Midmarket ERP Buyer's Guide

Wednesday Jun 8th 2011 by Drew Robb
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SAP, Oracle and Microsoft still rule, but a number of smaller ERP vendors bear watching.

A few months back, Enterprise Apps Today published an Enterprise ERP Buyer's Guide.

That first ERP buyer's guide focused on market giants SAP (NYSE: SAP), Oracle (NASDAQ: ORCL) and Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT).

Now it's time to visit the ERP software midmarket. Microsoft, Oracle and SAP have been omitted from the midmarket guide. Each can lay a strong claim to being included, but it's time to shine a light on others in the ERP market.

"Tier I solutions like SAP and Oracle are moving downstream to capture more of the middle market, while Tier II and niche vendors have always played well in this space," said Eric Kimberling, president of Panorama Consulting. "It's a very competitive segment of the market."

For the midmarket guide, we'll focus on Infor, QAD, Lawson, Epicor, Sage and IFS. Infor and Lawson will soon merge to form the third-biggest ERP vendor, but for now we'll cover them as two separate companies. And Epicor is also being acquired in this rapidly-changing market.

And be sure to check out our small business ERP buying guide too.

Sage ERP

According to Gartner, the top five vendors in the $20 billion ERP market are SAP, Oracle, Sage, Infor and Microsoft. How did Sage get there? Sage ERP X3, which targets the midmarket, has experienced 41 percent customer growth in the last few years. That gives the Sage Group more than six million customers and 13,400 employees worldwide. It can run on various platforms and comes with a user interface that incorporates data visualization, personalization features and access to Microsoft Office tools. The company touts fast implementation and ease of use. It includes analysis and reporting, financial accounting and management control and operational management (production, purchasing, sales, and inventory).

"We are offering ERP that will lower again transaction costs and allow more business processes stakeholders to directly conduct their day-to-day job anywhere, anytime and from any device," said Emmanuel Obadia, senior vice president for product strategy and marketing for Sage ERP X3.

Infor ERP

Infor is another of those that Gartner placed in the top five. It offers four major ERP products; Infor ERP LN is aimed at tier one down to mid-market customers.

Infor ERP SyteLine is focused on mid- to large-sized manufacturers. This is a .Net solution that can be implemented on-premises, as a hosted solution, or by subscription in the cloud.

Infor ERP VISUAL serves the small business market.

Infor ERP Adage is categorized as an advanced ERP solution for process manufacturers.

"The majority of Infor customers are mid-market companies that trust us to deliver reliable, scalable technology that solves their business problems and help them make money," said Mark Humphlett, Director of ERP Product Marketing at Infor.

He sees the cloud as a major trend within ERP. The company now has more than 800 SyteLine customers in the cloud.

Epicor ERP

While not among the top five revenue generators, Gartner named Epicor as a visionary in a recent Magic Quadrant for Midmarket ERP Companies. Epicor's latest edition utilizes Web 2.0 concepts to provide more collaboration features. It has been sold to more than 1,800 customers. According to James Norwood, Senior Vice President of Worldwide Product Marketing for Epicor, the company has more than 20,000 clients.

"Although historically Epicor has targeted businesses in the midmarket, it is a scalable solution that is offered in a variety of deployment models [multi-tenant SaaS, hosted, or on-premises], which means we're able to package it for small businesses as well as larger multinational organizations," said Norwood. "Trends such as enterprise mobility, cloud computing and smarter business intelligence will continue to have an impact on the way Epicor does business over the next several years."

QAD ERP

QAD Enterprise Applications are designed for global manufacturing companies. The product is utilized at more than 6,000 manufacturing sites around the world. It is especially strong in the automotive, life sciences, consumer products, food and beverage, electronics and industrial markets.

QAD was first launched in 1984 as MFG/PRO. It covers all facets of accounting and finance, inventory control and distributions, sales and customer relationship management (CRM), manufacturing, transportation and distribution, sourcing and procurement and after-sales support and repair. Multiple instances running around the globe function seamlessly as a single ERP application. It can be delivered as SaaS or on premise.

"QAD targets customers in all tiers of the market, from SMBs up to Tier One global manufacturers," said Gordon Fleming, chief marketing officer at QAD. "We are also seeing the emergence of cloud ERP and so we are embracing QAD On Demand."

Lawson ERP

Lawson sells enterprise software systems ranging from supply chain management and financials to human resources, talent management, HR service delivery and enterprise asset management. "We focus on healthcare, public sector and services industries for the Lawson S3 Enterprise Management System, as well as fashion, food and beverage, manufacturing and distribution, and equipment service management for the Lawson M3 Enterprise Management System," said Joe Thornton, a spokesperson for Lawson. "We offer industry-specific functionality for the industries we serve."

Like most of the others, he's observed the growing demand for cloud delivery of enterprise software.

"With continued pressure to take costs out of an organization, cloud delivery can be an appealing option," said Thornton. "Those who make the move spend less time managing servers and more time delivering value-added services through IT."

IFS ERP

IFS Applications is an integrated suite that supports services, assets, manufacturing, projects and supply chain. The company has more than 2,000 customers across 50 countries. That strong user base played a part in Panorama Consulting ranking the company among the top ten ERP providers in its annual survey.

SAP, Oracle and Microsoft Still Dominate

Note, however, that according to Panorama, that SAP, Oracle and Microsoft still account for 71 percent of midmarket sales, so one or more will usually be included in the selection process. Microsoft is showing the most rapid growth in the midmarket, moving from a 3 percent share five years ago, up to 15 percent today, largely at SAP's expense.

Whatever midmarket ERP package you buy, though, Forrester Research believes that they are still complex and inflexible. As a result, organizations continue to be plagued with customization and upgrade headaches as a direct result of the software's rigidity and poor match with real-world business processes, said China Martens, an analyst with Forrester. She holds up hope, though, in the form of SaaS and cloud versions that seek to eliminate a lot of the deployment and maintenance hassles.

"Help may be at hand, however, with the emergence of next-generation apps which bring process flexibility," said Martens. "Graphical workflow tools coupled with the broader development possibilities offered by platform-as-a-service cloud environments look set to better bridge the divide between ERP and end user requirements."

 

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