Microsoft Dynamics SL vs. Acumatica Cloud ERP – Which Option Is Right for You?
How to Choose Between Acumatica Cloud ERP and Microsoft Dynamics SL for Your Business
Since 1996, Dynamic Tech Services has specialized in helping companies across a wide range of industries select and implement leading business technology solutions – and that means we’re experts in both Acumatica Cloud ERP and Microsoft Dynamics SL. Over our years of experience, we’ve found that companies can often make their choice between the two ERPs by answering the following five questions.
- Where Do You Do Most of Your Work?
Depending on the type of business you run, you may work primarily from your office, or you may work primarily from a job site. You may also have hybrid work locations, such as when you or your staff travel to client sites and need to enter hours and updates from remote locations.
- Microsoft Dynamics SL serves the needs of companies that do most of their work from the office because Dynamics SL offers the full solution with on-premises or hosted deployment, and optional add-ons offer you the ability to view much of your data over the internet for the rare occasions that you need on-the-go insight into specific information.
- Acumatica Cloud ERP is a better fit for companies that need to input and view comprehensive data remotely, whether from a job site, a client’s conference room, a hotel room, or anywhere else. Because Acumatica is a true cloud solution featuring browser-based access written in mobile-native code that automatically works on iOS, Android, and other platforms, all of its functions and capabilities are available to you anywhere and anytime, on any device. All you need in order to use Acumatica is a browser and an internet connection.
In addition to thinking about where you and your staff will work, you’ll also want to consider where your ERP should work. Dynamics SL runs on premises with some cloud data visibility available. Acumatica offers flexible deployment options, providing companies the ability to choose a private cloud or a fully managed cloud, and to switch their deployment model after purchase if they so choose.
Not sure which deployment option makes sense for your needs? Companies facing compliance conundrums often choose the private cloud deployment option, but most companies choose the managed cloud option because it helps them avoid the headache of managing hardware and software, performing backups, and handling disaster recovery.
- How Many People Need to Access Your Platform?
At most companies, only some of the staff requires access to the ERP: the accounting department, supervisors/ managers, VPs, and the C-suite. Often, the accounting department or managers input data for the rest of the team to save on user licensing costs. However, restricted usage can hinder agility in the modern business landscape for some companies, which is why certain organizations are now choosing to grant ERP access to more staff members, business partners, and even clients.
- Microsoft Dynamics SL charges per user license, so companies that only require a small number of licenses, and that don’t expect rapid expansion, may be able to find a lower-cost, highly effective option in Dynamics SL. If you’re interested in this option, remember to consider the additional user licenses you’ll want to purchase for SQL Server, SharePoint, Office365, and other Microsoft programs, which will enable you to get full functionality out of your ERP.
- Acumatica Cloud ERP offers unlimited users, charging only for resource usage. This benefits businesses that wish to improve full communication, eliminate siloes, and boost openness at all times by providing clients, business partners, and all users with their own login that can be used on any device.
The “unlimited user” model makes it easier for organizations to achieve hassle-free, paperless time entry collection (in real time) from employees or contractors in the field or on the road. Many companies that hire outsourcers on an “as needed” basis find Acumatica’s unlimited user model especially useful for keeping complex projects on track and on budget.
- What Are Your Training Needs?
Depending on the ERP experience levels among your staff, your company may need extensive training time to get all users fully utilizing your system’s capabilities. One of the biggest “hidden” differences between traditional on-premises ERP like Dynamics SL and true cloud ERP like Acumatica lies in each solution’s available training options.
- Microsoft Dynamics SL typically provides staff training only during implementation, with the ability to order more training sessions as you hire new staff or if you feel in need of refreshers. Training on Dynamics is arranged through your partner and delivered in a formal training session, though sometimes you can find helpful recorded webinars online.
- Acumatica Cloud ERP includes a wide range of training options that anyone at your company is free to access at any time – even before you’ve purchased the ERP. They also provide during- and post-implementation training sessions, like Dynamics SL does.
Four notable examples of Acumatica’s comprehensive, openly available training are the Acumatica test drives, the Open University, the regional user group support communities, and the Acumatica Help Portal.
- The test drives allow you to test the ERP for free, to see how it would work for your company.
- The Open University lets you download a copy of Acumatica for free, install it locally, and then go through hands-on training at your pace.
- The regional user group support communities offer a wealth of local resources your company can tap into. Current groups include the Rocky Mountain user group, the Southeast user group, and the recently formed Pacific Northwest user group – so, wherever you are, you can be sure there’s an Acumatica expert nearby who is happy to help you.
- The Acumatica Help Portal, located at acumatica.com, is an Acumatica-run site where anyone can pose questions and get on-demand answers in an organized, easy-to-read knowledgebase.
Dynamics SL doesn’t offer test drives, a help portal, or the ability to pre-download the ERP software free of charge for learning purposes – but many companies don’t need these resources and would simply prefer that they and their staff learn about the ERP in a formalized setting with their ERP partner. Every company has different needs, and the different ERP solutions match highly differing training philosophies.
- Do You Require More Than “Out of the Box” Functionality?
Both Dynamics SL and Acumatica offer the freedom to customize your solution and integrate add-on functionality, but there’s a point at which costs outweigh customization efficiencies. In answering this question, if you find that you need a large amount of customization and add-on capability, you may want to speak with a business process consultant to discuss how and if you should streamline your current processes to save time and money.
