Anyone who has been given the task of finding new software for their business will understand that there are many options out there. Your company size, industry and need can determine what systems match your requirements. However, there are ‘big players’ in this game, software that is built for a wide variety of industries and needs. If, for example, you started your research on the internet, many of the results would lead you to the few same systems, NetSuite and Microsoft being two of them.
While NetSuite & Microsoft can provide businesses with some of the same functionality and can meet some of the same requirements, there are also differences within the systems, which is important for the buyer to be aware of.
Editions vs Products
NetSuite is NetSuite. As a product, it can be tailored to your industry and your need, but when looking at NetSuite, it is just that you are looking at. If necessary NetSuite can provide different ‘editions’ of the products, for example, ‘Warehouse & Distribution’, this will mean that the modules or areas that are needed for your industry will be included in that package. However, if you buy another edition (for example mid-market), you can always add on the same modules at a later stage. Effectively, NetSuite is all the one product, it is run from the same platform and you don’t need to move onto another NetSuite product as you grow.
Microsoft provides a range of different products under the Microsoft name, for example, Microsoft Dynamics 365, Microsoft Dynamics Nav etc. These products can be based on your industry, requirement and business size. While Microsoft has proven that it is very capable in certain areas and industries, for example, CRM & Manufacturing, if you are purchasing a Microsoft product, it is a good idea to have a long-term clear road map of where your business will be going, what functionality you may need and how your business is going to scale. If this does change, there is a possibility you will be coming off one Microsoft product to move to another sooner than you think.
Cloud vs Hosted
NetSuite is a ‘true cloud’ solution. It is sold as SaaS (software as a service), and that truly is what it is. You don’t need hardware and servers, or to download something onto your desktop. The true cloud solution means that all you need is an internet connection, a web browser and log in details. While you pay per user per year, all of the upgrades and product maintenance are included. You are purely subscribed to the software, you don’t need to buy it, and without having to purchase hardware this means that your only overhead is your ‘subscription’ cost.
Most Microsoft products are ‘hosted’, Dynamics GP and Dynamics SL to name a few. Due to the products not being ‘true cloud’ solutions, to get to the cloud you will need a Microsoft Terminal Server. This model is a more traditional one, you first buy the software, and then pay an annual maintenance fee. If you are wanting to upgrade your current Microsoft system, you will also need to pay for the upgrade. Microsoft has recently spent time developing a new product, ‘Project Madeira’, which is a true cloud service, however with this being recent, it is hard to get references and a full understanding of where the product will sit in the Microsoft family.
Microsoft products can be customised, a lot of these customizations can require hard coding, which means finding someone who is experienced is necessary. This also means that upgrades to the software can become tricky – especially if there is a lot of development.
There is no correct answer on which product is ‘better’. Due to many different factors, either could be a fit. It is important for the buyer to do their own research and be aware of what they are buying into – and don’t just listen to salespeople! Ensure your product is reliable, flexible and scalable enough to assist your business in growing in the direction you have planned. Another factor to consider is the partner you are working with to implement the system – ensuring that their team fits with yours and understands your strategy and goals can make a dramatic difference to the project.