When selecting the optimal ERP software for your organization, it is beneficial to consider the top 10 systems available in the marketplace. In this discussion, I will address the top 10 systems for 2024 and beyond.
During these transformations, we assess various aspects, including feature evaluation, functionality, implementation costs, risks, and alignment of ERP technologies with digital transformation goals.
However, organizations often feel overwhelmed by the multitude of options available, making it challenging to determine the best fit for their needs. In this discussion, my aim is to present an agnostic perspective on the top 10 systems to consider for 2024 and beyond.
Please note that Third Stage Consulting has no affiliations with any software vendors or systems in the market. This list is solely based on our experience aiding clients in selecting and implementing various solutions.
Before delving into this year's top 10 list, it's essential to discuss the methodology we employed this year compared to previous years, along with highlighting the high-level changes that occurred.
To begin, let's address the alterations. We need to consider the systems that are no longer part of the top 10, although they were featured in the previous ranking. Two vendors, in particular, have dropped out of the top 10. These vendors are Sage X3 and Acumatica. It's important to note that this change isn't indicative of any shortcomings in these products. The ERP software landscape has grown increasingly competitive, witnessing numerous advancements. As a result, other vendors made significant strides and secured spots in the top 10, causing these two to be displaced. Therefore, these two vendors are no longer among our top 10 selections.
Shifting focus to our ranking methodology, how do we determine which systems make the top 10 and how do we compare them to each other? Our assessment is comprehensive. We evaluate the overall functionality of the software, consider the costs and risks associated with technology deployment, and analyze the outcomes our clients achieve through their adoption and implementation of these diverse technologies. Our technology-agnostic and unaffiliated stance with software vendors provides us a comprehensive understanding of the marketplace, encompassing both positive and negative aspects of each vendor's software, as well as the outcomes our clients experience.
A noteworthy difference this year, carrying more weight than in the past, is the implementation failure rate. We conducted an in-depth examination of the failure rates associated with different vendors' implementations. This factor had a significant impact on the rankings for some vendors. Several vendors found themselves positioned in the top 10 primarily due to their implementation outcomes, rather than the technical features and capabilities of their software.
Having clarified the methodology, let's now proceed to explore the top 10 list.
At the 10th position, we have the Force Platform. This platform is under the ownership of Salesforce and is developed by the same company. Force Platform serves as an extension to Salesforce's well-known CRM solution. Its purpose is to enable Salesforce to offer more than just CRM capabilities.
Force Platform empowers organizations and third-party developers to expand Salesforce's functionalities or modify them. This is achieved through the creation of third-party applications that add supplementary layers of features and functionalities. These applications cater to specific functions or industries, enabling organizations to create semi-tailored solutions akin to broad ERP offerings.
In the previous year, Force Platform occupied the 9th spot on our list. It has now shifted to the 10th position. Despite this, it remains a robust solution, offering an alternative approach for organizations. It suits those that seek a versatile platform rather than a singular application. This platform offers ample flexibility for integrating various systems and even constructing custom applications that can be seamlessly integrated with the Force Platform.
Securing the 9th position is Odoo. This open-source system has garnered significant attention and momentum within the marketplace. While it occupied the 8th spot on our list last year, it has slightly shifted to the 9th position this year. This change is due to the emergence of two new entrants that surpassed Odoo in our ranking. Nevertheless, Odoo's strengths still warrant its place within the top 10.
Odoo is a particularly appealing option for small and mid-sized organizations seeking flexibility and simplicity amidst a landscape filled with intricate ERP systems. Moreover, it boasts cost-effectiveness, making it a viable choice for organizations with limited budgets. However, it's important to note that Odoo might lack the scalability and complexity required by larger organizations. Furthermore, there's a concern that Odoo, as an organization, might be overreaching by targeting larger enterprises while its software may not fully address the complex needs of such entities.
Despite these drawbacks, the strengths of Odoo have earned it the 9th spot on our top 10 list.
Securing the 8th position is Oracle NetSuite. In the previous year, Oracle NetSuite held the 2nd spot; however, it has dropped several places to the 8th spot. This shift is primarily attributed to implementation challenges witnessed among their customer base. Let's begin by highlighting the strengths that contribute to Oracle NetSuite's inclusion in our top 10 list.
