In Gartner’s new Magic Quadrant for Single-Instance ERP, Microsoft Dynamics AX makes a strong showing among the 10 solutions that were closely reviewed. The solution receives especially high marks for its quality, usability, and scalability. As Dynamics ERP finds increasing adoption by large enterprises, the Gartner Magic Quadrant will likely help change dated notions that still identify Microsoft Dynamics only with smaller organizations. In addition, Gartner highlights areas where Microsoft partners such as To-Increase play a key role in extending Dynamics AX with industry functionality and business process management.
Toward the end of November, 2014, Gartner published the latest iteration of its Magic Quadrant for Single-Instance ERP for Product-Centric Midmarket Companies. In the overview diagram, Microsoft Dynamics AX is in an exposed position in the field of visionaries, and it’s also the most evolved ERP system in terms of completeness of vision. Because of its advanced ability to execute, Dynamics AX edges close to the field of leaders.
Gartner—which created the term “ERP” in 1990—explains that this magic quadrant was developed for product-centric companies: manufacturers and distributors. In recent years, the boundaries between these two types of businesses have eroded. These companies use what Gartner calls operational ERP, with functions such as customer and order management, manufacturing, distribution, inventory management, procurement, and others. In addition, they have typical back-office processes, including finance and HR management. For the purposes of this ERP review, Gartner is not including companies that don’t make or distribute products and that use ERP only in an administrative way, in the back office. The Gartner analysts also point out that midmarket companies can be at least as complex as larger enterprises and their operating environments.
For the purposes of the Gartner Magic Quadrant, “single-instance” ERP refers to companies using their ERP systems to support multiple business entities in different countries or geographies. They also may operate several business units for different offerings. At the same time, they maintain cross-entity processes and a level of coordination.
Increased adoption by large companies
In discussing Microsoft Dynamics AX and its position in the Gartner Magic Quadrant, analysts points out that the solution has found increasing adoption by large companies with thousands of users. Partners support these customers by extending the product with industry-specific capabilities, like To-Increase does for manufacturing and construction. According to Gartner, customers rate the quality, usability, flexibility, and scalability of Microsoft Dynamics AX highly.
While Microsoft Dynamics has relied on partners to help execute on its innovation strategy, a challenge exists in Microsoft’s limited “ability to service new opportunities with experienced direct or partner resources, especially for larger customers that expect industry and process depth and comprise [sic] extensive and complex requirements.” In this regard, To-Increase and our collaborating partners around the world are playing a vital role in bringing modern, powerful ERP to help companies meet their challenges and achieve their goals for growth and competitiveness.
Aligning ERP with KPIs and business processes
Interestingly, many customers Gartner spoke to talked about their business process concerns. They mentioned Dynamics Lifecycle Services and its process maps, as well as the fact that the Microsoft SureStep deployment methodology lacks the ability to embed key performance indicators, which could come from Lifecycle Services. As Gartner recommends, “Customers should seek stringent KPI statement and tracking through the inclusion of business-led KPIs within every step of the statement of work, especially when multiple partners are involved.” The To-Increase business process management (BPM) tool, RapidValue, can play an important role in this context. RapidValue complements Lifecycle Services and gives companies a centralized resource to model and optimize their processes as they prepare their Dynamics AX deployments and aim for the best strategic alignment of processes and technology. Companies can incorporate their KPIs and other important values into the RapidValue model. They can also use RapidValue to document organizational expertise and easily create solution and process guidance that becomes available through the Help function in Dynamics AX.
While the Gartner Magic Quadrant focuses on single-instance ERP, the analysts also mention that some companies may want to give their entities greater independence and autonomy, and enjoy the agility that can come with that. For them, very effective alternative ERP systems are readily available; Gartner lists several, including Microsoft Dynamics NAV.
With any feedback or questions, please get in touch with me or contact To-Increase.