What Is the Best ERP Software?

Written By: Eric Kimberling
Date: November 4, 2020

When embarking on your ERP software selection journey, there are a plethora of options to choose from. There are the leading ERP systems such as SAP S/4HANA and Oracle ERP Cloud, along with Tier II ERP vendors such as Microsoft Dynamics 365, Oracle NetSuite, Infor CloudSuite, and others. In addition, there are also a variety of best of breed options such as Workday for Human Capital Management (HCM) and Salesforce for Customer Relationship Management (CRM).

So, which is the best ERP software for your organization in the coming years? Well, it depends…

Various ERP software options have distinct strengths, weaknesses, pros, cons, and tradeoffs. Depending on your size, industry, geography, and strategic goals and objectives, different systems will have different rankings. Simply put, ERP software can’t be everything to everyone, so there are inherent tradeoffs.

With this in mind, a good starting point is to review our various top 10 rankings and lists. Our team is 100% technology-agnostic and unaffiliated with any software vendors or systems integrators, so we base these rankings based on our team’s independent experience, research, and database tracking the strengths and weaknesses of all the major enterprise systems in the market.

Below is a summary of some of these rankings for a number of different scenarios. Our ranking methodology compares general functionality, ease of adoption, flexibility, integration, average time and cost to implement, size of customer install base, product maturity, and a variety of other criteria.

General Ranking of the Best ERP Software

Our general ranking may be a good first place to start. This ranking is a general comparison of all the leading ERP systems in the market. This is not segmented by industry, company size, geography, or any specific business needs, so it is a broader and more general ranking of systems.

The winner in this top 10 list is Oracle NetSuite. As the pioneer in the cloud-based, software as a service (SaaS) ERP solution, NetSuite has amassed a strong client installation base, particularly among small and mid-size businesses. And it’s not just the mid-market that has embraced NetSuite – larger enterprises are beginning to adopt it at a higher rate as well.

In addition to NetSuite, our general top 10 rankings of the best ERP software includes a variety of other systems, including (in no particular order):

You can read the top 10 rankings of the best ERP systems here, or watch the video below:

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Best ERP Software for Small Business

Small and mid-size businesses have unique needs that set them apart from other organizations. For example, they generally value flexibility and ease of implementation more so than their larger counterparts. For this reason, small businesses often find a different set of ERP systems to be more suitable for their needs.

Based on the prioritized criteria for small businesses, Odoo, Microsoft Dynamics Business Central, and Oracle NetSuite are among the top 3 ERP software solutions for small businesses. In addition, the following ERP vendors round out the top 10 (in no particular order):

You can read the entire list of top 10 ERP software for small business here, or watch the video below:

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Best ERP Software for Large Businesses

Small businesses typically value speed, flexibility, cost, and other priorities that align with their goals and objectives. Larger organizations, on the other hand, tend to value the ability of ERP software to scale, standardize, and integrate across disparate parts of the business. For this reason, larger organizations typically pursue very different short-lists than those of their smaller counterparts.

Organizations such as Fortune 1000 businesses, multi-national corporations, and state and federal governments are more likely to evaluate a markedly different short-list of ERP vendors. Below are the most commonly pursued ERP systems for larger organizations (in no particular order):

  • Oracle ERP Cloud
  • Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations
  • Workday
  • Deltek

You can read the entire list here or watch the video below:

YouTube player

Best ERP Software for Manufacturing and Distribution Businesses

Manufacturers face unique needs and criteria when evaluating their ERP software options. In addition to software that can automate their manufacturing shop floors, manufacturing and distribution businesses typically value systems that can help with product lifecycle management, demand forecasting, advanced planning, job costing, and other differentiating requirements.

With these and other criteria and mind, IFS, QAD, and IQMS are the top-rated ERP systems in our ranking. These systems include broad and mature processes and capabilities that are unique to manufacturing and distribution companies. In addition to these three top contenders, below are the remaining vendors that made the list of best ERP software for manufacturing and distribution companies:

  • Oracle ERP Cloud
  • Microsoft Dynamics 365
  • Infor CloudSuite
  • Epicor
  • Plex Systems
  • Deacom
  • Acumatica

You can read the entire list of best ERP software for manufacturers here, or watch the video below:

YouTube player

Best ERP Software for Government and Non-Profit

State, federal, local, and national government agencies have unique needs as well. Their focus on fund accounting, budgeting, asset management, and other functions typically leads them down different paths than their private company counterparts. The same goes for non-profits.

You can see the top ERP software for government and non-profit in the video below:

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Best ERP Software for Best of Breed Digital Transformations

Regardless of your industry, organization size, or geography, it may be that a big, single ERP system is not the best fit. Instead, you may be looking for more of a best of breed ERP system – in other words, pursuing different technologies for different parts of your business. HCM software, CRM systems, and supply chain management technologies are some of the most common best-of-breed options.

There are a number of other top 10 rankings in our arsenal that will help you with your software evaluation process. For example, click on the links below to see:

These will provide some ideas around which systems are worth looking into as part of your digital transformation.

How to Find the Best ERP Software

Of course, these various rankings and comparisons are just one of many data points you should use in your quest to find the best ERP software for your organization. We typically recommend a number of other independent and technology-agnostic data points, such as our own internal database of ERP software functions and capabilities and our hands-on experience implementing leading ERP systems in the market.

Please feel free to contact me if you would like to brainstorm ideas regarding your ERP software evaluation process. You can also visit the Third Stage YouTube channel to view our software comparison videos. My team and I are happy to be a sounding board as you continue your journey!

Eric Kimberling
Eric is known globally as a thought leader in the ERP consulting space. He has helped hundreds of high-profile enterprises worldwide with their technology initiatives, including Nucor Steel, Fisher and Paykel Healthcare, Kodak, Coors, Boeing, and Duke Energy. He has helped manage ERP implementations and reengineer global supply chains across the world.
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