A growing business will eventually need more than entry-level accounting tools and spreadsheets to manage operations. The logical move more recently is to turn to cloud-based Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solutions for maximum efficiency.
If your business is currently stuck on an outdated, unmaintainable on-premise ERP solution or running most of your operations through spreadsheets, it may be time to move to the cloud to take advantage of the intrinsic benefits on offer.
When looking at cloud-based ERP systems, your shortlist will likely include NetSuite and Microsoft Dynamics 365. Both are very strong options in the market, with a rich set of features and capabilities for many industries. Both offer a centralised platform for multiple streams of data throughout the company and provide automation tools to save businesses and customers time and money.
But there are key differences to be aware of when comparing the two. In this post, we will compare the two system architectures, capabilities, integrations and more.
Founded in 1998 as a web-based accounting solution, NetSuite now has natively integrated applications to cover things like commerce, inventory/order management, CRM, analytics, HR and more. It is a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) ERP system and has more than 31,000 customers all in the cloud.
Microsoft Dynamics 365
Starting out as an on-premises system, the software gradually became an ERP system for people to host in their own data centres. It is now available as Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance and Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central. The former is a robust ERP with strong support for finance and various other modules, with around 3,000 customers currently living in the cloud.
Comparing NetSuite with Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance
1. System Architecture
The two products differ based on how they were developed. NetSuite was always intended for a multi-tenant environment, offering automatic upgrades that take system customisations with them by default. Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance, on the other hand, is a little more outdated as a reimagined version of on-premises software that is ill-equipped for frequent upgrades.
This means upgrading can cause issues with integrations and bolt-ons, and many customers choose not to upgrade. The consequence is that many do not have the latest security and feature updates.
As you might expect, Dynamics 365 Finance is very strong in its accounting and financial capabilities. Both NetSuite and Dynamics 365 offer real-time finance data and reporting, though you may need the PowerBI extension. Both systems support the latest revenue recognition requirements for compliance purposes, but subscription billing is not native in Dynamics 365 (it is in NetSuite).
3. Analytics and Reporting
NetSuite offers a comprehensive suite of dashboards both custom and pre-built. They are easy to modify and use, with the ability to create reports and access insights with advanced data analysis via SuiteAnalytics. Saved Searches is another great feature of NetSuite.
Dynamics 365 Finance offers some pre-built reports but is more about building reports yourself via integrations with other applications. You will need Microsoft PowerBI for the most advanced data analytics like visualisations and dashboards, and it requires some technical knowledge to use effectively.
With SaaS, you don’t really need your own IT team to manage things like servers and software. NetSuite also takes a ‘clicks not code’ approach so that non-technical users can make modifications using custom fields and drag-and-drop functionality. For more complex customisations, the SuiteCloud platform is a Java-based tool for developers to get into the code.
With Dynamics 365 Finance, you need more specialised coding knowledge to make customisations. This means the customisations are available, but it requires more work and probably a greater cost of ownership.
Dynamics 365 modules are not all on the same codebase. This means they function as separate applications with different user interfaces, and you will need DataVerse to operate as the middle-man in data and workflow exchanges between different applications.
NetSuite’s entire system is built on a single codebase, so there is no need for middleware and customisations are simpler. This is one reason why upgrades happen very smoothly, and integrations are already there natively.
What about Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central?
Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central is a re-architecture of Microsft’s Navision product for the cloud. It is designed for smaller businesses than Dynamics 365 Finance, and though the price is very competitive, you should understand that you get what you pay for. It is lacking in functionality and will need many third-party integrations that quickly drive up the total cost, and the setup is notably complicated for a less robust product.
NetSuite vs Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central
1. System Architecture
The same problem exists in Dynamics 365 Business Central as in the Finance version: the on-premises heritage. Upgrades can be complex and frustrating, leading many to skip them and miss out on newer features because they don’t want to encounter issues with integrations and customisations.
2. Revenue Recognition
NetSuite’s revenue recognition capabilities enable users to recognise revenue for international compliance purposes, regardless of the number of transactions involved. Business Central has no such functionality, which could be a major issue for companies that rely on subscriptions.
NetSuite’s billing capabilities are more sophisticated than those of Business Central. With SuiteBilling, the system’s core financial capabilities help with invoicing automation utilising a range of invoicing types in combination with promotions, discounts and customer-specific rates. Multiple pricing models are available as well as complex rating scenarios, none of which is available with Business Central.
4. Reporting and Analytics
NetSuite has a diverse and robust array of reports and analytics, vastly outperforming Business Central on that front. Business Central offers some pre-built reports but requires third-party integrations for anything more advanced. Furthermore, NetSuite offers global search capabilities to drill down from reports to individual transactions. You can build reports and dashboards without any coding knowledge.
Dynamics 365 Business Central can be operated with limited technical expertise, but it’s still less user-friendly than NetSuite. What’s more, NetSuite is a more complete system out of the box with much more prebuilt functionality for simpler configurations and implementation.
Business Central has a broader feature set than Finance, but with less functionality. The CRM system offers contact management features and tools for sales force automation, along with project management capabilities. NetSuite’s CRM offers all this and much more, with a separate module for Professional Services Automation (PSA) that integrates natively.
Regardless of which version of Microsoft Dynamics 365 you are considering, it has inherent limitations in comparison to NetSuite. Business Central is far too limited, and migration to Finance would cause further disruption and costs. NetSuite is a single system that is a good fit for companies of all sizes, with a rich selection of capabilities and functionality that can grow with you.
NetSuite is superior in its:
- Approach to implementation
- Customer support
- Research and development
An ERP system can lead to fantastic improvements in efficiency and profitability, but it’s important to choose the right one for your business and implement it correctly. There are pros and cons to any system, but we are confident that NetSuite will be a better option than Microsoft Dynamics 365 for most businesses looking to take their operations into the cloud.
Why choose Eventura to deliver your NetSuite ERP Project?
As an official NetSuite solution provider, we have successfully delivered countless NetSuite implementations. Our expert team of business analysts, developers, consultants, technicians and support staff can guide you through your entire project, from initial scoping through to implementation and on-going support.
We believe that NetSuite offers its customers a comprehensive suite of products that can digitally transform their businesses, replacing a range of disparate systems and softwares with one unified solution to business management.
If you would like to speak to one of our NetSuite experts, you can request a free call back here.