With the growing demand for cloud ERP, we’re seeing more solutions in the market. While having options is good for customers, it also creates more confusion in the selection process.
NetSuite and Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central are two of the leading cloud ERP solutions for small to mid-size companies…but which one is right for your business?
The answer to that question will depend on the specifics of your business and what you need from your ERP system. There’s no default winner for all situations. Our goal here is to help you understand where each is strong and what to be aware of, so you can make an informed decision.
Depth of Functionality
Based on their legacy Microsoft NAV solution, Business Central (BC) is still a relatively young product but has big potential in the years ahead. Although it’s currently a broad product covering basic functionality across most areas, they’ve already developed strong supply chain management functionality. And they have the advantage of tight native integration with other Microsoft products, like Office 365, Power BI and more.
One thing to note is how Business Central has been developed from a technical perspective. You can use additional modules for more advanced capabilities beyond what comes in the core ERP, but each module has its own database. They’re tied together with a middleware layer, so the data is still siloed to a certain extent. This may or may not matter if you get the functionality you need, but it’s worth asking how this impacts the user experience and process flows.
NetSuite also has a core ERP with the option to add specific modules for additional functionality. The difference here is that all modules are developed on the SuiteCloud platform using a central database. This design approach allows for a consistent user experience across modules. NetSuite has also developed industry solutions that include commonly used modules and functionality, paired with an optional SuiteSuccess implementation approach that leverages industry best practices. This enables companies with simple processes to implement NetSuite faster, using pre-defined workflows, processes and reporting that’s optimized for their industry.
Advanced Financial Capabilities
Business Central’s financial capability will work well for companies with simple requirements. But there are a few things to be aware of for companies that require more financial depth. If you operate in multiple countries, each country is treated as a separate entity with its own database. There’s no native financial consolidation capability, so you’ll still be doing that manually. Other features like revenue recognition and subscription billing aren’t included in the native functionality; you can still meet the requirements, but you’ll need a third-party app to do so.
Finance and accounting are natural strengths for NetSuite. The solution originated as an accounting platform, forming a solid platform that they’ve built out over the years. If your business needs functionality for revenue recognition, financial consolidation of multiple currencies or subsidiaries, or fixed asset management, NetSuite is a good choice.
Robust Reporting and Analytics
Dynamics 365 BC comes with native reporting functionality, but there seem to be limitations that make it challenging for everyday users to analyze their data. For example, pre-built reports have limited filter options, the slice and dice capabilities are narrow and the ability to drill-down into data is limited. If you need more complex reporting and analytics capability, Power BI is a good option as there’s a native integration. You can do a lot more with Power BI, but you may also need some more technically savvy users to get the reporting you need.
NetSuite also provides reporting and analytics capabilities, including pre-defined dashboards and reports based on industry and user roles. Self-serve reporting tools allow anyone to create reports using a drag and drop report builder – no programming or technical experience needed. There are some limitations with custom reporting that require more technical expertise, but these can be easily overcome by working with your NetSuite partner.
There’s no doubt that Microsoft Business Central offers a great price point – anywhere from $10.20 to $128.00 per month for each user, depending on the license type. Keep in mind that this price is a baseline and may increase based on the modules you need, and any third-party applications required. Before you make any decisions based on price, connect with a Microsoft partner to scope out the project and clarify your requirements. That will give you a more accurate subscription cost that you can compare against other solutions.
NetSuite also uses a subscription pricing model that considers the modules you need, the number of users and the size of your company. We’ll admit that NetSuite pricing isn’t as clear-cut (you won’t find a per user/month fee listed online), but a NetSuite partner can give you an estimate based on your requirements. Your NetSuite partner also has ways to ensure price certainty over the term of your subscription, and predictability beyond that.
Which ERP Solution is Better – NetSuite or Microsoft Business Central?
The right ERP solution will always come down to your needs. Hopefully we’ve answered some of your questions about NetSuite and Business Central.
If you want to learn more about NetSuite and see if it’s a good fit for your business, we can help. As your local North American NetSuite implementation partner, we're here to ensure you get a perfect fit ERP solution. Book an intro call with our team to discuss the next steps in your evaluation.