One of Panorama’s most popular pieces of thought leadership each year is our Clash of the Titans Report, which compares the industry’s three leading ERP vendors: SAP, Oracle and Microsoft Dynamics. Because of the breadth and scalability of these three ERP vendors, this report is particularly valuable to our larger and more complex clients.
However, not all of our clients are in the market for a larger, Tier I ERP system. Some don’t have the budget, appetite for risk or need for SAP or Oracle, so they are more likely to consider Tier II or Tier III solutions that are more focused on their specific industry and business requirements. The upside of considering Tier II and Tier III solutions is that it opens up a world of potential ERP vendors well beyond SAP and Oracle.
Navigating the breadth of options in this space can be overwhelming. Similar to larger, Tier I ERP systems, each Tier II and Tier II system has its strengths and weaknesses based on the needs of your organization. We’ve selected and implemented ERP software for hundreds of small- to mid-size organizations and have found that there are a number of distinct factors to consider. Below are a few items worth noting when looking at some of the leading Tier II ERP vendors:
Microsoft Dynamics. Microsoft Dynamics has long been considered a strong alternative to Tier I solutions. In fact, based on market share and number of customers, we often argue that this product should be considered among the SAPs and Oracles of the world. Our Clash of the Titans Report found that Microsoft Dynamics takes much less time and money to implement compared to SAP and Oracle, but the average customer takes longer to realize the potential business benefits. Given the fact that the product straddles the line between Tier I and Tier II solutions, it can be a good alternative for companies that want the best of both worlds.
Infor. Infor has in many ways become a sort of mini-Oracle, with aggressive growth and acquisition strategies to boot. The Infor SyteLine product has strengths in its configurable workflows and graphical planning, but the vendor’s real strength is in its ability to cater to multiple industries and provide breadth of functionality typically reserved for Tier I ERP vendors. Our clients often consider Infor’s suite of products when they are looking for the breadth and scalability of SAP or Oracle but without the corresponding price tag and risk.
Epicor. Epicor’s flagship E9 product has the look and feel of Microsoft Office, along with an appealing graphical planning board, robust product configuration, configurable workflows and a host of other features that tend to appeal to Tier II ERP vendors. Our clients – especially those in the manufacturing and distribution space – often consider and evaluate Epicor as part of their ERP software selection process. With its new private equity backing, the company also appears to be positioning itself for greater growth in the not-too-distant future.
JD Edwards. Although technically a part of Oracle, JD Edwards is often considered more of a Tier II vendor because of its appeal to the mid-market. Either way, it has strong features that are often considered by our small- to mid-size clients. For example, in our recent ERP Vendor Showdown webinar series, attendees rated the software’s user interface, ability to scale and distribution and workflow scores highest among other Tier II ERP systems that they had seen. And, despite industry rumors, Oracle does not seem to have any plans to phase JD Edwards out of its portfolio.
Although there are plenty of other Tier II ERP systems that can be considered as part of a robust software selection process – IFS, Sage, Netsuite and QAD, for example – the above are just a few that are often considered among our client base. As is the case with any ERP system, each has its strengths and weaknesses, which should be evaluated in the context of your specific business needs rather than relying on sales or industry hype.