If you would like to pick something from Microsoft, or its ERP subdivision – Microsoft Business Solutions, and in case of large public company, you should consider these three: Axapta, Navision or Great Plains. We are not talking about Solomon here, because it is recommended for project organization. You should probably be aware about specific product life cycle (or is it new or mature one on the market), database platform, average implementation cycle, typical customization requirements, rich vs. standard ERP functionality, etc. Also you should get comparison from relatively objective source, if you are asking to compare somebody, who implements and sells Great Plains – more likely these people will try to prove that you need Great Plains and it is the best fit. On the other hand if you ask large consulting practice with regional offices to make comparison for you – you should know that specific regional office might operate with maximum independence and promote, say Navision only.
o Product Life Cycle. Both Navision and Great Plains should be considered as mature products, have more than 10 years of successful presence on the ERP market. Navision is more popular in Europe, Navision Software was Denmark based software development company – it was bought by Microsoft in the beginning of XXI century. Navision is also present on the US market, however we’d say it fits to specific market niches. Great Plains Software was also purchased by Microsoft a little bit earlier than Navision Software and GP is historically had excellent positions in US, Australia, New Zealand, UK, Middle East, South Africa, Poland, Pakistan. Axapta is relatively new ERP and its was released in the beginning of XXI century. However it is really scaled up for large companies and its sales increase rapidly.
o Rich vs. Standard Functionality. This is very philosophical question. There are multiple opinions. 1990th were the years, when large business had to stick to rich functionality ERP: SAP, PeopleSoft, Oracle Financials. Our opinion on the future is that rich functionality is not necessary – you should know that light or middle size customization is cheaper and more flexible solution. Also the unique business processes will be general thing and it will be not feasible to program rich-functionality module for just a few businesses on the marketplace. Consider dotcom businesses of the late 1990th, that went public – their business processes are very unique and innovative.
o Database Platform. Navision has native (or C / SIDE) platform as well as it is available on MS SQL Server. Do not be afraid of the Native database – it has legendary strength. SQL will give you more integration and reporting options (beyond Jet-Reports) – you can deploy Crystal reports (without C / ODBC). Great Plains is now (since version 8.0) on MS SQL Server only
o Implementation Cycle. Here we see a lot of opinions as well. We believe that Great Plains is the easiest to setup and launch. Navision typically requires mid-size customization. Axapta typically requires longer implementation cycle – but again it is relatively new and innovative product.
o Integration with Unix / Linux / Oracle. This is very typical question for large business. We would say that this integration is usually programmed on SQL level and XML inbound / outbound streams. So, SQL based ERP should be OK.