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Table of Contents
- What is enterprise resource planning (ERP) software?
- Compare top ERP vendors
- Major features and modules of enterprise resource planning software
- Benefits of ERP solutions
- What to expect from ERP systems
- Considerations for enterprise companies choosing a new ERP software
- Considerations for small and medium businesses choosing a new ERP software
- Choosing an ERP software solution
What is enterprise resource planning (ERP) software?
An enterprise resource planning (ERP) software pulls data from many departments into a single source of truth that benefits the entire enterprise. The tools combine key metrics and detailed information from finance, human resources, operations, supply chains, manufacturing, sales, marketing, and technology. The platforms centralize data to reduce manual entry, make business data visible across teams, and can even integrate partner data to ensure high transparency and fluid operations.
Manufacturing adapts to changes in the sales pipeline to build capacity for upcoming workloads. HR then increases hiring and ensures the plant is staffed. Logistics finds the fastest routes from the latest data. Warehouses understand their current inventory and fulfill orders faster with existing products, thereby reducing the manufacturing team’s load. Finally, the financial team improves forecasting with up-to-the-minute data.
Manufacturing and product teams streamline processes with interconnected features that bring together the functions of other software systems including:
- Supply chain management
- Inventory management
- Material requirements planning (MRP)
- Fleet management
- Work order software
Sales, marketing, and customer service teams boost pipeline and satisfy existing customers with centralized data from software modules including
- Customer relationship management (CRM)
- Contract management
- Customer service
- Marketing automation
HR teams organize workforce productivity through integrated software systems including modules for
Interconnected data and business intelligence software provide financial and accounting teams with more accurate forecasts. These tools reduce risk, improve collaboration, and drive growth through automation and data sharing. Overall, an ERP software brings together data via a fully integrated system that often saves the company money they spend on hundreds of unconnected apps.
Custom module combinations fit the needs of retail, franchise, logistics, medical, and many other industries. These industry-specific tools ensure regulatory compliance, speed delivery of products, and connect reporting and business intelligence software. Many modern tools include artificial intelligence (AI) features that help identify process improvements, provide detailed forecasts, and ensure the company can pivot quickly after supply chain or manufacturing setbacks.
Because of the complexity and number of features available through ERP software, it has been traditionally adopted by large enterprise corporations, but recent years have proved that ERP software is useful even for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs).
Our expert advisors can set you up with the right size or industry-specific ERP vendors. For tailored software recommendations use our Product Selection Tool at the top of this page, or click the image below to receive a free shortlist of options for your needs.
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Compare top ERP vendors
Each of these ERP systems include modules for sales, accounting and finance, and supply chain management. You’ll need to determine which modules are most important to your business before you decide on a solution.
For more comparison charts, jump to:
- Enterprise ERP comparison of SAP, Oracle, Microsoft Dynamics
- Midmarket ERP software comparison
- Small and medium-sized business ERP software comparison
Major features and modules of enterprise resource planning software
ERP software varies widely between systems, industry focuses, and offered features, however, most systems will offer several of these modules:
- Human resources
- IT Helpdesk
- Supply Chain Management
- Order Processing
- Inventory and Procurement
In addition to department specific modules like those listed above, many ERP platforms target particular industries like manufacturing, field service, and technology. Industry-focused ERP systems package helpful features together and offer a useful starting point for those new to ERP software.
HR software modules connect your employee information and records with all the systems in your ERP. Payroll, time tracking, individual department scheduling and timesheets, succession planning, and hiring information all live in one place and can sync directly with financial and accounting tools to give companies a cohesive understanding of how human resources directly affect the financial health of the whole company.
CRM modules within an ERP software streamline sales-critical information with production and product teams. This means a seamless processing of contracts from the sales team to production to shipping and returns. A CRM in an ERP houses complete customer contact information and makes account notes available to all stakeholders in the purchase and production process.
Finance and accounting
Finance and accounting modules in ERP systems aggregate financial information from across all the connected modules, which gives a company a complete picture of their revenue and spend. These tools help companies roll up profit and loss reports from financial reports and build forecasts that take into account information from the entire company.
