The Complete Guide to Microsoft ERP Systems

We’ve paired this article with a comprehensive guide to handling accounts payable and global mass payments when using Microsoft ERP. Get your free copy of The Last Mile of Microsoft: Payables Transformation Strategies!

Microsoft offers several ERP solutions to manage finance and accounting, supply chain, manufacturing, and other functional business processes with a single integrated database. This article compares Microsoft ERP systems by ERP product name.

This article defines what is meant by an ERP software system, describes each Microsoft ERP by name, and lists each Microsoft ERP solution available in a comparison table. 

What is an ERP System?

An ERP system (enterprise resource planning) is an integrated, modular software solution handling financial management, accounting, supply chain management, manufacturing (MRP), inventory management, project management, business intelligence, and other business processes. ERP software may integrate with customer relationship management (CRM), human resources, collaboration, and add-on software. 

Microsoft Dynamics 365

Microsoft Dynamics 365 is the newest cloud-based Microsoft ERP system using several Microsoft intelligent business applications that runs on Microsoft’s technology-rich Azure cloud platform.

The alternative on-premises deployment option of Microsoft Dynamic 365 for Finance and Operations (on-premises) in the customer’s data center is only supported for running on Microsoft Azure Stack Hub services. Microsoft Dynamic 365 for Finance and Operations is the redesigned and rebranded web-based ERP system, formerly called Microsoft Dynamics AX and originally Axapta ERP.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 is real-time, modern ERP Azure cloud software. Dynamics 365 ERP gains functionality when integrating with the Microsoft Teams communication and collaboration platform, providing video conferencing and online chats with optional file attachments.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 offers integrated business app functionality for sales (CRM), marketing, customer service, field service, finance, operations, commerce (brick-and-mortar and eCommerce), and human resources. Customers can choose to use Microsoft Dynamics CRM or integrate Salesforce with Microsoft Dynamics 365 as their CRM software. 

Companies of all sizes, from small businesses to large enterprise companies, use Microsoft Dynamics 365 and Microsoft Dynamic 365 for Finance and Operations. 

Although these Microsoft Dynamics 365 ERP solutions are used in most industries, companies in the software and IT services industries are the top users. Large commercial enterprises using Microsoft Dynamics 365 include Adobe, HP, Coca-Cola, Chipotle, Lowe’s, and UPS.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 ERP Pros

  • State-of-the-art Azure cloud platform ERP software, using advanced technology
    • Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning(ML)
    • Internet of Things (IoT)
  • Comprehensive ERP business solution offers:
    • Finance & accounting
    • Supply chain
    • Sales & Marketing, with Dynamics CRM to track and manage business opportunities
    • Service
      • Customer service
      • Field service
    • Project management
    • Commerce
      • Store and eCommerce
    • Human resources
    • Numerous third-party add-on software apps
  • Native integration with Office 365 (Microsoft 365) apps and Microsoft software tools including Excel, Word, PowerPoint, and SharePoint
  • Includes Microsoft Power Platform with bots and process automation
  • Embeds Microsoft Power BI for analytics and business intelligence
  • Works with Microsoft Teams collaboration platform
  • Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central for small and medium-sized companies
  • Transparent SaaS pricing by product type
  • Real-time dashboards for managing revenue, profitability, assets, and cash flow

Microsoft Dynamics Business Central (Business Central)

Microsoft Business Central is a cloud, on-premises, and hybrid ERP system for small businesses and medium-sized companies. Business Central has been adopted by organizations previously using Microsoft Dynamics NAV, Microsoft Dynamics GP (Great Plains), Microsoft AX, Microsoft Operations (on-premises), and Microsoft Dynamics SL.

