The Evolution of Dynamics GP

The Evolution of Dynamics GP: SmartLists & Workflow

Since its inception as Great Plains in 1993, companies across the globe have relied upon Dynamics GP to run their business operations for over 25 years. As a mid-market Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software, its robust financials, operations, and inventory management features provide the foundation for running a successful business. In 2019, Microsoft released the newest version of Dynamics GP, where the support policy was updated to better align with Microsoft’s cloud ERP products and the year was removed from the product name. Over the years, there have been a number of enhancements made to Dynamics GP to add new features and improve its functionality. This blog will discuss two of the more notable features that that Dynamics GP has been advanced throughout its evolution: SmartList Designer and Workflow.

GP’s Evolution: SmartList Designer

SmartList Designer was first included in Dynamics GP 2013 R2. It lets users create customized data reports known as SmartLists. Creating SmartLists in SmartList Designer involves selecting the tables and fields that you wish to report on, and linking the tables through relationships. The resulting data is displayed in a grid, which can also be exported to Excel and further customized.

In this example, a default SmartList of unpaid AP invoices is generated:

To pull the exact address details of the vendors, you can use SmartList Designer to connect the original data table to the Address Master:

The new SmartList created ‘Open Inv with Remit Address’ now displays the vendor address details for the invoice:

SmartList Designer has been regularly updated since it was first included in Dynamics GP. The following list outlines the advancements made to SmartList Designer throughout GP’s history.


Default SmartList Visibility
This update allowed administrators to select a default value for to whom the SmartList Favorite is visible, including the options of System, Company, User Class, and User ID.

Workflow SmartList Designer Create View Approval
This allowed a SmartList to be sent through workflow to create a SQL view based on the SmartList query. The SmartLists could then be used to publish refreshable Excel reports.


Import/export SmartLists from SmartList Designer
This allowed users to export and import SmartList definitions that have been created with SmartList Designer from one install to another, as well as export and import SmartLists across sites or divisions.

SmartList Designer default columns in SmartList Options window
This allowed all columns included in new SmartLists to be displayed in the SmartList Options window by default. It also included the ability to include or exclude columns from the default view and change the order in which the columns display.

Create SmartList from the Favorite using SmartList Designer
SmartLists could be created from a Favorite, and a user could do so without having to remove extra columns from the default SmartList.

2016 R2

SmartList Favorite protection
A password could be required to modify a SmartList Favorite.

SmartList Designer SmartLists available in Advanced Lookups
This allowed users to assign SmartList Designer List Favorites to Advanced Lookup windows.


Unique passwords for individual SmartList Favorites
This gave users the option to assign a unique password to SmartList Favourites.

Shortcut to SmartList added to web client
This update added the ability to navigate to SmartList directly from the web client.

One-click navigation to SmartList from web client
In addition to web client access, users could navigate to SmartList in one click with an added shortcut to the banner.

2018 R2

SmartList Designer Favorites display in navigation lists
SmartList Favorites that were created via the SmartList Designer appeared in the Favorites navigation list.

Dynamics GP (2020)

Date options in SmartLists
This update created new search options when choosing the date value, removing the need to change dates in search criteria. These options include Prior Month, Prior Period, Next Month, and Next Period.

Inactive field added to Item SmartList
A new field, Inactive, was added to the default Item SmartList. Users can add it as an available column to other SmartLists that are based on the Item list.

Workflow Updates in Dynamics GP (2020)

Workflow has always been a key feature of Dynamics GP, providing the capability to automate a wide variety of processes across modules. In the latest version of Dynamics GP, there are significant enhancements to the workflow area.

User Security Workflow

Users can now set up a workflow for editing or adding new security.

User Workflow

A workflow for adding or editing users can now be set up.

Security Roles Workflow

You can now set up a workflow for modifying security roles.

Security Tasks Workflow

Workflows for modifying security tasks can be set up.

Export and Import Workflows

You can now export a workflow to a .json file. You can then copy that to another workflow or another company. When importing a workflow, the workflow types must match, and workflow approvers and message options will be configured.

Vendor Approval Enhancements

In the Edit Workflow Approver window, the workflow manager can modify who a task is assigned to.

Change Approver for Active Workflow Tasks

The vendor approval workflow has changed to submit to workflow if the vendor hold status is changed, or when the document attach status is updated for the vendor.

Dynamics GP has undergone many changes since its days as Great Plains. We have outlined a couple of the biggest advancements seen throughout GP’s evolution, including SmartList Designer and Workflow. The product enhancements seen within Dynamics GP alongside updates to its support policy implies that GP will remain a strong ERP product that Microsoft is committed to investing in for the foreseeable future.

No matter what version of Dynamics GP you are running, it is essential that your system is regularly maintained and optimized to fit your business needs. Whether you are interested in upgrading or just receiving support for your current system, Rand Group has strong business and technical knowledge to support our client’s diverse needs. Contact one of our representatives today for more information about support options available to you.

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