Best Cloud ERP Software Solutions: Which Systems Win for 2020?

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In this year and beyond, the factors that drive organizations to compare cloud ERP software solutions often begin with a few strong focuses. In particular, product quality, production and process monitoring, an increased use of analytics and business intelligence (BI) applications and the need for greater mobility are becoming necessities for companies adopting new ERP software (enterprise resource planning).

Companies adopting ERP in the cloud are also focusing on how they can be smart about planning and managing rapid growth. Manufacturers tend to be more selective and successful with the growth strategies they pursue based on the insights gained from cloud-based ERP systems. This means that mergers and acquisitions help to fuel cloud-based ERP adoption. The new business entities created from these transactions seek to improve product quality and speed.

In addition, there’s talk about a connection between cloud ERP software and the COVID-19 pandemic response, which has called for an acceleration of the digital transformation. It’s probable that we’ll see an increase in the adoption of cloud ERP systems in the coming years in an attempt to develop more agile, responsive supply chains.

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Best Cloud ERP Software

Cloud ERP Software: An Overview

Before we dive in, let’s address the basics: cloud-based ERP software refers to an ERP system that employs cloud computing so that users can access the system through the Internet. Cloud software is otherwise known as Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) — this title alludes to the fact that cloud systems are available on a subscription basis, require no infrastructure and are centrally hosted by the vendor.

There’s a couple of key differentiators related to cloud-based software. First, it’s typically more affordable because it’s billed on a subscription basis, eliminating that large upfront cost. Another cost-saving benefit is the fact that there is no special infrastructure required for the system to function. This means that you don’t need to purchase any hardware or worry about the costs associated with maintenance. Another differentiator of cloud-based ERP software is the quick and easy implementation cycle (in comparison to an on-premise system). It only requires an Internet connection to launch, and user onboarding is accelerated due to the user-friendly nature of cloud software.

More detailed information on cloud computing can be found here.

The following data points quantify cloud-based ERP’s current and projected growth:

  • According to Gartner, by 2020, at least 35% of new product-centric ERP deployments in large enterprises will be software as a service (SaaS) loosely integrated with on-premise manufacturing execution systems (MES)
  • The global cloud ERP market is expected to be worth $28 billion by 2022, attaining an eight percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) between 2016 and 2022, according to market research firm Statista
  • The cloud ERP market size is estimated to grow from 24.5 billion in 2019 to 37.7 billion by 2024.
  • The North American cloud-based ERP market share is predicted to grow from $8.4 billion in 2018 to $11.1 billion in 2022, attaining a CAGR of 5.7 percent, according to Statista

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Top 10 Factors Driving Cloud ERP Success

Oftentimes, it’s the most urgent problems about product quality – production efficiency; disconnects between sales, engineering and production; and meeting order delivery dates – that motivate organizations to improve. High-growth organizations face these challenges and more, and it’s often because their existing ERP system can’t scale for the new production volumes and complexity of growth.

Their legacy systems could manage production when there were fewer suppliers and products, as well as simpler distribution, selling and service channels. Given how fast many businesses are growing today, legacy systems’ contributions to greater growth are limited. These factors and more are why cloud ERP solutions are seeing rapid adoption. The following are the top ten factors driving cloud-based ERP success this year and beyond:

1. Improving Product Quality

Many of today’s organizations are relying on a single, scalable cloud ERP system across all manufacturing locations to improve their product quality. Quality and compliance systems are often siloed from other manufacturing and accounting software, making it very difficult to get a company-wide view of quality. Cloud ERP software is seeing rapid growth in this area by providing a scalable system of record based on a single database. Quality becomes strategic, compliance becomes more manageable and customer satisfaction improves.

2. Real-Time Production and Process Monitoring

The era of real-time production and process monitoring is here. From small and medium-sized manufacturing companies to global leaders, all are adopting real-time production and process monitoring at a quickening pace. Improving manufacturing execution, production efficiency and increasing the percentage of orders delivered on time to customers are just a few of the many factors driving cloud ERP adoption.

3. Support for Shorter Lead Times and Schedule Adjustments

Better support for short lead times and the rapid ability to adjust schedules and incorporate design changes has been a game-changer. Manufacturers often remark that the ability to support short lead times and adjust schedules to support their customers’ supply changes wins them more business. Cloud-based ERP software and the platforms they’re built on are providing manufacturers with the tools they need to capitalize on these last-minute opportunities for more revenue.

4. Analytics are Unavoidable

Analytics, including business intelligence and manufacturing intelligence, has become essential for running a modern manufacturing or service business. Across all industries, analytics and BI are delivering insights that weren’t available before, enabling manufacturers and service providers to know more about their operations than ever before. Cloud ERP systems designed on a single database structure build in analytics and reporting so every phase of manufacturing can gain access and insights, as well as improve operations. Cloud-based ERP systems are also becoming adept at providing advanced manufacturing metrics, including overall equipment effectiveness (OEE).

