Microsoft Dynamics Business Central vs Finance and Operations

Evaluate Microsoft Dynamics Business Central vs Finance and Operations. Discover the key differences to assist in your ERP selection process.

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    Choosing a D365 ERP is often presented in simplistic, black and white terms: Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central vs Finance and Operations (F&O).

    Business Central is presented as the go-to for SMBs, while F&O is built for managing large, complex organizations.

    The reality is, finding the right solution is challenging—for a few reasons.

    First, Business Central is a standalone solution, while F&O–now Finance & Supply Chain Management– represents two modules within a broader Enterprise ecosystem.

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    Understanding that distinction is crucial — it impacts everything from monthly subscription costs to implementation timelines to the ISVs and add-ons you use to supplement the base plan.

    As such, it’s better to frame this decision as a choice between an all-in-one Professional ERP or a fully-customizable Enterprise system.

    It’s also important to understand that this decision isn’t just a matter of size. You’ll need to consider your business model, growth projections, goals, pain points — and pick the modules and add-ons that align with those factors.

    The point is, it’s a lot.

    Below, we’ll take a closer look at Microsoft’s D365 ERP offerings and discuss some key considerations to include in your selection process.

    Overview: Dynamics 365 Business Central vs. Finance & Supply Chain Management

    Before we dig in, let’s discuss the Dynamics 365 modules and how they’re presented to prospective buyers. It’s a bit confusing, particularly for decision-makers who are just starting to evaluate ERP options.

    This screenshot of the current D365 product lineup that helps put things in perspective.

    The red box represents Dynamics 365 BC and its supported add-on modules (the SMB or “Professional” option). Everything outside of that box falls into the “Enterprise” category.

    Microsoft Dynamics Website Top Navigation Menu

    As you can see, the Enterprise modules include much more than Finance and Supply Chain Management (F&SCM), which are often described as a standalone solution.

    That said, here’s a basic breakdown of each option.

    Dynamics 365 Business Central is an ideal upgrade for small and medium-sized businesses currently using QuickBooks.

    Dynamics 365 Business Central

    Dynamics Business Central is the only all-in-one solution of the D365 bunch.

    While it’s designed to integrate with other Microsoft Apps and ISV solutions, it’s meant to act as a standalone ERP that connects the entire business. Inside, you’ll find the following modules:

    • Finance
    • Sales
    • Supply Chain
    • Project Management
    • Warehouse Management
    • Manufacturing

    You’ll have the option to add Sales and Customer Service modules to your plan if you need more advanced features to drive growth.

    If you need advanced features for another business unit, say for managing Advanced Projects, you’ll need to look toward ISV solutions (available in the AppSource store).

    Who it’s for: Business Central is best for SMBs in operating in the professional services, manufacturing, or distribution sectors. It’s designed for orgs with single country operations, straightforward manufacturing/distribution processes, and fewer than ~200 users.

    This option is often considered the logical next step for orgs that have outgrown entry-level tools like Quickbooks or are struggling with fragmented systems or outdated legacy solutions.

    Dynamics 365 Finance

    Unlike Dynamics 365 BC, Finance & Operations – now Finance & Supply Chain Management — isn’t a standalone ERP.

    Finance and Supply Chain Management are actually two different modules.

    They get lumped together because their predecessor, Dynamics AX, handled both supply chain and finance activities.

    Dynamics 365 is designed in a way that allows Enterprise users to pick and choose the modules they need to run their business.

    So, it’s not just Finance & Operations, you might also subscribe to other modules like HR, Sales, or Commerce — as well as add-ons like Guides, Fraud Protection, and Connected Spaces.

    Compared to Dynamics BC, the enterprise-level features are more advanced – designed to support the needs of a mature, growing enterprise, while deeper integration and embedded AI enable organizations to streamline and optimize all business processes — at speed and scale.

    Who it’s for: D365 Enterprise plans are best for larger enterprises, multinational orgs, orgs with multiple portfolio brands, operating in professional services, retail, distribution, manufacturing, public sector.

    BC is often presented as the best choice for SMBs (typically defined as companies with 50- 200 employees), while Dynamics 365 F&SCM is positioned as the go-to for larger, more complex organizations.

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    But—there’s more to this decision than size. Factors like complexity, growth projections, revenue, and whether an organization operates in multiple countries are much more important than hitting that 200-employee threshold.

    The choice between the SMB and enterprise options is more about complexity, transaction volume, revenue, and growth projections than size.

    “Corporate revenue and growth projections are among the top factors used to determine whether it makes sense to use Finance and Supply Chain Management, versus Business Central.” – Robbie Morrison, CTO

    Built-In Intelligence – BC vs. Enterprise

    Dynamics 365 Enterprise and Business Central both come with powerful business intelligence and AI functions. The key difference is, F&SCM comes with more embedded intelligence straight from the box.

    Out-of-the-box, BC subscribers gain access to AI-powered features that streamline the entire business.

    For example, users can automatically reconcile their accounts and analyze financial data across multiple dimensions.

    The system also syncs sales data and communication records across the entire system and includes capabilities for inventory forecasting, capacity planning, dispatching, and more.

    BC users also receive a free Power BI license with their subscription that unlocks most of the platform’s features — but they’ll also have the option to extend those capabilities by upgrading to the Pro plan.

    Some Power BI reports can be embedded into BC and used without clicking away from the ERP system. But, you’ll need to use the Power BI Desktop app or the web app to access more complex reports and dashboards. Check out Microsoft’s documentation for more on what you can do in Business Central with Power BI.

