Managing your data in the cloud is a must for midsize businesses, but finding the right ERP that will help with efficiency can be overwhelming. With all the technologies out there, figuring out what enterprise resource planning application is best for your business requires a fair bit of research. If you don't have time for that (who does?) you'll be pleased to learn that we did the work for you.
It helps to start with a simple definition of what an ERP is and what it actually does:
Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) is an all-encompassing term for how businesses approach the management of well, its resources. If that's not the tidy definition you were hoping for, don't worry, we're not done. Think about the wide-angle view of what your business actually does. There's the product or service you offer. That's one resource. If you offer physical goods, you have a manufacturer – that's another resource. Your sales team? A resource. The marketing tools you use to get the word out? Yet another resource. The accounting software you use to keep track of profits? You guessed it – a resource.
The list goes on. Every moving part that makes up your business is powered by a resource that you have to manage and plan for. ERP is shorthand for that.
ERP software, by extension, can help make that easier by giving all of those resources a single operational hub and allowing you to manage them all from the same place. Most basic applications will include a customer relationship management (CRM) module, financial tracking and reporting features as well as supply chain management and project tracking modules.
What to Consider When You're Shopping Around for Enterprise Resource Planning Software
If you're looking for the best ERP software, that means that you're either about to implement an ERP-specific application for the very first time as a midsize business, or potentially looking to switch to a new software product as a growing or larger business.
Each of these endeavors comes with its own set of challenges. Knowing where to start means considering a few key points about where you are and where you're headed as a business so you can get to the bottom of what you need. Ask yourself a few key questions:
- What are my company's goals and objectives for implementing new ERP software, both in the short and long term?
- Do I need specific technology, like mobile compatibility, or an open-source framework? What about specialized features that are relevant to my industry? Do I need those bells and whistles or is a basic ERP solution robust enough?
- What's my budget, both for time and money? How quickly do I need to implement the ERP software I choose and how much do I have to spend?
- Do I need and will I be able to rely on ongoing support from the software provider?
- Will this technology scale with us when it's time to grow?
5 ERP Software Products to Consider for Your Midsize Business
Best Budget ERP for Midsize Businesses: SAP Business One
Starting at just $410 a year for a bare-bones accessibility model, SAP one is one of the few budget options available to midsize businesses, but that price can change based on a number of factors including which modules you'll need and the number of people that need access to the backend of this ERP – ultimately your best bet is to contact SAP for a customized pricing package depending on your company's needs.
The majority of SAP Business One users (63 percent) cite a company size of ten to 99 employees, making this a flexible option for a wide range of team sizes. It's also scalable, offering add-on modules like a CRM and a slew of financial planning features that can become available as a company upgrades its licensing options.
More: Scaling Quickly: How to Build Back Office Teams Fast
It's flexible in other ways, as well, including both for-purchase and subscription-based licensing models in addition to its ability to be client or cloud-hosted.
Best All-in-One ERP for Midsize Businesses: Acumatica ERP
Starting at just over $12K annually for unlimited user licensing, Acumatica ERP offers an appealing all-in-one solution that includes CRM and distribution modules at a base level. Acumatica is exclusively hosted in the cloud and has the capability to function with a number of third-party applications and integrations, which gives it a customizable feel.
Though its starting price point is a little higher than competitor SAP's, that price rises only with the addition of features, not users, which makes it a great choice for companies that are growing or who have variable staffing needs.
Best ERP for Growing Midsize Businesses: Sage 300
Doubling Acumatica's price point puts Sage 300 on the table for midsize businesses that are ready to or are hoping to scale quickly, and though it lacks a payroll module, the available CRM at the 300 level makes it a competitive choice. It's a favorite among midsize companies for its relatively easy learning curve, though it does have its drawbacks.
These include a lack of drill-down dashboards and the fact that the data entry processes required to get you up and running on Sage 300 are a little tedious and cumbersome. That said, it's one of the few cloud-based ERPs that is functionally ready to go right "out-of-the-box", and it has comprehensive support for the included modules as well as robust help pages and ongoing support should you need it as your business grows.
Best Overall ERP: NetSuite
Oracle is a household name in the ERP space for a reason – they do enterprise resource planning software very well. While it's price point may reflect that, NetSuite's many levels to entry and iterations mean that there is likely to be a module package for almost any business, no matter the size or needs of the organization, including financial planning, payroll, and CRM options.
NetSuite also has comprehensive support, which makes it a good contender for any company looking to form a partnership with Oracle as they build the tech stack that will see them through growth phases.
Accounting ERP Honorable Mention: Xero
For companies primarily concerned with the allocation of financial resources and in need of a tidy accounting suite – especially if they already have a standalone CRM like Hubspot or Salesforce in place, Xero is an excellent choice.
Their upgradable subscription model is also extremely affordable, beginning at just $9 per month for companies looking to take advantage of their "Early" package. Midsize businesses may be more at home with the "Growing" ($30) or "Established" ($60) plans, which offer increasingly robust functionality and multi-currency support and unlimited transaction reconciliation as companies scale upward and require support for a wider range of accounting processes.
We've only covered a small fraction of available ERP software on the market today, and what you end up choosing to deploy or switch to will depend on what your organization needs in the months and years to come. Enterprise resource planning is, at its heart, about organizing and tracking the resources you have at your disposal to ensure that they make the biggest impact where it matters most.
There may come a time when it becomes appropriate for you to seek a third party and need to incorporate the services they offer into your overall pool of resources. That could even mean a BPO like Personiv as you start to seek to take advantage of what a global team can do for your increasingly global needs. It's important to seek out partners that are technology-agnostic so that they can use the tools you prefer and not ask you to swap out large parts of your tech stack – like your ERP software – for their own benefit.
More: Finance and Accounting Outsourcing 101
Being tech-agnostic has allowed Personiv to create and deploy teams for midsize businesses that can work a number of back-office tasks alongside your in house talent. This could mean onboarding a new piece of software like your chosen ERP by handling the tedium of initial manual data entry, or it could mean adopting and performing ongoing processes within your chosen software like payroll, compliance, forecasting and myriad other bookkeeping tasks. The potential for competitive growth is limitless when you have a partner who meets you where you're already working from.
Schedule a one-on-one to see how Personiv can create a custom solution for your organization today.
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