Last week, we completed a very popular piece that compared Plex with NetSuite. This week we’ll spend some time evaluating Microsoft Dynamics AX vs Plex ERP; as we’ve often seen organizations consider both systems for their organization. While this does not compare two cloud-only ERP’s like our previous post, there are several reasons why a company may consider both systems. However, in most cases, one is generally a better fit than the other. We’ll help you navigate that process.
Questions inside a typical selection process may include…
- What resources do we have to manage the growing parameter of our data?
- How do we clearly define our processes to determine the depth and breadth of our reporting needs?
- And why is the viability of scaling an ERP important to our growth model?
The Plex Systems ERP software is built specifically for process manufacturers, and has an avid following in this space. Dynamics AX is primarily known for powerful functionality tailored to human resources, retail and operations management needs; however it does contain some nice features that could make it a fit for small and mid-sized manufacturing companies.
The main difference – Dynamics AX vs Plex
What Dynamics AX vs Plex sort of comes down to is the manufacturing segments in which they service. Plex’s rich, deep rooted manufacturing background – coupled with its availability on a cloud platform – has increased efficiency for manufacturers in need of a true manufacturing ERP system. By comparison, Dynamics AX has found a niche among small & medium-sized manufacturing companies who require simple configurations; with less of a need for agile process modeling.
In our comparison we addresses just how Dynamics AX vs Plex ERP compares in scalability, ease of use, and data management for the manufacturing and distribution community. This should provide you with better understanding of the benefits both can contribute to the unique needs of your business, and the principal differences between the two that ultimately satisfy the criteria for your ERP selection template.
Scalability – Dynamics AX vs Plex
Microsoft Dynamics AX largely services the small and medium sized midsection of manufacturing and distribution. It provides strong functionality for human resources, financial, and operations management. Yet, some businesses moving from small scale processing to larger-scale strategies find it challenging to scale the functionality of Dynamics AX to new practices. A lack of flexibility in the build out of AX has made some customers reluctant to change processes and practices due to the somewhat rigid nature of some of the configuration.
Dynamics AX is a great fit for businesses that have very little complexity in their manufacturing practice, and don’t plan to grow significantly in the coming years. However, Dynamics AX often becomes laggard, or slow to move through processes, when scaled up for sophisticated business modeling. This can be discouraging for a business who purchases an ERP system for efficiency and agile throughput of data.
Conglomerate economies of scale generally require the handling of large capacities, sophisticated materials acquisition, batch and lot traceability, and scheduling measured in real time. For example, as a manufacturer or distributor increases capacity for private label assembly, or do not process a standardized set of materials, transactions could bottleneck the Microsoft Dynamics AX system; while Plex is perfectly built for an occasion such as that. It all depends on the complexity of the business.
The Plex fit
Plex Systems is best suited for medium and large businesses, that require sophisticated capacity management and extensive traceability schemes. These enterprises generally acquire specialty materials and process large amounts of inventories for a list of commodities. Processes often involve assembly variations made by both man and machine that are both complex and require extensive auditing. Scaling the system for an enterprise with multi-site operations is a hallmark of Plex Systems.
Plex Systems ERP is a reactive, agile application for complex process manufacturing; however it can be overkill for smaller manufacturers with standardized assemblers. Yet it may be worth mentioning, because Plex Systems operates in the cloud, it does collect and configure continuous data in real time which maybe a more important attribute for many businesses.
Plex is a valuable resource for businesses who seek to become more data-driven and require flexibility in the build out of reports and dashboards of the more hands-off operations from end to end. Plex Cloud contains a built-in BI feature that is specifically configured for manufacturing businesses. Dynamics AX can easily integrate with Power BI, but an organization will still have to align the BI tool to their business to draw something meaningful.
Ease of use – Dynamics AX vs Plex
Not even the most powerful ERP on the planet is a fit for all businesses. Generally it requires expert customization and integration with other business software to generate proper ROI. Yet, not all users within a company own the degree of technical understanding to allow this to happen. For that reason, many ERP vendors focus on ways to repurpose complexity into something most of us can actually drive conclusions from. Microsoft Dynamics AX understands this very well.
Since Microsoft Dynamics AX belongs to the Microsoft family, most modern work forces are experienced with its interface and navigation, which helps to mitigate the panic a user endures during the change-over to a new process. The system can be easily synced with other Microsoft products such as Outlook and Microsoft Office, rendering it available inside the suite that employees are used to.
Dynamics AX is a powerful, yet straightforward system driven by the ease of use methodology. But placing ease of use at the top of the buying criteria docket isn’t always what you’ll need, and rarely what you’ll find if you suddenly need the system to perform functions beyond the scope of its development.
Users are often reluctant to procure new applications that make the Dynamics system perform the way users expect it to. These pieces to the puzzle are developed outside the Dynamics system, and integrating them and configuring them to do what you need can be a complex, time consuming process. Not to mention, if those integrations manipulate the Dynamics system, the vendor may void service contracts. The company is then responsible for the management of the system and expenditure on fixing the bugs themselves.
If processes call for specialized custom features – pivotal to process models – procuring a more dynamic, all-encompassing system could be a more worthy of investment dollars.
The ERP offering from Plex Systems provides an all-in-one manufacturing ERP solution that is enabled to exploit all the facets of software from the shop floor to the accounting suite. Plex Systems recognizes many will need to inevitably integrate separate systems – some happening to be instances of Microsoft. So, not only does Plex provide agile features and an array of deep functionality for integration, it plays well with external applications, like Microsoft and other external integration tools. Plex exposes REST API to users so that these integrations can happen easily.
Microsoft Dynamics AX UX/UI configuration is simple and easily adopted by modern users of digital systems. However, when the time comes to delve new functionality to the system, it may force the ERP system to tackle tasks in areas which it was not configured to handle. This where Plex is often the better fit. It comes down to weighing the familiarity of Microsoft vs the powerful functions of Plex.
Data management – Dynamics AX vs Plex
Microsoft Dynamics 2012 r3 is the latest release of the AX ERP system, and is the first release built upon SaaS architecture. In other words, Dynamics AX is offered in the cloud, but this is new territory. While this certainly broadens the functionality Microsoft offers businesses, it may take time before everything is fully-ironed out. This means businesses looking to make the jump to the cloud (for all of the reasons mentioned here), Dynamics AX may not be the most logical first choice.
Plex Systems is one of few ERP systems on the market providing only an instance of their software through SaaS architecture. This has been the only platform in which has Plex Systems has utilized since its inception over a decade ago, and is often reverend as a leading expert of ERP configuration in the manufacturing space. Microsoft is and always will be a purveyor of innovation, however they are late to the party when compared to Plex.
If a cloud-led system is a requirement of your team, Plex Systems is by far the most advanced and serviceable ERP system for modern manufacturing and distribution businesses available. Businesses seaking to move their data to the cloud will likely benefit more from the Plex experience.
Microsoft Dynamics AX vs Plex is a formidable battle. Both systems provide a strong offering to different kinds of manufacturing and distribution businesses.
Ultimately, it always comes down to selecting the right tool for the right job. What you’ll probably find is that most growing manufacturing businesses, with some level of complexity, will be happier with a Plex solution (if they are directly interested in moving to the cloud); while those in smaller manufacturing, retail, and distributor organizations with little complexity and small IT staffs’, will likely be happier with something like Microsoft Dynamics AX (although these are not definitive statements).
There are always other factors at play; however it’s important that businesses perform proper selection, and implementation practices in the beginning to mitigate project risks. To learn more about ERP implementation, or help in selecting between these two powerful pieces of software, contact the experts at Datix, or download our e-book below.