Insights & White Papers

Considering an ERP Implementation

By Brian Soik

Business & Technology Strategy, Delivery Assurance

With technology trends continually changing and advancing, it is paramount that you consider all factors when analyzing or updating your ERP landscape, such as business and technology requirements, cost vs. benefit analysis, your current technology landscape and data architecture, and your current organizational structure. Liberty can help you review all possible ERP software options and find the right fit for your business’s needs.

Key players and considerations

Enterprise resource planning, or ERP, as defined by Gartner is “the ability to deliver an integrated suite of business applications sharing a common process and data model covering broad and deep operational end-to-end processes”1.  The ERP software market continues to be big business and is forecast to exceed $49.5 billion by 2024.2 The landscape for ERP software is evolving at an increasingly rapid rate, in common with technology and software in other sectors. While many of the same companies are involved, since ERP entered the mainstream business world, the software, products, and offerings are continually changing and improving to meet market demands. Of course, there is still room for new challengers – Workday, for example, was founded in 2005 and is now seen as a market leader. At the other end of the spectrum, companies that don’t keep up run the risk of falling by the wayside as others advance their products.

Technology trends that are changing the ERP landscape include “moving to the cloud,” SAAS offerings, industry-specific products or “config starter kits,” and in-memory databases. Many common ERP challenges still exist even with the advancement of technology, including long implementation timelines, prolonged intervals before realizing benefits, and difficulties upgrading or moving to new products.

Before you choose your ERP software, there are many factors to consider – such as business and technology requirements, cost vs. benefits analysis, your current technology landscape and data architecture, current organization and third-party partners or providers. Do not choose your software solely on your company size, or industry analysis, or by relying on the largest products in the market. Liberty Advisor Group has a strong track record of assisting clients in understanding required business capabilities to meet their business strategies and goals, analyzing potential solutions, and helping them choose the right software for their business. Talk to us.

Major ERP software providers

There are many ERP software providers in the marketplace. This list includes most of the key players, ranked roughly by ERP market share. However, this is not intended as a ranking based on quality, maturity, or depth of product and should not be used to select ERP software:

  • SAP: An industry leader since its inception, SAP has invested heavily in R&D to move to the cloud and enhance their user interface. The company’s current flagship ERP product is SAP S/4HANA, which can be implemented both in the cloud and on-prem. SAP also offers SAP Cloud ERP and SAP Business ByDesign for small- and mid-market companies. Legacy products include ECC 6.0 and R/3.
  • Oracle: As the other industry leader in ERP, Oracle’s technology innovation plus its database and infrastructure footprint came together to produce Oracle ERP Cloud and Oracle Fusion in the cloud. Oracle still offers Oracle E-Business Suite as an on-prem solution. Legacy products include PeopleSoft.
  • Oracle NetSuite: Oracle purchased NetSuite in 2016 to increase its mid-market footprint and advance its cloud application technology. Oracle NetSuite is a cloud-only solution that offers industry-specific solutions and starter kits.
  • Oracle JD Edwards: Oracle purchased JD Edwards and PeopleSoft in 2005 in another move to increase its mid-market ERP business. Oracle continues to offer JD Edwards EnterpriseOne, both in the cloud and on-prem. Legacy products include JD Edwards World.
  • Workday: Born as a result of Oracle’s purchase of PeopleSoft, the founder and chief strategist of PeopleSoft collaborated again to start Workday. This firm’s cloud-only products are focused on Finance-only ERP and HCM. There are currently no manufacturing capabilities with Workday.
  • Infor: With an influx in cash from its leadership team, Infor is moving upstream in the marketplace. Infor offers industry-specific solutions and starter packages with its CloudSuite product (cloud-only). It also offers LN and M3 solutions in the cloud and on-prem. Legacy products include BAAN.
  • Microsoft Dynamics: In addition to its PCs, Windows, and Azure businesses (to name a few), Microsoft offers Dynamics 365 and Dynamics AX as Finance-only ERP and CRM solutions. Both product sets are available in the cloud and on-prem. Legacy products include Dynamics GP and there are currently no manufacturing capabilities.
  • SAGE: An incumbent provider, SAGE has focused on small- and mid-market companies. SAGE currently offers Enterprise Management both in its BusinessCloud cloud environment and on-prem. It also offers Intacct, 300cloud, 100cloud, and 50cloud as smaller, cloud solutions.
  • Epicor: Another software provider that has been around for decades, Epicor focus on small- and mid-market companies with industry-specific products and solutions. This company currently offers Epicor ERP Cloud as a cloud solution and Epicor ERP as an on-prem solution. It also provides many other industry-specific solutions, including Prophet 21, Eclipse, Eagle, BisTrack, CMS, Vision, Retail, and LumberTrack.

