When you’ve got a big family, there’s always going to be the third cousin who gets overlooked because of that famous nephew who works on the telly! Even if they do work for an established business like, I don’t know, a great resource for all things ERP!

Or is that just us?

Well, it’s the same when it comes to the rather well known Microsoft family. Believe it or not Microsoft offers more than just Outlook and Office packages to help run your business. You might not be aware that the Microsoft Dynamics range of ERP solutions offers companies a diverse choice when it comes to finding the right solution for their business management software.

While it might seem confusing having multiple ERP options from one company, when you dig a little deeper into the family tree you begin to understand what Microsoft have done.

Where do we start?

Where better than briefly explaining each Microsoft Dynamics ERP solution. First there was Great Plains (now GP), then there was Navision (now more commonly known as NAV), and then Axapta (Now AX) – some of you may also have heard about Microsoft Dynamics SL but we tend not to talk about that one.


In the late 80s, GP was the first time Microsoft dipped their technology toe in the waters of ERP. It began life in North America and suited small businesses requiring very little in the way of advanced functionality. GP offered strong financial reporting and basic distribution capabilities but relied heavily on third party add-on products to provide specific additional functionality. GP fits very well in a small business that doesn’t need advanced functionality. However, it‘s never really made an impact in the UK (or Europe) and is mainly sold in the States.


Most common to the UK (and global) market are Microsoft Dynamics NAV and Microsoft Dynamics AX. Since, initially at least, there doesn’t seem to be much that separates them, there’s some confusion amongst business owners as to which solution is best for their business.

Both Dynamics NAV and Dynamics AX were originally developed in Denmark for the European and global markets and were/are highly customisable, operating in a wide range of industries. They both offer multi-lingual and multi-currency functionality, boasting very impressive global client bases. Their scalability means that they will both grow with your business and are agile enough to work over multiple locations in different countries.

The question you’re probably asking is, why have two products that do the same thing? The reason is, quite simply, that Microsoft have design them both to fit within a specific enterprise hierarchy and to be competitive against other solutions that have had a strangle hold on companies that historically dominated those organisational tiers.

The Benefits of NAV

Let’s start with Microsoft Dynamics NAV. It’s always been the intention of Microsoft that NAV was designed to meet the requirements of small to medium enterprise (SME) businesses that are looking for an ERP platform that will meet their growth ambitions and change as they grow. It offers businesses using solutions such as Quickbooks, Sage, Pegasus and Exchequer a way of growing their businesses without breaking the bank and constantly upgrading. Companies like this tend to want a business management solution that can connect all operations without using separate solutions, which is unlikely to be available in their existing software. They also need a solution that can be customised to fit specific business needs instead of being limited by the system’s functionalities. Microsoft Dynamics NAV makes all of this easy and straightforward.

The Benefits of AX

Dynamics AX is primarily aimed at servicing the larger enterprise customers who are trying to escape the grip of solutions like SAP and Oracle. These solutions have dominated the larger enterprise market for years and have always come with a very high TCO (total cost of ownership). AX now offers these businesses an alternative with competing scalability, lower implementation timescales and costs. AX can easily support upwards of 2000 users globally and will match at least 90% of the required business functionality out of the box, with the remainder being customised and configured using the available source codes.

Which is right for you?

NAV and AX are highly competitive against other solutions in their range and should at least be considered during any ERP review. When compared against each other, NAV is the least expensive of the two to install and maintain, it takes less time to implement and requires much less in the way of project management and decision making due to the scale of each project. However, this does not mean that one solution is better than the other, as NAV and AX were designed specifically for different business types, size and structures and to satisfy the diverse complexities associated with these businesses. 

So remember, it’s worth considering both NAV & AX as viable options for our next ERP solution. Their relevance will depend on the size and scope of your business and, if you have a requirement to replace your existing system, you can be assured that Microsoft Dynamics will be able to offer your business the right solution.

If you’re considering joining the Microsoft family but you’re undecided which ERP solution is best suited to your needs, get in touch with us and we can help you out.

Article written by Mark Blackmore, Head of Telemarketing at QBS Group. 

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