Top 10 ERP Systems for Finance and Accounting [G/L, Reporting, Consolidation, Treasury, etc.]

Written By: Eric Kimberling
Date: July 19, 2023

Finance and accounting are two important functions for ERP systems. Today, I want to discuss the top systems that can handle finance and accounting functionality.

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Finance and accounting play a crucial role in ERP systems, serving as core fundamental back-office functions essential for seamless ERP operation and complete integration of the entire operation.

However, not all systems out there handle finance and accounting equally well. Some are exceptionally strong in these areas, while others may not be as proficient. If you are searching for a system that excels in financial planning and analysis, general ledger and accounting, treasury, tax, or anything related to finance, the following list comprises the top 10 systems you should consider.

These systems have proven to be reliable and effective in supporting finance and accounting functions within ERP environments.

Quickbooks

Ranked at number 10 is QuickBooks. Some of you might argue that QuickBooks is not a full-fledged ERP system, and technically, you would be correct. QuickBooks primarily serves as a robust finance and accounting system, especially well-suited for smaller organizations starting their bookkeeping.

We included QuickBooks in our top 10 list due to its widespread usage among smaller businesses and its focus on finance and accounting. One of its main strengths lies in its flexibility and user-friendly interface, making it highly popular among smaller organizations.

However, QuickBooks does have its limitations. Firstly, it lacks the comprehensive features of a complete ERP system, such as advanced inventory management and sophisticated reporting with predictive analytics. Additionally, for multinational organizations with multiple tax entities and complex tax structures, QuickBooks may become less effective.

While QuickBooks is a suitable option for smaller organizations, it may not be the best fit for larger ones. Nevertheless, its simplicity and extensive adoption in the market justify its position at number 10 on our list.

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Sage X3

At number nine, we have Sage X3. This is a comprehensive ERP system commonly utilized by manufacturing and distribution organizations. These industries favor Sage X3 due to its MRP (Master Resource Planning) capabilities and efficient handling of general manufacturing and distribution processes. Additionally, Sage X3 exhibits considerable strength in finance and accounting.

A significant advantage of Sage X3 is its step-up from QuickBooks, providing more robust enterprise-wide ERP capabilities. Moreover, it is widely adopted in the mid-market, making it a popular choice in this segment.

However, there are areas where Sage X3 falls short. If your organization does not belong to the manufacturing or distribution sector, it might not be the most suitable fit. Similarly, larger, more complex organizations may eventually outgrow Sage X3 and may need to explore larger ERP systems in our countdown.

Despite these considerations, Sage X3 secures its position at number nine on our list due to its robust capabilities and popularity within its target industries.

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Microsoft D365 Business Central

At number eight, we have Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central. This is one of two Microsoft D365 products featured in our top 10 list. Business Central is specifically designed for smaller to mid-size organizations. On the other hand, Microsoft's other product, D365 Finance and Operations, is tailored for larger organizations, offering more complexity and robustness, which we will discuss later in our top 10 list.

Business Central serves as Microsoft's solution for smaller ERP systems, competing with products like Oracle NetSuite that target the small to mid-market segment. Being a Microsoft product, Business Central benefits from a wide array of organizations that can assist with implementation, and many businesses are already using it. Furthermore, it boasts the familiar Microsoft look and feel and offers the flexibility that users are accustomed to.

However, there are certain limitations to consider. Business Central may not be the ideal choice for organizations that rapidly outgrow its capabilities, particularly as complexity and operational diversity increase. For businesses in the small to mid-market segment, Business Central can be an excellent option for fulfilling finance and accounting needs. Taking all these factors into account, Microsoft D365 Business Central earns its place at number eight on our list.

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FinancialForce

At number seven on our list is FinancialForce. For those unfamiliar with FinancialForce, it is a financial and accounting product built on the Force platform, which is part of the Salesforce ecosystem. Salesforce, a leading CRM system in the marketplace, has created an ecosystem around Force, offering third-party applications that can either integrate with Salesforce or function as standalone systems. FinancialForce is designed to cater to organizations using Salesforce that also require finance and accounting solutions.