There are many other smaller, niche products in the marketplace, including FinancialForce, Plex, Ramco Systems, Unit4, Acumatica, IFS AB, SYSPRO, IQMS, QAD, QAD MFG/PRO, Lawson, ERPNext, Odoo, FeneVision.

Other types of partners to keep in mind

In addition to software providers, the following partners and providers should be considered when staffing a program:

  • Systems Integrators
  • Development Shops
  • Independent Third-Party Contractors
  • Delivery Assurance or Program Management
  • Data Governance and Conversion
  • Enterprise or Solution Architecture
  • Change Management or Assurance

You can find these services and offerings at the big consultancies, but there are also boutique and niche players with strong offerings. Liberty can operate in many of the above partner and provider roles, offering independent advice on how to appropriately staff each step of your specific ERP journey.

Derisking implementation

Before selecting your ERP software and embarking on a potentially multi-year journey, there is much pre-work that can de-risk your implementation, including:

  1. Empower a singular, dynamic, business leader with the ability to drive and lead the full program.
  2. Establish a governance organization with current and future leaders of your business and IT teams.
  3. Develop and sign-off on an economic model or business case – and use this throughout the project to make scope or timeline decisions.
  4. Staff the program team with your best business and IT employees, and backfill as necessary. Top-quality players are essential to building a top-quality platform.
  5. Document current business processes, and use these to establish your gap/fit requirements and design and build scope.
  6. Start to consolidate, cleanse, and de-duplicate key master data and transactional data elements. Data cleansing and loading is often the longest-duration activity to get to go-live.
  7. Document your current technology landscape, and use this to design and implement your current-, interim-, and future-state architectures throughout the full implementation and deployments.
  8. Lock and memorize your project charter and blueprint documents before starting design and build. Costs go up sharply after you bring on a systems integrator or third-party team to start design and build.
  9. Implement change assurance and enterprise architecture functions early on. These supporting functions are many times undervalued and understaffed, but can derail a program just as fast as other program functions.

Be sure to read our Avoiding a Game of ERP Russian Roulette white paper to dive deeper into the risks and rewards of an ERP journey, and how you can de-risk the journey.

If you are considering an ERP initiative, are already involved in one and need guidance, or have implemented an ERP solution that is not meeting your business needs, please reach out to Liberty. We are here to help you in every ERP situation – with experience executing ERP projects across the full implementation lifecycle from initial visioning and blueprinting to project rescue – and have worked with every major ERP software suite in the industry.

To learn more about our ERP implementation expertise, click here or contact Brian Soik, Principal (bsoik@libertyadvisorgroup.com).

About Liberty Advisor Group

Liberty Advisor Group is a goal-oriented, client-focused and results-driven consulting firm. We are a lean, hand-picked team of strategists, technologists and entrepreneurs – battle-tested experts with a steadfast, start-up attitude. A team with an average experience of 15+ years, that has delivered over $1 billion in operating income improvement and over 300 M&A deals for our clients. Liberty has a proven track record in Business and Technology Strategy, Transformation and Assurance, Data Analytics, Business Threat Intelligence, and Mergers and Acquisitions. We collaborate, integrate and ideate in real-time with our clients to deliver situation-specific solutions that work.

This year, Liberty has been named to the 2019 Best Places to Work in Chicago and to FORTUNE’s list of Best Workplaces in Consulting and Professional Services.

1 https://www.gartner.com/it-glossary/enterprise-resource-planning-erp/

2 https://www.marketwatch.com/press-release/enterprise-resource-planning-erp-market-size-will-reach-us-4950-billion-by-2024-2019-04-04

Brian Soik By Brian Soik