SAP S/4HANA vs. Infor CloudSuite: An Independent Comparison

Written By: Eric Kimberling
Date: October 7, 2020

SAP S/4HANA and Infor CloudSuite are two of the most common ERP systems in the market. Like most head-to-head ERP software comparisons, they have distinct strengths, weaknesses, and tradeoffs relative to one another.

This comparison is especially common in mid-size to larger manufacturing and distribution companies. Companies with complex supply chains, engineer to order manufacturing environments, robust job costing needs, and other manufacturing and distribution needs will find that these two systems are viable – and comparable – options.

In fact, and as this video highlights, SAP S/4HANA and Infor CloudSuite rate extremely close for companies looking for manufacturing ERP systems:

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Maturity of the S/4HANA and CloudSuite Cloud ERP Solutions

Maturity of their flagship cloud products – or lack thereof – is one of the common challenges of deploying either solution. Both SAP and Infor have well-established legacy products (ECC, R/3, Syteline, M3, etc.) that they are still in the progress of migrating over to the S/4HANA and CloudSuite products.

This lack of maturity can create a number of challenges during implementation. We find that many customers of both products run into landmines and pitfalls surrounding lack of or missing functionality. This is especially true in some of the more advanced edge functions, such as product lifecycle management, demand planning, and other non-core ERP functions. This is why it’s so important to perform a gap analysis of actual software capabilities relative to your business requirements prior to selecting or beginning the implementation of either product.

Vendor Viability of SAP vs. Infor

The good news with product maturity is that it is a short-term problem. It is also one that can be mitigated by longer-term considerations such as vendor viability.

SAP is the largest ERP vendor in the industry. Infor, while generally considered the #4 ERP vendor in the industry, has had some turmoil in recent years. For example, we posted recent articles about how Infor may be losing its edge and the implications of Infor being acquired by Koch, which can either be indicators of turmoil or opportunity depending on how you look at it.

Looking even further into the future, it is helpful to consider how much time and money is being invested in the flagship S/4HANA and CloudSuite products. SAP, being the largest ERP vendor, has plenty of R&D to invest in advancing its core technology. Infor has a similar scale of R&D, but not quite to the extent of SAP.

This video outlines some of the nuances of Infor’s product roadmap and longer-term vendor viability:

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Strengths of SAP S/4HANA

SAP S/4HANA has some distinct strengths, especially when compared to Infor CloudSuite. Here are a few areas where S/4HANA excels relative to CloudSuite:

  • S/4HANA is built to scale for larger organizations
  • The product is better at driving standardization and common business processes
  • The system leverages the HANA database, which allows for more real-time visibility and transparency into operational transactions
  • S/4HANA generally provides a breadth of capabilities to fit a variety of industries and functions
  • SAP has acquired other products to diversity its strengths outside of core ERP functions, including Ariba for procurement, SuccessFactors for human capital management, and Concur for time and expense reporting

In general, customers that are looking for more standardization, breadth of functionality, and an infrastructure that can scale tend to prefer S/4HANA more often than CloudSuite. On the flip side, these strengths come with a number of costs and tradeoffs.

Strengths of Infor CloudSuite

While S/4HANA has some distinct strengths, CloudSuite has some strengths of its own as well. For example, here a few areas where CloudSuitethrives in comparison to S/4HANA:

  • It is built to focus on manufacturing and distribution industries, whereas S/4HANA largely attempts to be everything to everyone across a number of industries
  • Infor provides more flexibility for diverse business processes – whereas SAP tends to be more rigid
  • CloudSuite is generally implemented with less time, money, resources, and risk than S/4HANA
  • Infor tends to provide deeper capabilities in supply chain, enterprise asset management, and other areas outside of core ERP
  • Infor also has Lawson, M3, Syteline, and other ERP systems to provide options to customers with different needs.

Infor tends to be preferred by customers in the middle market and organizations with complex business needs. Infor tends to provide more flexibility, lower cost, and lower risk, whereas SAP tends to provide more rigid standardization and scalability.

Procurement and Supply Chain: Best of Breed ERP

Both vendors have had an acquisitive focus on adding best of breed solutions to their core ERP offerings. For example, SAP has acquired Ariba to provide deeper procurement capabilities, SuccessFactors for human capital management (HCM), and Concur for time and expense reporting. This allows customers to benefit from more diverse and deeper functions outside of their digital core.

Similarly, Infor offers customers Syteline, M3, and Lawson depending on customer needs. These legacy products continue to be supported by Infor, which provides more options and flexibility for customers. While some may question the long-term viability of these products outside the core CloudSuite offering, Infor has not been as unforgiving as SAP in supporting these legacy products (see our related article about SAP’s 2025 deadline).

SAP S/4HANA vs. Infor CloudSuite: Which is best for your organization?

Choosing between these two leading systems comes down to your specific strategy, needs, and requirements. They have some commonalities, but they generally couldn’t be much different in terms of their strengths and weaknesses. An effective ERP software selection process will help you determine the best need for you.

Our team is completely independent and agnostic, so it can be helpful to objectively brainstorm the strengths and weaknesses of these and other technology options for your organization. Please feel free to contact me – I am happy to be a sounding board as you continue your digital transformation journey!

Kimberling Eric Blue Backgroundv2
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.

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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