As you envision and plan your company’s technology strategy, you will need to determine what the role of cloud technology will be and if you are going to take advantage of any of today’s cloud or hybrid ERP solutions. As you consider a new ERP system, you may find that it can be difficult to understand the differences between two widely used ERP solutions: Oracle NetSuite and Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central. They’re both highly usable, secure, and designed for medium-size organizations. They have much in common and also offer strengths in specific areas. So how do you choose the right ERP between them?
We asked two of our ERP experts to discuss and compare Business Central and NetSuite in detail during a webinar. This article includes highlights from their conversation.
Addressing two key questions
Before anything else, we should comment on two common, important questions that we hear from clients.
Which ERP system fits which industry best?
In our experience, both solutions are extremely flexible and easily extensible with functionality from software vendors. Either one can be an excellent fit for discrete manufacturing and distribution companies. NetSuite has been particularly adaptable and successful in such market segments as life sciences, professional and financial services, retail, private equity, associations, and nonprofits. In addition to manufacturing and distribution, Business Central is a powerful solution for construction and complex engineer-to-order, project-based, and process manufacturing. Because of the many solutions available from independent software vendors, it’s also a great fit for automotive and equipment rental companies, military contractors, local and state governments, and associations.
How do the costs of Business Central and NetSuite compare?
From solution deployment to five to ten years of using Business Central or NetSuite, the overall costs are fairly close, although the specifics of your investment may be different. In a shorter timeframe, the cost differences are larger, and a reliable estimate would depend on your deployment model, business requirements, and environment. NetSuite comes with a higher upfront expense based on user licensing and software modules but offers lower fees after your go-live. Business Central offers a low licensing fee per named user. It includes all Microsoft Business Central modules. Its running costs may be higher because Microsoft continues to change the solution’s core functionality twice a year in major releases. These reflect in higher costs for regression testing and error mitigation to prepare for upgrade rollouts.
Both Business Central and NetSuite can help you reduce the costs of IT management and repurpose or reduce such hardware as on-premises servers, storage, and networking equipment. Because you can run Business Central on-premises in addition to the cloud, you may be able to continue using existing infrastructure to do so. However, be aware that not all the SaaS features of Business Central in the cloud are available in the on-premises version.
ERP on a Microsoft platform
Business Central, originally based on Microsoft Dynamics NAV, is a comprehensive ERP system that can span cloud and on-premises environments. Business Central enables fully aligned business management with immediate visibility of events as they happen. The solution helps companies manage operations, finances, sales, services, and supply chains, and includes strong reporting and analytics capabilities. Out-of-the-box, it integrates with Microsoft Dynamics 365 Sales, Microsoft 365, Microsoft Power Apps, Microsoft Power BI, Microsoft Power Automate, and other Microsoft products. A large partner community offers software tools to extend Business Central for specific requirements.
Deployments of Business Central take advantage of the Sikich HEADSTART methodology and resource. HEADSTART includes fully operational models of the ERP system and a large library of standardized, best practices-infused processes. By using HEADSTART, we can greatly accelerate implementations of a solution that fits clients’ businesses, ensure rapid user adoption, and deliver the benefits clients hope for. Sikich ERP and industry experts have optimized HEADSTART with preconfigured capabilities for manufacturing, including industrial equipment manufacturing, construction, and other industries.
Modern, simple, production-ready business management solution
NetSuite is a robust, highly usable cloud ERP solution that delivers insight with realtime data access for all business roles. It connects information and workflows across financials, sales, services, and operations, and can easily integrate with third-party solutions for banking, CRM, payroll, or industry-specific functionality. It comes with best-practice guidance for managing organizational change and for setting up roles, processes, and metrics that fit particular industries. As a unified, coherent software environment, it offers full visibility of business operations.
Sikich delivers fast, frictionless NetSuite deployments that may begin by going live initially with finance and inventory management, and then adding functionality such as supply chain management, warehousing, revenue recognition and project management. We have developed specific versions of the SuiteSuccess methodology for several industries, including life sciences.
Contrasts between Business Central and NetSuite
Both solutions have remarkable strengths in many areas, and you will need to decide how important these are for your community of technology users and your business, weighed against solution areas that are less powerful. Here are some examples of differences between the two:
Multiple and distributed business entities.
NetSuite is very strong when it comes to managing multiple companies and subsidiaries around the globe. NetSuite runs on one database for all local and regional deployments, whereas Business Central uses distinct databases for instances in separate countries.
NetSuite includes both ERP as well as full-fledged CRM capabilities, whereas CRM in Business Central is more foundational, but you can easily integrate with Dynamics 365 Sales and other Dynamics 365 modules.
Business Central can run in the cloud, on-premises, and in hybrid environments, whereas NetSuite is a pure cloud solution. Business Central easily integrates with Microsoft 365 and the solutions and services available on the Azure platform. Businesses and their technology partners can use the Microsoft Power Platform, including Power Apps and Power BI, to extend Business Central for specific business intelligence or capabilities requirements. NetSuite can integrate with Microsoft 365, but it typically requires middleware to accomplish this. When companies look to modernize their business systems and are ready to migrate away from Dynamics GP or Dynamics NAV, Sikich knows how to help them migrate to both Business Central and NetSuite efficiently and predictably.
In a seamless process that leaves integrations and customizations intact, NetSuite delivers two annual upgrades which users can test and explore before they implement. For Business Central, Microsoft offers two major releases per year, and Sikich performs thorough regression testing to ensure that clients can easily adopt them.
Your partner in ERP
Sikich helps clients deploy, configure, and manage both Business Central and NetSuite, and is deeply familiar with their respective strengths. Based on many years of practice and hundreds of successful ERP projects, we’ve developed efficient deployment approaches that minimize clients’ risks and shorten the time-to-benefit for ERP. You can draw on our industry expertise to help you make a sound ERP decision and accomplish an efficient, low-risk implementation.
We enjoy long-standing, productive partnerships and have advance insight into both Microsoft and Oracle innovations and solution development. Sikich is a member of the 2022/2023 Inner Circle for Microsoft Business Applications and a member of the 2022/2023, 2021/2020, and 2020//2021 Inner Circle for Microsoft Dynamics. We have received a 5 Star Award from Oracle NetSuite in 2021, 2020, 2019, and 2018; 2021 NetSuite Micro-Vertical Solution of the Year award; and a NetSuite 2022 Partner of the Year Award.
Here to help
At the beginning of any ERP engagement, Sikich consultants delve into your concerns, goals, processes, and long-term strategy for the business and its technology. We will assist you in making a strong business case and define success metrics for the right ERP solution. If you aren’t sure which solution is the right fit for your business, we can make a recommendation for Business Central or NetSuite once we understand your goals and business requirements. In a formal, structured assessment or a more informal conversation, we can recommend process optimizations and help you put them into practice before you move forward with your ERP deployment.
Your workforce technology strategy and the needs of mobile and work-from-anywhere users will make a huge difference in how you can best deliver a secure, productivity-driving ERP solution to employees and teams. Sikich has helped many businesses develop and empower their workforces and owns the expertise to enable secure and productive work, communications, and collaborations.
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