We’re fans of Microsoft Dynamics Business Central, but it’s not for everyone… So here’s our honest breakdown of the best and worst parts of the most popular ERP systems.
We’ve looked at the 8 most popular ERP systems for small to medium enterprises, to help compare, and find the best option for you.
Microsoft Dynamics Business Central | SAP Business One | NetSuite ERP | Sage 300 | Epicor ERP | Infor CloudSuite | Oracle ERP Cloud | QuickBooks Enterprise
Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central
- Cloud-based system that’s relatively affordable and easy to implement for SMBs compared to larger ERPs.
- Seamlessly integrates with other Microsoft products many businesses already use like Office 365, Power BI, and Azure.
- Has robust manufacturing and supply chain management functionality out of the box.
- Highly customisable and scalable through extensions and add-ons available in the marketplace.
- Regular updates and new features added automatically as part of subscription model.
- User-friendly interface and built-in intelligence like machine learning makes it accessible.
- Strong community of partners and user networks provides support.
- Specifically designed with small to medium-sized businesses in mind, it’s often a more cheaper option.
- Less functionality for complex manufacturing processes compared to heavier tier 1 or 2 ERPs.
- Industry-specific capabilities not as mature as veteran manufacturing solutions.
- Being cloud-based, relies on consistent internet connectivity for performance.
- Can get expensive as you grow and add more users and capabilities.
- Not as flexible for companies wanting highly bespoke solutions.
- Reporting and data visualisation capabilities take more work compared to SAP or Oracle.
- Though user-friendly, it may require training for those unfamiliar with ERP systems.
- It’s best used with other Microsoft tools, which is potentially limiting if you are not already within the Microsoft world.
Best suited for
Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central is targeted at small to medium-sized businesses, particularly those in the retail, manufacturing, or service industries. Its integration with Microsoft products makes it particularly appealing for companies already using Microsoft 365 (Office) .
Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central gives an accessible entry into ERP for small and medium businesses, with the reliability of the Microsoft brand. It emphasises integration, customisation, and scalability, but potential buyers should consider the need for using Microsoft products and evaluate whether its feature set aligns with their specific needs.
SAP Business One
- Comprehensive functionality for managing your entire business – finance, sales, inventory, operations – all in a single system. No more silos.
- Scales easily as you grow. You can start with just a few users and add more licences as needed.
- Highly customisable to fit your unique manufacturing processes and workflows. Tailor screens, fields, reports and dashboards to your needs.
- Real-time visibility into KPIs like cash flow, profitability by product line, inventory levels etc. to help you make fast, data-driven decisions.
- Tight integration between modules like production, procurement and inventory ensures efficient processes and minimal waste.
- Can integrate with your existing shop floor and production equipment rather than ripping everything out. No need to start from scratch.
- Can be complex for first-time ERP users. Expect a learning curve as your team gets up to speed.
- Upfront implementation costs can be substantial for a smaller firm if you need heavy customisation or integration work done.
- Limited native e-commerce and CRM capabilities – you may need bolt-on solutions.
- Functional gaps in some industries – be sure to verify it has all the manufacturing-specific tools you need.
Best suited for
SAP Business One is ideal for small to medium-sized businesses looking for a robust, comprehensive solution, especially those planning for international expansion or requiring industry-specific functionalities.
SAP Business One offers a rich, scalable ERP solution with a wide range of functionalities that can be tailored to various industry needs. Its global reach and strong reporting capabilities make it appealing for growing businesses. However, its complexity and cost might not suit the smallest businesses, and integration outside the SAP ecosystem may present challenges.
- As a cloud-based solution, NetSuite provides access from anywhere on any device. No need for on-prem IT infrastructure.
- Seamless integration between ERP and CRM in a single cloud platform streamlines processes.
- Highly scalable to support business growth into new global markets and channels.
- Deep customisation capabilities through SuiteCloud development platform. Build unique workflows, forms, reports etc.
- Industry-specific editions available for manufacturing, wholesale distribution and more with pre-configured processes.
- Regular updates provide access to latest features. No need for major version upgrades.
- Extensive ecosystem of solution partners provides add-ons and local support.
