoft decided to go with Envision this year and not Convergence and while many people in the Dynamics GP space are disappointed, I think most understand why they did it.

GPUG Summit is still an end-user-centric event, more so than Convergence was. So I don’t know if I would necessarily say that Summit picked up where Convergence left off, but certainly Convergence’s end has affected the Dynamics GP community more so than others, because originally Convergence was the Great Plains Software event.

So we will continue our focus on end users; this conference and Planning Committee have not deviated at all, despite the changes Microsoft has made. So while there’s a lot of excitement in the air around what Microsoft is doing, GPUG Summit will still continue to be a Dynamics GP-focused event.

There’s talk from the AXUG Summit of exciting product and licensing announcements around Dynamics 365; is there anything you anticipate that attendees will hear about Dynamics GP?

Yes, Dynamics GP 2016 was released May 1st, and for those who did not attend the inaugural GPUG Amplify in late May, we will have some folks from Microsoft who will review that new functionality as well as give us a sneak preview of GP 2016 R2, which I hear is coming around December 1st.

We’ll also delve into Jet Express for Excel for the first time, since that was just added to the Dynamics GP menu for end users. And I think we’ll get some more news on what’s coming down the pipe development-wise going into 2017.

So I’m anxious to hear what [Microsoft Product Marketing Manager for Microsoft Dynamics SMB] Pam Misialiek and the other folks from fabulous Fargo have to say not just about what’s coming not just in December for Dynamics GP, but also into next year.

Will you deliver any sessions yourself?

Yes, I will. I’ve presented at all GPUG Summits and I kind of wanted to keep that going. On my list of things to do besides general session duties as host, I’m giving a session Wednesday afternoon called “Proper Preparation for your Dynamics GP Upgrade.” Upgrades are on the back burner for most everybody, at least regularly, because there’s always new code coming out. So while people may not be concentrating on upgrades all the time, it’s certainly in the back of their minds, when do I upgrade? What makes sense for me and my partner?

And then I will also participate with my friend Barbara Gavron, she’s a partner with S2 Technologies, and she and I are doing a “Month-End Documentation equals an Efficient Year-End Audit” session, [melding] a session she’s done on getting ready for audits, and a session I’ve done over the years on the year-end close.

I’m struck by the promise of user-based content, usually a deficiency at other conferences. Past Summit attendees don’t waffle – they go again, and they praise user content and connections.

Thank you for that comment. We have been doing this for a long time and it is very end-user focused. The story of Dynamic Communities was [Dynamic Communities’ CEO] Andy Hafer being an Axapta end user and looking for help, then starting AXUG when a user group simply wasn’t available. And that took off, and so did one for GP; that community needed the same thing.

GPUG has maintained our focus on that because it kind of makes us unique, and it puts the end user who’s logging into the application five days a week, sometimes six, sometimes more, on the front end of everything that we’re doing here. This is a membership organization and we need to cater to our members so that they’ll stick around and help us grow. And by having events that are end-user centric like GPUG Summit, that’s our best foot forward, each year, to the best of our ability.

Every user organization claims to have a “finger on the pulse,” but GPUG seems to truly listen to its members, who seem willing to speak as well

Exactly. I’m stunned, frequently, by the momentum that is generated in this community. It’s a pretty tight-knit family and I know nearly every speaker and all the people on the board and there are so many people who understand and want to contribute to our success because they believe in the product and the community. And when you lasso that kind of momentum with a bunch of smart people who really see the mission, even though it’s not tied directly to their day-to-day operations because they all have jobs wherever, it’s really impressive.

2016 GPUG Summit runs October 11 through 14 in Tampa, Fla.

About Dann Anthony Maurno

Dann Anthony Maurno is a seasoned business journalist who began his career as International Marketing Manager with Lilly Software, then moved on as a freelancer to write for such prestigious clients as CFO Magazine; Compliance Week;Manufacturing Business Technology; Decision Resources, Inc.; The Economist Intelligence Unit; and corporate clients such as Iron Mountain, Microsoft and SAP. He is the co-author of Thin Air: How Wireless Technology Supports Lean Initiatives(CRC/Productivity Press, 2010).

Dann can be reached at [email protected].