- Microsoft Dynamics SL has proprietary code and a rich history of customizations, which means developers have built entire careers out of simply customizing and integrating Dynamics SL for businesses like yours. Most companies that choose Dynamics SL hire their first developer to integrate a CRM to their ERP, and they often quickly hire more developers so they can create reports.
- Acumatica Cloud ERP provides a wide range of connected, integrated solutions that cost-effectively enhance the base functionality of the ERP. Since Acumatica is cloud native and written in the industry-standard .NET framework that most developers are highly familiar with, business leaders often choose to extend their ERP functionality by choosing Acumatica Certified Apps, which are affordable, mix-and-match, pre-built cloud add-ons that are integrated through APIs.
CRM is included with many versions of Acumatica Cloud ERP, as are dashboards and user-created reporting, but many companies choose to boost their ERP functionality by adding comprehensive business intelligence, real-time Excel reporting integration, or in-depth cloud expense management. Pre-built add-ons like these help evolving businesses take full advantage of cloud benefits.
However, Acumatica’s flexible and adaptable solution offers a lot more to its users than additional functionality. Acumatica is committed to delivering cutting-edge technology and true cloud functionality, as demonstrated by 75% of their employees working in R&D. That investment and staff attention enables them to focus on the latest technologies, such as blockchain, machine learning, and natural language processing, which usually aren’t available to mid-market businesses. Acumatica’s progress shows no sign of slowing.
In short, this means Acumatica offers capabilities that most small- to mid-size business leaders have only been able to dream about… until now.
That’s why, in addition to considering the four prior questions, you must also deeply consider your business’s future goals before you make your ERP decision.
- Where Will Your Business Be Next Year?
This is probably the most important question you have to answer before choosing your ERP.
In today’s agile business landscape, it’s becoming increasingly clear that the most successful companies will be the ones that can best adapt to their rapidly changing environments. Business is hitting a mass evolution in which “survival of the fittest” is the law of the land. However, “fitness” or “adaptability” can never come from one-size-fits-all solutions. Don’t be left behind.
Put another way: There is no consultant on the planet who can tell you exactly what your business needs – your unique business goals will determine what your business needs.
This means that your task, before finalizing your ERP selection, is to decide which type of ERP framework will be best to meet your specific goals for your company’s future evolution and growth.
- Microsoft Dynamics SL is the right choice if your company works best within a closed framework that supports only a specific, approved workflow and operating model year after year.
- Acumatica Cloud ERP is the right choice if your company prefers flexibility and adaptability in your workflows, operating models, service delivery models, and more because Acumatica offers you the ability to adjust your ERP as needed, as your requirements and goals change.
There’s no one “right” way to run a business and only you can decide which model will meet your needs better. However, answering this question carefully is critical to your success in choosing the right ERP.
We’d be doing you a disservice, though, if we didn’t point out that most companies we work with choose the latter; they want to adjust their ERP to meet their needs… instead of adjusting their needs to meet the ERP’s capabilities.
The Open Acumatica Platform
The beauty of new technologies like Acumatica is that they offer so many more possibilities to their users. In practice, this means that, for business leaders looking for a unique solution, the sky (or the cloud!) is the limit.
In fact, Acumatica’s entire philosophy revolves around empowering its users by providing unprecedented levels of openness, flexibility, and adaptability – starting with its unique setup. When you use Acumatica, you’re not simply using an ERP “system,” you’re harnessing the power of the entire Acumatica platform, known as the Acumatica Cloud xRP platform.
Due to the open standards of the Acumatica Cloud xRP platform, visionary business leaders are finding that they finally have a system they can use to support their exact needs, now and in the future.
Here are two examples of companies that are breaking the mold using the Acumatica Cloud xRP platform:
- A banking equipment reseller, Benchmark Technology Group, used the Acumatica framework to build a custom workflow for tracking warranties and repairs, creating a whole repair depot component to overcome the difficulty of managing service programs and measuring customer satisfaction with disparate systems that had no integration to ERP.
- A machine-made rug distributor, Tayse Rugs, who supplies both big-box merchants and e-commerce companies, used the Acumatica Mobile Development Framework to develop their own warehouse management system (WMS). Taylan Sevimli, Tayse Rug’s Business Development Manager, stated, “One of the best things about Acumatica is how customizable it is, especially the user interface. I can change screens, processes and workflows. I can also create custom reports by connecting tables, combining tables and then generate a single table that has all the information I need.”
But the Acumatica Cloud xRP platform isn’t the only thing that’s open about Acumatica. Their entire business philosophy rests on a foundation of openness and ease! Of course, you had probably already realized that yourself, now that you know about Acumatica’s flexible deployment options, unlimited user accessibility, freely available training opportunities, and open framework.
Compare Microsoft Dynamics SL and Acumatica Cloud ERP
Answering these five questions about where you work, how many users need to access your system, what your training preferences are, what types of customization you require, and what your business goals are will give you a pretty good idea about which ERP is right for you. However, you need more than a single blog article to make your decision between Acumatica Cloud ERP and Microsoft Dynamics SL.
For an important decision like this, you’ll want to see both products in action.
Headquartered in Atlanta and serving 25 countries and 35 states, the experts at Dynamic Tech Services can provide you with an unbiased, in-depth look at both Dynamics SL and Acumatica because we’ve been working with both ERP solutions for years. If your business would like assistance navigating through the many subtle differences (and similarities!) of the two products, Dynamic Tech Services can help.