If you are an IT manager or executive trying to make the case for new enterprise resource planning software, you may be facing an uphill battle, if stakeholders are cautious about getting on board. Many stakeholders are cautious about getting on board.
Companies are often concerned about hidden costs, extra services and the internal resources involved in implementing new systems. Others are overwhelmed with the sheer number of ERP software solutions that exist within the market. After all, the consequences of selecting the wrong software vendor are many.
SEE: Top 10 ERP vendors (free PDF) (TechRepublic)
To get stakeholders to embrace the thought of ERP implementation, it’s important to arm yourself with the benefits of ERP as well as information about the current market. And when it comes time to select a vendor, you must understand the key features a useful ERP software should contain to make the right choice.
The current ERP software market
The ERP software market is continuing to expand. According to a recent report by Fortune Business Insights, the ERP market is expected to reach $93.34 billion by 2028.
According to the report, this growth is driven by a need for affordable ERP solutions to carry out business functions and improve operational efficiency. Other factors include changing consumer behavior, rising digitization and the continued bounceback from COVID-19.
Another key trend highlighted in the report is the use of cloud-based solutions: “The increasing demand for cloud-based solutions is expected to drive market growth.” To reduce operational costs, enhance data sharing capabilities and increase productivity, more organizations are prioritizing cloud-based ERP software versus on-premises software.
The key benefits of ERP software
Reduced operational costs
While ERP implementation will require an upfront investment, there are plenty of cost savings to experience over time through eliminating repetitive managing operations tasks as well as enabling organizations to make financial decisions based on real-time insights.
The top ERP software solutions will have advanced security features, such as encryption, multi-factor authentication and real-time monitoring, to protect your users and data.
Remote work support
Cloud-based ERP can be a single source of truth that is accessible to your team, enabling simplified access to the data and tools employees need to complete their work, whether they’re in the office, at home or on-the-go.
Simplified forecasting and planning
One of the key functions of ERP software is forecasting and planning, which helps to deliver the insights you need to accurately conduct processes such as cost forecasting and resource planning.
ERP software provides real-time visibility into business processes, assisting stakeholders in seeing where improvements can be made to boost productivity.
Enhanced customer service
ERP software improves customer service in many ways, from improving customer communication to enabling businesses to deliver products and services faster.
Key features of ERP software
When selecting the right ERP software for your organization, it’s best to choose a solution that includes the features your unique business requires to function. While must-have features differ from business to business, several key features should be a part of any ERP platform:
True digital transformation requires the cloud; therefore, any software solution you implement should have cloud functionality to ensure you are able to remain flexible when it comes to scaling your IT infrastructure.
Customer relationship management
Your ERP should have a CRM function or be able to integrate with your current CRM, which can allow your staff to benefit from accessing customer data faster to improve customer service.
Accounting and financial management
An ERP platform should be able to track all of an organization’s finances, including accounts payable, budgets and beyond, allowing stakeholders to make more informed decisions toward maximizing business profits and reducing operational costs.
Supply chain management
Your ERP solution should be able to monitor the production and delivery of your products as well as automate various steps within those processes, especially if your organization is within the manufacturing industry.
ERP solutions often come standard with various reporting features, including real-time dashboards and custom report-building tools.
Sales and marketing tools
ERP software supports your sales and marketing processes in many ways, including uncovering customer purchasing patterns, the effectiveness of marketing campaigns, progress toward sales goals and more.
ERP solutions must integrate with all other tools within an organization’s tech stack. Integration eliminates the disparate systems that lead to productivity loss.
Leading ERP software options
1. NetSuite ERP
NetSuite is the most trusted cloud-based ERP software in the world, integrating all key business processes into a single system — financials, inventory, sales, CRM, e-commerce and marketing.
2. Multiview ERP
Multiview Financials’ ERP provides a single point of truth within your organization, enabling visibility across divisional, regional or product line silos. It goes beyond traditional finance and accounting to add the sophisticated capabilities that today’s complex organizations demand.
