6 ERP System Examples for Small & Medium-Sized Businesses

By
Monica Orrigo
August 13, 2015

For small and medium wholesale businesses, choosing an ERP system to run your back office operations is a big decision. The ERP system you choose will be with your business in one way or another for years to come and will have a big impact on how you do business. We’ve compiled a list to help you make the decision.

6 ERP System Examples Small & Medium-Sized Businesses

1. NetSuite

Gartner named NetSuite one of the few pure SaaS ERP system examples that it could recommend. NetSuite offers ERP modules for financials, accounting, global consolidation, purchasing, payroll, inventory control, material resource planning (MRP), production planning, shop floor control, engineering change control, and employee management.

2. QuickBooks

The QuickBooks Enterprise Suite is Intuit’s ERP offering for small and medium businesses that are outgrowing their basic accounting and bookkeeping applications. QuickBooks’ Enterprise Suite is targeted at smaller businesses with one to thirty users in the manufacturing and wholesale, contracting, retail, and nonprofit sectors. It offers integrated inventory management along with its better-known financials applications, but lack of an audit trail has been stated as a concern about its financials applications.

3. Microsoft Dynamics NAV

One of the leading ERP systems for wholesalers in the small to mid-market segment is Microsoft Dynamics NAV. Microsoft NAV was developed through Microsoft’s acquisitions of Navision and Great Plains software, and is oriented towards the mid-market. Microsoft NAV is a global, multi-language, multi-currency ERP system that is deployed in the cloud with accounting, reporting, supply chain management, service, and manufacturing functionality capabilities. Microsoft’s offerings in this space have become very robust. Dynamics was rated as a “visionary’ in Gartner’s 2014 Magic Quadrant for both its completeness of vision as well as having a high ability to execute. However, more sophisticated financial reporting elements––encumbrance and budgeting for instance––have been identified by some experts as areas of weakness.

4. SysPro

A privately held firm headquartered in South Africa, Syspro offers a Microsoft.net-based integrated supply chain suite encompassing ERP financials, analytics, and planning and scheduling. SysPro is an ERP system example that is uniquely focused on small to mid-sized manufacturers and wholesale distributors. It is so heavily focused on these spaces that it was once referred to in Canada’s Manufacturing Automation magazine as being, “like a sniper who won't let its target out of its sights.” Unable to compete financially with bigger players like SAP, Oracle and Microsoft, SysPro decided to focus on doing one or two things very well, which is why 30 years on, it seems to be in no hurry to add human resources to its offerings, preferring instead to focus primarily on the financial, manufacturing and distribution requirements of its customers.

5. Epicor

Epicor has been around for more than 40 years. It has more than 20,000 customers in over 150 countries––4,500 of whom are live on its most recent release­­­­––and is focused primarily on the manufacturing, distribution, retail, and service industries. Epicor was also ranked very highly in the Gartner Magic Quadrant. Like the other ERP systems on this list, it is making its move towards a SaaS offering, giving its customers the option of on-premise or cloud deployment, which will push down costs for small and medium businesses. Knocks against the company include its focus on the US market: although it offers a multi-currency software with global capabilities, the vast majority of its customers are domestic. Lack of stability of past releases of the software has also been an issue. Epicor will have to prove to the market that these issues have been addressed.

6. Sage

Sage is an ERP system that is targeted at small to mid-market companies that have outgrown their basic accounting systems and need something a bit more robust. Sage’s business management and ERP solutions are available in the cloud and on-premise, and include integrated CRM, HR and Payroll applications. The company was rated as a niche player in the most recent Magic Quadrant - it is focused on small to lower mid-market manufacturing, distribution, services and retail businesses; Sage’s offerings for distributors and wholesalers include inventory management, forecasting, bar codes, and EDI applications. According to Gartner, Sage is a good fit for lower mid-market organizations with 100 to 500 employees, but companies that expect to grow beyond the lower mid-market should carefully consider whether Sage can support more complex requirements.

Another Consideration: ERP Players Move to the Cloud

German-based SAP and US-based Oracle are probably the two biggest and best-known examples of ERP systems out there. They each have more than enough functionality to handle the needs of small and medium enterprises, but until recently have been focused primarily on the enterprise market. Although they are often recognized as the industry leaders in the ERP field, until very recently the expense of implementing them would have been overwhelming for a smaller business or even a mid-market enterprise. However, the introduction of cloud-based versions of these behemoth applications may bring these ERP system examples within reach of smaller companies. One such system, SAP S/4 HANA released in June 2015, offers an on-premise, cloud and hybrid version of its latest ERP software release. This cloud subscription model, or Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), brings highly capable ERP systems like SAP into a price range where smaller businesses may be able to take advantage. Oracle/JD Edwards has also developed a cloud version of its ERP offerings targeted at the mid-market. This is a trend to watch for small and medium wholesale enterprises.

Conclusion and a Note of Caution

These are some of the most popular examples of ERP systems that small to mid-market wholesale companies are using, but there are many others on the market that may better suit the individual requirements of your business. Because of the impact it can have on your business, it is important to thoroughly research the ERP system you choose to ensure that it fits your business environment and will enable you to implement best practices for process improvements. What ERP system examples is your business using or considering for the future? Tell us in the comments.