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Buyer’s Guide: What Type of ERP Is Right for Me?

Buyer’s Guide: What Type of ERP Is Right for Me?

Selecting an ERP can be one of the most significant (and expensive) software purchases that you’ll make for your company, so it pays to get it right the first time. There’s no one-size-fits-all ERP solution, so finding the one that works best for you requires understanding not only the many different ERP vendors on the market today but also the multitude of products available. Here’s our breakdown of how to navigate the maze of ERP solutions available and make an informed choice before you buy.

On-Premise ERP: Traditional Solutions for Enterprise Powerhouses

The traditional format of the ERP system, on-premise systems are often seen as clunky, expensive, and old-fashioned. But they’re not entirely outdated; for large, well-funded companies, on-premise solutions are infinitely customizable and malleable. If out-of-the-box solutions aren’t cutting it, on-premise systems allow users to create the system they need rather than endlessly hunt for one.

One of the most compelling reasons to go for an on-premise ERP solution is control. While the latest generation of cloud systems are safe and reliable, only on-premise systems give you complete control over the security and uptime of your system. If you’ve got the know-how and manpower to ensure your system stays up and running, on-premise systems are still a workhorse for companies that need ultra-high security and reliability.

Cloud-based ERP: Faster, Lighter, More Flexible Solutions

It’s no surprise that the new wave of ERP innovation has taken software systems to the cloud. Like all cloud-based software, cloud ERP solutions require no hardware and can be installed quickly. Compared to the weeks or months it takes to set up a traditional ERP, the out-of-the-box model of cloud editions lets you get up and running in no time at all.

Because they require less hardware, setup, and physical support, cloud-based systems are usually cheaper than traditional systems. They have the added benefit of being easily patched and updated remotely, reducing your downtime for routine maintenance and updates. Acumatica and NetSuite both offer solid cloud-based, SaaS ERP solutions that have proven to be popular options for a wide variety of clients.

Industry-specific ERP: Detail-Oriented Custom Solutions to Save Time

There’s no way around it – certain industries have specific needs. Many providers offer industry-specific ERP software that addresses the needs of niche fields. Construction, nonprofit, real estate and ecommerce businesses have some great solutions available to them. These solutions provide a great bridge between the cost and convenience of out-of-the-box solutions and the customization of on-premise systems. Obviously, these are clear picks for most mid-sized companies in the industry for which each solution is provided — but even companies in these niches should consider SMB solutions if their needs are still relatively simple. Among the top ERP providers, Sage has a particularly wide offering of industry-specific solutions covering everything from small nonprofits to large construction companies.

One major exception among industry-specific ERP solutions is manufacturing. The manufacturing industry is complex enough to merit a whole subset of its own solutions that are further divided up by type including discrete manufacturing, job shop, and more. If you think you’ll need an ERP specific to manufacturing, be sure to read through our Manufacturing ERP reports for a breakdown of the specific solutions within the subset.

Small Business ERP: Scalable Infrastructure for Growing Companies

While ERP is generally associated with running large, complex businesses, small companies can also benefit from the many different applications wrapped up in ERP solutions. Because ERP software tends to be expensive to implement and maintain, small companies should look for systems marketed specifically towards SMBs. These offerings tend to be lighter-weight cloud-based systems to accommodate tighter budgets.

Once you’ve narrowed down the field and know how ERP providers categorize their products, selecting the right solution becomes a matter of deciding what features are most important to your business and selecting the software that caters to your needs. Want to start comparing your options? Check out our Top 20 ERP Software Report  to compare pricing and features to help you make a smarter decision about which system will work best for your company.

  • Top Expert

Ashley Dotterweich
Expert in Enterprise Software Selection
Ashley Dotterweich is a former marketing team member who writes about tech industry trends and the software selection process. She was on the marketing team at from 2012-2014.