When you’re selecting a new enterprise resource planning system, there might be concerns about hidden costs, extra services and the internal resources involved in implementation. In addition, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with the sheer number of ERP software solutions.
SEE: The ERP Systems Blueprint? Where It All Begins (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.
Leading ERP companies
Kinetic, formerly known as Epicor ERP, is a cloud 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.
Top ERP software vendors
SAP S/4HANA ERP: Best for large enterprises
SAP S/4HANA has long been a top ERP choice for large enterprises. Although the implementation process for SAP S/4HANA 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 midsize businesses in mind.
SAP’s standout ERP platform is SAP S/4HANA Cloud, which features built-in artificial intelligence, 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.
- Well-established enterprise ERP solution with multiple subscription options.
- Supply chain management, finance management and business planning tools.
- Artificial intelligence for automation.
- Sales, CRM and logistics tools.
- Smooth interoperability between S/4HANA Cloud and other SAP offerings.
- Short implementation time and fast processes.
- Reviewers praise its database management tools.
- May be overwhelming for smaller companies or users unfamiliar with ERP software.
- Setup requires significant technical expertise.
- Relatively expensive and may require a lot of setup time or specialized skills, so it’s best for companies with a lot of resources.
SAP representatives recommend getting in touch with sales or SAP Partners to determine the right pricing for each organization’s specific requirements and location.
Oracle Fusion Cloud ERP: Best for large amounts of data
Just like SAP, Oracle has been a leader in ERP for quite some time. In 2022, 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.
- Financial and accounting management.
- Supply chain management.
- Business analytics.
- Artificial intelligence.
- Commitment to regular, 90-day updates.
- Ease of use.
- Customizable home page.
- Robust set of standard business features.
- The demoing, onboarding and sales processes can be convoluted, including setting up admin roles.
- Not as much customization as an on-premises ERP.
- Relatively costly.
$150 per month for Oracle Fusion Sales Enterprise Cloud Service. See more details in this Oracle price list.
Microsoft Dynamics 365: Best for Windows users
For businesses already using Microsoft’s technology, choosing Microsoft for enterprise resource planning could be a smart idea. Microsoft offers robust products for small and midsize businesses 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. Within it are the separate apps and functionalities that may be useful for ERP needs. Some of those 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 customizable and scalable. From customer relationship management to financial management, it’s all available through Microsoft’s ERP solutions.
- Part of overall Microsoft Dynamics 356 business applications.
- Streamlined process for sales and marketing pipeline.
- Finance tools.
- E-commerce management.
- Supply chain tracking.
- Relatively inexpensive, according to customer reviews.
- Intuitive to use for those familiar with other Microsoft products and widely supported.
- The interlocking group of services can be confusing for customers seeking only one module.
- Dynamics 365 Finance starts at $180 per user per month.
- Dynamics 365 Business Central starts at $70 per user per month.
- Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management costs starts at $180 per user per month.
For more information, see the list of pricing for these and other Dynamics 365 business services.
Infor M3 ERP: Best for large industrial organizations
Medium and large companies, both national and global, should consider Infor, which is an emerging solution for enterprises that offers a set of applications specific to particular organizations.
For example, Infor M3 ERP 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 and financial management.
- Smart manufacturing insights.
- Sustainability data.
- Real-time data.
- Production scheduling tools.
- Large number of deployment options.
- Easy access to customer profiles and history.
- Flexible and customizable.
- Some reviews note the UI looks outdated or cluttered.
- Customizable UI can cause issues and requires intensive configuration.
- Long learning curve.
Prospective customers should contact the company to book a personalized demo and request a pricing quote.
IFS Cloud ERP: Best for heavy industry
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, with different modules able to be swapped in and attached to your existing ERP platform on the cloud.
In addition, 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.
- Business analytics.
- Workplace productivity suite.
- Enterprise asset management.
- Field service notifications.
- CRM integrations.
- Flexible and offers various configurations for different business needs and types.
- One system offers all services.
- Offers both cloud-based and on-premises versions.
- Customer service can be patchy.
- Single system means integrations can be tricky.
- The interface can be cluttered.
Prospective customers should contact the company or partners to book a personalized demo and request a pricing quote.
Workday: Best for managing enterprise finances
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.
With 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 that enables organizations to configure it 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.
- Finance and HR services.
- Business strategy and growth.
- Financial insights.
- Employee and talent management.
- Performance tracking.
- Skills management.
- Reviewers consider it adaptable and easy to use.
- “Single source of truth” dashboard shows business overall effectively.
- Real-time updates.
- Can overwhelm users with multiple identical messages.
- Lack of batch processes can force users to do numerous tasks individually.
- Relatively expensive.
Pricing for Workday is generally considered on the high end, but it will depend on individual needs.
Epicor Kinetic ERP: Best for SMBs
Epicor provides ERP solutions to small and midsize 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 its needs.
For example, Epicor Eagle was built for retailers and includes capabilities such as point-of-sale, 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.
We’ll focus on Kinetic ERP here because it is one of the largest and most widely used offerings in the Epicor suite, but each option is tailored to a different type of organization.
Key features of Epicor Kinetic ERP
- Custom products for automotive, building materials businesses, heavy industry and/or independent resellers.
- Business process and supply chain management.
- End-to-end integration.
