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Microsoft Gives Dynamics GP an Overdue Update

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Microsoft today announced the May 1 availability of Microsoft Dynamics GP 2010, the first update in three years to its enterprise resource planning (ERP) software for midsized businesses. Dynamics GP is the descendant of the old Great Plains accounting software Microsoft acquired a decade ago, and has since been enhanced as an ERP platform.

The software includes business intelligence (BI) reporting tools, interoperability with Microsoft Office and other Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) products, and a number of Web services and reporting services.

Microsoft Dynamics GP 2010 comes with more than 400 built-in Microsoft SQL Server reporting services and Microsoft Excel reports, along with enhanced interoperability with Microsoft SharePoint and new tools for examining data, such as PowerPivot for Excel 2010.

“By combining the power of business applications and productivity applications, we’re able to support how people really work in their everyday jobs,” Crispin Read, general manager of Microsoft Dynamics ERP, said in a statement. “Microsoft Dynamics GP 2010 is an excellent choice for companies experiencing growing pains with their current accounting software and looking for a solution that can scale.”

The software now can provide BI customized for different departments, so for example, a purchasing agent might get metrics or business indicators tailored to their job function, helping them spot trends before it becomes a problem. “The whole idea of BI is allowing people to make decisions based on hard data, as opposed to using their gut,” said Rob Helm, managing vice president for research at Directions on Microsoft.

In addition, Dynamics GP 2010 offers 350 integrated Web services, interoperability with Microsoft Office Unified Communications and integration with Microsoft Dynamics CRM. Forms can be generated in Microsoft Word from GP data and sent through e-mail.

Helm said it’s been a while since Dynamics GP saw a decent update, but this is a fairly major revision. “I think this really is an attempt to introduce GP again to the wider Microsoft world, and Microsoft thinks it has the unique ability to improve the user interface of these ERP products,” he said. “So many users are familiar with things like Office and SharePoint. Well, Microsoft has the ability to tie those into their ERP interface.”

In addition to the integration with Office and other packaged software products, Microsoft gives a discount for GP users who subscribe to Dynamics CRM, the on-demand software. So a company can use GP for their ERP needs and CRM for sales and marketing.

“This is a new strategy on their part,” Helm said. “The key thing right now is it will have to work slowly because a lot of these features depend on recent versions of Office, and the most recent version isn’t on people’s desktops, and it’s going to roll out generally over the next three years. But it’s not something that will have an immediate upside.”

Andy Patrizio is a senior editor at, the news service of, the network for technology professionals.

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