Compare Dynamics AX, NAV, and GP

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What is the difference between Dynamics AX, NAV, and GP?

Checking out ERP systems can make you a bit dizzy if you don’t have clear objectives going into the process.  It becomes even more confusing when one software company offers three of the leading systems and they all have similar names.  Microsoft has chosen a common brand, Dynamics, for five very different products, of which four are ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) systems.  How do you choose the best one to fit your organization?

As previously mentioned, Microsoft offers four ERP systems for mid-market and up – Dynamics AX, Dynamics GP, Dynamics NAV, and Dynamics SL. These products were previously called Axapta, Great Plains, Navision, and Solomon and have represented much that is good in the world of ERP systems.  Over the years, Microsoft has invested over one billion dollars in research and development into these four products, more so into Dynamics AX, in order to make the product more competitive at the high end compared to SAP and Oracle.

They are all great products, have a similar interface, and benefit from Microsoft’s extreme commitment to research and development.  For purposes of this discussion, we will only consider Dynamics AX, Dynamics GP, and Dynamics NAV based on sales volume.

History of Dynamics GP, NAV, and AX

The development toolkits in the three products are very different and this reflects in the product.  Dynamics GP was developed in the late 1980’s using a legacy toolkit that makes it difficult to migrate the product to a newer development platform.  Dynamics NAV was released in 1994 and was able to take advantage of the Visual C+ toolkit, which has been upgraded to the latest versions of Visual Studio with .net extensions.  As well, the efficient design of the toolkit has allowed Dynamics NAV to migrate to a three tier environment with a web services layer handling the communication between a variety of clients and the SQL Server database.  Dynamics AX was released in 1997 and had an even more up-to-date and flexible toolkit than Dynamics NAV.  Microsoft has invested significant amounts to make this toolkit flexible and capable enough to compete with SAP and Oracle.  The older design of Dynamics GP means that Microsoft has had to rely on configuration and light customization options around the exterior of the product.  All source code for Dynamics NAV and Dynamics AX is available to developers to customize and configure the products.

Dynamics GP

Dynamics GP is a solid product with strong and extensive functionality and is well suited to companies with requirements for financial reporting and light distribution.  Its extensive family of third party add-on products brings significant amounts of specialized functionality and utility to the product.  Over the past few years Dynamics GP has moved into a slot lower than either Dynamics NAV or Dynamics AX and works very well for smaller organizations or those with limited advanced functionality.  This is not a reflection on Dynamics GP so much as it is a by-product of the flexibility of the Dynamics NAV and Dynamics AX toolkits and what the development partners and resellers have been able to do with those products.

Dynamics NAV

Dynamics NAV plays exclusively in the mid-market and utilizes its three-tier design to scale up to potentially hundreds of concurrent users.  The design allows for a choice of Windows, web browser, and SharePoint clients.  The flexibility and simplicity of the design allows Dynamics NAV to be rapidly configured or customized to fit unique business requirements.  Full access to the source code and development toolkit allows the development partners and resellers to rapidly develop industry-specific solutions.  Standard Dynamics NAV offers advanced functionality for distribution, manufacturing, and service management.

Dynamics AX

Dynamics AX comes with the most flexible toolkit and advanced feature set of the three products.  Microsoft has added several industry specialties into Dynamics AX for areas such as professional development, retail, and process manufacturing.  If you need advanced functionality then Dynamics AX is your choice.  Finding capable implementation partners with sufficient staff to carry out the project can be a challenge.  The product is much more suited for advanced multi-location and multi-national requirements.


Besides the functionality and ability to customize or configure the products, a major differentiator is the cost of the implementation itself.  The software is actually priced similarly but there are wide discrepancies in the scale of implementation services required.  Dynamics GP and Dynamics NAV have very similar service level requirements with a services to software ratio of approximately one to one.  Both can be more expensive if the customer requires extensive configuration although Dynamics NAV has some ability to offset this additional expense through use of a templated process called RapidStart.  Dynamics AX, is similar to SAP and Oracle with services ratios often touching seven to one.  Because of its competition, it is forced to play the game of advanced functionality and complexity.  Dynamics NAV offers similar functionality at a much lower overall cost and allows the product to be rapidly configured to meet the unique requirements that really matter.  Dynamics GP offer advanced functionality at a good overall cost if the product matches your requirements.

by Open Door Technology

1 thought on “Compare Dynamics AX, NAV, and GP”

  1. Need your expertise,

    I need full automated ERP for Real State, which involve (Marketing, Sales Booking, Sales , Rent, Leaze) also generic ERP (AP,AR,GL, payroll, Leave management, etc)

    Need our Real estate business fully state of the art , integrated with Whatapp,fb,Skype,Online payment, Live chat

    Which product I select from Microsfot D

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