- Personalised dashboards for different roles within the company.
- Total cost of ownership can be high compared to entry-level cloud ERP tools. Multiple add-ons increase price.
- Interface and navigation can feel dated to users accustomed to consumerised SaaS apps. Steep learning curve.
- Upfront implementation is complex, requiring tailored configuration and integration work.
- Manufacturing functionality lags behind specialist solutions like Infor or SYSPRO.
- After sales support relies heavily on partners, leading to variability in service quality.
Best suited for
NetSuite ERP is a good fit for small to medium-sized businesses that need a comprehensive and scalable solution. It is particularly appealing to those looking for a cloud-based system with real-time insights.
NetSuite ERP offers an all-in-one cloud-based solution that caters to various aspects of business management. Its scalability, real-time analytics, and customisation make it an attractive option for growing businesses. However, the complexity, cost, and potential support challenges might be considerations for some businesses, especially those with limited technical expertise or budget constraints.
Sage 300 ERP
- Strong functionality for manufacturing and distribution built up over 30 years focused on SMBs.
- Flexible deployment options – can implement on-premises, hosted, or hybrid combination. Allows phased migration.
- Scales to grow with your business. Supports multiple languages, currencies, business units and sites.
- Tailor workflows, screens, reports etc to your specific industry needs through customisation tools.
- Tight integration between financials, inventory, production scheduling, and supply chain modules streamlines operations.
- Large partner network provides local training, support, and custom development.
- A user friendly interface that’s easy for users to navigate, regardless of technical expertise.
- Generally considered a more affordable option for SMBs.
- Limited native CRM capabilities – you may need to integrate a separate package.
- Mobile access requires add-on module – not embedded natively in core platform.
- Cloud deployment lags behind modern SaaS competitors in ease of use and regular updates.
- Analytics and business intelligence capabilities less sophisticated than rival ERPs. More reliance on partners.
- Perpetual licensing model makes expanding user count and functions costly compared to subscription-based pricing.
Best suited for
Sage 300 ERP is best suited for small to medium-sized businesses, particularly those with international needs but not requiring extensive advanced features. Industries like manufacturing, distribution, and retail may find it particularly appealing.
Sage 300 ERP provides an accessible and user-friendly solution for small to medium-sized businesses, with multinational capabilities and customisation options. It offers integration with other Sage products and is considered a cost-effective choice. However, it may not meet the needs of very large or highly complex organisations and may present challenges in reporting, support, or performance.
- Strong focus on manufacturing and distribution industries with deep capabilities purpose-built for complex operations.
- Highly flexible architecture allows you to start with core modules then phase in additional functions over time.
- User interface provides personalised role-based screens and dashboards for efficient workflow.
- Embedded business intelligence provides real-time insights into production, inventory, logistics etc.
- Interoperability layer allows integration with legacy systems and external applications.
- Cloud and on-premises deployment options give you infrastructure flexibility.
- Features powerful tools for generating insights and data-driven decision-making.
- Can be overkill for small, simple manufacturing and distribution environments. Too complex for basic needs.
- Total cost of ownership adds up with multiple add-on modules, customisation and upgrades.
- Limited e-commerce and point of sale functionality out of the box – requires third party integration.
- Not as strong as some rivals for global organisations with needs for multi-language, multi-subsidiary capabilities.
- After-sales support relies heavily on authorised partners rather than direct from Epicor.
Best suited for
Epicor ERP is suitable for small to medium-sized businesses in industries like manufacturing, distribution, and retail that require robust and industry-specific solutions. It’s well-fitted for those looking for scalability and mobile accessibility.
Epicor ERP offers a comprehensive and industry-aligned solution with strong reporting and integration capabilities. Its scalability and mobile accessibility make it an appealing choice for growing businesses in targeted sectors. However, the complexity, cost, and potential support or performance issues might present challenges for some organisations, especially those without substantial IT expertise or budget flexibility.
- Industry-specific editions designed for manufacturing, distribution, hospitality etc. with built-in best practices.
- Comprehensive functionality for production planning, quality control, supply chain and more right out of the box.
