Dynamics 365 FAQs—Everything you Need to Know About Microsoft’s Newest ERP

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Since Microsoft first introduced Dynamics 365 at the tail end of 2016, there’s been a great deal of confusion surrounding the product and what it means for current and potential Dynamics customers. So, we thought it might be helpful to our readers if we took a few minutes to answer some of the most common Dynamics 365 FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) in this month’s post.


Dynamics 365 FAQs covered in this post.

Here’s a list of all the questions we will cover in this blog. Read them all, or jump around using the links in this list. The choice is yours.

  1. What is Microsoft Dynamics 365?
  2. Isn’t Dynamics 365, just Microsoft Dynamics AX repurposed for the cloud?
  3. Why should I choose Microsoft Dynamics 365 over other business management systems?
  4. What are the differences between the business and enterprise editions of Dynamics 365?
  5. How is Microsoft Dynamics 365 purchased/licensed?
  6. Is Microsoft Dynamics 365 available on premise?
  7. What is the common data model that’s frequently mentioned with Dynamics 365, and how does it work?
  8. Is Office 365, Power BI, Microsoft Dynamics Marketing, or Adobe Marketing Cloud included with Dynamics 365?
  9. I already use a Microsoft Dynamics ERP or CRM product. Can I move to Dynamics 365?


Q.  What is Microsoft Dynamics 365?

A.  Put simply, Dynamics 365 is a new, cloud-based business management solution from Microsoft. It takes the best of Microsoft’s ERP, CRM and productivity solutions and brings them together in one neat package.


Q.  Isn’t Dynamics 365 just Microsoft Dynamics AX repurposed for the cloud?

A.  Though it is true that the operations app available with the Enterprise edition of Dynamics 365 does contain all the capabilities that were previously available in Dynamics AX, it is so much more than that. Dynamics 365 combines ERP/finance functionality with Dynamics CRM, Power BI (real-time analytics and dashboards), workflow tools (to break down the silos that often occur between ERP and CRM solutions) and a tool for creating your own mobile apps without coding, all onto a single cloud platform.


Q.  Why should I choose Microsoft Dynamics 365 over other business management systems?

A.  Here are just a few other things that set Microsoft Dynamics 365 apart from other similar products:

  • Office 365 integration for improved productivity – Microsoft Dynamics 365 seamlessly integrates with Microsoft Office, which means you can get more of your work done from within Outlook, Word and Excel (the Office programs you’re already familiar with), and spend less time switching between applications. Additionally, the common data model that Dynamics 365 is built upon makes it easy to share data and insight between Office 365 and Dynamics 365.
  • Superior flexibility – Traditionally, when you purchase an ERP or CRM system you must buy the whole thing up front. But, because Dynamics 365 is cloud-based and its features are grouped into apps that match the functional areas of your business, you can start by just purchasing one or two single apps – whatever you need right now. Then, as your business grows and your requirements change, you can easily add new apps, or purchase one of the available plans for enhanced functionality
  • Business intelligence baked right in – Managers and business owners alike dream of having beautiful dashboards and user friendly analytics that make it easy to see what’s happening right now and what their next steps are. However, if your business management solution was not built from the ground up to include these types of analytics, it can be very difficult to get the complete view of your business you were hoping for.

But, that’s where Dynamics 365 is different. All the system’s applications offer built-in insights, workflow optimization and predictive analytics delivered via an easy to use web-based, mobile friendly user experience. Thanks to the cloud and machine learning, it connects you to what matters and helps turn insight into action.

  • Unmatched growth potential – Dynamics 365 allows you to build, adjust and grow your business processes in real time. No matter how large your business becomes, Dynamics 365 has what it takes, including a catalog of third-party apps designed to meet unusual or industry specific requirements. In short, it allows your business to grow and evolve without all the complexity, added cost and inflexibility you often run into with other systems.


Q.  What are the differences between the business and enterprise editions of Dynamics 365?

A.  In a nutshell, the Business Edition of Microsoft Dynamics 365, also sometimes referred to as Dynamics 365 for Financials, is built for businesses with fewer than 250 employees and who mainly need to manage their business finances. Sales and marketing apps will be available for the Business Edition later this year, but have not yet been released. On the other hand, the Enterprise Edition of Dynamics 365, sometimes referred to as Dynamics 365 for Operations, is built for businesses with over 250 users, or those who have more complex needs and want to manage additional business functions such as supply chain, customer service, or field service.

