You didn’t really expect to find a brand-for-brand ERP software comparison here, did you? Not only would that be legally treacherous and motivationally suspect, it would also be misleading and unfair to you, a shopper for ERP or for information about ERP systems and suppliers. Features and functions change, and are in truth only a part of the picture. And any comparison of features and functions must be done in light of a specific company’s needs and capabilities.
Rather, let us offer some advice on ERP software comparison shopping and system selection based on decades of experience and a thorough knowledge of the ERP market.
ERP FEATURE/FUNCTION ADVANTAGE IS SO LAST CENTURY
On a feature/function basis, today’s ERP software products are more alike than different. This is a relatively mature market and the major players continually enhance their products to the extent that any truly unique or breakthrough feature is soon copied and improved upon across the industry. If your preferred vendor does not offer that slick new function that you saw in a competing product last week, chances are good that they will have it before long and maybe even do it better, having learned from the experiences of the first company to introduce the leading-edge improvement.
The foregoing notwithstanding, companies should understand what they do and how they do it in the context of standard industry practice. Identify those things that are unique to the way you run your business and service your customers and (assuming that you wouldn’t be better off converting to industry best practices) look for software that best supports those unique needs and processes.
IT’S A PARTNERSHIP
When selecting an ERP system, you are choosing more than software; you’re choosing a partner in the overall management of your business. ERP is the custodian of the information that powers the business and coordinates all of the parts of the enterprise.
You want a partner that you can trust to get the job done and continue to work with you for the long term (talk to existing customers). You also want a partner that shares your values and your passion for manufacturing—a company that understands your business and its challenges and is committed to helping you be successful.
Since this is a long-term commitment on both sides, you want a partner that is likely to be around five or ten or fifteen years from now. Do your due diligence on the supplier’s financial stability and look at its track record in terms of product support, acquisitions (as either the acquirer or the acquired) and the support posture for the particular product you are considering. Does the product have a strong installed base? Has the product received regular updates including new technologies? Is there a published roadmap for future enhancements?
WHAT ABOUT CRM?
All of the above holds true for CRM system comparison as well. CRM comparison should proceed along the same lines—identify unique (and valuable) practices, look for software that best supports those unique requirements, and select a partner that shares your values, supports their software and users well, and has the financial staying power to continue to enhance their product into the foreseeable future.
Do look at feature / function comparison to identify the systems that fit your company’s needs but pay particular attention to those processes or approaches that are unique and are key to your competitive advantage. Once you have a “short list” of candidates, focus on the suppliers and assess their record of satisfied customers, the strength of the support provided, and their prospects for future financial health and product enhancement.