- Cloud-based and accessible from anywhere on any device. Regular updates and new features added seamlessly.
- Artificial intelligence capabilities automate tasks and provide predictive analytics.
- Flexible deployment options – can implement certain modules on-premise while others remain in the cloud.
- Scales to support complex global supply chains, locations and requirements.
- Designed with a modern and user friendly interface that enhances usability.
- Limited capabilities for businesses outside core manufacturing, distribution and hospitality industries.
- Heavy reliance on value-added resellers for implementation and ongoing support. Quality can vary.
- Interface and user experience not as slick and consumerised as some rival cloud solutions.
- Upfront deployment costs can be higher compared to entry-level cloud ERP solutions with more basic needs.
- Heavier customisation requirements make upgrades and patches more challenging.
Best suited for
Infor CloudSuite is best suited for medium to large businesses in specific industries like healthcare, manufacturing, and hospitality that are seeking robust analytics and cloud-based flexibility.
Infor CloudSuite offers an industry-aligned, cloud-based ERP solution with strong analytics and an intuitive user experience. It can adapt to business growth and provides an array of features tailored to specific industries. While its scalability and industry focus are key strengths, considerations around cost, complexity of implementation, and potential support or performance challenges might influence the decision for some businesses.
Oracle ERP Cloud
- Robust core financials plus broad suite of integrated HR, manufacturing, inventory, and supply chain modules.
- Highly customisable to match unique workflows and processes. Extend capabilities through development platforms.
- Real-time analytics and embedded BI provide data-driven insights across the business.
- Regular updates to latest innovations like AI, digital assistants, blockchain through cloud delivery model.
- Industry-specific editions tailored for manufacturing, construction, consumer goods and more.
- Global reach capabilities to manage multi-country, multi-language operations.
- It integrates seamlessly with other Oracle products and offers compatibility with various third-party applications.
- Can be overkill for smaller businesses with more basic requirements. Significant complexity.
- Total cost of ownership grows substantially as you scale usage and add more modules.
- Heavy dependence on Oracle consultants and partners for customisation and integration work.
- Switching costs and change management needs are high when migrating from legacy ERP systems.
- User experience and interface not as intuitive as rival SaaS solutions focused on UX. Steep learning curve.
Best suited for
Oracle ERP Cloud is best suited for medium to large businesses seeking a comprehensive and scalable solution with robust analytics and financial management capabilities. It’s ideal for businesses that need integration with other Oracle products and are ready to invest in a solution that may require expert intervention for customisation and optimal use.
Oracle ERP Cloud is a powerful and scalable ERP solution with strengths in analytics, financial management, and integration possibilities. However, it may present challenges in terms of complexity, cost, and customisation.
- Affordable pricing options make it accessible for SMBs compared to high-end ERPs.
- Intuitive interface because built on familiar QuickBooks foundation small businesses already use.
- Scales reasonably well beyond entry-level QuickBooks packages as your needs grow.
- Broad range of features for accounting, inventory, order management, payroll etc.
- On-premises deployment gives you full control and customisation of your system and data.
- Third party integrations available to add specialised functionality like CRM or POS.
- Limited capabilities for highly complex manufacturing environments compared to industrial-grade ERPs.
- Functionality gaps in certain areas like production scheduling, quality control etc.
- Analytics and reporting less sophisticated than heavyweight ERP solutions.
- No native features for supply chain management, warehousing, shipping etc.
- Being desktop-based, less accessible for remote employees compared to cloud systems.
- While customisable to an extent, it may not offer the depth of customisation that some specialised industries or highly unique businesses may require.
- Though adequate for many businesses, the compliance and security features may not meet the strict standards required by certain industries or regulatory bodies.
Best suited for
QuickBooks Enterprise is ideally suited for small to medium-sized businesses that need a user-friendly, cost-effective ERP solution with strong reporting tools. It’s particularly well-suited for businesses that don’t require highly specialised features or extensive customisation.
QuickBooks Enterprise offers an accessible and affordable ERP solution for businesses that prioritise ease of use and flexible reporting. While it offers scalability and integration capabilities, it may fall short in terms of advanced features, customisation, and handling large data sets.