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Microsoft Dynamics AX Software Review

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Microsoft Dynamics AX Sweet Spot & Alternative Solutions

Sweet Spot
Dynamics AX 2012 is a midrange ERP top competitor and tier-one ERP system that can compete favorably with SAP and Oracle in select scenarios. Dynamics AX key capabilities include choice of deployment (on-demand or on-premise), feature set depth, productivity (seamless integration with other commonly used desktop programs) and its partner ecosystem. Dynamics customers frequently choose this product for its native Microsoft Office-like user experience, strong functionality, flexible tools and adaptability.

Short list Dynamics AX when:

  • You require functionality in process- and discrete-based manufacturing
  • You seek highly adaptable and customizable ERP software
  • Your staff currently use MS Outlook and Office products
  • You feel you may change software delivery methods from SaaS to on-premises or vice versa
  • Your IT department is a Microsoft shop and makes use of MS platform products such as SQL Server, Visual Studio, Windows Workflow Foundation, SharePoint and/or Communication Server
  • You feel your company size or sophistication puts you somewhere between the midrange ERP products (i.e. Epicor, Sage or SAP All-in-One) and the tier 1 ERP products (Oracle and SAP Business Suite)
  • Your company headquarters uses SAP or Oracle and you're looking for a tier 2 ERP system for regional locations, subsidiaries or external lines of business

Existing Dynamics AX customers considering an upgrade to AX 2012 will need to perform a pricing calculation using the new named-user pricing model. This may have a negative financial impact for small businesses, given their staff require access to more areas and functions, which in turn puts them in the more costly user types.

Alternative Solutions
Buyers may be best advised to consider alternative ERP software products when:

  • Seeking mature vertically focused, industry-specific ERP solutions
  • Your internal IT shop standardizes on non-Microsoft technologies such as Oracle, Linux or Java/J2EE and users are passionate about their consumer devices such as iPhones, Androids or BlackBerrys
  • You are committed to a cloud ERP solution and desire all the benefits of a Software as a Service solution
  • Your company is implementing Enterprise 2.0, social CRM or similar social business strategies

Common Dynamics AX competitors include CDC Software, Epicor, IFS, Infor, Lawson, Oracle, Plex, SAP All-in-One and SAP Business Suite. Cloud ERP competitors include FinancialForce, Intacct, NetSuite, Oracle Fusion and SAP Business ByDesign.

Concluding Remarks

Dynamics AX may be the Microsoft flagship ERP product and is advancing at an impressive pace. The AX 2012 release delivered over 1,000 new enhancements from its previous version and has taken a step toward competing with SAP and Oracle in the tier-one ERP market. Because of the solution's upmarket shift, Dynamics AX 2012 is no longer a good fit for smaller companies, as pricing and a sophisticated software scope may now be out of these companies' range.

Dynamics AX 2012 is targeted to medium- and large-size enterprises. The application's specialties are geared toward manufacturing, public sector, services industries, and distribution-based organizations. While Microsoft has not heavily invested in vertical market solutions, this may be changing somewhat in the near future.

The strength of the Microsoft partner ecosystem should not be under-estimated. Dynamics AX is supported by one of the largest and most mature partner networks in the ERP industry, with thousands of trained and certified partners and over 2,200 software add-ons. These partners provide system integration, professional services, technical support, localized expertise, and vertical specialization to their target industries.

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