NetSuite vs Dynamics 365 Business Central: What’s Best for You?

If you’re trying to choose between Oracle NetSuite and Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central, it’s important to focus on the needs of your business.

There is no good answer to the general question, “Which ERP is better?” Both are powerful cloud-based ERP systems that many successful companies depend on.

But this article can help you find the answer to the important question: “Which ERP is better for you?” There are several major differences and gotchas between the solutions, some of which will matter greatly for your company.

Oracle NetSuite Dynamics 365 Business Central
Subscription Price Unpublished
$1,000 USD/month and up
$70 USD/user/month for Essentials
Design Philosophy You use it the way it was built Partner tailors a solution to you
Reporting Out of the box Often enhanced with Power BI
Transition from QuickBooks Both ERPs have a large base of customers who migrated from QuickBooks.
Transition from Dynamics GP or NAV Promotional license pricing
Familiar functionality
Updates Cloud-based Cloud-based, customer can choose date of major updates
Warehouse, Supply Chain Available, but additional fees required Built in
Manufacturing Available, but additional fees required Built in, but some capabilities require Premium licenses ($100 USD/user/month)
Add-Ons and Extra Apps A “suite” of products
  • Other D365 apps
  • Office apps, like Outlook
  • Power Apps
  • Partner-built integrations to 3rd-party apps

Subscription Price

Exact NetSuite subscription pricing isn’t publicly available — they want you to talk to a salesperson before revealing the price, and they may offer a deep discount for a limited time in order to sign a new customer.

According to one NetSuite partner, NetSuite full user licenses are $99/user/month. For NetSuite OneWorld (required for businesses with multiple legal entities), reports of cost vary, but according to this PCMag review it’s $999 + $99 per user per month.

NetSuite customers also often tell us that they need to engage in yearly contract negotiations and see their subscription prices increase by 10% or more per year.

Dynamics 365 Business Central subscription pricing is more straightforward and predictable. Business Central Essentials is $70/user/month USD ($95 CAD) with an annual commitment. You can also have “Team Users,” who have full read functionality but limited write permissions, for $8/user/month USD ($10.20 CAD).

Design Philosophy & Platform

Overall, NetSuite is designed with the idea that your company will use the product the way it was built. There are bundled solutions for many different industries, though you need to carefully check the bundle package, to ensure that you’re only paying for functionality that adds value.

Business Central and the rest of Dynamics 365 is designed with the idea that your company, together with a partner, will tailor a solution for your needs and goals. Your Dynamics Partner can also continue to work with you as your business grows, bringing in other Dynamics applications and add-ons to expand your solution and meet your needs.

There’s a wide network of Dynamics Partners who provide implementation and support services. There are also many ISVs who can offer integrated applications to extend your functionality vertically and horizontally.

Furthermore, Microsoft has built Business Central and the rest of its business software on a platform that supports extensibility and interoperability across the whole Microsoft stack. See “How Add-Ons and Extra Apps Work,” below.

So overall, if your company’s processes are similar to most, or if you want to change your processes to fit a pre-existing standard, NetSuite is often the better choice. If it works for you, it’ll work great.

But if your company’s processes are unique, and you want your ERP to elevate the effectiveness of those processes, Dynamics 365 Business Central is often the right way to go.

Reporting

Out of the box NetSuite comes with simple reporting functions. However, the templates can be hard to use for basic forecasting.

Business Central does have its own basic reporting built in, and many companies choose to add Microsoft Power BI. Power BI lets you customize the visualization, enable drill-downs, and include external data sources. This gives you unmatched time to insight. However, it does require an additional cost: Power BI Pro licenses are $10/user/month USD ($12.20 CAD).

Note: For enhanced reporting capabilities, NetSuite offers a Power BI integration.

Transitions From Other Accounting Software

If you’re currently running your business on QuickBooks but you are outgrowing that software, both NetSuite and Business Central are often chosen as the next step up. Either way can be good for you.

Make sure to discuss with your potential implementation partner what aspects of your QuickBooks data are strategically important for you to transfer — and then who is responsible for making sure that data is migrated properly.

If you’re currently using Dynamics GP or Dynamics NAV, your users will be familiar with the core functionality of Business Central, even though the user interface is somewhat different. Also, you can access promotional pricing for Business Central licenses.

You’re probably wondering how much an implementation would cost. And for both NetSuite and Business Central, the answer is “it depends.” But to give you a ballpark figure for SMBs, we at Encore offer fixed-price packages ranging from $16,000 to $50,455.

SMB customers coming from NetSuite, QuickBooks, or any other non-Microsoft ERP should try our Business Central implementation price calculator.

Customers on Dynamics GP or Dynamics NAV should contact us to discuss transitioning to Dynamics 365 Business Central.

Updates

Both Business Central and NetSuite are cloud-based. NetSuite rolls out updates to a small segment of businesses first, and then to the rest of its customers. (This is an example of how NetSuite wants you to use their software the way they built it.)

On the other hand, Microsoft allows each of its customers to choose their own date for the 2/year significant updates within the software. That way, if your year-end or another major event falls at the same time as a scheduled update release, you can postpone the update until afterward. (This is an example of how Microsoft Dynamics is meant to give individual businesses a bit more flexibility.)

Note that this does not mean you can “skip” D365 updates entirely or forever. The updates are important for security and compatibility with other solutions.

Warehouse, Supply Chain, Manufacturing

Business Central has its warehouse and supply-chain functionality built right into the core product.

For certain manufacturing capabilities (production bills of materials, basic capacity planning, etc.), they are still built in to the core Dynamics 365 product, but your users must have Business Central Premium (rather than Essentials) Licenses. Those are $100/user/month USD ($128 CAD).

NetSuite also offers all these capabilities, but they all require additional fees. For companies in manufacturing and distribution, that difference can be a pull toward Business Central.

How Add-Ons and Extra Apps Work

Both Business Central and NetSuite offer a wide array of extra functionality that you can add into the base product depending on your needs.

You should talk with a partner to determine if some particular extra functionality is critical to your success. We recently had a customer choose to go with NetSuite rather than Business Central because NetSuite offered a certain app integration that made that specific business run much faster. NetSuite was the right choice for that customer. Even though we are a Microsoft Dynamics Partner, we want to see your business succeed with whatever solution is right for you.

NetSuite offers, as the name suggests, a “suite” of products for different needs. When the suite works for you, it works great. But sometimes there are gaps between what you need and what the suite offers. Those gaps can be hard to fill in a way that integrates together with the core NetSuite product.

Dynamics 365 apps, including Business Central, are designed to connect with:

  • Office apps, like Outlook and Excel, which you’re probably already using.
  • Add-ons developed by many different Microsoft Partners.
  • Power Apps (a low-code/no-code way for you and your partner to quickly spin-up functionality for a specific business need).
  • Other D365 apps, like Dynamics 365 Sales.

Finally, Microsoft Dynamics Partners can also build the integrations you may need with 3rd-party products. So the D365 ecosystem of apps and partners can fill a very wide range of functionality and industry needs. However, you and your partner have to work together to vet the correct solutions and determine the path forward for you.

If you have any questions about implementing Business Central for your business, don’t hesitate to contact us. We’d love to talk with you.

* Based on the contract commitment, the per user per month price may differ from the prices listed above. All pricing is subject to change without notice. Contact Encore for the most current product pricing and available contract options.

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