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See the top ERP systems and decide which best fits your business

With a lot riding on a successful ERP implementation, it's best to know what you're getting before you buy. Here are overviews of the top ERP systems available today.

ERP systems come in many different flavors. While some ERP systems are designed for product-oriented companies and focus on operations like engineering, manufacturing, inventory and the supply chain, other ERP systems are service-oriented. These systems focus on customer engagement and interaction, project management and accounting, and sales and service. 

There are many different ways that companies can implement ERP systems, be it in the cloud, on premises or a hybrid of both. The top ERP systems focus on differentiating their ERP systems to facilitate the needs of their customers

Here is a list of some of the top ERP systems, along with thumbnail descriptions of their products' functionality.

Editor's note

Using extensive research into ERP software, TechTarget editors focused on the market shareholders that make up the top 80%. Our research included data from Gartner, Forrester and TechTarget's internal research.

Epicor ERP

Epicor Software Corp.'s ERP is a full ERP system that encompasses core financial and human capital management software, and that also offers integrated software for customer relationship management, manufacturing operations, supply chain management (SCM), product management, planning and scheduling, sales management, service management, and project management.

Epicor ERP is one of the top ERP systems tailored for discrete manufacturing, notably in the industrial machinery, electronics and high tech, fabricated metals, and rubber and plastics industries. Its strength is in providing industry vertical-specific ERP systems for midsize and smaller companies so they don't have to tune their own systems to work in their industries.

The system has an agile business architecture designed to give global companies the flexibility to adapt to the varying requirements of different countries, industries and devices. Epicor also has a worldwide consulting staff.

Epicor ERP is available as a software as a service (SaaS) subscription. It can also be deployed on premises or as an infrastructure as a service system that resides in the cloud, but that corporate IT runs and supports. It runs on a 100% Microsoft software stack.

Infor CloudSuite Industrial

The core functionality of Infor CloudSuite Industrial includes advanced planning and scheduling, customer management, inventory management, and manufacturing process automation. The overall goal of Infor CloudSuite Industrial is to automate and manage key business processes throughout the supply chain, with the goal of better matching supply with demand. This goal is enhanced by analytics, which business users without IT backgrounds can use to develop their own reports.

Financial management is directly embedded into operations systems, with the systems automatically capturing every activity, from order taking and engineering/manufacturing and order fulfillment, to shipping and receipt of payment. These activities are then auto-consolidated into financials, which can reduce the time required to complete the month-end financial close.

Through CloudSuite Industrial, Infor provides tailored ERP systems for specific industries, like automotive, printing and packaging, and process industries. Infor also has specific system implementation packs that can help companies rapidly deploy their ERP systems with predefined templates for specific industry verticals.

Infor runs on a Microsoft Windows platform and is available in the cloud, on premises or as a hybrid deployment. For organizations wishing to deploy Infor's ERP system in the cloud, Infor also offers SaaS in both hosted and subscription models, including optional application managed services. A SaaS subscription is billed on a monthly basis at a fee of $149 per named user, and a hosted subscription is billed at $65 per named user per month. Companies that select the SaaS license option can move seamlessly between a SaaS and on-premises ERP deployment, without risk of lock-in.

Infor offers three different tiers of support, and also a series of self-paced and instructor-led courses that are available by subscription. An on-premises system may be purchased through a traditional perpetual software licensing agreement.

JD Edwards

One of Oracle's entries into the top ERP systems, Oracle's JD Edwards EnterpriseOne is an integrated ERP suite that supports more than 80 application modules for a range of business processes. The system is tailored for specific industry sectors, such as consumer packaged goods, manufacturing, distribution, asset-intensive businesses, and project- and service-oriented businesses.

The core modules in JD Edwards EnterpriseOne are financial management, asset lifecycle management, order management and manufacturing management. It offers real-time analytics that enable users to personalize their reports.

Oracle's JD Edwards focuses on applications that support mobile computing; the internet of things (IoT); cloud computing; and real-time, actionable analytics.

New product functionality and updates to previously delivered products are available via JD Edwards EnterpriseOne's continuous delivery model. This enables customers to evaluate what is available and what is coming, and then chose updates based on how best to advance their businesses. Recent JD Edwards EnterpriseOne offerings that were made available to customers include mobile applications, rental management, in-memory applications, agri-business applications, as well as enhancements to applications for the manufacturing, distribution, and projects and services markets.