5. Mobility is a Must

Mobility is a must-have for manufacturers who want to manage their operations without sitting at their desks all day. Cloud ERP solutions and the platforms they’re built on support mobile access to apps from any device that has an Internet connection anywhere in the world. Employees of all kinds – from quality assurance to engineering to scheduling teams – want to work untethered to their desks and be on the production floor getting work done. Cloud-based ERP systems are making this possible.

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6. The Increase of Mergers and Acquisitions

The quickening pace of mergers and acquisitions across manufacturing industries is one of the key catalysts of ERP cloud software adoption. For many small and mid-tier manufacturers, the most attractive exit strategy is to either merge or sell their company to one of the larger global manufacturing companies that aggregate smaller businesses together. Integrating legacy ERP systems between two or more merged manufacturers can be a lengthy and expensive process. Cloud ERP systems are often relied upon to provide a system of record that scales across the new entity, delivering the analytics, metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) needed to track progress towards their goals.

7. Increase Adoption of Hosted/Managed Services

The increased rate of adoption of hosted and managed services is also helping to drive greater cloud ERP adoption. In fast-growing organizations, it’s a challenge to keep ERP, MES and the broader base of IT systems current and reliably integrated. Hosted and managed services are growing as more organizations look to outsource their IT infrastructure to third parties that are experts in scalability, security and uptime.

Managed Services Statistics

8. Intuitive User Experiences

Delivering an excellent user experience, including the defining and fine-tuning of application interfaces over time, is easier to accomplish with cloud ERP solutions. For organizations with complex user interfaces on their legacy ERP systems, a cloud-based ERP solution can help drastically reduce the confusion and complexity of how each application’s screen looks and interacts with other aspects of the system. Many SaaS ERP systems have current-generation user interface (UI) technologies and workflows that enable role-based designs of individual screens. Cloud ERP systems have won the UI war by providing support for responsive web design on mobile devices, increasing both adoption and, just as importantly, use.

9. Managing Growth and Improving Performance

Manufacturers are relying on cloud-based ERP systems to better plan and manage growth while improving business performance. They’re relying on the real-time data available from cloud ERP solutions to be more selective and successful with the growth strategies they pursue. A big part of any successful growth strategy is turning customers into fans and evangelists. With the majority of revenue coming from existing customers via upselling and cross-selling new products and services, having real-time data on product and delivery dates are key to growth. Panorama Consulting Solution’s 2017 Report on ERP Systems & Enterprise Software found the top reason organizations are implementing ERP today is to improve business performance.

ERP Implementation Benefits

10. Reducing Costs and Providing Greater Flexibility

Reducing one-time costs while providing organizations with greater flexibility for managing their business processes has become a necessity of late. The graphic below from Price Waterhouse Coopers’ (PwC) published study, Beyond ERP: New technology, New Options, illustrates the cost savings of taking the first steps towards pursuing a cloud-based ERP strategy.

The majority of companies seek to integrate their legacy data while relying on the latest cloud ERP system features in order to gain the information they need to operate their businesses better.

ERP Cloud Comparison Costs

For more information, check out our article covering this year’s ERP software trends.

Best Cloud ERP Software Solutions

In a cloud ERP comparison, each provider is assessed on their strengths, weaknesses and the potential for growth. Use this list as you compare cloud ERP vendors yourself:

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Acumatica

Acumatica’s cloud-based ERP system is designed to meet the needs of small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) and mid-market organizations. The company’s core verticals include distribution, manufacturing, professional services, retail/eCommerce and technology development firms. These firms focus on software, property management and nonprofit activities. Supported deployment models include multi-tenant SaaS, hosted by partners, hosted by Acumatica and on-premise.

Acumatica’s cloud applications run on the Microsoft Azure operating system and rely on SQL Azure. The depth of Azure expertise inside Acumatica is impressive, given the size of the total company. It’s evident that this is an area of high priority for the company.

Acumatica

An example of the intuitive interface Acumatica offers

Customers speak highly of the improved, more intuitive user experience across all platforms. Acumatica has also augmented its financial reporting tools that provide additional data, yet are a challenge to edit and change on the fly. Weaknesses of this ERP platform continue to be in the areas of CRM integration, analytics and reporting. These areas need more depth of functionality to meet many customer’s expectations and financial users, including CFOs, report that it’s difficult to integrate financial reports. Foreign currencies and configuring security also aren’t as intuitive as customers would like.

Acumatica was acquired by the investment firm that owns IFS AB, EQT Partners, in June 2019. The organizations remain separate but share resources and capabilities to further their reach in the software realm.