Some of the benefits of FinancialForce include its integration with the Salesforce platform, which is widely adopted by many organizations due to Salesforce's high adoption rate and related products. It is considered one of the more flexible products in our top 10 list and can be easily integrated with other third-party applications within the Force ecosystem.

However, there are certain downside risks to consider. First, managing multiple best-of-breed systems on the Force platform can become technically complex. Integrating FinancialForce with Salesforce and other third-party apps within the Force ecosystem might require significant IT competency. Secondly, while FinancialForce is strong in accounting and finance, larger organizations with more complex business intelligence and reporting needs may eventually outgrow its capabilities, especially multinational organizations with multiple tax entities and regulatory requirements.

Nevertheless, FinancialForce remains a great option for mid-market organizations, particularly those already using Salesforce or other products within the Force platform. Considering all these factors, FinancialForce secures its place at number seven on our list.

Workday

At number six on our list is Workday. This system has been in existence for about 20 years, initially starting as a human capital management (HCM) or HR technology. In recent years, it has significantly expanded its focus on finance and accounting processes. Workday is widely recognized for its strength in both human capital management and financials. Many organizations use it solely for financials, without even utilizing the legacy HCM functionality for which it was originally designed.

Workday boasts several strengths. One notable advantage is that it is a legacy cloud system, meaning it was built for the cloud from the beginning. Unlike some other vendors on our list who had on-premise systems and later transitioned to the cloud, Workday's 20 years of research and development directly contribute to its current capabilities. This positions Workday ahead in terms of maturity when compared to those other systems.

However, Workday does have a couple of primary downsides. First, it may not be as flexible as some of the other systems in our top ten list due to being a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) product. While it still offers a reasonable level of flexibility, it may not match the customization options of certain other systems. Second, Workday is more limited when it comes to handling tasks outside of HR and finance and accounting. If you require functionalities such as inventory management, warehouse management, or manufacturing shop floor capabilities, Workday might not be the best fit.

Nevertheless, if your main focus is on robust financial and accounting processes, along with potential HR capabilities, Workday could be an excellent fit for your organization.

Oracle NetSuite

Another Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) based product in our top 10 list is NetSuite, ranked at number five. Oracle NetSuite is commonly utilized by small and mid-sized organizations. As an Oracle-owned product, it benefits from being SaaS-based, making it easier to deploy and configure.

NetSuite's high position on our top 10 list can be attributed to several reasons. Firstly, its adoption rate is notably high, with many small and mid-sized organizations transitioning from smaller systems like QuickBooks to Oracle NetSuite. Its cloud-based nature offers a user-friendly interface that is more intuitive than some on-premise counterparts, streamlining the software setup process compared to certain other systems in the market.

However, NetSuite also has its downsides. Like Workday, its lack of flexibility is a notable concern. Being a legacy SaaS product means it might not offer the same level of customization as some other systems in the market. Additionally, clients often express concerns about the overall cost of NetSuite, as long-term expenses can escalate with increasing volumes, users, and modules.

One significant factor that distinguishes NetSuite and contributes to its high ranking is its strength in finance and accounting. Originally built for this purpose, NetSuite excels in handling finance, accounting, analytics, and financial planning tasks. However, it may not match the capabilities of other systems when dealing with functions beyond finance and accounting.

Organizations experiencing high growth might outgrow NetSuite quickly, making it a temporary or band-aid solution until they require a larger ERP system. Nevertheless, if your focus is on finance, accounting, analytics, and financial planning, NetSuite can be an excellent option for smaller and mid-market companies. These considerations are the reasons why Oracle NetSuite secures the number five spot on our top ten list.

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SAP S/4HANA

At number four on our list is SAP S/4HANA. This ERP system is an excellent fit for large multinational organizations and upper mid-market companies. Some of the reasons for its high ranking include its scalability for larger organizations, ability to drive standardization and repeatable processes – attributes appreciated by finance and accounting professionals. Being a well-known product and the biggest ERP software vendor worldwide also contributes to its favorable position on our list.

