Dynamics AX CRM vs Dynamics CRM
I’ve talked to a lot of customers who have questions about the difference between the Sales and Marketing functionality within Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 (sometimes called AX CRM) and Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013. In nearly every sales demonstration we do, we get a question about how to handle leads and opportunities and whether they should use Dynamics AX or Dynamics CRM to handle those. The answer, of course, is “It Depends.”
I want to shed a little more light on the subject, so customers have a reference and I can give some guidance on when you’d want to use either tool. Let’s start with a little background on each and then we’ll get to a comparison chart.
Dynamics AX 2012 Sales and Marketing Functionality
The CRM functionality within Dynamics AX dates back to early versions of the product, before Microsoft Dynamics CRM even existed. Some are quick to dismiss it as an afterthought, but there is a good amount of functionality within Dynamics AX Sales and Marketing. Sales and Marketing has leads, prospects, customers, opportunities, knowledge articles, marketing campaigns, and a cool sales/qualifying process workflow capability. The biggest selling point of Dynamics AX Sales and Marketing is that everything is connected in one tool – you can look up a customer’s orders, service inquiries, cases and sales history all in one place without any integrations.
The con for Dynamics AX Sales and Marketing generally is not the functionality; where it loses to Dynamics CRM is in its flexibility. AX has the ability to track Sales and Marketing activity in Enterprise Portal, but it does not have the easy-to-use web interface like Dynamics CRM, and there aren’t any native mobile apps.
One of our customers chose to go with Dynamics AX to meet its sales and marketing needs. They had a smaller sales force that was very interested in order history, warranty work, etc. and didn’t need the flexibility of mobile access. They have been very happy with the deeply integrated choice.
Dynamics CRM 2013
Where Dynamics AX was designed as an Enterprise Resource Planning tool that has benefits throughout the application, Dynamics CRM was always designed for sales and marketing teams. It has deeper functionality than Dynamics CRM and it has a better Outlook integration which allows you to track activities and relate them to your customer accounts easily. Dynamics CRM is very easy to customize and you can create workflows very easily to help automate your processes within the system. Also, Dynamics CRM 2013 is a web-based tool with apps for tablets and Windows Phones, iPhones and Android Phones. If you have a very mobile sales staff, you’ll want to be using Dynamics CRM 2013.
Many of our customers use Dynamics CRM because they have a sales team who appreciates the flexibility of the solution and the deep marketing capabilities. We use Dynamics CRM internally for our sales and marketing needs because it was faster to deploy and we value the Outlook integration to keep everyone aware of conversations with our clients.
Functionality Comparison Chart
Here’s a chart of the various functionality to help compare the two products:
|Product Area||Feature||AX 2012||CRM 2013|
|User Interface||Outlook Client||No||Native Outlook client|
|Web Client||Some functions supported||All functions supported|
|Mobile Functionality||None||Windows Phone; iOS; Android; Windows 8 tablets|
|Personalization||Yes; Each user can hide columns / fields||Partial support|
|Architecture||Deployment Options||On Premise; Private Cloud; Windows Azure||On Premise; Private Cloud; Public Cloud|
|Offline working supported||No||Yes|
|Workflow||Yes||Yes; Supports automatic creation of any record via Workflow|
|Approvals||Yes||No; Can be done with SharePoint integration with worflows|
|Platform Development||Yes||Yes; xRM– extensible platform driven by intuitive customization tools|
|Integration||Office Integration||Export to Excel; Drag and drop emails||Fully integrated for automated tracking of emails, appointments, tasks, contacts and phone calls; Export to Excel|
|SharePoint Integration||Role Centres, Reports and DashboardsDocument Management||Document Management|
|Other Microsoft applications||N/A||Yammer; Bing Maps; Lync; Skype|
|Complex Product pricing||Yes||No|
|Configurable Products||Yes||No; Sounds like CRM 2015 will have more functionality here|
|Marketing||Email Marketing Integration||No||Yes|
|Advanced Searching||Yes; Stronger support for finding records based on more complex queries||Yes|
|Campaign Management||Yes||Yes; Stronger support for multi-stage campaigns and activity distribution|
|Duplicate Detection||Yes||Yes; Configurable rules via simple wizard; Email Notification and bulk job scheduling|
|Project Management||Yes||No; Added CRM Connector integration for Project tracking recently|
If you’re interested in using Dynamics AX and Dynamics CRM together, you’ll want to leverage a tool to connect the data between the system so your sales team has visibility to transaction activity in Dynamics AX and you’re able to sync your customers from CRM back to AX. You can leverage a third party integration such as Scribe, but many customers today are using the free Dynamics Connector that’s provided by Microsoft.
The following functionality is supported out of the box by the Dynamics Connector, but you also have the ability to create custom mappings between the products:
My general rule of thumb is that if you have a highly integrated order management, and service management environment without a big need for external access to data, the Dynamics AX Sales and Marketing functionality is a good solution. If you have a mobile sales force and you have a pretty clean hand-off between sales and order processing, Dynamics CRM with the Connector is a good solution for you.
We’re happy to talk through both solutions with you to see what will work the best for your unique business.