This essay is a continuation of a blog I wrote that compares Zoho with Microsoft Dynamics 365. Both parts are written by Gene Marks of The Marks Group. We currently serve hundreds of Microsoft Dynamics and Zoho clients and provide training, consulting and implementation services to help our clients use these products. So is Dynamics better than Zoho? Is Zoho better than Dynamics? We’ve already looked at Zoho in Part 1. So now here are the pros and cons of Microsoft Dynamics 365, based on our experience as partners.
WHAT IS MICROSOFT DYNAMICS 365?
Microsoft Dynamics 365 is made by Microsoft Corporation which is headquartered in Redmond, Washington and has additional sales and support offices in the U.S. Microsoft is one of the world’s largest companies and sells hundreds of products and services besides Dynamics. To compare here are the Dynamics 365 pros and cons.
The official product name for Microsoft Dynamics is Dynamics 365. I know, it’s confusing. I’ll mention that later.
- Dynamics 365 pros:
-It plays well in a Microsoft environment.
-It’s highly customizable.
-It has great Outlook integration.
-There is strong reporting and analytics.
-It comes with good lead management/opportunity tracking.
-It has both, though limited, offline and online capabilities.
-There’s a large community around it.
- Dynamics 365 cons:
-It’s more expensive and confusing.
-It lacks some business applications.
-It is less friendly to non-Microsoft applications.
-It is a very resource intensive application.
WHAT ARE THE PROS OF MICROSOFT DYNAMICS 365?
The Microsoft environment.
Whenever we come across users that are already committed to a Microsoft environment, we always strongly recommend Dynamics 365. Dynamics 365 is great for companies that are already using Microsoft applications, particularly Office, Teams, SharePoint and other connected services. Although Dynamics 365’s integration varies depending on the application, you’re sure to get a more consistent user interface and better support both from Microsoft and its partner/developer community because there are fewer outside variables to tackle. The company regularly announces enhancements to Dynamics along with its other product offerings and has a long term plan to create a one-stop fully integrated business platform that includes all of these applications.
Microsoft’s biggest competitor is Salesforce and as such positions its CRM offering being as customizable and flexible as their much larger (in the CRM space) foe. This means that just about any form, view, report and module within Dynamics can be deeply customized. Yes, much of this will need the help of a Microsoft partner like The Marks Group, but there are few cases where we’ve ever said “no, that can’t be done. New tools like Microsoft Flow and Power Objects allow for strong “home-grown” apps too.
Great Outlook integration.
When comparing Dynamics and Zoho it’s important to consider email. Dynamics 365’s Outlook integration is better than Zoho’s. That’s because Dynamics uses Outlook as its native email application. Dynamics plays well with Microsoft Exchange but will still work with other email servers like Gmail. Calendar and contact synchronization across companies is better, particularly if everyone is in an Office 365 environment. Dynamics also integrates with Office and SharePoint documents well.
Reporting and analytics is strong.
Dynamics and Zoho both have strong reporting, analytics and dashboard modules. Dynamics also uses Microsoft’s PowerBI, it’s robust reporting application that can do analytics from across multiple database systems. Like Zoho and all other reporting modules, however, Dynamics 365 reporting requires some training and practice.
Lead and opportunity management in Dynamics is strong. You can integrate the Leads module with your website forms to automatically pull in data and requests from online and trigger follow-up activities and emails. You can create and customize opportunities and map out sales processes using Dynamics’ workflow functionality.
There are offline and online options, although this is quietly disappearing.
When comparing Dynamics and Zoho it’s also important to consider whether the applications can be used when offline. Zoho has a great mobile app that offers some offline capability but generally its web application cannot be used offline. Dynamics also has a great mobile app but even more importantly Microsoft offers an on premise version where you can host your own data (or have someone else host it for you). However, be careful. Microsoft seems to be quietly taking this capability away and it is my opinion that many of the application’s offline capabilities will disappear in the years to come.
Dynamics, when compared to Zoho, has a much larger and passionate community of implementers, partners, developers and consultants. Microsoft holds frequent conferences online and onsite worldwide. It has a very strong support base for its business products and Dynamics product line. There is an active marketplace for add-ons and integrations.
Other benefits of Microsoft Dynamics 365.
Dynamics has a separate module for services and does not include basic service management capabilities to create cases and queues without that module. Dynamic’s security can be configured to restrict user and group access to specific fields, forms and functions. Dynamics also has very powerful, AI-driven workflow, alerts and even voice interactions. These processes also need some training and practice to configure.
WHAT ARE THE CONS OF MICROSOFT DYNAMICS 365?
It’s more expensive and licensing is more confusing than Zoho.
Plain and simple Dynamics 365 is more expensive than Zoho. It’s least expensive offering, CRM for Sales is $65 per month per user and prices for additional modules and functionality like services and marketing can increase this amount by two to three-fold. Also, Microsoft being Microsoft tends to over-complicate its offerings and create confusing pricing plans depending on what needs to be purchased and from whom. There is a confusing license model with other applications and confusing naming conventions for different “Dynamics” products. Worse yet is that once the smoke seems to clear, the company then changes things even again!
Less applications are offered.
Although it has a very robust CRM offering, Microsoft Dynamics 365 does not have all of the business applications readily and so affordably available as Zoho. For example, Dynamics has financials, it’s accounting software, but this is more expensive than Zoho Books and comes with less integration. Microsoft does offer more robust applications for marketing, service, HR, projects and other functions but they’re not as tightly woven into the CRM ecosystem as Zoho’s and of course add to the price.
Less friendly to non-Microsoft applications.
Microsoft Dynamics 365 is less friendly to non-Microsoft applications like G-Suite and Slack. Integrations are available – some out of the box, more with developers and third party products – but the product just doesn’t play as well unless it’s playing with other Microsoft programs.
It’s more resource intensive.
Microsoft Dynamics 365 is more resource intensive than Zoho. It is primarily geared to enterprise companies, not small businesses (Microsoft likes to offer Nimble CRM as an alternative for under 10 user companies). As a result, it requires partners like The Marks Group to setup, customize, integrate, migrate data, develop solutions and train. Prepare to spend more on consulting time with an outside firm if you choose this direction.
Microsoft Dynamics 365 has its pros and cons. But its biggest benefit is that it’s Microsoft and if your company had dedicated itself to a Microsoft infrastructure and applications then it’s going to be your safest bet. Microsoft is going hard after the enterprise market (more than 10 users at a minimum) so if you’re a very small business this may not be the solution for you. But, given the right amount of resources, you can make this application do anything you want.