Comparison of Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central versus NetSuite by ERP Industry Insider

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Comparison of Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central versus NetSuite by Industry Insider

 

Why is Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central better than NetSuite?

I have used both software systems personally. Now, as a Microsoft MVP, I only use Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central (BC). Based on my 20+ year career working with ERP systems, I feel I can give an informed evaluation.

And let us be clear: I am talking about Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central (BC). NetSuite has no business being compared to Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance, which is in an entirely different enterprise-level league.

Here are eight areas where I want to set the record straight about Dynamics 365 Business Central versus NetSuite.

Business Central vs. NetSuite – Modern interface

NetSuite commonly tells people, “BC is new, BC is not ready, BC is a new software.” That is not true. Business Central (BC) is older than NetSuite because it came from Microsoft Dynamics NAV (Navision). BC was NAV, so BC is very old. BC is NAV but better.

However, the cloud interface of Business Central is new. Newer than the NetSuite interface, and that is a good thing.

The Microsoft platform is what they call “modern platform”, meaning it uses a lot of new features similar to Microsoft 365 and Outlook that people are very familiar with. Again, that is a benefit to the user.

My experience is that NetSuite has an old web-based interface. When I was a NetSuite user, I had many issues with the interface. For example, I would key in a transaction, it would not save the lines, the browser would refresh, and I would lose all my data. This was happening consistently, which is one of the reasons I hated using it. Their technology has just not kept up with the changes in the cloud.

Many ERP players in the market now, not just Microsoft, have modern interfaces. NetSuite is not one of them. You notice the difference right away just by looking at the two products.

NetSuite will say things like, "BC is not cloud." BC is cloud. Or "BC is not SaaS." BC is SaaS.

Business Central vs. NetSuite – License price

Microsoft is upfront and transparent about its license price for Dynamics 365 Business Central. It has always been published on the Microsoft website. I think you will never see NetSuite publish its license costs. It is always a wide range. They are secret about it for a reason, as most customers will experience a bait and switch model, where they are priced low and the price will continually increase as more functionality is needed, more capabilities and apps are needed, etc.

For example, NetSuite will wait to see what the customer compares their pricing to and then give a quote. This has happened for several demos we did. NetSuite asked the controller for a copy of our Business Central proposal, and they returned with lower license prices. Then either during implementation or post renewal the customer is experiencing a 40-50% increase in the software and/or services.

That sounds great for the customer until they see the renewal costs. And often, they find that out too late.

Business Central vs. NetSuite – Renewal cost

I often see many companies move off NetSuite when they get their renewal notice. NetSuite is well known for selling low to beat out Business Central or other competitors’ pricing. Microsoft currently gives companies that use Microsoft Dynamics GP a 40% discount on Dynamics 365 Business Central licenses. But NetSuite will come in and offer licenses for free. The customer sees a price that is lower than Business Central, and it is hard to say no. Trouble is, once the NetSuite renewal invoice comes around it is back to regular pricing, which is higher than BC. And that is what they are “stuck with” for the long term. We are seeing many NetSuite customers going through renewal shock.

You should always ask every vendor, “What is my price two years from now? Five years from now?

Dynamics 365 Business Central has steady, consistent pricing. Most partners are offering regular, consistent support pricing. You will not get that shocking price increase at the two or three-year mark.

Business Central vs. NetSuite – Proof of Concept

NetSuite is great at convincing people that NetSuite is the only product you need because they have the combined strength of their internal and partner sales teams. I admit that Microsoft could do better at this.

NetSuite is good at using sales tactics. Typically, customers sign up for a one-to-three-year agreement and pay everything upfront. However, I have seen that once they get into proof of concept, they may realize that NetSuite cannot do what they want it to do. It does not fulfill their business requirements. For example, I see companies I work with have issues with subscription billing, multi-entity management, manufacturing, and distribution in NetSuite.

Business Central vs. NetSuite – Apps

NetSuite is particularly good at telling people that they do not have apps, meaning separate add-on products for specific functionality. They present NetSuite as just one product. Business Central does have apps.

You need to know that although it is all called “NetSuite,” you are really looking at apps built to live inside of NetSuite. It is not just one seamless product. These apps are referred to as SuiteApps but are bundled by NetSuite sales, so the customer does not know the difference.