IT helpdesk modules keep your company technology running smoothly. With integrated IT and ERP systems, your IT team can field questions and bugs from across the company, prioritize those jobs, and quickly follow up with stakeholders. These tools help IT departments track the ROI they bring to the team, their financial benefit to the company, and the impact of technology and software upgrades.
Connect your company’s ecommerce website directly with shipping, product development, and supply chain modules within an ERP. Purchasing an ERP with ecommerce integration will help your team draw connections between website health and overall revenue growth. It can also help you pinpoint bottlenecks in the supply chain that slow down production or logistics issues that delay delivery.
Supply chain management
Supply chain issues can back up your entire revenue stream. ERP software with supply chain modules ensures that other teams have insight into the supply chain and can react quickly according to the severity of the situation.
Among other critical infrastructure improvements, an ERP with supply chain software, HR software, and manufacturing or production management tools can significantly decrease response times for companies that need to increase production at alternate plants to bypass supply chain issues.
While work order software alone brings continuity to the sales and service sectors of a company, integrating order processing software directly with an ERP gives business analysts insight into inefficiencies and improvements across the sales cycle.
Inventory and Procurement
Similar to the issues that supply chain management software solves, inventory and procurement software helps companies manage their warehouse and stockroom inventories. These tools ensure that companies keep the right amount of product in stock to cover seasonal and expected surges in demand. These tools, when connected with an ERP, help companies forecast product supply needs and ensure the right staff, shelf space, and logistical coverage.
Benefits of ERP solutions
Enterprise resource planning software gains its power by centralizing critical data in a database that all sectors of the company can use to improve processes. Your company should see many of these benefits after implementing an ERP system.
Reduced software overhead
ERP software allows teams to consolidate their tools into one unified system. Instead of paying for separate subscriptions for supply chain management, core HR, CRM, shipping, and inventory software, teams pay for a single platform that handles each of these tasks in a centralized system. Depending on the company’s size and complexity, reducing the number of software system subscriptions can significantly cut monthly overhead.
When all sectors of the company gather in a single software to plan and track business events, all of the business data can then be made available for team review. Many modern ERP systems invest heavily in analysis tools and visualizations that let team members create reports that show progress, indicate inventory levels, and notify colleagues of wins. ERP software then acts as the single source of truth for stakeholders to compare successes and prepare for bumps in the road.
Business silos—where teams work independent of one another to everyone’s detriment—greatly reduce company productivity. An ERP helps businesses publicize their goals and teams share their plans with one another. Teams who have access to the same data can compare notes across departments, helping everyone move toward those big business goals.
Standardization of manufacturing processes
For large manufacturing corporations with several facilities, sharing manufacturing plans and best practices can be vital for product and process standardization. ERP systems allow manufacturing teams to store manuals, blueprints, regulatory information, and vital statistics for each process in a single, searchable location. This allows different parts of the company to replicate processes across county and country lines without sacrificing quality or speed.
Whether it’s the number of widgets your company makes or the humans that install them, keeping more resources on hand than you need costs money. ERP solutions provide inventory tracking and analysis that allows companies to run leaner. Using technology like RFID tags, geofencing, and biometric data, ERP systems can track assets through their entire lifecycle from supply to sale. And many ERP systems will suggest inventory improvements over time. With reduced inventories, companies can repurpose storage space and cut down on their payroll costs.
Standardization of human resources information
Many ERP solutions provide Core HR products like payroll, scheduling, time clock, and benefits management. These modules connect the front of house, warehouse, and C-suite. With core HR features, an ERP system can use the time clock software to calculate payroll and benefits, and managers can access employee information when building schedules. Because employees are a company’s most expensive and valuable resource, it’s vital to connect the software that manages them with the rest of the enterprise’s data.
What to expect from ERP systems
Onboarding and time to market
ERP software is best characterized as a category of categories: each instance of the software can be made up of varying features and modules that best suit the needs of the purchasing company.
Because of its complexity, onboarding for an ERP system can take anywhere from a couple of weeks to several years depending on the size and needs of the purchasing company.
