Epicor ERP Systems: What You Need to Know

By
Rossey Charleston
December 9, 2015

Midmarket wholesale companies looking at making investments in their ERP capabilities have a wide array of options to choose from. One of the leading options, Epicor ERP solutions, has been around for more than 40 years. Epicor is an ERP solution with fully integrated accounting, inventory control, pre-production materials planning, and manufacturing execution (MES) functionality. Epicor targets its solutions to midmarket companies in the manufacturing, retail, distribution and services industries. Epicor ERP systems can be deployed on-premise on a company’s own servers, hosted on Epicor’s servers, or delivered as a cloud-based Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) offering.

Epicor: Background

Epicor was positioned by technology industry analyst Gartner Group for the 5th time as a Visionary in the November 2014 Magic Quadrant for Single-Instance ERP for Product-Centric Midmarket Companies. Founded in 1972, Epicor is based in Austin, Texas with development teams distributed throughout Europe, Latin America, and Asia. Epicor’s stance is that these teams and Epicor’s other international partners help to make Epicor a truly global solution for ERP, manufacturing and other solutions. However, Gartner points out that Epicor does not actually have a large number of international customers – its customers are mainly headquartered in the United States with a presence internationally. Epicor as a whole has more than 20,000 customers operating in over 150 countries. According to company materials and Gartner, more than 4,500 of these customers – representing more than 80 countries worldwide – were running Epicor’s ERP offering, versions 9 or 10, as of late 2014.

Epicor ERP Product Lines

Referring to a general class of products, such as “Epicor ERP Solutions” doesn’t quite give the flavor of all the offerings that Epicor actually has. Most of its more than 50 products would fall under the category of ERP, but in actuality, Epicor offers multiple product lines for different industries or functional categories. Epicor ERP includes functional modules around:

  • Financial Management
  • Manufacturing Operations
  • Supply Chain Management (SCM)
  • Human Capital Management (HCM)
  • Project Management
  • Production Management
  • Planning and Scheduling
  • Service Management
  • Product Data Management

On top of this wide array of functionality, Epicor uses Web services and other technologies to offer industry-specific ERP software solutions designed to meet the needs of manufacturing, distribution, and services industries. Because it has so many targeted solutions available, it is able to promise rapid return on investment and low total cost of ownership because many of the business needs of its customers can be met by an existing solution targeted at their type of business, or using an inexpensive technology such as Web Services, rather than relying on expensive customizations to the software itself. Epicor even markets a specific ERP solution – Epicor Eclipse – for wholesale distribution companies. Eclipse’s capabilities include:

  • Multi-company, multi-branch, and multi-currency,
  • Integrated purchasing, inventory management and warehouse management.
  • Secure, role-based permissions
  • Sarbanes-Oxley compliant audit trails for each transaction.
  • Real-time transaction-based processing.

Strengths and Weaknesses

According to Gartner, Epicor rated very high for the completeness of its vision – i.e., it offers a complete solution across all aspects of what companies in its target markets of manufacturing and distribution would need. However, its solutions are targeted at the midmarket, so it ranked lower than companies like Oracle and SAP as far as ability to execute on that vision. However, as the Epicor solution is targeted more at the mid-market (with a price tag that reflects this) the solutions are not as sophisticated or robust as those offered by the ERP behemoths. Some of the strengths Gartner identified for Epicor in its most recent release include:

  • Multiple deployment options, including easier cloud deployment than some of its competitors in this space.
  • User friendly interface with plenty of personalization options available to end users, as well as availability across multiple devices.
  • Clear roadmaps, support and tools for implementation, with ability to extend beyond core functionality.
  • Good quality documentation and training materials.
  • Simplified data retrieval and improved analytics.

Weaknesses identified by Gartner include:

  • Less breadth and depth of business functionality than offered by competitors like SAP, Oracle and Microsoft Dynamics.
  • International customers are a relatively small part of Epicor’s business. Choice and availability of certain options may be less than with other ERP options.
  • Partner certifications. Epicor certifies partners on a company level, rather than at a consultant level, which makes it difficult to assess the actual project skills of its implementation partners.
  • Epicor has a reputation for challenging upgrades. Whether this will continue to be the case going forward remains to be seen.

With regards to Epicor’s reputation around upgrades, Gartner noted that customizations and extensions written in previous releases (before release 9) need to be recoded to upgrade to release 10 and users on previous versions also need to upgrade to the .NET platform. This is because release 10 essentially reworked the technical foundations of the Epicor software, while offering somewhat less in terms of additional functionality. This reworking is likely due to the fact that Epicor seems to be moving more in the direction of cloud-based solutions and so needed to rework the technology underpinning its solutions to facilitate this move, thereby making future upgrades go more smoothly. However, this is mainly an issue for companies already using Epicor, not new customers. Are you considering making a move to Epicor? Why or why not? Do you have another ERP solution that you’re happy with? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.