3. Katana Manufacturing ERP
Katana is a manufacturing ERP that gives you a live look at your business. Features include live inventory and manufacturing management, batch tracking for end-to-end traceability, a Shop Floor App for total floor-level control, an open API and a growing channel partner network.
Real-time master planning features automate resource allocation based on prioritized sales orders and integrations with e-commerce, accounting, CRM and reporting services to centralize all key business operations.
4. Kechie ERP Software
My Office Apps offers business automation for today’s business environment. MOA is a full ERP, inventory management, warehouse management, finance and manufacturing software that presents the best features in a fully-integrated, cloud-based solution. The robust and intuitive user interface retrieves information quickly, accurately and in real-time, giving you the exact information when you need it.
5. Acumatica Cloud ERP
Acumatica Cloud ERP provides the best business management solution for transforming your company, so you can thrive in the new digital economy.
6. Sage X3
From HR and accounting to inventory management and CRM, Sage ERP software lets users share information across the entire business from a single, secure database. Their suite of tools is customizable to your needs, so you can streamline operations and collaborate effectively across departments.
It provides essential real-time information about your company, highlights areas for improvement and ensures you comply with financial regulations—all in one place.
Workday is a cloud-based ERP that combines finance, planning and HR into one platform. It comes with features for enterprise planning, financial and human capital management, analytics and professional services automation.
Users can manage employees throughout the product life cycle, configure regional requirements and automate workforce transactions. With one source for financial, people and operational data, everyone can access real-time insights to make sound decisions.
For SMBs and enterprise businesses, Infor ERP offers cloud products created for specific industries, including Financials & Supply Management, Distribution SX.e, LN, M3 and more. Infor ensures your ERP software is tailored to your business’s needs.
9. Kinetic (Epicor)
Kinetic, formerly known as Epicor ERP, is a cloud-based ERP system aimed at manufacturers that can be configured to the way you work with low or no code. The platform includes solutions for employee experience, manufacturing operations, global supply chain management, business intelligence and analytics, product management, HR, finance, risk management and compliance.
10. Microsoft Dynamics 365
Microsoft Dynamics 365 is a suite of ERP-focused apps organizations can use to build custom solutions to fit their needs. The platform includes tools for everything from supply chain management and sales to marketing and finance. All the apps can be used together or companies can choose which ones they need for their specific workflows.
10 of the top ERP software vendors
Here are 10 of the top ERP software vendors leading the market today, in no particular order.
SEE: Securing IoT in your organization: 10 best practices (free PDF) (TechRepublic)
SAP has long been a frontrunner for large enterprises. Although the implementation process can be lengthy, it is often well-tailored to any business. SAP is fully featured and offers an ERP solution for any size enterprise. For example, SAP Business One is a great option for small businesses, while SAP Business ByDesign was developed with growing mid-sized businesses in mind.
SAP’s standout ERP platform is the SAP S/4HANA Cloud which features built-in AI, machine learning and analytics for intelligent automation. These tools enable organizations to free up their IT resources and improve operational efficiency.
All SAP ERP platforms include key features such as asset management, supply chain management, finance management, sales tools and more.
2. Oracle ERP Cloud
Just like SAP, Oracle has been a leader in ERP for quite some time. And in 2021, Oracle was named a Gartner Magic Quadrant Leader for Cloud ERP for Product-Centric Enterprises for the third year in a row.
Oracle’s Fusion Cloud ERP includes a full range of capabilities that make it a perfect solution for organizations across industries. These capabilities include financial management, project management, compliance, procurement, supply chain management and robust analytics.
Oracle Fusion Cloud ERP delivers additional features for organizations looking to future-proof their tech stack. These features include AI automation and automatic updates.
For businesses that are already using Microsoft’s technology, choosing Microsoft for ERP could be a smart idea. Microsoft offers robust products for small and mid-sized organizations and is becoming a growing force, looking toward larger organizations as well.
Microsoft Dynamics 365 is a complete suite of products organizations can choose from to fit their specific needs. Some of the products include Dynamics 365 Finance, Dynamics 365 Business Central and Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management.
