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Jeff Pyden, OmniVue

The Real Difference between Microsoft Dynamics NAV and AX


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    The Microsoft Dynamics product line includes several diverse ERP solutions.  Each is designed for specific industries and purposes, but the two that people often have the most trouble distinguishing between are  Dynamics NAV and Dynamics AX.  So what’s the difference?

    Dynamics NAV and Dynamics AX are both highly customizable ERP solutions available in many languages and currencies and have an impressive international install base.  Both solutions are agile enough to operate in one centralized location or across multiple decentralized locations, and can scale along with your business.  Both offer industry-specific functionality to meet local and regional needs.  NAV and AX are described equally by Microsoft as end to end comprehensive ERP solutions with the ability to manage complex supply chains and inventory.

    You won’t uncover the differences by comparing them feature to feature, and you can’t realistically define them by the number of users they can handle, though many have tried. The real determining factors are at a higher level, and are based on how well the solution aligns with the goals and growth plans for the organization it will support.

    Scaling: Enterprise vs. Mid-size

    Generally speaking, Dynamics NAV is geared toward small to midsize companies ($5M – $500M) with some international presence.  It provides powerful technology that smaller businesses otherwise may not be able to afford, allowing them to compete with organizations many times their size.  As the business grows, the ability to scale and keep pace with organizational goals is imperative, and NAV makes this very straightforward. Easy customization and the ability to scale make NAV an excellent choice for many companies.

    In contrast, Dynamics AX is designed for large, enterprise class organizations with a broad international presence.  Organizations of this magnitude have unique challenges, especially when it comes to large deployments across multiple countries with each operating in their own language and currency.  Though both AX and NAV are designed to scale and grow along with a business, one of the main differences between these solutions is that AX is better equipped to address the specific size and scale challenges of enterprise organizations.

    Complexity and Maintenance Costs

    With that said, AX is much more complicated than NAV.  The implementations are more complex, take longer, require more decisions, and must have excellent project management if you hope to succeed.  Many NAV implementations require only a part-time project manager and a small implementation team.  AX often requires dedicated technical resources to manage the solution once it’s up and running, while NAV does not.  Because of these complexities, it costs more to implement and run AX than NAV, which is another reason it is a better fit for more established enterprise organizations.

    Global Operations vs. Global Visibility

    Both solutions support multiple languages and currencies, and can transact across borders.  Dynamics NAV does an excellent job of handling decentralized global operations; however, Dynamics AX works better for managing end to end global processes.  As an example, this is especially important for large manufacturing businesses because it allows them to view inventory across international locations and have visibility into each area of the organization.  For complex enterprise solutions who need visibility across multiple decentralized locations in different countries, this is best achieved with Dynamics AX.  Dynamics NAV is a very popular, effective ERP solution for growing international businesses that don’t have such a complicated organizational structure.

    Agility and the Cloud

    The word “agility” encompasses many things, but mainly refers to being flexible, adapting to changing market demands and doing so in a cost-effective manner.  Both Dynamics NAV and AX will increase your business agility and provide superior business intelligence and analytics.  Because many companies have difficulty reacting quickly to change, they require an ERP solution like Dynamics AX or NAV which are designed specifically for this challenge.  Because of its enterprise capabilities, Dynamics AX was identified by Gartner as one of three ERP solutions in their Magic Quadrant – along with SAP and Oracle.

    Both Dynamics AX and Dynamics NAV are available as hosted ERP solutions or a combination of hosted and on-premise.  Choosing the cloud-hosted model further increases the agility and breadth of these solutions.

    Conclusion

    Though their capabilities are similar, Dynamics AX and NAV were designed for different organizational types, structures and sizes. One is not better than the other; they are simply intended to be matched with corresponding business complexities and size.  Investing in an ERP system is a big decision, and the first step is having a clear vision of your company goals, strategies, and structure.   As an expert on both Dynamics NAV and AX, OmniVue is able to provide guidance from a broad perspective.  Through our unique VueFinder discovery process, we can help you choose the Dynamics ERP solution that aligns best with your organization’s current and future needs.

    by OmniVue, Georgia Microsoft Dynamics GP Partner

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    11 Responses to “The Real Difference between Microsoft Dynamics NAV and AX”

    1. This is probably the first unbiased blog I have read comparing NAV and AX. Well done.

      Its good to see that the core difference is being address, i.e. AX for fully integrated multi-national companies at a greater cost, and NAV for those that do not need that level of international integration and want to spend less.

    2. Rupesh Chirmade says:

      This blog is fantastic. It gives a clear picture of the differences as well the understanding of both Navision and Axapta.

    3. Renown says:

      Great Post!

      I have been continually asked the differences between Microsoft Dynamics AX, NAV, GP and SL by potential clients and even other Dynamics resellers.

      Microsoft actually has stated positioning on their website. I wrote about my thoughts and the Microsoft positioning at;

      http://www.renown.com.au/MicrosoftDynamics/Dynamics_AX/Dynamics_AX_vs.aspx

      hope this helps
      Michael

    4. Katharina says:

      I have worked now for 8 years with Dynamics NAV and I must disagree with your comment that after implementation the project team can walk away without further maintenance. As you mentioned, those solutions have often customisation, which can be very complex, especially when running the Costing/Warehouse solution. I have seen many mistakes in setups and no correction, because the testing was only shortly after implementation as has been never followed up.

    5. Michael says:

      I have recently list the top 10 reasons to choose Dynamics AX that may, at a headline level,add some points to consider:

      http://www.renown.com.au/MicrosoftDynamics/Dynamics_AX/Why_Choose_Microsoft_Dynamics_AX.aspx

      hope this helps
      Michael

    6. This is probably the first unbiased blog I have read comparing NAV and AX. Well done.Thanks for such a nice information Please share with us:- Dynamics ax consulting

    7. Thank you for the useful information. For further spanish information about Microsoft Dynamics NAV in Central America please visit http://www.linkedin.com/groups/Microsoft-Dynamics-NAV-Guatemala-5147384?trk=myg_ugrp_ovr

    8. Raokman says:

      A very important difference is the ability of AX to account for Business Units more thoroughly than NAV.

      NAV is very (very, very) limited in the structure of a business it will support. For example, you cannot account for multiple (legal) entities separately within NAV utilizing a common set of accounts, bank accounts (pay checks from one account for many entities), or items.

      AX apparently can do this. This is a major failing of ERP systems available today, from whatever source. And while I’m not impressed by AX itselt, at least it attempts to address the needs of potential customers.

    9. Michael says:

      Dialog is constantly asked this question “why Microsoft Dynamics AX vs NAV, GP etc.

      We wrote a page on it, including Microsoft’s own positioning;
      http://www.dialogdynamics.com.au/microsoft-dynamics-ax-vs-nav-vs-sl-vs-gp/

      If you want to know more about Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012, I have that:

      http://www.dialogdynamics.com.au/products/microsoft-dynamics-ax/

      Hope this helps
      Michael

    10. Thanks for sharing great comparison between the AX and NAV.
      Microsoft Dynamics AX is best in terms of flexibility. It can easily be expand as per the business expansion.

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