Are you overwhelmed by Microsoft’s Dynamics 365 platform and all of its products? If the answer is yes, then don’t worry - you’re certainly not alone. There is no denying that the Dynamics 365 product suite is confusing.
When you visit Microsoft’s product page for Dynamics 365 you’ll be welcomed by an expansive dropdown list of options with seductive names like “Customer Insights” and “Connected Store”. To the uninitiated a reasonable response might be, ‘Yes, our business needs all of this!”
The above screenshot is taken from Microsoft Dynamics 365 homepage (as of this writing). There is no doubt that certain words will jump out at you depending on your business requirements. But if you look close, you’ll start to notice that certain words such as sales and service are repeated in more than one place. And the headings too are somewhat inconsistent. Some refer to software capabilities (e.g. “Customer Data Platform”), others to typical business functions – “HR”, “Sales”, “Finance”, and what’s this one at the bottom off to the left? Small and medium business, SMBs, ohh right, you mean most businesses?! So if Microsoft lists only three products for SMBs, does that mean they only support a limited range of capabilities? And who is all the other stuff for? Keep reading, we promise it’s good news…
No One Size Fits All
One of the fundamental things to be aware of when it comes to Dynamics 365 is that Microsoft provides offerings for all business types. It combines financial and customer relationship management in a cloud-based, end to end platform which you’ll often see referred to as the next generation of CRM and ERP applications. The Dynamics 365 product line is powerful because it empowers businesses of any size to address challenges around financial and inventory management, customer services and sales all within a single system. It’s the impressive scale of Microsoft’s Dynamics 365 offering that can often lead to confusion. The simple reason for this is that it’s not a one size fits all solution.
The complexity of your business operations is intrinsically linked to your technology needs and financial decisions. IT challenges will vary depending on how complex the structure of each of your departments is in your business. SMBs have a smaller IT infrastructure than enterprises that have full time IT staff and this means that the IT requirements for SMBs vary greatly in comparison to that of a large enterprise. For example, larger organizations might be more vertically integrated and have complex supply chains, or they might be supporting sophisticated omnichannel experiences.
That’s not to say that SMBs don’t require powerful and sophisticated capabilities – of course you do. Now more than ever, today’s customers expect frictionless digital experiences whether they’re dealing with a local service business or a global consumer brand. What Microsoft has done for the SMB market with support from independent software vendors (ISV) partners – which we dig into later in this article – is create a powerful, integrated platform for SMBs to achieve digital transformation goals, without the implementation, support and management complexity of corresponding products for large enterprise.
Dynamics 365 for Small and Medium-Sized Businesses
The SMB market is growing rapidly and according to Garter, this market is typically defined by the number of employees and annual revenue. If you’re a company of 100 or fewer you’re classified as small and if you have 100-999 employees then you’re considered medium–sized. Anything over that and you start to enter the large enterprise zone. As highlighted in the previous section, it’s not just the size of your organization that defines your technology needs but the complexity of business operations.
All things considered, you’re probably wondering where your business fits into all of this when deciphering what Dynamics 365 solution is the right fit for your organization. Let us provide you with some clarity.
Dynamics 365 has three core applications that are targeted at the SMB market – Business Central, Customer Service and Sales. These solutions are structured to suit SMBs because they are easy to scale and grow as your business evolves and they integrate seamlessly with existing technology. This means seamless integration and high performance all at an effective cost for customers.
Let’s take a look at each of these SMB offerings:
1. Dynamics 365 Business Central
Dynamics 365 Business Central derived from an on-premises ERP solution called Navision (NAV). Microsoft shifted this on-premises product to SaaS and targeted it to the SMB market. It is not to be confused with Dynamics 365 Finance & Operations – the Dynamics 365 finance solution for large enterprises!
Like other Dynamics 365 solutions, Business Central is hosted in the cloud. It has powerful capabilities for finance management, supply chain optimization, warehouse management and manufacturing. It makes ordering, selling, invoicing, and reporting easier and provides powerful analytics to discover information across the business and surface key insights.
Business Central has sales capabilities but these are limited in the sense that they don’t serve as a fully functioning sales tool. If you have CRM requirements then Customer Engagement (the branded name from Microsoft that bundles together customer relationship management applications) is the solution you should consider if you want to transform your sales or service processes.
2. Dynamics 365 Customer Service
Customer Service helps SMBs scale their organization by streamlining customer support with simplified processes and improved customer experiences. It is a powerful platform that’s helps organizations to manage requests, cases, returns and incidents, and update customer information. It also enables self-service portals so that your customers can resolve issues independently.
It enables you to connect with customers at any time (and anywhere, thanks to being in the cloud!) and empowers you to deliver personalized and consistent customer service across all channels.
3. Dynamics 365 Sales
Last, but by no means least let’s take a look at Dynamics 365 Sales. If you’re looking to transform sales processes then this application from Microsoft will help your organization achieve just that.
This solution is built for SMBs to manage customer relationships, close deals, and boost sales revenue. It gives users a complete view of interactions with customers and allows you to automate the sales process – taking away a lot of manual jobs that you have your team working on! It also uses predictive analytics to deliver meaningful insights from your customer data and helps you to identify which prospects are most likely to buy.
To make things a little easier to digest we’ve put together the table below that maps Microsoft’s Dynamics 365 enterprise products to their corresponding SMB solution.
|Dynamics 365 for Enterprise||Dynamics 365 for SMBs|
|Project Management||Business Central|
|Sales||Customer Engagement / Sales|
|Service||Customer Engagement / Service|
|Connected Store||ISV / e.g. Insight Works|
|Field Service||ISV / e.g. ExpandIT|
|Commerce||ISV / e.g. Sana|
Many SMBs have unique business requirements that go beyond what Dynamics 365 offers. If we look back at the Microsoft Dynamics 365 website you’ll see that extended capabilities such as human resources or eCommerce are only listed for large enterprises. So, where an earth do SMBs go to get these extended capabilities and how are they going to work alongside Dynamics 365?
The answer is simple and we touched upon it earlier in this article – independent software vendors (ISVs). Also known as third party apps that provide software solutions that can be added on to the Dynamics 365 solution offering for SMBs. These extended capabilities integrate with Dynamics 365 to provide vertical or horizontal solutions for your business. For example, our partner Sana provide a powerful web store solution for e-commerce that integrates seamlessly with Dynamics 365 Business Central.
ISV software solutions add critical capabilities to Dynamics 365 and are built to snap directly into the web interface of Dynamics 365 making it easier to digitally transform your business. You’ll find that there is an ISV solution available to support every business need, whether that’s expense management, AP Automation, e-Commerce, POS, CBQ or mobile field service. At Catapult, we partner with a number of leading ISVs to deliver SMBs with the extended capabilities they need to integrate with Dynamics 365 and transform their business.
Get Dynamics 365 Pricing
Our subscription builder is an online app created especially for SMBs. The purpose is to help you customize and price your own Dynamics 365 solution in just a few minutes. Simply choose your application, select the capabilities that apply to your business, the number of licenses you require, and your desired support.
With so many options out there, we know that the Dynamics 365 product offering isn’t always easy to understand. That’s why we have written this article with the aim of demystifying the solution and educating readers about what solutions are right for their business. Once you understand what offering is right for your organization you’ll find the next challenge is understanding the pricing – it often feels like another mystery!
Catapult’s Subscription Builder is here to provide businesses with insights into Dynamics 365 pricing. We’re here to help – whether you’re simply doing research into pricing or whether you’d like to talk in more detail with one of our ERP or CRM experts about any of your needs.