Most companies that are about to evaluate potential ERP solutions assume that there is only a handful of options to choose from.  After all, SAP, Oracle, and Microsoft are really the only options out there, right?

Wrong.  If you are a small- to mid-size business, there are countless options.  Even if you are a large company, there are dozens of viable options that can deal with complex businesses and scale for growth.

When our company embarks on a software selection process for our clients (click here to read more about our ERP software selection approach), we start with a population of over 70 different ERP packages.  Most of these are offerings from well-established companies with well-established client bases.  Many of them can deal with complex requirements, such as product configuration, product development management, engineering change orders, project accounting, etc.  The only difference is that they don’t receive the publicity and marketing muscle that the larger guys have.  However, based on our experience, they are often times better fits, more flexible, and less risky than your typical Tier I software options.

So who are these alleged viable alternatives to the household ERP names?  There are a ton: Epicor, Glovia, Visibility, IFS, Infor, Syspro, Consona, NetSuite, and Exact, just to name a few.  Many of these companies have international offices, international customers, and user count scalability ranging from 10 to 1000s.  And many of them will cost much less to purchase and implement than a tier I option.

The other good thing about some of these lesser known options is that they often provide more functional specialization and focus than traditional ERP options.  If you are a complex, engineer-to-order type of discrete manufacturer, you likely aren’t going to want a package that also tries to deal with the processes associated with high-volume, make to stock manufacturing.  Instead, you will likely want a solution that handles your type of business very well rather than one that tries to be everything to everyone.

So what’s the best way to navigate through the endless ERP options that you have?  If you have internal employees that have worked with other ERP packages at other companies, ask them what think.  Ask colleagues and even competitors what they use or recommend looking at.  Hire a consulting firm that specializes in ERP software selection (Panorama Consulting Group is an example).  Conduct research on the internet.  In any case, there are many resources and options out there to ensure that you find the ERP solution that best fits your business.

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