Comparing Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software, specifically Microsoft Dynamics NAV (formerly Navision), Microsoft Dynamics GP (formerly Great Plains), and Microsoft Dynamics AX (formerly Axapta), can be quite confusing, as these ERP products appear to be similar, but they are actually quite different. While Microsoft Dynamics NAV and Microsoft Dynamics GP collectively represent the largest install bases, Microsoft Dynamics AX is the fastest growing product in the Microsoft Dynamics ERP portfolio.
For the last decade, Microsoft Dynamics NAV has been the leading Dynamics ERP product globally for mid-sized business. Microsoft Dynamics NAV still has the largest install base of any of the Dynamics ERP products, with 102,000 customers worldwide. Dynamics NAV’s counterparts, Microsoft Dynamics GP and Microsoft Dynamics AX, have significantly fewer customers worldwide, coming in at 47,000 (GP) and 19,000 (AX) customers worldwide. While both Dynamics NAV and Dynamics GP have experienced new customer growth of 30 percent, Dynamics AX has undoubtedly had the largest growth rate, but on a much smaller install base. Microsoft Dynamics AX growth can be attributed mainly to its gained attraction with some of the largest multinational companies that are moving away from the SAP and Oracle platforms. (For a complete overview and breakdown of how many customers use Dynamics ERP products, visit ERP Software Blog.)
Historically, Microsoft Dynamics NAV and Microsoft Dynamics GP have competed directly in the small- to medium-sized business segment, with businesses selecting Microsoft Dynamics NAV for advanced functionally and flexibility. Microsoft Dynamics NAV and Microsoft Dynamics AX have also been directly competing for mid-market companies, with the largest enterprise customers selecting Microsoft Dynamics AX for its scalability. For companies searching for ERP products, it has not always been clear which product would meet their specific requirements; however, it is increasingly becoming clearer.
Microsoft Dynamics GP was intended to serve small companies looking for an ERP system that could handle extensive financials and light distribution. However, with the extensive add-on products available, Dynamics GP quickly became a competitor – to Dynamics NAV – in the small- to medium-sized business segment, handling heavier distribution. Microsoft Dynamics NAV was always intended to serve small- to medium-sized companies looking for an ERP platform that is customizable without breaking the upgrade path. Microsoft Dynamics NAV has always had its greatest success in companies that are aggressively growing and require that their business management systems are flexible, and that can change and grow as business grows. Microsoft also continues to make investments in the underlying technology of Microsoft Dynamics NAV, which extend its value as both an ERP solution and its ability to streamline all key business functionality. One common characteristic of a company running Microsoft Dynamics NAV is an ability to grow without adding headcount.
Most large enterprise customers are not seeking flexibility and adaptability, but uniformity across a distributed organization. This is why Microsoft Dynamics AX is often seen as the best solution for the largest enterprise customers trying to escape SAP and Oracle. What Microsoft Dynamics AX sacrifices in flexibility it makes up in scalability. While a very large Microsoft Dynamics NAV installation might represent 400-500 concurrent users, Microsoft Dynamics AX was designed to handle large amounts of concurrent users.
In summary, Microsoft Dynamics NAV, GP, and AX were intended to serve different sized organizations, as well as organizations with different levels of structural complexity. While the question, “Which product is better?” still remains, perhaps the better questions is, “Which product will better suit my specific business requirements and needs?” One Dynamics ERP product is not better than the other; rather, one might be better for specific business sizes and complexities.
Microsoft Dynamics NAV will continue to be the best fit for midsize companies, whereas Microsoft Dynamics GP will continue to serve small companies, and Microsoft Dynamics AX will serve the largest multinational organizations. The major differentiators amongst these great products are their ability to handle large amounts of concurrent users, flexibility, and scalability.