As the cloud and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) matures, the cloud ERP market is finally starting to take off. It's taken a while for these solutions to be recognized as viable alternatives, but more and more cloud systems are starting to be considered seriously. Add to that NetSuite's recent rockstar user conference, SuiteWorld, which was by all accounts an impressive showing, and the future looks bright for cloud ERP.
Given this backdrop, I decided to dig a little deeper into the world of cloud ERP and evaluate which solutions could suit the manufacturing industry. Manufacturing is a particularly difficult segment to cater to because of the complex computing needs of things like material requirements planning (MRP) and advanced planning. I looked at five different solutions that should make your shortlist if they haven't already.
Epicor has deep functionality for the manufacturing and distribution industries. Epicor Manufacturing Express Edition is the company's first venture into the cloud ERP space. The company sells the solution as a simplified version of its Epicor 9 product, an on-premise offering that can handle large multi-national manufacturing firms. One of the major selling points of the system is that it can be implemented in under a month.
Infor is known as one of the great consolidators in the manufacturing software industry. Through acquisition it has created a portfolio of pretty much everything under the sun from product lifecycle management to warehouse management systems. Its SyteLine offering reflects this deep portfolio and is a great option for manufacturing facilities that are looking to go without an IT staff. Since it is built on the .NET architecture, the system is also fairly easy to use.
NetSuite is one of the cloud ERP darlings at the moment. It is reporting very strong revenue growth and high valuations, and for good reason. NetSuite has built its manufacturing solution with a strong emphasis on its financial services heritage. The software supports multiple sites and languages and is great for mid-market manufacturers. I expect NetSuite to tackle more complex industries as it moves upstream in the ERP market.
4. Plex Online
Plex is the cloud ERP veteran in the manufacturing industry. It took on SaaS at a time when people thought it was laughable to offer such a solution to the manufacturing industry. This has started to change as Plex has proven it can work with its 500+ manufacturing clients. Plex got its start in the automotive industry but has since worked with manufacturers in industries like aerospace and defense.
SAP Business ByDesign had a little difficulty getting out of the gate, but since hitting the market it has been received well. The system currently supports more than 500 customers, although it is unclear how many of them are manufacturers. SAP's entrance into the SaaS market is a wise move given the declining licensing of on-premise systems. Business ByDesign targets small to mid-sized manufacturers that are working in the discrete, job shop, make-to-order, and flow manufacturing industries.
Action Item: Of course manufacturers need to more than just a product description to understand whether such a system is right for them. I've provided a lot more detail on my website where you can read at: The Cloud ERP Shortlist for Manufacturers.