The Journey to Microsoft Dynamics 365

A history of Microsoft’s ERP systems

This was Microsoft’s logo back in the 1980s, when accounting software that evolved into ERP systems, was being coded and designed. We didn’t even know what an ERP was nor were we aware that one day a business management software would be used to collect, store and interpret data from all business activities. Here’s how Microsoft’s ERP roots evolved into a market leader that is Dynamics 365.

Microsoft Dynamics SL

Originally known as Solomon Software, a business management system that provides project-, service-, and distribution-driven businesses with a project management and project accounting functionality. Its roots go back to 1980, when its founders started TLB Inc (The Lord’s Business) that was later renamed to Solomon Software. In June 2000 it was acquired by Great Plains Software which was subsequently acquired by Microsoft in May 2001.

Microsoft Dynamics GP

Dynamics Release 1.0 was released in 1993. It was one of the first accounting packages in the United States, developed by Great Plains Software designed to be multi-user and run with Windows. Dynamics GP was one of the top accounting systems for SMEs at the time. It also had basic distribution and manufacturing functionality. In April 2001, Microsoft announced the purchase of Great Plains Software and is still being sold today. However, this product is not localized to run outside the United States and is not a strategic solution for Microsoft with the move to Azure.

Microsoft Dynamics NAV

This product originates from Navision, an accounting suite of applications acquired by Microsoft in 2002. Navision (originally PC&C A/S) released its first accounting solution in 1985 – PCPlus, a single-user application with basic accounting functionality. Navision’s products sold primarily in Denmark until 1990. In 1995, the first version of Navision was released based on Microsoft Windows 95. Navision Software A/S merged with Damgaard A/S to form NavisionDamgard A/S in 2000. The acquisition of Navision was made by Microsoft to go with the acquisition of Great Plains. Navision was designed for small to mid-sized enterprises and local subsidiaries of large international groups.

Microsoft Dynamics AX

AX was developed as a collaboration between IBM and Damgaard Data as IBM Axapta. It was released in the US and Denmark in 1998. IBM Axapta was later acquired by Navision which was then acquired by Microsoft. Axapta focused on complex customization, global implementations and a strong emphasis on manufacturing. Over the years, AX has competed head to head with the Oracle and SAP, and has worked its way to be a leader in the ERP game. Even though it fits a variety of industries and business sizes, the deep functionality leaves it best in complex multi-plant manufacturing environments as well as across multiple geographies and multiple localization requirements.

Microsoft Dynamics 365

In July 2016, Microsoft announced its product line of ERP and CRM, available in two editions. The Business Edition for small and medium businesses and the Enterprise Edition for medium to large organizations. With a common data model running in the cloud, it’s no wonder Microsoft is investing so much into the Azure Cloud. Dynamics 365 is one of the leaders in the ERP space with interesting developments and advances on going all the time.

Over the years Microsoft has innovated with its products and offerings while not leaving behind existing clients. The road to Dynamics 365 seems complex with all the mergers and acquisitions that happened and in the end the future looks bright. All the investments today into the Azure Cloud, Business Intelligence, Data Centers, Power Apps and more, makes the road from an accounting software to Dynamics 365 worthwhile.

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