JD Edwards EnterpriseOne is available for operational deployment on premises, but customers can also elect to have their systems delivered through either a public or private cloud. Oracle business partners also offer JD Edwards EnterpriseOne hosted versions through their own private clouds.

JD Edwards EnterpriseOne can run on multiple databases and hardware. Supported operating systems include Oracle Linux, Microsoft Windows and IBM OS/400. All versions use standards-based technology.

JD Edwards EnterpriseOne can be purchased either directly from Oracle or through a reseller. Since JD Edwards EnterpriseOne is modular, companies can add new modules over time, only paying for what they need.

Pricing for software licenses is determined on a per customer basis and is based on a combination of a package license, which takes into account the specific modules the company will use; and a named user license, which indicates how many people will be using the product, along with their projected levels of use. Subscription pricing is available from select Oracle partners. Maintenance and support services are sold separately.

A free trial version of JD Edwards EnterpriseOne is available from Oracle for 30 days.

Oracle provides application and technical support as a part of its annual maintenance offering. Both Oracle and its JD Edwards-certified partners offer consulting for architecture, planning, implementation, upgrade, migration, training and managed services across the Oracle stack.

Microsoft Dynamics 365

Another one of the top ERP systems available is Microsoft Dynamics 365, ERP software for multisite, international enterprises. Its core ERP business software functions are in financials, human resources and SCM. It also includes industry specializations for retailers, manufacturers, service industries and public sector organizations.

The primary customers for Microsoft Dynamics 365 are upper-midmarket organizations, as well as departments, subsidiaries and divisions of large enterprises in manufacturing, distribution, services, the public sector and retail. A majority of these organizations have multiple sites and are present in more than one country.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 is available on premises, hosted or in the Azure public cloud. It also supports mobile applications that run on Windows, Windows Phone, Google Android and Apple iOS devices.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 is priced on a per user basis, and it has flexible configuration options that can be tailored to your specific business needs.

You can enroll in a single module of the system if you desire, but the most popular software bundles are Dynamics Plan 1, which includes Dynamics 365 for Sales, Customer Service, Field Service, Project Service Automation, as well as Microsoft PowerApps and Microsoft Flow, and that prices at $115 per month per user; and Dynamics Plan 2, which includes every module in Plan 1 and adds Manufacturing and Supply Chain, Retail and Commerce, and Finance and Operations modules for $210 per month per user. Microsoft Dynamics 365 is sold through certified Microsoft Partners.

NetSuite ERP

NetSuite ERP is a SaaS ERP system offered by Oracle. It supports global compliance of internal and external business processes, and it is especially adept at managing multiple corporate subsidiaries and business units. This system features modules for order management, production, supply chain, warehousing and fulfillment, procurement, and human capital management.

The product's sweet spot is in financial and operational systems. With the features found in the financial module, enterprises can make adjustments for currency, language, taxation and legal compliance differences that are found in multinational environments. Users can then consolidate and roll up all of these different financial reporting variations into a single corporate financial statement.

NetSuite ERP also enables companies to manage a complete range of international tax structures and payment options, and provides drill-down queries into specific business subsidiaries and business units for the purposes of detailed financial analysis.

The global ERP product supports over 190 currencies and 19 different languages across North America, Europe and Asia. Its clients are a mix of large enterprises and medium-sized companies.

NetSuite ERP is automatically upgraded and distributed to clients on a continuous basis. As a cloud-based offering, NetSuite prices its ERP system on a subscription basis. Pricing is quoted individually for each company.

Oracle PeopleSoft

Another Oracle offering in the list of top ERP systems is PeopleSoft, which is designed to provide end-to-end business process management and support for organizations, beginning with administrative functions, like HR and finance, and extending into SCM. The sweet spot of PeopleSoft has historically been human capital management (HCM), an important focus of many companies given the need to recruit, manage and develop the right talent in a highly competitive marketplace.

There are several main functional categories in PeopleSoft ERP. The HCM module offers core HR functions along with talent management features. There's a financial core, a supplier relationship management (SRM) core and a core that manages the supply chain.

PeopleSoft ERP comes with a function called PeopleTools, an application development tool set for builds and customizations of PeopleSoft applications. It can be especially useful for organizations that want to further tailor their ERP systems.

As an on-premises system, Oracle PeopleSoft can run in Windows, Linux, Unix and IBM mainframe environments.

PeopleSoft software and its underlying technologies are licensed, and the software is priced on a per module basis. This enables sites to tailor a PeopleSoft ERP system to their particular needs and to buy only what they need, with the ability to add more features later.

