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Advice on Great Plains upgrades

Advice on Great Plains upgrades

Advice on Great Plains upgrades

Good Day
I would appreciate some advice on Great Plains upgrades. I work for a small division of a large organisation and we currently use
GP 9.0.
IT and the GP 3rd party vendor have informed us that we MUST get the upgrade to 10.0 or we will not get Microsoft support. The external vendor are quoting around $6,000 for the upgrade. I feel like we are being held to ransom by them.
My questions are:
1 does it matter if we don't get the upgrade? I have never had a problem with GP in 3 years so don't need any support. Could we lose data if we didn't get the upgrade? If anything went wrong could we just get it then?
2 Do we need to use the external vendor or can we just get the upgrade from Microsoft? Is it a simple case of installing a disk? How much would it be to do it ourselves?
3 At the time of paying the licence fee we paid an enhancement fee. What is this for? Would it not cover upgrade?
4 When is the next upgrade due/how long would this one last before we were back in the same situation?
Thanks in advance for any advice out there!  

RE: Advice on Great Plains upgrades

In response to your questions:

1. You do not have to update.  However, at some point in time Microsoft will stop supporting version 9.  If something then goes wrong with your GP, you may up the creek without a paddle.  Also, upgrades are generally performed in a sequential order.  So, if in the future you decide to upgrade from Ver. 9 to say Ver. 12 you will probably have to go through three upgrades, Ver. 10, then 11 and finally to 12.  If support for the Ver. 9 to 10 upgrade is not available, you could have a problem.

2.  You can upgrade by yourself.  Dynamics supplies pretty good instructions but sometimes problems occur during an upgrade.  I find it is better to use the services of someone who is experienced performing upgrades and handling the problems that can occur.  I do not think "waiting till something goes wrong" to upgrade is a viable plan.  If your data is messed up prior to an upgrade, most likely the upgrade will not execute properly.

3.  Your annual enhancement or service plan fee entitles you to the upgrade software and access to support services.  It does not include the labor involved in the upgrade.

4.  Upgrades come out every 12 to 18 months.   Currently the latest version is 2011 (some call it Ver. 11).  GP frequently, but not always, provides a path to upgrade two versions in one upgrade.  You may want to look into skipping Version 10 and going directly to 2011.

Finally, the upgrade cost you have been quoted appears high.  It is hard to say my opinion is correct as I do not know how many company databases and work stations you are running.  We generally spend 2 to 3 hours backing the system, databases, dictionaries, installing the software on the server and etc.  It takes 15 to 30 minutes to update each company database and then 3 or 4 more hours to install software in workstations, check and/or alter Dynamics.set files, update reports dictionaries and make sure everything is running correctly.  Sometimes something goes wrong and it takes a few more hours.

I hire one consultant from my GP vendor on a T&M basis and work with him during the upgrade.  Over the years I have become knowledgeable enough to actively help with the upgrade.  Upgrades wind up costing $1,500 to $2000.

RE: Advice on Great Plains upgrades

GPSKid has given you some excellent advice.  Just a few additional notes:

GP 9.0 has not been supported by Microsoft since January of  2011.  Here is more information on support dates: http://victoriayudin.com/2008/10/08/when-does-my-gp-products-support-end/.  As you can see GP 10.0 will only supported for another year or so.  I would recommend upgrading to GP 2010 at this point.  This may actually cost you a little more, because depending on what build of GP 9.0 you're on you may need to do a 2 step upgrade, but overall it will be less than doing 2 separate upgrades.  With GP 2010 you will have support for another 4 years.

While it is certainly possible to do the upgrade yourself, typically a GP upgrade is much more complicated than "a simple case of installing a disk".  The documentation is good, but does not cover everything and cannot replace the experience of consultants that have performed these upgrades before.  You can certainly do a test upgrade yourself (if you have a test environment) and see how it goes before you make the decision.  Another important consideration in this decision should be how much downtime you can afford and how much time your internal resources have available to spend on this.

The cost of the upgrade is not something that anyone can advise you on without a lot of additional information.  We have done upgrades that cost our customers only a few hours of our time, as we were simply advising them as needed, and they did all the work.  This requires internal resources and knowledge that some companies do not have.  We have done other upgrades where the billable time was 80 hours because of the complexity of the GP environment, customizations that needed to be upgraded, the testing required, additional training that was needed, the number of workstations that needed to be set up, etc.  

$6k is not an uncommon cost for an upgrade when 3rd party products are involved.  If you feel your quote is too high, ask your GP partner to explain what the estimates are based on and see if there are some tasks that you can perform yourself to save money.  If you're still not comfortable with the answers, get a quote from someone else.   

Victoria Yudin
Dynamics GP MVP 2005 - 2011
Use Crystal Reports and SSRS with GP:
blog: http://victoriayudin.com

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