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Side-by-Side ERP Comparison: Microsoft Dynamics AX vs. SAP

Two of the biggest names in the ERP software industry are SAP and Microsoft Dynamics AX. If you are evaluating one of the solutions, then you may also be considering the other.

To help you determine the best solution for your needs, we’ve compiled research from independent third-party sources* to create this comparison:

SAP All-in-One

Microsoft Dynamics AX


  • Product development functionality is strong
  • Easily supports Make-To-Order processing
  • Integration of retail module
  • High visibility into goods-in-transit orders
  • Quality control and quality assurance functionality is strong
  • Compliance capabilities with SOX and tax regulations are strong
  • Cash management functionality is strong
  • Ease of customization
  • Highly flexible
  • Ease of integration
  • Browser based, familiar user interface
  • Inter- and multi-organization support is strong
  • Localization and multicurrency capabilities are strong
  • Tracking of physical moves and financial transactions enabled by data dimensions
  • Production, MRP and trade capabilities are strong

Ease of Use

SAP lags behind AX in usability.  As a result, only 50% of SAP users indicated that they were using more than 40% of the possible functionality of their system. This is the lowest of the four Tier 1 ERP “titans”. Overall, AX is 17% more usable than SAP – 8%-27% more user friendly than SAP in the categories of transactional efficiency, business insight, collaboration, familiarity, and flexibility. As a result of its ease of use, AX users are 10% more likely to achieve benefits related to  software functionality more so than SAP users

Ease of Customization

With SAP, while customers and partners can each have separate object ranges for customizations, they are still on the same layer which can lead to additional testing and expense. AX provides a layered architecture where partners and customers each have access to a separate layer where they can make customizations without disrupting each other’s work.  This allows for easier on-going modifications and makes the upgrades process more manageable. Because it is designed for easy customization, AX tends to be the more highly customized of the 4 largest ERP solutions.

Business Intelligence

Some self-service BI exists within SAP, but often companies are required to deploy SAP BusinessObjects Platform which requires its own server, database, and security scheme. AX meets the spectrum of BI needs by delivering a flexible and adaptable business management solution with integrated analysis, communication, and collaboration capabilities. In addition, AX has seamless integration with Microsoft’s Power BI platform which provides advanced analytics and dashboarding capabilities in the cloud.

Implementation Timeframes & Challenges

SAP’s average implementation timeframe is slightly shorter than AX at 19.5 months.

57% reported business disruption at Go Live – most disruptions lasted 4-6 months.

For a traditional AX implementation that would be comparable in scope to a SAP implementation, the timeframe is slightly longer, averaging 24.9 months. However, partners, like Velosio, offer preconfigured AX solutions that allow for agile implementation methods that can dramatically reduce the duration of the project.

71% Reported business disruption at Go Live – most disruptions lasted 1-2 months.

Recouping Costs, Total Cost of Ownership, and Return on Investment

SAP has the highest percentage of respondents recouping costs within 1-2 years of implementation.

SAP has the closest actual TCO to planned which is an average of $2.2 million.

21% of both SAP and AX users reported achieving 50% or more of their anticipated benefits. These two solutions lead the market in this category.

If highly customized, the AX platform has a payback period of 3+ years. However, a streamlined implementation methodology and agile approach can accelerate this payback period.

AX has the lowest TCO, which in 2015 was an average of $1.7 million but is on a downward trend.

Cloud Deployments

SAP and AX each have a good representative numbers of solutions deployed in the cloud as well as documented costs savings by deploying the cloud. The current equality between SAP and AX is based on historical data and is anticipated to change very quickly. The recently released new Microsoft Dynamics AX is a cloud-first, mobile-first application that leverages the Microsoft Azure cloud to lower hosting costs by 75% and cuts deployment time by 95%.  These benefits will undoubtedly entice the market to move faster towards cloud deployments.


Having information available for comparing two solutions is key, but what may be more important is understanding how the strengths of a system align with your business needs.

Most of the areas where Microsoft Dynamics AX appears to fall short in the comparison above are evidence of AX being implemented into a business where a different solution might be a better fit. The truth of the matter is that Dynamics AX vs SAP is not an apples-to-apples comparison.

While SAP is currently the leader in the true Tier 1 enterprise market, AX can be a great fit for organizations in that space, especially if they  are planning to implement a new ERP solution for a division or related organizations and need a solution that can easily integrate back to SAP at a much lower overall license and implementation cost. Dynamics AX is a true SaaS solution built on current cloud first, mobile first technology that allow organizations to leverage their current investment in the Microsoft stack of products and services.



“ERP End User Business Productivity: A Field Study of SAP & Microsoft” by Keystone Research

“CLASH OF THE TITANS 2016: An Independent Comparison of SAP, Oracle, Microsoft Dynamics and Infor” by Panorama Consulting