As you research your next solution, pay careful attention to the feature selection, any integrations you can make to existing software not covered by those features, and the price of any custom or add-on features. You should also ask any ERP vendor up-front whether they have dedicated onboarding teams to assist you in those first several months and whether they charge an onboarding fee for any and all initial services.
The ERP software market has exploded in the last 25 years, providing companies with lots of options for both single license and subscription SaaS products in varying price ranges. Depending on the features your company needs, an ERP software can range from a couple dollars per user, per month at the SMB level to many thousands of dollars a month for an enterprise corporation. Refer to individual vendors on the Products page for more detailed information.
Carefully consider any ERP software purchase. These systems can be expensive and will potentially manage the majority of your company’s data. You want to make sure you’ve chosen the right software before you start porting over all your databases. To ease your transition, ask your ERP partner if they provide onboarding support for data upload and integrations with other systems. You’ll also want to check that your ERP lets you own your data with easy exporting.
Considerations for enterprise companies choosing a new ERP software
Enterprise companies often gain familiarity with ERP systems early, but rapid growth leaves them little time to shop for upgrades. Enterprises that are new to enterprise resource planning should pay special attention that the software covers as many aspects of the business as possible.
In your research process, calculate the cost and time for onboarding for each location, branch, or building, and consider whether some branches may need a less robust regional ERP in addition to the umbrella company’s software.
Finally, factor in that the introduction of a company-wide system like an ERP will need training across departments. Ask vendors what they provide in the way of online and in-person training sessions, or whether they can suggest training consultants they trust.
ERP software comparison for enterprise ERP systems
Enterprise companies often gain familiarity with ERP systems early out of sheer necessity, but sometimes rapid growth leaves little time for software enhancement. Enterprises that are new to Enterprise Resource Planning should pay special attention that the software covers as many aspects of the business as possible. ERP software for Enterprise corporations can come at a steep price, so make it worth the cost and calculate the ROI early. In your research process, calculate the cost and time for onboarding for each location, branch, or building, and consider whether some branches may need a less robust regional ERP in addition to the umbrella company’s software. Finally, factor in that the introduction of a company-wide system like an ERP will need sufficient training across departments. Ask vendors what they provide in the way of online and in-person training sessions, or whether they can suggest training consultants they trust.
|SAP ERP||Oracle EBS||Microsoft Dynamics AX|
|Industry Specific Software||25 industries||23 industries||4 industries|
Considerations for SMBs choosing a new ERP software
Small and medium-sized businesses can benefit greatly from ERP software that streamlines processes from supply to sale and reduces overall software overhead. Like many things in the SMB market, it’s important that these businesses weigh pricing models against features and potential ROI. Cloud-based, subscription ERPs have gained steam across the market in recent years, which is great news for SMBs who can’t justify the one-time expense of a standalone software license.
SMBs would be wise to ensure that an ERP system they contract with is as useful and user-friendly for as many departments as possible. However, these companies may not need the widespread coverage that larger enterprise corporations need. Lightweight ERP systems may also come with less onboarding and in-person training, so your company should look for platforms that provide ample support and documentation.
ERP software comparison for medium-sized businesses
Medium-sized businesses need more functionality than is available in small business ERP software, but often with the same cloud infrastructure and reduced technical requirements. These three options work for medium-sized businesses and enterprises.
|Industry Specific Software||14 Industries||6 Industries||4 Industries|
ERP software comparison for small businesses
Small businesses need cloud-based, flexible software that doesn’t overload their systems with highly technical implementation needs. Try these options for your small business.
|Industry Specific Software||8 Industries||no||20 Industries|
|Integration||Custom Tool||Google Apps||App Store|
Choosing an ERP software solution
The ERP buying process is complex and filled with customization requests and uncertainty about vendor capabilities. Seeking out third-party help for implementation is common and—in the case of enterprise vendors—usually necessary.
Employing similar help makes sense for product research as well. TechnologyAdvice connects you with the solutions your business actually needs. Plug in your company’s ERP requirements in the form at the top of the page, and we’ll contact you with a custom selection of software recommendations based on your feature needs.
- Which ERP solution is right for your business?
- Find out now