ERP Software

Software for Enterprise Resource Planning

ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) software is something of a contentious issue, with customers industry-wide who are routinely dissatisfied. If you're taking your first foray into the ERP software market, prepare to be disappointed. Surveys show that there is a relative dearth of ERP software that will meet all the needs of any one organization.

Part of the reason for this is that ERP software was originally developed with larger corporations in mind and these companies needs were similar. As ERP software has democratized over the last few years (become more affordable for mid size companies, that is), software developers have had difficulty meeting the wide variety of demands.

Typical of this industry, then, there is a lot of switching back and forth from Oracle to Peoplesoft(and even Microsoft).

So who do you buy from?

Most corporations looking for ERP software are looking for a company that understands their needs and the needs of their industry. The ERP industry scorecard is filled with subpar marks in this area.

SAP attempts to respond to industry-specific needs, offering a broad catalog of suites for separate industries. However, it still ranks low in customer satisfaction surveys, even though it is one of the most widely recognized brands in ERP software. Its ERP solutions apply specifically to a growing list of industries.

There is also an increasing amount of competition among vendors, several of whom jumped into the ERP foray, knowing that there was an opening for specialization. Some newer or lesser known names in the ERP software industry include Baan, Syspro, J.D. Edwards, Exact and Portera. Each of these might be a gamble, but the small brands may be working harder to get your attention. In 2002, Fourth Shift was ranked highest in a Benchmark Research survey of users. Fourth Shift is a UK company.


Microsoft, always the leader in appeal (if not satisfaction), has recently promised to put out a better, more versatile suite of products. Microsoft's internal findings match those of independent studies assessment of all companies: their ERP software does not match up with companies needs.

Microsoft's four ERP lines Axapta, Great Plains, Navision, and Solomon are being rebranded as Microsoft Dynamics. We expect Microsoft to provide a usable solution that will still be (lets face it, and with all due respect to Microsoft) prone to bugs. Besides, Microsoft has been in this market for several years and their middling results in this area compared to their success in others tells us even more about the difficulties of EPR.


Most companies are still searching for the ERP software holy grail a customizable, adaptable suite that will meet the needs of their organization. This remains a far way off, but there is one thing you can do to ease the transition to ERP software or to a new ERP software suite: acclimatize your employees to using ERP.

User acceptance has been shown to be the biggest key to effective ERP implementation. One reason that ERP has been so effective in the hospitality industry is that it is most useful for tracking the many variables that bring a restaurant or hotel success. That readiness to adapt to ERP has made it even more effective in helping restaurants increase efficiency, service and profits all the things you hope for from an ERP software implementation.

Typically, ERP costs just under $1,000 per user. The price of this software does not show any signs of coming down most companies are still trying to perfect meeting user needs. This is where most of the market competition comes from and will be for the foreseeable future.

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