Dynamics NAV vs. AX for Large Organizations

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AX isn't the only big contender. Why NAV is suitable for large organizations.

Microsoft Dynamics NAV has always been the ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system of choice for many larger organizations and now NAV 2013 has brought even more capability to the table.  Microsoft introduced the three tier design into Dynamics NAV with the 2009 version and continued to build on that scalable platform with several new design features around the posting and general ledger design. These features are similar to those found in Dynamics AX, Dynamics NAV’s big brother, which typically competes against SAP and Oracle.

There are specific areas where Dynamics AX is indisputably more appropriate than Dynamics NAV.  These include dealing with multi-location manufacturing and multi-national requirements.  As well, Dynamics AX has functionality designed for Professional Services, Retail, and Process Manufacturing, as examples.  If you need the “multi” capability or the advanced functionality, then pick Dynamics AX, but make sure you are planning for a services budget suitable for tier one products such as SAP and Oracle.  In contrast, a Dynamics NAV implementation budget typically starts around a one to one ratio of services to software, tier one implementations can range up to seven times services to software.

The services dollars are a direct reflection of the effort and timeline necessary to implement a product.  A seven times services budget means the hourly rates are probably higher and the project will take a significantly longer time to implement.  The complexity of the tier one products introduces significantly more risk into the project.  While project management is certainly important to a Dynamics NAV implementation, it is absolutely critical for projects the scale of those required for Dynamics AX, SAP, and Oracle.

When comparing features between Dynamics NAV and Dynamics AX, other than the specific industry modules in Dynamics AX there is surprisingly little difference between the two products in the core areas of functionality.  In fact, when Microsoft first purchased the company Navision in 2002, the Navision product (now Dynamics NAV) had superior functionality in many areas.  It took many years of investment by Microsoft to cure the Dynamics AX functionality deficit and now it competes favorably with SAP and Oracle.

Dynamics AX will scale up to a higher number of concurrent users but Dynamics NAV is capable of supporting hundreds of users at one time.  The three tier design and new general ledger posting design of Dynamics NAV allows for significantly more users than previous versions.  If you don’t need the advanced functionality of Dynamics AX, have a limited services budget, require the system to be implemented in a shorter time frame, or want to rapidly adapt the software to meet your organization’s specific requirements, Dynamics NAV is a better choice.  It is also an ideal choice for hub and spoke operations where a central tier one system handles the consolidated reporting from a variety of business units with varying business requirements.  Because Dynamics NAV can be rapidly set up to meet unique requirements, it is far more cost-effective to use Dynamics NAV in the various operating companies and push the financial results back up to the central system.

by Open Door Technology

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