20 March 2018

Dynamics 365 Business Central - From dropping the ball to dropping the mic

Dropped in Dynamics 365 ERP

Liam
Formulated by Liam

So, the wraps are off on Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central, and it's great to be able to talk about some of the cool and amazing stuff we have seen evolving over the last five months since Directions EMEA.

I have to be honest and say I had my doubts late last summer, when Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations Business Edition was in the market. From the name, through to the strategy and the reduced functionality compared to NAV, it was a mess, I felt they had really dropped the ball.

But then I look back at Microsoft’s history and when they set their mind to something they normally come good, from my early days in the industry I’ve seen:

  • Windows NT/Server become dominant when Novell ruled the network space
  • SQL server was laughed at as a serious database, now its best in class
  • MS Office overcoming Lotus 123, Dbase and WordStar
  • Hyper V conquering VMWare 
  • Azure being a late starter but now the biggest cloud provider outperforming Amazon and others

So, they do have some form here, but it's great to see a Dynamics product that now has a relevant SaaS offering, to run alongside its well established core product, NAV 2018. And yes, Netsuite will rightly say, “we were there first” but this is Technology, it moves at such a pace that it is not about being the first but being the best and staying out in front…as the list above proves, Microsoft do an amazing job of staying in the lead once they get there. Windows is the biggest advocate of that being the leading OS for over 20 years.

I read lots of blogs and articles around the technical side of D365 (understanding small parts of them!) but from a commercial side you don’t see as much. With my sales hat on I thought I’d cover that side of things (something must pay for the developer’s creative flare).

First things first, it’s a simple licensing model, you choose between the Essential functionality (Managing your Financials, distribution, warehousing) or the Premium (all the way up to manufacturing).

Its per user per month pricing, so very low investment to get up and running. You can start with Essentials then Jump to Premium when you need to, the software will grow with your business. The only limitation is you can’t mix and match Essential or Premium users, once you decide you need Premium functionality everyone gets it.

Price wise the user cost is:

Essential User £52.80 / $70 per month

Premium User £75.40 / $100 per month

Of course, you can scale up and down with your user count each month if required, great for businesses with seasonal peaks and troughs.

You also get team members, these licences are for operators rather than processors, so you will need to check the limitations, but for £6 a month you can’t really argue! Finally, if you are on D365 Business Edition or move from NAV on premises there is an attractive transition price that’s fixed till June 2020.

Super easy to price up, unlimited companies, no storage limitations and all running on the Microsoft Azure cloud platform with Azure SQL Services for the database. That’s high availability and amazing performance included for a maximum of £75 per user per month. You get two major releases each year, and it all runs on a web browser, so no software to install and maintain on the client PC’s/tablets/mobile phones. There is a store for Apps that you can download and install (or remove if you don’t like them) and the really clever bit is the way development is delivered.

If you want some development done, it's now discrete to the main code base, so when the six-monthly upgrade gets rolled out, your custom development doesn’t screw it up. Those clever development blogs I mentioned at the beginning, they cover all that stuff. Plus the integration with Outlook and Office 365, well it needs a post on its own.

To be fair I tried to find out some costs for Netsuite to compare…good luck with that. One of their largest US partners states on the pricing page of the website states the following: 

“When researching the NetSuite platform, it can be difficult to find information about NetSuite pricing.

NetSuite's price depends on a handful of factors including the selected product configuration, add-on modules required, total user count and contract duration. Taking these into account, NetSuite’s base license pricing begins at $999 per month with general user access listed at $99 per month. Advanced NetSuite feature modules are available as required and are extremely beneficial enhancements to your standard platform license.”

So, the cheapest version of Netsuite is considerably more than the Essentials D365 Business Central version. I’m more than happy to be educated on the Netsuite pricing model, but the point I’m trying to make is, it’s not simple or transparent. In my experience that normally = expensive.

Of course, D365 Business Central is built on the Dynamics NAV functionality and stability used and trusted by 2.7 million users across over 160,000 organisations in 195 countries, so you're in safe hands.

I love the fresh, beautiful interface. The user experience with software is such a critical thing that coupled with the functionality and price point I can only see success for Dynamics 365 Business Central. As much as I was frustrated and concerned last year, I’m pleased Microsoft were brave enough to go back to the drawing board and get it right. On April 2nd, its generally available, take a look at the trial, I think you’ll be glad you did. D365 Business Central has gone from dropping the ball to dropping the mic. #msdyn365bc

 

Enhanced on 28 Mar 2018

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