    Business Central supports three Power BI apps –Sales, Finance, or CRM — that bring more detailed insights into reports and dashboard. Users can download these apps from the AppSource store, as well as extensions that extend in-app forecasting capabilities and hundreds of ISV solutions.

    Power BI is embedded directly into all Dynamics 365 Enterprise modules. This means users don’t have to rely on multiple apps to access predictive insights and enhanced reporting capabilities.

    D365 Finance now includes Finance Insights–a suite of AI-powered features that support what Microsoft calls “outcome-driven finance.”

    Users can monitor global financial performance in real-time, predict customer payments, improve cash flow forecasting, build intelligent budget proposals, and more.

    The SCM version, Supply Chain Insights is currently in preview. But, like its counterpart in Finance, Supply Chain Insights brings more prescriptive analytics to the platform using unified real-time data from all connected data sources.

    As a result, users can create a digital twin of the entire supply chain and use it to explore hypotheticals at scale. Predictive insights can be used to improve asset management and inventory planning, as well as avoid costly disruptions and bottlenecks.

    Automation Capabilities

    Business Central’s connected data ecosystem and end-to-end visibility support faster, smarter decision-making.

    They also act as a foundation for automating and optimizing existing processes.

    BC offers powerful integrations with other Microsoft apps like Teams, Excel, Outlook, Azure, the Power Platform, and more.

    That means users can manage the entire sales process from their Outlook account, share files and customer records in Teams conversations, and so on.

    BC’s Workflows tool allows users to create workflows that connect tasks performed by different users. Examples include things like approval flows, automatically posting content, or creating new records.

    You’ll also have the option to build automated workflows from Power Automate, though you’ll need to create a separate account, then add BC as a data source. Power Automate allows you to build intelligent automations using tools like Process Advisor and AI Builder. Users can mine process data, build and manage AI models, and use prescriptive insights to drive improvements.

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    Dynamics 365 F&SCM offers tighter integration and more out-of-the-box automation capabilities than BC.

    For example, the Finance platform uses built-in AI to automate repetitive tasks, mitigate risk, and prevent fraud. Users can automatically process vendor invoices and recurring transactions (i.e.: subscriptions, membership fees, and contract renewals).

    They can also deploy new revenue streams, product lines, or portfolio brands with quick setup tools that ensure compliance with brand standards and regulatory requirements.

    Additionally, the platform allows users to automate manual tasks and offers predictive insights that surface opportunities to boost performance and productivity.

    Supply Chain Management leverages machine learning and real-time insights from the entire organization to create a more intelligent supply chain.

    For example, retailers can use real-time insights to adapt to changing customer needs in real-time. Manufacturers can automate production processes and use AI-driven insights to improve product quality and reduce waste.

    Users can also automate QA with RPA, integrate MES solutions for enhanced visibility, bring real-time manufacturing insights to the edge. They can even convert data from physical equipment into 3D assets that can be used to train and support workers.

    From an implementation standpoint, Enterprise users gain access to Lifecycle Services (LCS), which improves the quality and predictability of D365 implementations. It also makes it easier to manage upgrades, access permissions, security, and add new capabilities to the mix.

    By contrast, BC accounts require more manual configurations and will need to incorporate add-ons to set up more complex automations.

    Pricing & Implementation

    All Dynamics 365 core ERP and CRM modules are priced on a per user, per month basis.

    Again, Business Central is a standalone module, which makes it a bit easier to calculate monthly subscription costs.

    Add-on modules like Customer Service Professional or Sales Professional, of course, increase that monthly expense.

    Estimating total spending on an Enterprise plan isn’t as straightforward.

    One of the key advantages of Microsoft Dynamics 365 is that you can build your own ERP from a selection of pre-built modules. Then from there, they can customize it further so it aligns with your exact business needs.

    But that flexibility is a double-edged sword. If you’re not careful, it’s easy to blow your budget on unnecessary customizations or licensing permissions for users who may only need access to one or two modules.

    Dynamics 365 Enterprise implementations are more costly and complex than Business Central–and they take a lot longer.

    You’ll want to consider the full picture–total cost of ownership, cloud readiness, ISVs, add-on subscriptions, infrastructure upgrades, and more before committing to a solution.

    Implementation partners play an essential role in evaluating the total cost of implementing and maintaining D365.

    Many offer proprietary solutions that speed up implementation and extend the value of existing features. And–they can help organizations navigate the selection process so they can maximize the value of their ERP investment.

    Velosio CTO Robbie Morrison says “as an example, we’ll look at the number of ISV solutions a client needs to add to BC to cover all business requirements. At a certain point, F&O becomes the better choice, offering more functionality straight from the box.”

    Final Thoughts

    We hope this guide provides more insight into how Dynamics 365 Business Central compares to the Dynamics 365 Enterprise modules.

    Again, it’s important to break away from this idea of “Microsoft Dynamics Business Central vs Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations.”

    Yes, complex Finance and Supply Chain operations are often the reasons an organization might opt for the enterprise ERP. But, it’s important to understand that you’ll also need to consider whether you’ll need modules for Sales, HR, Project Operations, and so on.

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    Ultimately, this choice is about business requirements.

    You’re trying to balance your current needs with growth projections and strategic goals — which isn’t an easy process.

    Whether you need help choosing between BC or the full Dynamics 365 plan, selecting the right modules, or exploring custom solutions that extend the value of your ERP, we can help.

    Velosio is a top 1% Microsoft partner and supports clients with data-driven insights, proactive support, and accelerated implementation.

    Interested in our partner services? Learn how Velosio can help you achieve your organizations goals as an ISV Partner.

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