Business Central has apps, but they overlay Business Central and live inside of the core product. This is not a negative thing, as it gives the user more choices for expanding functionality without the need for customizations or other software products. Most companies that build these apps have deep product and industry knowledge, and that is all they focus on. It is in their best interest to continually improve the Business Central product to meet industry and capability needs—another benefit for the client base of Business Central.

Business Central vs. NetSuite – Single Sign-On

The number one benefit Microsoft has over NetSuite is the single sign-on technology. You can use your Microsoft account to log in to Business Central. This means you connect directly to Outlook, Teams, SharePoint, OneDrive, and more. It is all included. NetSuite does not have that. They will tell you it is connected through Excel.  But when I downloaded files from NetSuite, they were all CSV or flat files. The data did not live within Excel. In fact, Excel would always tell me it was a different extension. I always had issues like this on the reporting side when I used NetSuite.

Business Central vs. NetSuite – Integrations

I have never worked on the integration side of NetSuite, but from what I have been told, the integrations are tough. On the other hand, Microsoft has APIs out of the box. It has Excel built-in, so you can import data from Excel. One of the reasons people love Microsoft is because integration is so easy. It is not difficult to integrate with Business Central. People may not think that is important, but I would estimate that 90% of our BC implementations have integrations. So, if those integrations are complex, it is a huge deal. Power Automate has been a driving force for integration into Business Central. With thousands of connectors, including built-in connections for Business Central, Power Automate has changed the integration game for BC and all Microsoft products.

Business Central vs. NetSuite – Feature Comparison

I published a side-by-side feature comparison of Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central versus NetSuite on my blog in 2020, which was extremely popular. They are both ERP systems, so they will do very similar things. But the biggest differentiator is all the Microsoft features you do not get with NetSuite. The built-in capabilities with Excel, Word, Teams, Power BI, Power Apps and Power Automate.

Request a Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central capability guide.

Business Central AND NetSuite – Due Diligence

It is important to emphasize this point. If you are looking at ERP systems, whether it is BC, NetSuite or any other product, you need to do your due diligence before you buy anything.

Get proof of your requirements

Do not just rely on a demo. Have the vendor prove to you that the system can meet your requirements. If you question whether the system is fully cloud-enabled, confirm it. Do not just trust what a salesperson tells you. I firmly believe in a pre-purchase discovery project to ensure that the software will meet your requirements and it can be demonstrated prior to purchase.

Use a 5-year ROI Calculation

You should look at the total cost of the new ERP system over a period of five years. Ask each vendor:

  • What is the cost for Dynamics 365 Business Central for five years?
  • What is the cost of NetSuite for five years?

This includes software license costs (now and at renewal), implementation costs, and support costs. Put this into an “ROI Calculator.”

Many people make system selections based on the dollar amount they pay right now rather than looking at the future scoping of it. Then they find themselves in hot water. I will be honest: even people buying Business Central from me rarely ask about the ongoing costs without being prompted. I wish they would.

Regardless of your chosen software, you should ask, "What is my long-term investment in this beyond the first year? What is the support plan? What is the software cost on the backend? Are there any other additional costs I should consider?” I would say one out of twenty customers might ask me those questions. This is not just a strategy to use when you are comparing ERP products. You should also do this when evaluating quotes from ERP implementation Partners.

I like to compare the ERP decision to buying a car. You will not buy the cheapest car because it might not be safe for your family. It is the same for ERP. You should not buy the cheapest ERP system or go with the lowest price implementation quote from a Partner, because that might not be the safest option for your “family,” aka your company.

If you remember one thing from this post, do not buy ERP software based on low prices, big sales teams and fancy sales pitches – do your due diligence.

I encourage you to optimize your ERP scoping process with our “Why Not Dynamics Discovery” process.

We can help you get in-depth visibility into the future state of your ERP system, documentation of your business requirements, and validation of Dynamics 365 Business Central as the right fit for your organization. Get Dynamics 365 Discovery details or contact me at smullins@abccgroup.com.

 

By Shannon Mullins, CEO, A BC Consulting Group, www.abccgroup.com

With the assistance of Anya Ciecierski, ERP Blog Software

 

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