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Why Top 10 ERP Lists Are Worthless

3/17/21 10:00 AM


The ERP search begins

When a company decides to start an ERP search, the people involved can articulate why they are looking for ERP because it’s their reality. But finding the right solution is more difficult because looking for a new ERP system isn’t something they do every day. In many cases, people involved in the search have never looked for a new ERP system. In other words, it’s a lot easier to identify why you need an ERP rather than what ERP you need.

Where do we go when we want to find something? The internet, of course. Searching for “ERP” yields a lot of results. There is no shortage of companies willing to sell you ERP. There is also no shortage of ERP lists: Top 10 (or 20, or 5) ERP Systems, Best ERP, and so forth. These lists are appealing because who wouldn’t want to know what the best ERP systems are in an easy-to-skim list? Click on an article or video, and the author or person on the screen sounds so authoritative and knowledgeable.

The ERP lists aren’t what you think they are

Except these authors aren’t so knowledgeable. I think they should be ashamed of themselves, but this isn’t a story of morals. It’s a story of logic. Quite simply, it’s impossible to create a generic top 10 ERP list. Just as it’s impossible to create a top 10 medicine list. In both cases, there is an important element missing: You! Medicine can’t be judged in a vacuum. There needs to be an understanding of the patient and the patient’s condition before a medicine can be prescribed – if it’s prescribed at all. Medicine has the ability to improve the patient’s quality of life, sometimes dramatically. That success doesn’t mean the medicine is right for everyone, though. Given to the wrong person, it could kill them instead of help them.

The same logic holds true for ERP software. Without understanding the size of the company, the industry, and the problems the employees are trying to solve, it’s impossible to suggest an ERP system. A great solution for one company could be the worst solution for another company. Think about that for a second. The same ERP solution works for one company, but not another. How can this be?

To understand, we need to remember that all companies are not created equal. Fortune 100 businesses are not the same as small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs). They may share some of the same goals (customer/employee satisfaction), but the strategies to reach those goals are vastly different. So are the issues each company needs to deal with. A Fortune 100 business is going to be much more complex than an SMB.

Size alone differentiates businesses. So does the industry. Both Walmart and Exxon Mobile are in the top 10 of the Fortune 100 companies, but they sit in completely different industries. Again, some of their needs overlap, but many are unique to their separate industries.

One size does not fit all

Size and industry are just two ways to look at businesses, but they are critical in finding the right ERP. Visual South works with SMBs in the manufacturing/service industry. We represent two Infor ERP products: Infor CloudSuite Industrial/SyteLine and Infor VISUAL. Both are great products for the size of the businesses and industries we serve. Both would absolutely fail as a solution for a Fortune 100 business (but could be a fit for a division of a Fortune 100, though.) A Fortune 100 business has needs that the products we represent weren’t designed for. There’s no shame in that. The opposite is also true. An ERP solution that a Fortune 100 business uses would be a failure in an SMB. Just trying to maintain the ERP would smother the SMB. It's too much solution; it’s not a fit.

That’s how an ERP could be both a perfect fit and an awful choice. It all depends on the business that is considering it.

Related: Top 6 Evaluation Criteria for ERP Product Selection

How to find the right ERP software

Now that you understand why top 10 ERP lists are useless, you may be wondering, “Well, now what do I do?”

Fair question, and I have a solution for you. You need to have a process so you can develop your own list of what ERP solutions are right for you. Fortunately, I’ve developed that process for you. It’s called, How to Select ERP …and not regret it. It was written to lay out a successful strategy for finding the right ERP solution for your company. In addition, I’m available for a free 30-minute consultation (this is NOT a sales call) to discuss your needs.

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Jack Shannon

Written by Jack Shannon

Jack is the President of Visual South and has been working with ERP since 1996 when he bought it in his role as a Plant Manager. Since 1998 he has worked for Visual South with roles in consulting, sales and executive management.