Despite its strengths, SAP S/4HANA, like every other system in our top 10 list, has its weaknesses. One notable drawback is its lack of flexibility compared to some other systems discussed earlier. Additionally, it is very rigid and standardized, which may be beneficial for finance and accounting tasks, but might not be as ideal for operations, customer service, or sales functionalities. Therefore, if you're considering SAP beyond finance and accounting, you should weigh both its strengths and weaknesses.

Regarding finance and accounting, SAP S/4HANA remains a strong contender. Furthermore, SAP offers other modules that can be added to enhance capabilities, such as business intelligence, data warehousing, reporting, and analytics. Exploring the entire suite of SAP products, not just S/4HANA, can help you fulfill your financial and accounting needs effectively.

The fact that SAP S/4HANA is built on the HANA database platform enables real-time access and visibility to the financial and accounting data you require. Combining these factors, SAP secures its place at number four on our list.

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Unit4

Unit4 secures the number three spot on our list. This system stands out for its robust finance and accounting capabilities, encompassing financial planning, tax, and other essential functions. However, it specializes in serving a select few industries. If your organization does not fall within Unit4's target industries, it might not be the best fit for you. Nonetheless, if your business operates in higher education, government, nonprofit, or professional services, Unit4 could be an excellent match.

Unit4's strength lies in its ability to handle both smaller and larger organizations effectively. Additionally, its reporting and analytical capabilities surpass those of many other systems in the market. If your business aligns with Unit4's industry focus, it could be a compelling choice.

While Unit4 may not be suitable for everyone, considering all the factors and our knowledge about different systems in the marketplace is why it claims the number three position on our list.

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Microsoft D365 Finance and Operations

At number two on our list is Microsoft D365 Finance and Operations, the second of the Microsoft D365 products. As the name implies, this product specializes in finance and operations, and Microsoft excels in finance, accounting, analytics, reporting, and operational visibility. If you require more than basic finance and accounting functions and seek better visibility into overall operations, D365 Finance and Operations can be an excellent fit.

Some advantages of D365 Finance and Operations include its flexibility, the familiar Microsoft look and feel, and seamless integration with other Microsoft products. It offers the kind of flexibility that many organizations desire as they expand into new markets.

However, the flexibility of D365 Finance and Operations can also be a drawback. Organizations might find themselves overwhelmed by the need to over-customize or overthink the software during deployment. For larger organizations seeking standardized and efficient finance and accounting processes with better controls, the high flexibility might not always be the best option.

Additionally, it's essential to carefully evaluate the Microsoft Dynamics 365 ecosystem and choose a reliable implementation partner, as the quality of partners can vary widely.

Considering all these factors, Microsoft D365 Finance and Operations claim the number two spot on our list.

Oracle ERP Cloud

At number one on our list is Oracle ERP Cloud, along with some of the other modules that Oracle provides. Historically, Oracle's product suite has demonstrated great strength in finance, accounting, and consolidations, particularly for global organizations. It can efficiently handle multiple regulatory and tax regimes worldwide. One example of a product that complements Oracle ERP for enhancing finance processes is Oracle FCM (Financial Close Management). This product, previously known as Oracle Hyperion, has been widely used to aid in consolidations and closing financial records, offering a comprehensive view of financials and rolling up results to the overall P&L.

Oracle ERP Cloud stands out for its flexibility and widespread use across the globe. However, there are some downsides to consider. For some organizations, it might be too complex or excessive, especially for smaller or midsize entities. Additionally, Oracle is known for its complexity in contracts, licensing, and subscriptions, which can pose challenges for some.

Considering all factors, Oracle ERP Cloud claims the number one position on our list. For more information on other systems in the marketplace, along with those mentioned here, I encourage you to download our annual Digital Transformation Report. This report features independent software reviews, best practices, and insights across various functional areas and industries to assist you in your digital transformation journey. The link to this report, along with other helpful resources, is included in the description below. I hope you find this information valuable.

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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 eric.kimberling@thirdstage-consulting.com. I am happy to be a sounding board as you continue your digital transformation journey.

Be sure to download the newly released 2023 Digital Transformation Report to garner additional industry insight and project best practices.
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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.

Author:
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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