Microsoft Dynamics Business Central Pros

  • Modern cloud-based user interface
  • Users can access from all devices
  • Allows access via the cloud, on-premises, or hybrid deployment for legacy users of Microsoft Dynamics GP, SL, and NAV
  • Business Central can be used with Microsoft Teams when integrated

Microsoft Dynamics NAV

Microsoft Dynamics NAV (formerly Navision) has been rebranded as Microsoft Dynamics Business Central (Microsoft Business Central) for customers choosing to upgrade to get cloud, on-premises, or hybrid access, working with a modernized web-based user interface.

Microsoft Dynamics NAV Pros

  • Comprehensive features for most industries
  • Robust manufacturing software
  • Loyal user base
  • Ability to apply different types of  customization

Microsoft Dynamics GP (Great Plains) 

Microsoft Dynamics GP is an on-premises ERP legacy system with optional hosting that Microsoft acquired from Great Plains. Microsoft Dynamics GP can be migrated to web-based Microsoft Dynamics Business Central with a redesigned, more modern user interface and cloud, on-premises, or hybrid connections.

Microsoft Dynamics GP (Great Plains) Pros

  • Fully featured for SMBs in many industries
  • Strong manufacturing resource planning (MRP) and procurement software

Microsoft Dynamics SL

Microsoft Dynamics SL is a combined project management and financial management & accounting software ERP product designed for project-based companies. Dynamics SL is used in industries including construction, government contracting, and professional services and engineering. Microsoft Dynamics SL is sold only through VARs that are Microsoft Dynamics Certified Partners.

Microsoft Dynamics SL is an established legacy system (originally named Solomon) used by project-based businesses for over 30 years. Most companies using Microsoft Dynamics SL are mid-sized, although some small businesses and enterprises use the ERP software. 

Microsoft Dynamics SL Pros

  • Designed for project-based companies 
  • Strong project management features

Does Microsoft ERP Work with Add-on SaaS AP Automation Software?

Yes. All Microsoft ERP products work with Tipalti add-on SaaS AP automation software to streamline workflows for payables and global mass payments, as described in The Last Mile of Microsoft: Payables Transformation Strategies. The ERP system seamlessly integrates with the AP automation app, giving users access through the Microsoft ERP log-in.

Overall Comparison of Microsoft ERPs

Microsoft ERPCloud or on-premisesUser Business SizeIntegration with AP Automation Software
Dynamics 365Azure cloudAll sizes from small business to enterpriseYes
Dynamics 365 Finance + OperationsOn-premisesAll sizes from small business to enterpriseYes
Microsoft Dynamics Business Central Cloud with on-premises and hybrid connections to NAV, GP, and SL ERP softwareSMB – small and medium-sized businessesYes
Microsoft Dynamics GPOn-premises, with the ability to add Azure-hosted cloud or migrate to Microsoft Business Central with cloud, on-premises, or hybrid connectionsSMB – small and medium-sized businessesYes
Dynamics NAV(rebranded as Dynamics 365 Business Central)On-premises but can be upgraded to Microsoft Dynamics Business Central for cloud, on-premises, or hybrid  deployment Targeted to SMBs – small and medium-sized businesses; used by some enterprisesYes
Microsoft Dynamics SLOn-premises but can be migrated to Microsoft Dynamics Business Central for cloud, on-premises, or hybrid deployment Targeted to SMBs – small and medium-sized businesses; used by some enterprises Yes

Choosing the best Microsoft ERP solution depends on your budget, company size, industry, business application or module selection, and other business needs. New users will find a modern cloud-based solution with either Microsoft Dynamics 365 or Microsoft Dynamics Business Central. Microsoft Dynamics GP and Dynamics SL are still sold as standalone products which are on-premises with hosting options. 

These Microsoft ERP systems work with Tipalti AP automation software to save significant time and money, reduce payment risk, and improve financial controls. 

Whether you’re looking for the latest ERP solution or committed to a Microsoft ERP legacy system like NAV, Microsoft Dynamics GP(Great Plains), or Dynamics SL, you’ll find a suitable ERP solution. Microsoft offers ERP systems for companies of all sizes, from small businesses to mid-market to large enterprises. 

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