There are several levels of PeopleSoft support to choose from, starting with Premier Support, which includes upgrades and maintenance for software and hardware. Sustaining Support guarantees maintenance for as long as you use the software, with extended support for operating systems and firmware. Oracle also offers a full complement of training for all of its PeopleSoft software, including training and certifications through Oracle University. 

Sage 100 and Sage 100c

Sage's ERP systems' strength is in helping to automate and manage finance, accounting and payment processes, with additional support for manufacturing, distribution and sales. With Sage 100 and 100c, Sage is one of the few top ERP systems built for smaller companies that want to get started with ERP.

For companies that prefer an on-premises ERP, the system runs on a Microsoft Windows platform. Sage 100 and 100c are upwardly scalable to Sage 300 for midsize organizations, and to the enterprise-sized Sage 500 system.

The new Sage 100c is available only as a per subscription cloud-based offering. It includes all Sage 100 functionality and adds to it more collaborative applications, along with embellishments for personalization, dashboards and the user interface.

The on-premises Sage 100 is priced on an individual company basis, with companies having the option of either buying the software or entering into a lease-to-own option. For cloud-based Sage 100 and Sage 100c users, pricing is also determined for each individual company, and it is assessed on a monthly subscription basis.

For ERP implementation, training and support, Sage offers Business Care plans that companies can purchase separately from the ERP software.

The Sage Silver plan gives companies personalized support from Sage call centers. A Silver client receives product enhancements and critical updates, product version upgrades, 24/7 access to Sage's online knowledge center, and access to the Sage support team for a total of five support cases annually, with the option of purchasing additional case support on a one-off, as-needed basis.

There is also a Gold support plan that offers all of the benefits of the Silver plan, plus access to Sage technical support for an unlimited number of support cases, front-of-the-line access to a phone analyst, extended support hours, planning assistance for system software upgrades and unlimited Anytime Learning courses.

SAP Business One

SAP Business One supports line-of-business, industry-specific and business support processes with modular software that can work with other SAP and non-SAP software. It covers core business processes like order to cash, plan to product, procure to pay and request to service, as well as core functionality in finance and HR, plus related analytics. The key ERP modules are SCM, SRM and product lifecycle management.

SAP Business One is powered by SAP HANA. This system option is specifically purposed for companies that want to actively use IoT data in their everyday operations.

SAP Business One is used by organizations in specific industry verticals and organizations that are multinational. Its clients range from large enterprises with millions of users to small companies with fewer than 10 users.

To assist small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), SAP offers its ERP through its business partner ecosystem, which delivers content and preconfiguration of the ERP with SAP best practices for specific countries and industries. This expertise can help SMBs shorten their implementation cycles, reduce the complexity of the ERP enablement process and ensure that the ERP configuration they select is optimal for their business needs.

The software is delivered on-premises and also in a hosted subscription model by SAP in the SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud, or by SAP's business partners in their respective cloud environments. Business Suite runs on standard operating systems -- e.g., AIX, HP-UX, Red Hat Linux, Suse Linux, Solaris and Windows.

SAP offers updates to its ERP software on a quarterly basis, and no longer as large, all-in-one software releases. These more frequent software releases give clients quicker access to new enhancements.

SAP Business One follows SAP's established standard licensing model, which comprises two fundamental elements: software licenses and associated maintenance and support services. These licenses are sold separately. The software licenses are based on the number of ERP modules that the company is using in combination with the number of users -- and the level of ERP system use for each user.

SAP also offers a variety of technical support options. SAP Enterprise Support includes ERP mission-critical support services and comes with a set of service-level agreements (SLAs) for corrective action and collaboration. It is priced at 22% of a company's SAP software license. SAP Standard Support costs 19% of a software license and is a baseline, self-service support offering without SLAs. For companies that want to use SAP ERP in the cloud, support is bundled into the subscription pricing.

As an extra layer of premium support services, companies can also opt to add SAP MaxAttention, which is a strategic collaboration service where SAP and the customer collaborate in planning new areas of the business that would benefit from SAP ERP; or SAP ActiveEmbedded, where SAP engages with the company in ERP optimization and acceleration of technology adoption.

Next Steps

You know the top ERP vendors, but how do you choose one? Learn how

For manufacturers, here are the key features to look for in ERP software

Think before you customize your ERP system

This was last published in September 2017

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