Dynamics NAV vs. AX vs. GP vs. SL – Which One is Right for You?

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From the flexibility of the Windows Operating System to the Microsoft Office Suite, Microsoft software has been an integral part of business operations in the modern world. While they may have been late to the ERP market (not entering it until 2001 when they purchased Great Plains Software), Microsoft has used their robust experience to quickly gain a considerable presence in the market, going up against giants such as Oracle and SAP. In a mere six years, Microsoft passed the 1 million customer mark, a full two years faster than SalesForce.com.

Fast-forward to 2014, and Microsoft has an entire suite of ERP products in the Dynamics line, each one targeted at a specific market. If your organization is looking to move to Dynamics, how do you determine which one is right for you?

Microsoft broadly categorizes the Dynamics line into two groups. NAV, GP and SL are targeted at small to mid-sized businesses, while AX is primarily for the enterprise sector. Even within these broad groups, however, there is a measure of overlap. To understand which version will best serve your needs, it's important to understand the roots of each specific product.

Dynamics GP

In 2001, Microsoft acquired Great Plains Software, makers of a multi-user accounting application that served as the basis for what would become Dynamics GP. GP continues to grow its software as a versatile accounting package, offering a simple, out-of-the-box solution for small to medium-sized businesses. Microsoft has done an excellent job of positioning GP for businesses which have outgrown, or will soon outgrow, their previous accounting software.

As such, GP is the perfect solution for rapidly-growing businesses that need accounting abilities that far exceed software like QuickBooks. GP's out-of-the-box approach means that it covers a range of functionality and industries, while providing robust reporting to help you monitor and manage your business. With its focus on simplicity most companies add on third-party modules to extend GP beyond its basic features.

Dynamics NAV

In 2002, Microsoft purchased the Danish software firm Navision. Navision had merged with Damgaard Software in 2000, and Microsoft's acquisition of the combined company brought two future Dynamics products into the line.

Dynamics NAV is aimed at businesses in the manufacturing, retail, distribution and professional services market. What sets it apart is the ease with which it can be customized for niche uses. This makes NAV ideal for startups and niche businesses whose requirements change so rapidly that no other off-the-shelf package will work, as well as businesses which must adapt quickly, requiring nothing less than a software solution that can keep up.

Dynamics SL

Shortly before being purchased by Microsoft in 2001, Great Plains acquired Solomon Software, makers of a standalone accounting package. With the Great Plains acquisition, Solomon's application became Dynamics SL.

SL is geared first and foremost for project-based businesses. This makes SL the perfect solution for government contracting, finance, professional services, construction and similar businesses.

Dynamics AX

When Microsoft acquired Navision, it also acquired Axapta, the software Damgaard had developed before being acquired by Navision. The resulting software, Dynamics AX, has becomes the flagship of the Dynamics line.

Dynamics AX is specifically aimed at the enterprise sector and is a multi-language, multi-currency ERP system. This makes AX the most full-featured and configurable version of Dynamics out-of-the-box, perfect for a wide range of industries. Manufacturers, the public sector, financial institutions and professional services are just a few of the industries that rely on AX every day.

Because AX covers such a wide array of functionality, and boasts the greatest number of available modules, it's the ideal solution for organizations looking to eliminate any number of legacy systems and consolidate around a single accounting platform.

So How Do You Choose the Right Option?

Without a doubt, there is a measure of overlap among the various Dynamics products. To a large degree, which one you choose will depend on the industry your organization operates within, the specific functionality you need now, as well as the degree of customization you may need in the future. A Dynamics reseller will help you navigate your way to finding which product is right for your business, so finding the right reseller is your first step.

Whichever option you choose, you can be sure you're investing in a robust ERP system that is continually evolving to meet the demands of an ever-changing market.

About the Author: Curt Finch is the CEO of Journyx, software maximizes the value of Microsoft Dynamics by adding enterprise time tracking. Journyx for Microsoft Dynamics allows companies to quickly implement a complete time tracking solution using existing business data in Dynamics. Connect with Curt on Google+.

3 thoughts on “Dynamics NAV vs. AX vs. GP vs. SL – Which One is Right for You?”

  1. sir, I have done training on MSD nav, so as a nav technical consultant, I am going to join a company. I don't know much about upgraded ERP market. my query is

    1) in future, is it right to stay in MSD nav because is there available jobS in MSD NAV.

    2) should I shift to MSD AX or GP or SL for having a better job and should I learn CRM beside.

    3) is it right to shift SAP?

    please answer these questions and if possible give some advice.

    THANKS IN Advance.

  2. Thanks for your feedback, Steve. I do talk about what kinds of industries, company sizes, etc. would find the most use out of each Dynamics ERP system, but I think you make a valid point. Thanks again!

  3. This article was so useless it made me little bit angry. Was wasting my time your objective here? Why not change the title of your article to "NAV vs. AX vs. GP vs. SL – A brief acquisition history."

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