Microsoft Dynamics for Manufacturing – differences between various Dynamics flavors

image Houston Neal from Software Advice recently wrote a nice and a very detailed article on the Differences Between Microsoft Dynamics products. It’s an interesting article and gives a good overview of where different Microsoft Dynamics products stand, and overall I recommend you to read it, even though personally I don’t agree with everything in there.

I like good argument, but I don’t like disagreeing just for the sake of it, and this was one of those articles that I would prefer disagreeing in private. But Houston was so persistent in me expressing my opinion on his article here on my blog, that I just decided to speak up.

After all, everyone is entitled to my opinion 😉

First, I don’t truly believe that any industry classification does any product any good. For example, Houston says (and Microsoft does) that NAV is good for Retail. In practice, it doesn’t support retail business at all – it doesn’t have any built-in accounting procedures for retail back-office, nor it supports any front-office retail functionality. Also – retail is completely different in each country, and as far as I know no retail functionality has ever been a part of an official localization for NAV. NAV does work in retail pretty well if you purchase one of dozens of add-ons which allow it – but then it is the question for which industry there is no add-on?

Then, Houston also says that NAV doesn’t support healthcare – I’ve personally worked on a large healthcare project where we successfully implemented NAV for a hospital and made it a blueprint for NAV for other interested hospitals.

Then there is Construction business – NAV is allegedly good for it, AX is not. I would personally rather choose AX over NAV there, because NAV doesn’t have any decent functionality to cover construction business (other than Jobs – but similar functionality exists in AX and is incomparably better).

One of the things that I don’t like much is when Microsoft says that any product is good for “Manufacturing”. There are two major manufacturing approaches: process and discrete, and while NAV is an excellent discrete manufacturing tool, it fails badly with most of process industries. AX for example supports both. But just saying that NAV is good for manufacturers is not a good information – it really doesn’t help anybody.

Then, the company size – based on information in Houston’s article – and also in much of Microsoft’s documentation, nobody with 10 employees would want to ever implement any of the Dynamics solutions. In a small country where I live, saying anything of the sort would just take a lot of business away from Microsoft Dynamics partners – many companies who use NAV in Croatia are small companies, and while this article says 25 is the low point, NAV works perfectly if you have 1, or 5 or 10 employees. NAV is a perfect fit for those small companies, because of its document orientation, rather than process orientation – you can easily implement it in environments where processes are flexible or undefined, and there are many companies smaller than 25 employees with huge need of a flexible ERP system, and Dynamics solutions can really help them a lot.

All in all, I don’t disagree with everything in that article. As I said, article is good, it just needs to be taken with a grain of salt. It is based on a lot of marketing information from Microsoft, and whoever buys anything just based on marketing information, just plain deserves wondering why their clothes don’t look better than new when that nice lady on TV with a flashy smile said it would…


Vjeko has been writing code for living since 1995, and he has shared his knowledge and experience in presentations, articles, blogs, and elsewhere since 2002. Hopelessly curious, passionate about technology, avid language learner no matter human or computer.

This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. doug openshaw

    Seriously, no good for Construction? Maybe not in the core virgin install. We developed a powerful, now industry leading application for the construction and contracting supply chain in the UK which proves how flexible and cost effective NAV is as a development platform for vertical markets. You just need a bit of imagination (and some top programmers)

    1. Vjekoslav Babic

      Doug: NAV is good for any vertical if you have a bit of imagination and good programmers. This post is about “the core virgin install”. I’ve seen too many customers being disappointed by reading on some generic website that NAV is good for this or not good for that based on standard application. My post was a review of Houston Neal’s post which was talking about “the core virgin install”. And today, as much as three years ago, I responsibly claim that in its “core virgin install” NAV is not good for many verticals.
      And of course, you then have the add-ons (such as yours, which I am familiar with, and know is good), or developers, who can make your NAV into something different, a better (or a great) fit for any vertical.
      But the difference is important – many customers who simply read on Microsoft’s website, or on generic ERP sites, that NAV (or any other ERP) is good for this or that may decide to buy NAV, and they (for many reasons) can’t implement a specific add-on (or their implementer is not even aware of a good one), or have a lousy implementer with bad programmers and consultants, and then they end up unhappy and blaming Microsoft, and NAV. That’s what I hate, and that’s why I wrote what I wrote.
      So – again – in “core virgin install”, no, NAV is no good for construction. If you want to spend more money than for “core virgin install”, then it can be good for anything.

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