18 November 2009

Differences between the Dynamics Products

There's a lot of buzz going around currently about an article on Manufacturing Software Advice that compares the different Dynamics ERP products. I've got a f nit pick to start with, Project Management is available for Dynamics GP. The Project Accounting module works just fine if you have a competent consultant. (There a lot of incompetent consultants around PA.)

The base comparisons seem fine but I really struggle with the conclusions because I think they are misleading so let's get past some MS hype and look at my take on the four products with an admitted GP bias. (I do run a GP site after all.) However, don't lose sight of the best part, all of these are Microsoft products. The market is fighting it out under the MS umbrella.

1) SL - SL is all but dead. Say what you want but once the development was outsourced back to the founders it was an indication that it was a redheaded step child. GP will continue enough development to keep it competitive with Sage but MS will be trying to see what they can get for a fixed annual investment.

2) NAV - NAV looked like a front runner for a while. So let's talk facts first. If NAV has the highest number of installed units, the users are not engaged. The number of NAV users and sessions is significantly lower at Convergence in the US compared to GP attendees. In Europe, where their presence should be higher, Convergence shrunk to a roadshow this year with significantly fewer attendees. If you talk to folks who compete against NAV the problem is that the implementation time and costs are roughly the same AX so NAV is getting sqeezed by the MS push for AX.

3) AX - Microsoft is definitely pushing AX and yet I keep hearing odd things from folks in the space. People I know who've worked with security across all four products are amazed at the lack of out of the box security reporting in AX. Something you think should be there for an upper tier product. Additionally, I've had numerous AX consultants tell me that the AX financial and GL simply don't stand up well next to GP. If VP of Manufacturing is picking a system, they'll pick AX. If it's the CFO or controller, their probably looking at GP.

4) GP - One thing I've learned in a lot of years of working with GP is that a lot of folks have tried unsuccessfully to marginalize the product. There are ton of very vocal GP users. It's got a great ISV and partner infrastructure and Microsoft is still investing pretty heavily in the product. Additionally, in some recent discussions, there may be some game changing infrastructure improvements coming under the hood for GP in upcoming versions. I'm loathe to give specifics because much of it not final but it's going to be a lot of fun to watch.

Ultimately I don't think MS will ever converge down to a single product. I think that they have realized that having more than one option in the marketplace provides more options to engage customers. I do think that ultimately they will consolidate down to two products. I suspect it will be GP and AX because AX and NAV are more alike than different. I also think that rather than market them as upper and lower mid market they would be better off letting them overlap and targeting verticals or industries with one product or the other.

That's my 2 cents. I'm sure that others have a different perspective and I'd love to hear it.