By: Dann Anthony Maurno
Incoming Chairman of the GPUG Board Rick Zich is president of Coopers DIY LLC, but you would know the company better by its bestselling Mr. Beer home brewing kit, available from 14,000+ retail locations and online.
You may know Zich best through his work in the Microsoft Dynamics GP community through the GPUG Board and Summit Programming Committee; also from his numerous presentations each year at GPUG Summit.
DIY Coopers is a fiercely loyal Dynamics GP user company, ever since Zich implemented the solution in 2012. “I really liked what GP did,” he recalls. “I’d like to say we took it cautiously, but we did everything at once – manufacturing, accounts payable, accounts receivable.”
He took time to answer a few questions about the future of GP and its community as Dynamics 365 enters the picture.
Dynamics GP’s place in the Dynamics 365 whirlwind: Steady
Zich observes that “it’s very clear that GP is not going away. But what wasn’t clear from the way Microsoft announced it in the community to end users is that Dynamics 365 is not necessarily going to be a replacement.”
While there is some fear and even anger among the GP community, Zich believes the realistic forecast for the products requires a much longer view. “I really wish these experienced people who are passionate about the product would realize that a product doesn’t mature overnight,” he says. “It takes a decade of constant updates, upgrades and patches to get it where it needs to be. That’s where GP’s main strength is: its presence. It’s been around a long time, it’s reliable and people know that it works, and it has this super-strong support from the users evidenced by the continued growth of GPUG and the ISV community.”
GP has several strengths that appeal to users like DIY Coopers, Zich says.
“One thing I like because I’m on-premise is the security, which is vastly different from Dynamics 365,” he says. “That’s something that new people have to think about. Do you know where Microsoft is hosting [your instance of] Dynamics 365?”
Secondly, GP’s breadth of capabilities is an advantage. “The breadth of out-of-the-box modules in GP is a big strongpoint, and also the ISV support of GP.”
True too, “The flexibility GP has with manufacturing capabilities and with add-on modules just meets the needs of so many companies out there.”
“And lastly, why I don’t think Microsoft would be dumping GP, is that it wants to protect its stack, with Windows Server, SQL Server, Microsoft Office – it still wants to sell those things.”
Tallying all those strengths and motivations, “It makes me thing GP is safe for a very long time,” says Zich. “It’s definitely safe with me.”
So Zich does not anticipate a vast migration from Dynamics GP to 365, believing that “There are some companies that are not going to be happy with some of the base offerings of Dynamics 365 and are not ready to move to that level.”
Then again, some will, particularly new users.
“Even though I’m a very adamant user of GP, I love the product and we’ll continue to use it, I recognize that Dynamics 365 will have its place,” says Zich. “Certain users will like its apps capabilities, and others who would not be normal Microsoft users are very comfortable with the SaaS model. You can feel comfortable that GP will be around for quite a while, but Dynamics 365 is a model for the future. Both will be around.”
Expect GPUG to continue evolving
As the new board chairman of GPUG, Zich noted the considerable momentum over the last two years, with over 6,500 attendees at the User Group Summit (across all the groups, including GP), a 63 percent increase over Summit 2015. GPUG also launched its GPUG Amplify event in May 2016, co-presented by GPUG and Microsoft, and aimed at filling the GP community’s loss of Convergence.
Zich says that the board has actively attempted to attract C-level attendance at GPUG Summit by tailoring sessions to that audience. “My sessions [at Summit 2016] were really around the COO, or the CEO, not necessarily the person doing a lot of GP work,” he says. They included both a CXO Networking Welcome and Wrap-up, plus one called “What data do I need to manage my company?”
“Sometimes CEOs just feel the data just shows up; that may be true in a big company, but not in a midsized or smaller company,” says Zich.
He observes that the chairman’s role under the outgoing Aaron Back grew to a far more visible position, in the community and in cooperation with Microsoft. “Over past two to three years we’ve really tried to bring that position more to the forefront, and we saw that in the last Summit where he was onstage quite a bit of the time, had a lot of input and face time.”
He says that moving forward, the board would like to see active involvement from the community, possibly moving to member nominations for board positions.
“We always try to do things a little differently” at both GPUG Summit and with GPUG itself, says Zich. “There’s a lot of flexibility to do that.”
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].