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Company Size Suitability: S M L

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Oracle ERP Cloud

Oracle, an ERP software giant established in 1977, continues to invest in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning — and it shows with Oracle ERP Cloud. It provides a suite of integrated applications for automating routine tasks related to finance, project management, procurement, risk management and other core activities. In addition to automation, it can make intelligent suggestions; for example, infolets are embedded into work areas to monitor processes and notify users of any issues or exceptions.

infolet Oracle

Preview of Oracle Infolets interface

Oracle ERP Cloud is designed to cater to any industry, geography and businesses of all sizes. Perhaps a factor in the system’s widespread popularity is its adaptability – a perk for any business – but particularly growing businesses. The scalable system can support added users, sites and transactions as a company expands and grows into new markets across a country, or even the globe. In addition, Oracle ERP Cloud is natively connected to all Oracle enterprise cloud applications.

Oracle customers have applauded the system’s complexity, while in the same breath, warned that it may be a little difficult for less tech-savvy individuals to use. It’s an end-to-end solution that customers say can accomplish just about anything they need. However, there is one missing element: Oracle ERP Cloud doesn’t offer a mobile app.

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Company Size Suitability: S M L

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BizAutomation

Next on our list is a small-business-friendly cloud-based ERP system with many satisfied customers. BizAutomation is an integrated suite of business management applications that caters to the wholesale distribution industry, manufacturing industry, retail industry and the service industry. The system has a hybrid-cloud approach consisting of a tier 1 SOC private solution cloud, an AICPA compliant data-center and a public cloud that’s used for data redundancy.

BizAutomation’s expertise in the industries they serve is clearly reflected in the system’s capabilities, which span from customer relationship management (CRM) to financials, e-commerce, distribution, order management, project accounting and more. System features such as mass ordering, price management, demand forecasting and planning, multi-currency support and bill of materials (BOM) resource planning show that BizAutomation understands their customer base. Another area of strength is rooted in their customer support; users have reported a positive customer service experience, from IT services to assisting with customizations. However, every platform has its weaknesses: BizAutomation doesn’t offer a mobile app nor a community forum.

BizAutomation

PBizAutomation Sales Orders

One of the more affordable ERP cloud products on this list, BizAutomation offers one edition of their system, which is priced at $79.95 per user per month. Their customers have reviewed the system to have a nice balance between comprehensive functionality and user-friendliness. Combined, these characteristics make BizAutomation a great option for businesses with limited resources – whether that’s a small budget or the absence of an in-house IT team.

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Company Size Suitability: S M L

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SAP S/4 HANA

Ten years ago, SAP introduced the idea of the SAP HANA in-memory database and in response, they were largely met with great skepticism and doubt. However, the critics were proven wrong with platforms such as SAP S/4 HANA, a renowned ERP system that operates on that very SAP HANA in-memory database.

SAP has always been focused on leveraging the newest technologies, and it shows with SAP S/4 HANA, which possesses embedded analytics, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and robotic process automation (RPA). SAP S/4 HANA offers a software developer kit that enables creating custom applications, extensions and vertical solutions. It also comes with the SAP Fiori user experience (UX), which supplies users with easy-to-use applications that are accessible from any device, as well as enables developers to build their own apps using the Fiori framework. This system packs a punch with smart recommendations, ample control over customizations, a renowned UX and much more.

SAP S4 HANA FIORI

Example of SAP S/4 HANA Fiori Interface

Though SAP S/4 HANA is designed for large enterprises, it works for SMB’s as well. The system is available for SaaS, private cloud and on-premise deployment; each deployment method represents a trade-off regarding standardization versus specialization and control versus agility. With industry-specific solutions available for a total of 26 verticals, SAP S/4 HANA is far-reaching. It offers capabilities such as financial management, supply chain management, asset management, production planning, procurement, contract management and more.

Customers have highlighted the financial capabilities of SAP S/4 HANA as its main strength. As for its weaknesses, implementation cycles are long, separate windows have to be opened to perform multiple tasks and embedded analytics aren’t supported in every module, requiring separate data warehouses.

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Company Size Suitability: S M L

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Netsuite ERP

Oracle claims a second spot on the list with Netsuite ERP, which provides capabilities in financial management, financial planning, order management, production management, supply chain management, procurement management, warehouse and fulfillment. This system is a good option for a company that’s looking for an end-to-end cloud ERP solution but doesn’t necessarily need all of the advanced functionality offered in tier one solutions, such as Oracle ERP Cloud or SAP S/4 HANA. Netsuite ERP caters to about 20 industries, such as advertising, consulting, education, energy, financial services, FMCG, healthcare, hospitality, IT services, manufacturing, retail, logistics, wholesale distribution and others.

Customers have reviewed the product to be practical and easy to use for employees across the entire organization. It’s used at companies for business activities such as sales orders, inventory management, invoices, sales reports, purchase orders and much more.

