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|
$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
|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||
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 Limited Edition (10 or fewer users, 1 legal entity) starts around $1,000 USD per month. Meanwhile, a PCMag review states that NetSuite OneWorld costs $999 per month + $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 subscription pricing is more straightforward and publicly shared. Business Central Essentials is $70/user/month USD ($89.60 CAD). You can also have “Team Users,” who have full read functionality but limited write permissions, for $8/month/user 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.
Dynamics 365 is designed with the idea that your company, together with a partner, will tailor a solution for your needs and goals. There’s a wide network of Dynamics Partners who can provide implementation and support services to meet your specific business needs.
Furthermore, Microsoft has built Dynamics 365 and the rest of its business software on a platform that supports interoperability across the whole Microsoft stack. You get deployment flexibility across tenants, companies, and databases. Dynamics customers can select cloud, on-prem, or hosted deployment.
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 is often the right way to go.
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 gets transferred 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. We have specific transition package calculator tools for customers coming from QuickBooks or Dynamics GP, but we use this offer with customers coming from NetSuite too.
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 in Microsoft’s AppSource, 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 questions about the best ERP choice for your business, contact us with the form below.
* All pricing is subject to change without notice. Contact Encore for the most current pricing.
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