The option to choose one product or all of them makes Dynamics 365 completely customizable and scalable. From customer relationship management to financial management, it’s all available through Microsoft’s ERP solutions.
Medium and large companies, both national and global, should consider Infor, which is an emerging solution for the enterprise, offering a set of applications specific to particular organizations.
For example, Infor M3 was designed specifically for enterprise manufacturers and distributors, featuring capabilities such as global financial visibility, robust analytics and supply chain management. For other businesses within the general service industry, Infor provides a wide range of solutions for managing operations, including payroll, workforce management, financial management and more.
IFS is dedicated to serving organizations within complex industries such as aerospace and defense, construction and engineering, manufacturing and telecommunications. The IFS ERP solution is built on the IFS Cloud, which provides a completely composable environment. This means the solution is completely customizable to fit your workflow.
The IFS ERP solution provides many functionalities critical for all organizations, including financial management, human capital management, CRM, supply chain management, procurement, project management and commerce.
Workday is a full suite of enterprise-level apps that promises to help organizations “move beyond ERP.” Workday combines finance and HR functions into one streamlined platform, eliminating the need for disparate systems.
Inside Workday, organizations have access to a wide range of capabilities, including everything from human capital management and talent management to adaptive planning and reporting.
Workday’s core technology includes a flexible business process framework (BPF) that enables organizations to configure Workday in a way that works best for them, without any coding required. This includes the ability to connect to third-party apps and services and integrate them into any workflow.
Epicor provides ERP solutions to small and medium-sized enterprises within industries such as manufacturing, automotive, retail and distribution. Epicor offers several platforms, each with their own specific use, ensuring organizations select an ERP platform that fits.
For example, Epicor Eagle was built for retailers and includes capabilities such as point-of-sale (POS), payment processing, back-office management and omnichannel management. Epicor Eclipse was developed for leading HVAC, electrical, plumbing and PVF distributors and includes capabilities such as supply chain management, analytics, warehousing and inventory management.
Other platforms within the Epicor suite include, but are not limited to:
- Epicor BisTrack: For lumber and building material businesses
- Epicor DMS Automotive: For auto manufacturing organizations
- Epicor Eagle for the Aftermarket: For auto parts dealers, distributors and job shops
- Epicor Kinetic: For manufacturing organizations
- Epicor LumberTrack: For lumber and wood product manufacturers
abas offers an ERP platform designed specifically for mid-sized manufacturers within industries such as metalworking, automotive, electrical engineering and plastic technology. For these industries, abas is comprehensive and includes tools for scheduling, accounting, sales, purchasing, reporting, order processing, invoicing and project management.
Manufacturing organizations will benefit from several additional, niche-specific features using the abas platform such as Internet of Things (IoT), plant data collection, service assignment planning, quality management (QM) and warehousing.
Just like the other ERP platforms included here, abas also offers simple platform customization, enabling manufacturers to tailor their ERP to fit their unique workflows. Plus, customization is completed using low-code tools.
For project-based businesses within industries such as accounting, IT and marketing, Deltek’s ERP solutions are some of the best available on the market. Deltek provides unique, niche-specific tools depending on each organization’s needs. Plus, these tools are available in the cloud or on-premises.
For example, WorkBook is a management system designed for agencies and in-house teams. It provides project management tools, resource management tools, finance management tools and business intelligence in one solution.
ComputerEase is another product offered through Deltek for construction companies. This solution provides features such as construction accounting, job costing, field mobility and service management.
Sage delivers robust ERP apps and tools through the Sage Business Cloud. These apps are perfect for small businesses looking for simple and cost-effective solutions for accounting, procurement, customer service, production, sales and workforce management.
Sage also offers ERP solutions for medium-sized, established businesses that need a bit more than the apps can give. Sage X3 delivers everything from production management to financial management. Plus, Sage X3 is completely customizable and can be connected with many other integrations and apps.
In addition to Sage X3, Sage also offers two other key products for medium-sized businesses: Sage 100 and Sage 300. Sage 100 focuses on streamlining accounting processes while Sage 300 includes features for managing finances, sales orders, inventory and payments.