Microsoft’s popular Dynamics 365 software combines best-in-class ERP, CRM, and BI solutions into a single product offering. It is a business platform that integrates all your departments and their operations, to give you crucial insights to optimize and grow your organization.

However, much to the confusion of our clients, there are two different flavors of ERP to choose from within the Dynamics 365 family:

1. Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Finance & Operations (D365 FO) – formerly AX
2. Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central (D365 BC) – formerly NAV

In April 2018, Microsoft re-branded its all-in-one business platform, Dynamics NAV to Dynamics 365 Business Central. This new software application offers enhanced capability and a single, end-to-end solution for managing finances, sales and customer service.

Earlier, Microsoft transitioned their powerful Dynamics AX product from a legacy on-premise solution to the pure cloud Dynamics 365 Finance & Operations model.

ERP systems help streamline business processes that result in making more informed decisions, thus making them an essential tool for growing organizations. These days, no business with a focus on growth should be operating without an ERP system. Let’s look at both ERP offerings from Microsoft to determine which path is right for you.

What is Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Finance & Operations?

Widely regarded as Microsoft’s most advanced ERP solution, on par with SAP Business 1 or Oracle, Dynamics 365 Finance & Operations is designed to fuel steady business process transformation efforts across market segments.

Main benefits include:

• Agile and efficient manufacturing operation automation, allowing production planning and cost management visibility so you can adapt quickly to changing market demands and drive business growth

• In the retail sector, Dynamics 365 Finance & Operations gives sales people the real-time information they need to provide immediate and personalized service — across multiple touch points. Anywhere, anytime access to customer data helps CSRs deliver amazing customer experiences across all channels

• At-a-glance dashboard reporting and data analytics

• Optimize employee productivity with easy integration to Office 365 applications and other Microsoft productivity tools such as PowerApps and Flow

What is Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central?

Business Central is basically the latest version Dynamics NAV, now available either on-premise or online as a pure-cloud SaaS model application.

Users of Dynamics NAV will notice that Business Central includes all the essential features they are familiar with. While D365 BC shares the same code base as NAV 2018, the latest version includes all the functionality currently seen in NAV, with new features and added functionality, and a brand-new interface.

Main benefits include:

• Manage your financials by connecting data across accounting, sales, purchasing, stock, and customer interactions, enabling you chart financial performance in real-time and make informed decisions

• Use built-in intelligence to predict when and which SKUs to replenish

• Improve sales and customer service by prioritizing sales leads based on revenue potential

• Deliver projects on time and under budget by easily creating and tracking customer projects using detailed timesheets

While both ERP packages have a number of functional similarities, they also have a number of differences between them, that can determine which is best for your business.

Some differences include:

• Tax Locations – Both Microsoft ERP solutions can be used to manage multiple currencies and tax regions, but businesses that operate in 16 or more tax regions, will need the more advanced functionality of D365 Finance and Operations.

• Number of Transactions – For businesses processing thousands of transactions, D365 BC is capable of providing the accuracy needed to manage and report on these correctly. But as the number of transactions reaches the hundreds of thousands, Dynamics 365 Finance & Operations is a more effective solution.

• Traceability – For manufacturers that require a high level of traceability, Dynamics 365 Finance & Operations offers additional functionality in the form of pallet number and ‘license plate’ tracking functionality. D365 BC currently, only provides serial number and lot number tracking.

How much will deploying either ERP cost?

With such a rich set of features and the huge benefits they can offer your business, I bet you’re wondering how much all this will cost.

The cost will vary based on the number of users and the number of features your business needs.

For D365 F&O, a solution designed for medium to large organizations, costs start at $190/user per month on the Unified Operations plan and go up to $210/user per month for the full Dynamics 365 plan.

For D365 BC, costs start at $70 per user/month for the Essentials plan and $100 per user/month for the Premium plan.

Conclusion

So, which ERP is best for you; Dynamics 365 Business Central or Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations?

We know that either solution can provide a reasonable fit for most businesses. Both are sensible choices from a software company that has merged ERP, CRM and Office 365 onto one centralized platform.

From a functionality standpoint, both solutions are robust and powerful so there really isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ answer to the question. Your choice of ERP will depend on the individual requirements of your business.

Stop guessing which ERP software will help your business grow to the next level. We can help you understand the capabilities of both systems and advise on the best choice to meet your unique needs.

Karen Riordan, Vice President
Kriordan@ssiconsulting.com