Learn more about the different editions of Dynamics 365, visit our website.


Q.  How is Microsoft Dynamics 365 purchased/licensed?

A.  Microsoft Dynamics 365 is mainly sold through partners like Intelligent Technologies Inc. If you are interested in this solution, but do not yet have a Microsoft partner, please reach out to us.

As for the licensing, when Microsoft reimagined the ERP with Dynamics 365, it also redesigned the licensing structure. This new licensing model is designed to give users much greater flexibility, and allow them to realize the greatest value from the product for the lowest cost.

Basically, there are three licensing options to choose from. Companies may mix-and-match these different options to find the perfect mix for their business needs and budget. And, to keep payments simple, all licenses you buy are included on a single monthly bill.

  • Application only – Available right now, this is the more traditional way to buy Dynamics 365. You purchase user licenses for a particular application (section of the system) like finance or sales and marketing. While these are reasonably priced, if you find yourself needing access to more than one application within Dynamics 365, your cost savings potential is much greater if you choose one of the other licensing options.
  • Plans – Currently available with the Enterprise Edition and coming this year for the Business Edition, plans are one of the new licensing options available to Dynamics 365 users. Designed for heavy (Full) users, plans grant you access to multiple applications within the system, give you read/write permissions and allow for improved extensibility.
  • Team members – Available currently for both the Business and Enterprise editions, team member licenses (or light users) offer somewhat reduced, but still significant functional capabilities at a much lower cost than the other two licensing options described previously. The main difference between team members and full users on one of the plans, are read/write permissions. With a team member license, you have read access to almost everything in the system and a very specific set of write capabilities. Whereas, with the full user license offered by the plans, you have much more write access.

Explore Microsoft Dynamics 365 licensing and pricing in greater detail.


Q.  Is Microsoft Dynamics 365 available on premise?

A.  No, Dynamics 365 is only available in the public cloud. It is not available on premise, in a private cloud or a hybrid of the two. However, for those companies that need, or would prefer an on premise solution Microsoft will continue to offer and update Dynamics AX, and other on premise solutions along with connectors that make it possible to use a hybrid deployment model.

You may have heard of a product called Dynamics 365 on premise.  This is basically a renamed version of Dynamics AX 2012 R3, and is a completely different product than the new Dynamics 365 product. That said, if you do not absolutely need and on premise or private cloud system, we strongly suggest that you look at Dynamics 365. For most of our customers, this will be the last ERP they will ever need, because it will be constantly and automatically updated by Microsoft, freeing you from the expense and headache of major upgrades down the road.


Q.  What is the common data model that’s frequently mentioned with Dynamics 365 and how does it work?

A.  The common data model is the backbone of Dynamics 365, basically the cloud database that it’s built upon. Engineered based on Microsoft’s years of experience with its enterprise customers, this database includes hundreds of business applications, including Dynamics 365, Office 365 and more. To users like you, this means it will much cheaper, faster and easier to integrate and deploy new software in the future.


Q.  Is Office 365, Power BI, Microsoft Dynamics Marketing, or Adobe Marketing Cloud included with Dynamics 365?

A.  Although they are designed to integrate with Dynamics 365, Office 365, Power BI and Adobe Marketing Cloud are all separate purchases. As of November 1, 2016, Microsoft Dynamics Marketing is no longer being sold to new customers. If you require a marketing automation program that integrates with Dynamics 365, we recommend Adobe Marketing Cloud, which will be available for this purpose in this spring.


Q.  I already use a Microsoft Dynamics ERP or CRM product. Can I move to Dynamics 365?

A.  For organizations already using a Dynamics cloud solution, such as Dynamics AX online or Dynamics CRM online, Microsoft has carefully designed the transition process to be a seamless one. If you are currently using an on premise solution, but are ready to make the move to the cloud with Dynamics 365, please contact us so that we can help you with the migration. For businesses that must keep their ERP system on premise or in a private cloud, we will continue to offer and fully support the popular Dynamics GP and SL solutions our business was built upon.


I hope these Dynamics 365 FAQs have helped to clear up your confusion surrounding this revolutionary new product.  If you’d like to learn more, please visit our website.


By: Laura (Heinbockel) Schomaker, Intelligent Technologies, Inc., a SC Microsoft Dynamics partner


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