Microsoft Dynamics 365: ERP, CRM and More

Microsoft Dynamics 365 combines ERP and CRM functionality and much more into a single, cloud-enabled product. Dynamics 365 could be a very significant release that consolidates Microsoft’s position as a leader in cloud based solutions. Let’s take a closer look.  

Licensing Overview

Dynamics 365 brings together ERP and CRM functionality in an integrated cloud-based solution paid through a periodic subscription. This reduces the need for high capital investments, which can easily become prohibitive. Software licenses are primarily assigned on a named user basis, but can be tied to a shared device. This flexible licensing model can result in considerable cost savings.

Dynamics 365 is available in an Enterprise and a Business edition. The Enterprise edition is optimized for 250+ employees and the Business edition is optimized for 10 – 250 employees. The Business edition is only available as a Microsoft online service, but the Enterprise edition can also be deployed on-premise or in a partner-hosted cloud.

Dynamics 365’s flexible licensing model is illustrated in the graphic and explained in the text below.

Dynamics for 365 can be accessed for light use with a Team Members license or for full use through an individual app license or a plan, which licenses a collection of apps. It’s important to understand this licensing model, since it could save a lot of money.

Team Members licenses are quite affordable and can be used to empower support staff within your organization. For instance, your receptionist could access customer contact details with a Team Members license to follow up on debt collection. The light use rights are app specific, but always include read access to data and reports. Light use rights might also give access to limited editing tasks, like issuing a sales quotation or a requisition.

All licensed users have access to PowerApps to build and run custom business apps. In additional they can choose to automate their workflows with Microsoft Flow. The included PowerApps plan is free, but more advanced plans can be added to Dynamics 365 at a fee.

The Business and Enterprise editions have their own set of additional apps (e.g. Sales app, Operations app), which unlock specific and advanced capabilities. The apps can be licensed for full use in a very targeted manner based on people’s job role. For example, accountants can be licensed for the Operations app, while each sales team member has access to a Sales app license. Individual app licenses provide light use access to all other apps, so full users don’t require a Team Members license.

Plans are currently only available for the Enterprise edition. With a plan, each licensed user has access to all the apps included in the plan. A plan offers greater flexibility compared to Team Members and individual licenses and results in considerable cost savings when people in your organization need to access multiple apps to do their work.

Business Edition

The only app that has been released for the Business edition is the Financials app, but the Sales, Marketing and Customer Service apps are expected later this year. The Financial app offers a complete financial management solution, and includes additional capabilities for inventory management, sales, purchasing and project management. It supports multiple currencies and financial reporting and analytics.

What I find neat is that each full Financials app license includes an external accounting professional license. This allows you to securely connect your external accountant or auditor with your financials in the cloud.

Enterprise Edition

The Enterprise edition comes with a variety of powerful apps. One could write an article on each of them, but for now a short description will suffice.

  1. Operations – includes the functions of an ERP with operations management across the value chain, financial management and IT-enablement of business processes.
  2. Sales – includes the functions of a CRM and empowers your sales teams with insights and tools to engage with customers and increase their sales performance.
  3. Customer Service – provides your support staff with the tools and information to answer support queries and provides an all-round service experience to your clients.
  4. Field Service – increases the productivity of your service teams through work order management, actionable intelligence in the field and customer communications.
  5. Project Service Automation – a solution for your professional services team that helps them to sell and deliver client solutions within time and budget.
  6. Marketing – a solution for your marketing team that enables them to manage multi-channel campaigns, generate quality leads and collaborate with the sales team.
  7. Customer Insights – analyzes, interprets, and visualizes your customer engagement so that resources are directed to areas where they are most needed.

Overall the Enterprise edition is a very comprehensive business solution, that will increase staff productivity and delight customers.

Pricing

Indicative pricing for Dynamics 365 licenses is summarized in the table below. You need to contact your local Microsoft Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) partner to get a comprehensive technical and financial proposal that includes the cost of deployment, implementation, and training,

Conclusion

From what I have seen Dynamics 365 offers a flexible, affordable, functional, and comprehensive business solution for businesses of any size. It easily integrates with Office 365 and a wide range of cloud-based services from Microsoft (e.g. Azure SQL) and other service providers (e.g. Salesforce).

One hindrance to the successful adoption of Dynamics 365 is its dependence on good Internet connectivity. This is particularly true for the Business edition, which is only available as an online service. Please assess your Internet bandwidth and reliability before you make a buying decision.

The implementation of a cloud-based solutions like Dynamics 365 most likely requires a digital business transformation. Such a transformation demands visionary leadership, good business and project management and strong technical capabilities. Take time therefore to find a competent local Microsoft CSP partner, who can walk with you in this exciting journey.

Do you have a question? Just leave a comment.

About Author:

Willy Simons came to Kenya from The Netherlands in 1994. He is a serial entrepreneur and co-founder of Oakar Services, Esri Eastern Africa and Spatiality. He blogs about business, geospatial technology and cloud computing.