- Global communication and collaboration tools.
- Robust security infrastructure comes with Epicor Cloud.
- Connect partners, customers and vendors.
Pros of Epicor Kinetic ERP
- Effective display of real-time tracking and data.
- Efficient, proven workflow.
- Low-code and no-code functionality.
Cons of Epicor Kinetic ERP
- Lacks cloud documentation.
- Some customers note training could be improved.
- Some workflows can be cumbersome.
Pricing is dependent on customer need, size and whether you are working with a partner organization and other requirements. Prospective customers can start a free demo here.
abas: Best for midsize manufacturers
abas offers an ERP platform designed specifically for midsize 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 features using the abas platform such as Internet of Things, plant data collection, service assignment planning, quality management and warehousing.
Just like the other ERP platforms included here, abas offers simple platform customization, enabling manufacturers to tailor their ERP to fit their unique workflows. Plus, customization is completed using low-code tools.
- Process management for manufacturing.
- Scheduling and production, including planning for resources and deadlines and real-time monitoring.
- Finance and accounting tools.
- Support for connectivity and IoT.
- Sales and purchasing tools.
- abas provides coding classes that enable customers to do customization independently.
- Easy integration with other software.
- Good suite of features for growing or midsize manufacturers.
- Some reviews say implementation can be convoluted.
- Supply chain management is granular and links to billing and inventory.
- Scheduling tools may not work as well for large organizations.
abas ERP pricing is dependent on the number of users, the need for data migration and the complexity of the business processes requested by a prospective customer. Contact abas for more information.
Deltek Costpoint: Best for government contractors
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 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 ERP solution provides features such as construction accounting, job costing, field mobility and service management.
While Deltek features several ERP options, we’ve highlighted Costpoint here because it is the flagship product. Deltek Costpoint specializes in government contract work and construction.
Key features of Deltek Costpoint
- Both cloud and on-premises solutions.
- End-to-end project management.
- Project life cycle management.
- Financial planning tools.
- A variety of tools depending on the type of organization.
- Engineer-to-order manufacturing management.
- Thorough tools for organizations working with government contracts.
- Can scale to companies of various sizes.
- Well-suited for boosting and monitoring productivity.
- Some features require exporting to other programs such as Excel.
- One-page information display can be confusing for customers used to tabs.
- Some reviews note that saving work can be cumbersome.
Contact Deltek to book a personalized demo and request a pricing quote.
Sage Cloud X3: Best for small business bookkeeping
Sage delivers robust ERP apps and tools through Sage Business Cloud. These ERP 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 established midsize businesses that need a bit more than the apps can give. Sage Cloud X3 delivers everything from production management to financial management. Plus, Sage Cloud X3 is completely customizable and can be connected with many other integrations and apps.
In addition to Sage X3, Sage offers two other key products for midsize 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.
- Project management.
- Quality control.
- Financial reporting and budgeting.
- Supply chain management.
- Sales and customer service management.
- Purchase order and invoice creation.
- Features are well-integrated and easy to use for non-accounting and non-IT users as well as accounting specialists.
- Wide variety of tools and features.
- Streamlines financial management processes.
- Detailed reporting requires add-on software.
- Customization can be a challenge.
Sign up to contact Sage’s sales team for more information on pricing.
The current ERP software market
The ERP software market continues to expand. According to an August 2022 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.
What are the 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.
- Enhanced security: The top ERP software solutions will have advanced security features, such as encryption, multi-factor authentication and real-time monitoring, to protect users and data.
- Remote work support: Cloud-based ERP can be a single source of truth that is accessible to operations teams, 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 needed to accurately conduct processes such as cost forecasting and resource planning.
- Increased productivity: 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.
What are the main types of ERP systems?
ERP systems can be deployed from cloud, on-premises or hybrid environments. Cloud ERP means the provider will be able to handle some or most of the IT work from their side; on the other hand, it may cause slow-downs that the customer does not have insight into and cannot fix.
With on-premises, the software is hosted in a data center close to the customer, and the customer must be much more hands-on with the deployment. Hybrid deployment, or two-tier ERP, mixes both depending on the customer’s specific needs and resources.
What are the most common ERP modules?
Different ERP modules focus on providing organizational resources for different types of businesses. Finance and accounting are by far the most commonly used modules and come with most good ERP solutions.
Other common module types include manufacturing, supply chain, research and development, and engineering. Automotive service, asset management, sales, and sourcing and procurement are other common industries that have their own ERP modules. Many ERP solutions include a HR component with its own module as well.
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 business requires to function. While must-have features differ from business to business, the following key features should be a part of any ERP platform.
- Cloud functionality: On-premises ERP is an option, but true digital transformation requires the cloud; therefore, any software solution implemented should preferably have cloud functionality to ensure you are able to remain flexible when it comes to scaling your IT infrastructure.
- Customer relationship management: Your ERP solution should have a CRM function or be able to integrate with your current CRM, which can allow 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.
- Reporting: 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.
- Integrations: ERP solutions must integrate with all other tools within an organization’s tech stack. Integration eliminates the disparate systems that lead to productivity loss.
Learn more about ERP
Ready to transform your business with ERP? See how to know when to get a new on-premises service, learn about today’s best enterprise accounting software and discover whether budgeting with an ERP might be back in the spotlight in the face of a recession.