At its heart, the enterprise is a collection of resources: human resources, technology resources, intellectual property. And the larger the organization grows, the more difficult it is to manage and track those resources, let alone optimize them for the most profitable return.
This is why many organizations have turned to Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP). More than just an organizational tool, ERP gives the enterprise an unprecedented ability to streamline the business model by coordinating resources and processes in ways that are not possible under previously segregated data ecosystems. In other words, ERP is the primary means of eliminating the data silos that hamper productivity and drive up costs.
Flexibility, Customization Key in ERP Selection
The best ERP systems feature everything from open and cloud-based solutions to highly tailored systems for key vertical industries. Their purviews extend to everything from product development and delivery to finances, strategic planning and human resources. In virtually every case, the goal is to assume many of the rote, predictable functions under an automation scheme, allowing knowledge workers to concentrate on creative planning and higher-level activities.
ERP Costs in System Selection
One of the more significant challenges in selecting an ERP solution is identifying their cost structures. While some products use a flat fee or per user/per month approach, many employ a variety of pricing options depending on the depth of service required. A standard package, for instance, can be augmented with multiple modules overseeing accounting, warehousing and shipping, all of which can be mixed and matched to hit a price point that fits the enterprise budget. And even this rate can vary from month to month if the platform is being consumed as a service.
As with most forms of software these days, ERP is also benefiting from machine learning and other forms of artificial intelligence. This affords them an even greater ability to parse complex data sets and gain deep visibility and understanding of business processes and the resources they utilize. Ultimately, this is expected to elevate ERP beyond a mere tool to become a full contributor to the business model, capable of finding opportunities that were previously hidden and making recommendations as to future courses of action.
Below is a summary of 12 top ERP platforms:
Built on Acumatica’s cloud-based xRP platform, the company’s ERP solution oversees finances, manufacturing, distribution and other roles, allowing users to focus on higher-level strategic activities. The system offers pre-integration with multiple third-party products under a flexible, all-inclusive licensing model that is calculated according to resources consumed, not users.
Deltek offers a suite of products designed for key work environments. Its CostPoint system, for example, covers accounting, financial, HR and other tasks, while the Vision system automates project scheduling, budgeting and forecasting. Overall, the platform provides a centralized management system that is both intuitive and multi-functional.
Microsoft rolled its Dynamics AX ERP solution into Dynamics 365 in 2017, where it became the Finance and Operations module. The platform aims to synchronize cost structures, logistics and other functions with both human and technological resources in order to streamline processes and improve results.
ECount is user customizable for things like transaction types and input and output types, and features a usage optimization tool that manages statements and authorization. It also provides multi-location management and settings for individual countries to accommodate different languages and regulatory requirements. As a full cloud solution, no installation is necessary.
Infor offers ERP services under its CloudSuite bundles, which are tailored to key industry verticals like manufacturing, retail and health care. The company claims it provides deep understanding of each industry’s needs, so there is no need for further customization. The services are hosted on AWS, which enables rapid deployment, while Infor provides 24-7 support via voice, email, chat and social media.
As a cloud solution, NetSuite is designed for scale and adaptability. The platform offers advanced financial management and planning tools, as well as order processing, production, warehousing and procurement capabilities. Its built-in intelligence engine combines raw data with visual analytics to provide easily digestible reports on current conditions and emerging opportunities.
Odoo is an open source solution that features a collection of more than 10,000 community-developed applications, such as inventory management, financial tracking and project organization. In this way, new services and capabilities can be added without complex integration challenges, providing a fully scalable solution that evolves according to user needs.
Jonar bills its cloud-based ParagonERP as full-featured, easy to use and easy to deploy. It follows a simple pricing model for all features and updates, with no hidden costs and no commitments. Modules include financing, manufacturing, logistics and purchasing, and it includes a flexible, configurable interface to accommodate individual preferences.
Priority’s portfolio consists of multiple modules offering financial, supply chain, customer service and other functions, and it recently added a mobile application generator that allows organizations to craft their own tools that synchronize to core systems. The platform is designed to integrate with existing enterprise software assets.
S4/HANA is built on SAP’s HANA in-memory platform to digitize and optimize finance, supply chain and other processes. The system provides visibility across resources and processes and leverages machine learning and other tools to continuously improve logistics, asset management and other functions. It also provides GDPR-compliant data protection and integrates with the SAP NetWeaver platform for user-managed access and authentication.
Sage ERP comprises a number of cloud and on-premises solutions, some of which are tailored to specific roles like accounting and business management. As well, the company has devised vertical solutions catering to construction, manufacturing and other industries. All solutions provide an integrated knowledge base that can be applied to the full process chain, from procurement and development to sales and service.
Syspro is a modular solution that can be deployed on-premises or in the cloud and can be accessed via mobile device. Application offerings include manufacturing, distribution and finance management, and feature advanced reporting, planning and workflow automation capabilities that can be tailored to novice, intermediate or advanced users.