Netsuite ERP

NetSuite ERP home page

However, Netsuite ERP isn’t totally without more elaborate functionality: what makes the platform truly shine is its built-in business intelligence (BI) capabilities, which provide visual analytics and data to generate actionable insights. More strengths include but aren’t limited to the SuiteCloud developer tool for creating custom applications, strategic workforce planning and dynamic data modeling. Weaknesses identified by our research team include a low mobile app rating and the absence of a free trial.

For more information on this product, read our article which contains a capabilities overview as well as a comparison to Epicor ERP 10.

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Company Size Suitability: S M L

To Sum it Up

After extending their products and services to vertical markets where they’ve proved themselves, cloud ERP software providers are now focusing on how to sell more successfully to enterprises. Two-tier ERP selling strategies are now commonplace, where cloud ERP providers position themselves as a localized ERP instance integrated into the legacy ERP system.

All the best cloud ERP solutions providers are continuously adding to their analytics, BI, mobility and quality management systems. Keep this in mind as you search for your own cloud ERP system. If you already use a top cloud ERP, we’d love to hear from you in the comments! Let us know what vendor you use and what you like and dislike about the solution.

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Madeline ReinboltBest Cloud ERP Software Solutions: Which Systems Win for 2020?

14 comments

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  • Michele Jett - March 29, 2018 reply

    ERP has come up with various data management ways for any enterprise and to maintain each record efficiently.

  • tai cheng tai chi - December 11, 2018 reply

    This site was… how do I say it? Relevant!! Finally I have found something that helped me.
    Kudos!

  • TS - February 19, 2019 reply

    No S/4HANA Cloud?

    Kim O'Shaughnessy - March 15, 2019 reply

    Hi TS,

    Thank you for reading! While SAP didn’t make it to this list, it does have a top spot on our ERP Leaderboard found here: https://selecthub.com/erp-software/. We fully recognize this vendor’s contributions to the ERP market, however, we did not feel that it should be listed here per the scope of the article.

  • ALMASRI AMER - March 13, 2019 reply

    We have an excellent cloud ERP for Arab countries support tow language easy, is user friendly, but we need advice on how to increase our share market in the Middle East. Thank You.

    Kim O'Shaughnessy - March 14, 2019 reply

    Hi Almasri,

    Thank you for reading. We encourage all vendors to check out our HQL program. You can find more information here: https://pmo.selecthub.com/vendor-hql-program-inquiry/

  • Ankita - May 3, 2019 reply

    No Workday?

    Lindsey Jenkins - May 3, 2019 reply

    Hi Ankita,

    Thank you for the recommendation. I’ll forward your feedback to our analyst team for further review. In some cases, products do not make our shortlist due to the specific scope of the article. However, if you do need a more detailed review of Workday, please reach out to our support team at [email protected]. They will be able to provide some further guidance.

    Cheers,
    Lindsey

  • Mian Usman - September 20, 2019 reply

    S4 Hana cloud comparison should be here as well, Its best out of all but off course fall in tear1

    Lindsey Jenkins - September 26, 2019 reply

    Hi Mian,

    Thanks for reading and providing an additional vendor recommendation. I’ll forward your thoughts to our analyst team for further review. Sometimes, a product isn’t included on a list due to the specific scope of an article. If you’re looking for some additional information or a more detailed review of SAP S/4HANA, send us an email at [email protected] and we can provide more information about the program.

    Cheers,
    Lindsey

  • Ferry Bogaards - January 12, 2020 reply

    Workday, SAP Business Bydesign and S/4HANA Cloud should be in this article…
    Then you have a total overview of the current ERP multi tenant solutions.

    Madeline Reinbolt - January 31, 2020 reply

    Hi Ferry,

    Our research team is looking into these products and the possibility of including them when we update this article.

    They believe that SAP S/4HANA Cloud is a very robust and scalable solution suited for large companies and enterprises. Users can choose the required modules related to finance, sales, distribution, inventory, management, manufacturing, etc. It runs on HANA, the columnar, in-memory relational database of SAP and delivers better performance than the traditional relational databases. They will likely include this product when we update.

    SAP Business ByDesign is for mid-sized companies and isn’t suited for process manufacturing industries. It’s an out-of-the-box solution with various modules related to finance, CRM, project management, procurement, supply chain management and manufacturing. It also runs on SAP HANA databases. It’s offered as a pre-packaged subscription with minimum options to customize and cherrypick the modules. They will likely not include this product when we update.

    Workday offers modules related to financial management and project management. It doesn’t provide modules related to distribution and manufacturing. They will likely not include this product when we update.

    Thank you for your feedback!

  • Mayur - February 24, 2020 reply

    Hi,
    Nice Informative Article.
    How about Oracle Fusion Cloud. They too are doing good i heard

    BR,
    Mayur

    Madeline Reinbolt - February 26, 2020 reply

    Thanks for the suggestion, Mayur!

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