Many of you may wonder why I would title a post “Dynamics 365 vs. SharePoint”, as though it were an either/or decision. But many customers, particularly in the SMB space, seem to grapple with “deciding” between the two.
Pliers and the Screw
If I worked at it long enough, I could probably remove a screw with a pair of pliers. Granted, a screwdriver would clearly do a much better job, but what if a screwdriver cost way more than a pair of pliers? I might be tempted to stick with the pliers. I know that by using pliers, removing a screw will take me about 20 minutes, and a screwdriver would take seconds, but I count my pennies. The time that me and my team spend using pliers for this? Hmm, yes, I guess there is that.
Reaching in the Toolbox
I am trying very hard to avoid the cliché of “Using the Right Tool for the Job” here, but it is unavoidable. I am assuming, and the evidence is clear, that many customers do not really understand the differences between Dynamics 365 and SharePoint. What they do understand, is that SharePoint came with their Office 365 Subscription and is already sitting there, while Dynamics 365 requires an additional purchase. Fair enough, I have said in the past, that customers don’t look for reasons to spend more, but rather look for reasons not to spend less. The problem comes from focusing on one metric of cost: the subscription. In reality, the subscription cost is the lowest cost factor, not just “over time”, but from day one.
SharePoint is Awesome!
I am not a SharePoint expert. While we know all about how to integrate SharePoint with Dynamics 365, that is coming from the Dynamics 365 side. As a Microsoft Certified Partner, we get all of these tools for free, so I am neither reluctant to use something because of cost, nor do I feel obligated to make use of something because I am paying for it. So, I get that my perspective might be skewed, but we use SharePoint all day long. In fact, I am not sure how we could even function without it. All of our client documents sit in SharePoint libraries that are synchronized with everyone’s devices, as well as the related Dynamics 365 records. While this is crucial to our business, it is also about the extent of our SharePoint use. Like all things Microsoft, we are making use of about 10% of what SharePoint can do. For us, SharePoint is an extension of Dynamics 365.
SharePoint is no CRM
With all due respect to my SharePoint focused peers, SharePoint is no more a Customer Relationship Management platform, than Dynamics 365 is an Enterprise Collaboration platform. Tangerines and Bananas (Avoiding “Apples and Oranges” cliché). Attempting to turn SharePoint into a CRM is a pointless exercise. Development and customization costs are similar for both platforms, so why would you want to spend so much of that on replicating another product’s features… into either platform? The work has already been done. It would take an absurd amount of money to make either of these platforms provide even a fraction of what the other one does. What you would end up with, is a ridiculously customized “house of cards”, that is not going to be well supported by Microsoft, so you will be joined at the hip to your development partner. Your loyalty to a partner should be a result of their continuous efforts to satisfy your needs, not because you painted yourself into a corner with them.
Dynamics 365 is no Collaboration Platform
The sames hold true for Dynamics 365. If you want to add collaboration capabilities, just connect it to SharePoint. Voilà, instant collaboration. While both products have awesome capabilities on their own, when combined, the net result is far more than the sum of its parts… exponentially. Shift your focus from Cost to ROI, saving a few dollars, but generating little return for your investment, is actually not a good business strategy.
What provides the Best ROI?
You are probably expecting me to say “Get Everything”, but that is not always the case. Forget about costs and software for a moment, and instead think about outcomes that could lead to solving your business problems. Too often I see customers looking at it the other way around, “Dynamics 365 looks really cool, what could it do for us?“. The more important question is “What do you need done?” If you come with a clear understanding of your particular success inhibitors, the solution you need becomes obvious. Maybe it is SharePoint, maybe it is Dynamics 365, maybe it is both, maybe it is neither. When you contact your Microsoft Partner, you should know ahead of time, exactly what outcomes you are looking for, then challenge them to explain, how whatever solution or combination they are suggesting, solves for those outcomes. In a perfect world, you will know what those outcomes are worth to you in dollars, and the ROI is simple math.