To start, Oracle NetSuite is a pioneer in the Software As A Service (SaaS) or cloud space. Their product is highly mature, having a substantial track record, in contrast to several legacy on-premise vendors that are now transitioning to the cloud. Another noteworthy strength of NetSuite is its strong alignment with small and mid-sized companies. If our assessment solely focused on smaller clients, Oracle NetSuite could potentially secure a higher ranking, perhaps even reaching the number one position. Yet, since we assess companies across various sizes and industries, NetSuite's capabilities fall short for supporting larger and even mid-sized organizations.
The predominant factor hindering Oracle NetSuite's ranking this year stems from the implementation outcomes reported by some of our clients. Certain clients have encountered challenges due to the relative inflexibility of the product, coupled with its inherent complexity. This complexity is linked to its Software as a Service (SaaS) model, which, being multi-tenant, imposes limits on customization compared to other cloud solutions. Despite these considerations, Oracle NetSuite remains a robust product widely adopted by numerous organizations. For those operating within the smaller to mid-market range, it might hold particular appeal.
An additional noteworthy aspect concerning Oracle NetSuite is its standing as the 2nd most frequently selected system among our client base. This statistic is worth acknowledging.
Securing the 7th position this year is IFS. IFS offers a distinctive solution that places significant emphasis on construction, field services, and some manufacturing and distribution sectors. Unlike many other software vendors, IFS does not attempt to cater to every conceivable need. Instead, they focus on their strengths and maintain a niche approach. Last year, IFS held the 5th spot on our list, and their ranking remains significant this year due to their prominence as the 7th most selected system within the Third Stage Global client base.
The strengths of the IFS product encompass its dedicated focus, as mentioned earlier. Additionally, they exhibit robust global growth and substantial dedication to expanding their partner ecosystem, which facilitates the sales and implementation of their solution.
However, there are also a few drawbacks. As this ranking encompasses systems across all industries, IFS's limited fit across industries can hinder its position. Despite this, their intense industry focus often correlates with a higher implementation success rate.
Ranking at number 6 is SAP S/4HANA. In comparison to last year's placement at number 4, SAP S/4HANA has experienced a decline to the 6th position. However, within our global client base, it maintains its position as the 4th most frequently chosen ERP system.
SAP S/4HANA is indeed a robust product capable of diverse functionalities, tailored for Fortune 500 companies and other major global organizations. This positive aspect is coupled with certain challenges. Notably, as SAP continues the transition from on-premises solutions like ECC and R3 to their cloud-based S/4HANA, certain notable deficiencies persist in the product.
Another contributing factor to SAP S/4HANA's drop in our top 10 ranking pertains to the implementation outcomes. These outcomes haven't been as favorable as those of other software vendors. There has been a notable number of implementation failures within the SAP realm in recent years. Even within our own client base, instances have arisen where clients have opted to cancel their S/4HANA implementations due to significant concerns related to the product and its implementation process.
Despite these considerations, SAP S/4HANA remains a potent and widespread product within the marketplace. Thus, it retains its 6th position in our ranking.
Securing the 5th spot in our top 10 is a new contender, Epicor. Epicor is a vendor with ownership over various systems, including Vantage, Prophet 21, and other distinct ERP systems, each tailored to specific industries. These industries encompass manufacturing, distribution, and retail—three sectors commonly associated with Epicor's offerings. In fact, across our client base, Epicor ranks as the 5th most frequently chosen ERP software, contributing to its newfound presence in the top 10.
Epicor's presence in the top 10 is not solely due to its common selection but also because of its journey. In preceding years, the organization encountered struggles, particularly concerning troubled implementations. Their Professional Services Group experienced reductions, and their ecosystem of implementation partners was scaled back. However, recent times have witnessed a significant turnaround. Epicor has established a fresh leadership team comprising experienced industry executives—an "All-Star" group. The vendor's trajectory, along with their products, appears promising and headed in a positive direction.
Combining these factors with the outcomes observed among our client base, Epicor has secured the 5th position on our list.
Ranking 4th on our list is Workday. Although Workday has made appearances on our list in the past, it was not among our top 10 last year. This exclusion was primarily attributed to certain gaps in core ERP functionality. Historically recognized as more focused on financials and human capital management (HCM) or HR technology, Workday has recently undergone substantial investments in Supply Chain management, substantially broadening the product's ERP capabilities.
