Dynamics 365 review: Is upgrading from AX 2012 really worth it?


If your business is thinking about upgrading from Dynamics AX 2012 to Dynamics 365, you may be wondering whether making the switch is really worth it. 

In this Dynamics 365 review, we highlight some of the key benefits and drawbacks of upgrading your Dynamics AX 2012 solution to Dynamics 365, and consider how to ensure that your upgrade to Dynamics 365 is worth the investment.  

Dynamics 365 review: Key upgrade benefits

As the successor to AX, Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations boasts more than a name change, the new ERP solution contains a range of upgraded features and functionality. Here are the key benefits Dynamics 365 has over Dynamics AX:

  • AX 2012 will no longer be supported by Microsoft after 2021
  • Cloud-based software means D365 is regularly updated and enhanced 
  • Access to a wider range of valuable integrations
  • Enhanced features and improved usability

AX 2012 will no longer be supported by Microsoft after 2021

First and foremost, Microsoft is ending mainstream support for Dynamics AX 2012 in October 2021. Not only will you no longer receive break/fix support from Microsoft should something go wrong, but this also means that Microsoft have long since stopped enhancing Dynamics AX 2012.

While your current AX solution may be functional, as the product continues to age, it will become more difficult to manage, leading to increased risks of a large-scale system failure.

In addition to the system becoming obsolete, as more businesses move to cloud-based ERP solutions, the infrastructure of on-premise solutions such as Dynamics AX 2012 will become more costly to maintain, and hardware is more likely to break or fail. This brings us to our next benefit in this Dynamics 365 review:


Cloud-based software means D365 is regularly updated and enhanced

Microsoft Dynamics 365 is a cloud-based solution that is regularly updated and enhanced, with no on-premise infrastructure - saving you the time and money used to maintain your current AX solution. Additionally, Dynamics 365 is completely supported by Microsoft, meaning that if there is a problem with the solution, your business won’t be forced to come to a potentially damning standstill. 

According to Columbus, migrating to the cloud-based Dynamics 365 could save over £2.2m in on-premises licensing and support fees, an additional £1m in on-premise infrastructure costs, and over £2.8m in IT systems admin labour costs. These long-term savings more than mitigate the initial outlay, which we’ll get to shortly. 


Access to wider a range of valuable integrations

As a cloud-first platform, Dynamics 365 is able to support extensive integration with other platforms. While Dynamics AX integrates with Dynamics CRM and Office 365 (alongside some third party software), Dynamics 365 also offers enhanced integration with the latest Dynamics CRM product, along with Power BI, Cortana, and more.

A new integration with LinkedIn allows businesses to sync employees’ LinkedIn profiles with their own records, ensuring HR departments have up-to-date information. Ongoing project management and retail workforce management integrations also allow for greater flexibility, shared user intelligence, and ease of use across departments.


Enhanced features and improved usability

Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations has undergone a major facelift from AX 2012, with the aim of this upgrade being to enhance user experience. Customisable homepages allow users to quicker access to the information they need, helping to increase productivity as well as user ease. 

A Forrestor report commissioned by Microsoft found a 10% increase in productivity across employees within organisations that had undertaken an upgrade from AX to Dynamics 365, thanks to increased access to integrated systems and shared data.  


Want to know more about how to prepare for your ERP upgrade from Dynamics AX 2012 to Microsoft Dynamics ERP? Check out our ERP upgrade checklist below.

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To provide a balanced Dynamics 365 review, it’s important to also look at the negatives associated with a large upgrade project. So what are the main drawbacks of undertaking an upgrade from AX 2012 to Dynamics 365?


Dynamics 365 review: Key upgrade drawbacks

When your current solution isn’t creating major problems, it can be difficult to see the value in an upgrade. For many organisations, the investment in Dynamics AX 2012 would have been significant, and it may seem like an upgrade for a solution that currently works is a waste of money and time. Let’s consider both of these points:


Cost of the upgrade

If you’re trying to get your leadership team on board, the cost of upgrading will inevitably be the main concern. The reality is that upgrades can cost a significant amount, but if the solution turns out to be worth the investment, it more than pays for itself in the business benefits you gain, as well as other savings, as highlighted above.

When upgrading Dynamics AX 2012 to Dynamics 365, you will have to invest - but this will be the last upgrade your business will ever have to do. Find out the total cost of ownership when upgrading from AX 2012 to Dynamics 365 here.


Time and difficulty of implementation

Upgrading Dynamics AX 2012 to Dynamics 365 may not seem worth the hassle because your organisation doesn’t see the need for it. If you’ve undergone an upgrade before that was particularly difficult, it can lead to fatigue and a reluctance to undertake another upgrade. On top of this, concerns about user adoption and the solution not delivering what is promised can make the upgrade seem like too much hassle. 

However, one way to avoid this issue is to choose the right Microsoft partner that can help make your upgrade as seamless as possible. The right partner should seek to understand your organisation and help you develop a business case that highlights the benefits of the solution for your individual business, working with you to ensure success. 

Additionally, your upgrade partner should aid user adoption by getting your whole team on board (such as process owners and SMEs) early on in the project, and helping you to understand stakeholder impact and how best to prepare for success. Only by choosing a partner committed to getting the most out of your solution in the long term, will you receive the full benefits of upgrading your AX solution to Dynamics 365. 

At Inciper, we’re committed to being completely transparent with businesses looking to upgrade their current solution to Microsoft Dynamics 365, and can provide long term support in aiding user adoption and getting the most out of the product.  


So, is upgrading Dynamics AX 2012 to Dynamics 365 worth it? 

For businesses looking to get better business insights through a powerful and innovative solution, the upgrade to Dynamics 365 is worth the investment. While the upgrade will require an investment, the bottom line is that Microsoft will be ending mainstream support for Dynamics AX 2012 in late 2021, and you could end up spending more in the long term trying to maintain and manage an aging solution, leaving yourself open to potential failures. 

Our Microsoft Dynamics 365 review shows the benefits gained by upgrading more than pay for themselves, and the total cost of ownership of the system makes the investment worthwhile. Not only this, but when you upgrade to Dynamics 365, you’ll never have to do another upgrade again - by upgrading now, you prepare your business for the future.  

However, upgrading Microsoft AX is a big commitment, and you need to be sure that it can run smoothly before dedicating time, budget and resources to the project. Download our pre-upgrade checklist for everything you need to have in place before you undertake the project successfully, and get peace of mind that your upgrade will be as smooth and seamless as possible. 

[This blog was updated on the 24th of February 2021]

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