Jesse is our marketing manager, keeping an eye on the latest news in the market as well as having worked on the GDPR legislation.
Microsoft Dynamics® – Which Product is Right for You?
The Microsoft Dynamics range of business software products are market leading, in terms of both functionality and popularity. Because of my position in the company, I tend to see most of the sales enquiries that come into the business and for the last few years I have seen confusion over which product people are after. Now that Microsoft are leading with their Microsoft Dynamics 365 brand, people are confused over the existing products as well as the new ones! To help out, I thought I would put together this little guide.
The Current State of Play with Dynamics
Before we complicate things with the new Dynamics 365, I will start with the traditional products as many people have known them for the last few years. Following on from that, I will explain how they relate to the new Dynamics 365 offering.
Dynamics NAV (formerly Navision)– our specialist subject – is an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)software aimed at the SME market. More people use Dynamics NAV globally than they do any of the other Microsoft Dynamics products. The main reason for this is that NAV covers almost every area of business, and thus suits pretty much any vertical market place. Designed to allow customisation, the flexibility suits customers with very specific processes or requirements. Available to buy and on subscription, this can be hosted on premise or in the cloud. For people wanting to manage their business, from finances to Manufacturing, Warehousing and Service management, this has been the staple product.
Dynamics AX (formerly Axapta) is an ERP solution in a similar way to Dynamics NAV, the main difference being that it is aimed at the Enterprise level of business. When large global companies have complex organizational architecture, AX comes into its own. As a more complicated product, it requires the IT infrastructure of an enterprise level business and ultimately costs considerably more in services to implement. Dynamics AX has now become the Operations module of Dynamics 365, as explained later.
Dynamics GP (formerly Great Plains) was aimed at the smaller end of the SMB market, with very little presence in the UK. There is a partner looking after legacy installations however this is not a big player in the market outside of the US.
Formerly Solomon, Dynamics SL is an America only product, which was targeted at project management in the ERP world.
Many people know this simply as Microsoft Dynamics (and are thus confused by the other options!), Dynamics CRM is Microsoft’s Customer Relationship Management solution. With a main package there was also a lightweight cloud version called CRM online. All of the Dynamics CRM options have now been moved to Dynamics 365 modules, namely Sales, Marketing, Field Service and Customer Service.
Now Introducing Microsoft Dynamics 365
As a leader in technology, Microsoft are modernising their offering, with a cloud only subscription based model. The new brand, Dynamics 365, is split into two products, Enterprise Edition and Business Edition, which in turn are made up of a range of integrated “apps” that allow companies to licence the functionality that is right for their business. Care must be taken as, at the time of writing this blog, the Microsoft marketing does not clearly separate the two editions, which are largely incompatible. We suggest you start with looking at the tool aimed at your type of business.
With apps built on both AX and CRM, this was released in October 2016, this suite is aimed at the larger business and is largely being taken up by global operations. Using a partnership with Adobe Marketing to provide advanced functionalities, this product still has quite a high level of services for implementation and training.
Currently on Public Preview in the UK, it has been available in the US since October. The first app is Financials, based on Dynamics NAV, with functionality currently growing as to slowly match the parent ERP product. Other apps for sales and marketing are also due to be released this year. Although it will not replace Dynamics NAV, the aim is to make Financials a choice for smaller businesses with a fast implementation and little training required.
Which One is Right for You?
Even with knowing what the different products are you might not know what to look at. Typically, you will fall into one of the following categories:
Small Growing Business
If you have a small business that you are trying to grow, you will likely start managing your business on spreadsheets or a small finance package such as Xero or Sage One. As you grow out of them, the product to look at is Dynamics 365 Business Edition, with apps for financials and soon sales and marketing. This will provide a fast and easy set-up on a low price, fully hosted subscription package. For the forward thinking small business owner, starting on Dynamics 365 might be a sensible alternative to going for a small finance package such, allowing the company to grow without ever having to change systems.
Start-up with Large Scale Plans
This may seem like an odd middle ground, but on speaking with business owners there is clearly a second category for small businesses. Entrepreneurs with industry experience will often start up a business with a simple finance requirement, with a short cycle time before requiring tools such as Warehousing. We will normally have a discussion with companies in this situation, but currently we would look at a streamlined implementation of Dynamics NAV, allowing for implementation of further modules as they are required.
SME Growing Out of Your Finance Package
For businesses looking to fully manage their company on an integrated ERP package, Microsoft Dynamics NAV is the perfect product. This tool provides modules for every area of operations, from CRM to Manufacturing, as well as being designed for modification and development to make it easier to customise to exact requirements.
Large Multinational Organisations and Franchises
Although NAV covers the requirements of most businesses, there are occasions that the extra requirement for AX is needed, such as for complex intercompany postings and Franchises. This is now typically Dynamics 365 for Enterprise.
Contact Us for More Information
Hopefully after all of this you are a little less confused, and have at least narrowed it down to only a couple of products. If you would like further clarification, please do give us a call and we would be pleased to help you with the process. As you will see from our website, we are primarily a Dynamics NAV partner, however we have great connections in the industry and would be pleased to point you in the right direction, either with our offering or with a recommended partner.
I find their approach to our relationship very professional whilst being refreshingly realistic. We now consider them to be part of our teamLee Crowhurst, Technical Director