A significant reason for Workday's resurgence to the top 10, at a notably high position, is the growing adoption of their solution. The organization is gaining substantial traction in both the sales cycle and the marketplace. Moreover, despite facing implementation challenges like any software vendor, Workday is amassing a favorable track record for implementation success.
It's crucial to reframe how one perceives Workday. While it may have been previously associated solely with HR or financial systems, it's imperative to recognize it as a comprehensive ERP system.
Claiming the 3rd position is Infor CloudSuite, a rise from last year's 6th place. Notably, it also stands as the 3rd most frequently selected system within the Third Stage client base. The advancement of Infor CloudSuite in our ranking is chiefly due to its accelerated selection rate among our clients. Moreover, this progression is further attributed to the increasing stability and traction witnessed in the CloudSuite solution. For an extended period, Infor encountered challenges concerning M3, Syteline, and other legacy products. However, recent times have brought about clarity in the roadmap for CloudSuite, both in terms of individual product paths and a unified direction.
The fruits of their investments in CloudSuite's development are becoming increasingly apparent. The product has advanced significantly. Nonetheless, it's important to acknowledge that imperfections still exist. Some confusion persists, as a mix of solutions is sometimes required to address diverse client needs. Despite this, the progress Infor has made sets them apart. Their product is notably more comprehensive than several alternatives in the marketplace.
For these reasons, Infor secures the 3rd position on our list this year.
Securing the 2nd position is Oracle Fusion Cloud ERP, a rise from its 3rd-place ranking last year. This upward shift in our ranking underscores Oracle's proficiency and appeal. Additionally, it stands as the 6th most selected software within Third Stage's global client base.
Oracle's elevation in our ranking and its notable placement are rooted in its offering of a flexible solution tailored for large organizations. Oracle primarily targets multinational corporations. The product itself is robust, capable of diverse functionalities that cater to a range of needs. Crucially, Oracle Fusion Cloud ERP boasts a higher degree of flexibility compared to, for instance, SAP S/4HANA. This added flexibility contributes to its higher ranking in comparison.
Furthermore, Oracle fares better in terms of implementation outcomes compared to its competitors. Although challenges and occasional failures are observed, Oracle Fusion Cloud ERP has a comparatively lower failure rate than SAP. Noteworthy is Oracle Fusion Cloud ERP's open architecture, enhancing its compatibility with various systems and solutions.
Taking the top spot once again this year, as it did last year, is Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations (F&O). The "F&O" stands for Finance and Operations. The primary reason for its continued number one ranking is the extensive appeal that Microsoft Dynamics 365 holds across a broad customer base. Microsoft tends to target mid-market and larger organizations, encompassing a scope between SAP/Oracle's focus on larger corporations and Netsuite/Odoo's focus on smaller companies. This positioning allows Dynamics 365 to scale effectively while remaining suitable for small to mid-sized companies seeking technology deployment.
Microsoft's top ranking is further cemented by being the most frequently selected software within our client base. Its flexibility, familiar user interface, reminiscent of Microsoft's signature look and feel, and its open architecture for seamless integration with third-party solutions contribute to its popularity.
However, considering potential drawbacks, one significant concern pertains to its value-added reseller ecosystem. Microsoft lacks control over this diverse ecosystem, resulting in varying quality among different vendors. Thus, selecting the right implementation partner becomes paramount.
While these are the top 10 systems in our list, several others deserve honorable mentions. Among them, Ultimate Kronos Group (UKG)—a merger of Ultimate Software and Kronos—excels in HR and workforce management. Additionally, Palantir serves as a workflow management platform, and ServiceNow, often seen as a pseudo-ERP for service-based organizations, warrants attention. Snowflake, a potent business intelligence tool, showcases significant potential. Sage X3 and Acumatica, both previous top 10 contenders, remain strong options.
I trust this information proves valuable. For further insights into software options and best practices for successful digital transformations, please refer to the resources available.
I would enjoy brainstorming ideas with you if you are looking to strategize an upcoming transformation or are looking at selecting an ERP system, so please feel free to contact me at email@example.com. I am happy to be a sounding board as you continue your digital transformation journey.