Disclaimer: Third Stage Consulting is an independent ERP consulting firm. Third Stage has no financial ties to ERP vendors, either directly or through parent companies or affiliates. Accordingly, the below analysis is completely technology-agnostic and 100% free of vendor bias.
As we enter the home stretch of the year, many of our clients are knee-deep planning their digital transformation initiatives for 2019. With this in mind, many are turning to us to help them evaluate the top ERP systems for 2019.
Through our independent experience and analysis, we recently published our lessons from over 1,000 ERP implementations, which is based on our expansive digital transformation experience over the last 20 years. As part of this analysis, we identified the top ERP systems that companies should be considering in 2019.
Methodology for ranking the top ERP systems for 2019
We evaluated nearly 100 systems in narrowing our list of top ERP systems for 2019. In doing so, we used the following quantitative and qualitative criteria to determine the best-performing systems:
- Market share
- Ease of implementation, including average time and cost
- Maturity of cloud solutions
- Flexibility of solutions
- Scalability of solutions
- Ease of integration to third-party systems
- Ease of organizational change management and training
- Strength of vendor ecosystem, such as system integrators and partners
- Average time to benefits realization
The major ERP vendors are in the process of overhauling their flagship solutions as part of their migration to the cloud. This mass overhaul of the leading solutions – along with the fact that cloud ERP has reached the tipping point of adoption – has created a shakeup among the leading ERP systems.
Below are some of the top ERP systems that your organization should be considering in 2019.
#5 Top ERP system for 2019: Salesforce
Long considered a leading CRM system, Salesforce is also slowly becoming a legitimate top ERP system. Financial Force and its ecosystem of integrated third-party applications has allowed Salesforce to address the broad needs outside CRM functionality.
The fact that Salesforce was built natively in the cloud is another strength. While other ERP vendors are scrambling to move legacy applications into the cloud, Salesforce is instead constantly upgrading their relatively mature cloud solution. It’s flexibility and ease of implementation are two strengths that helped land the product in the top 5.
#4 Top ERP system for 2019: Workday
Like Salesforce, Workday is another natively cloud application that has slowly evolved from an HCM system to a full-fledged ERP system. We now see more organizations adapting Workday not only for traditional Human Resource functions, but also for financial, accounting, and other ERP functions.
Workday has made tremendous strides in functionality and market share in recent years. It has also moved upstream in the industry by penetrating the upper mid-market and even some larger enterprises as well. Its flexible product, ease of integration, and expanding ecosystem gives the product momentum headed into a new year.
#3 Top ERP system for 2019: NetSuite
NetSuite is the pioneer of cloud ERP. Like Salesforce and Workday, NetSuite was built in the cloud. Unlike Salesforce and Workday, NetSuite has always focused on addressing broader ERP functionality, including financials, inventory management, CRM, HCM, and light manufacturing.
A decade ago, NetSuite was a good option primarily for small and some mid-size companies. While this is still the case, we are seeing more demonstrated scale of the product at upper-mid market and larger organizations. It continues to broaden and deepen its functionality to meet the needs of manufacturing, project management, forecasting, and other advanced functions traditionally limited to the bigger ERP systems.
#2 Top ERP system for 2019: SAP S/4HANA
SAP S4/HANA has a large market share, especially among Fortune 1000 companies and other large organizations. While its product is relatively immature as the company continues to migrate functionality from ECC and other legacy SAP products, it continues to be a de facto option for large organizations that want to scale and standardize.
The SAP HANA framework also offers the potential to provide better real-time analytics, machine learning, and artificial intelligence relative to other options in the market. The biggest things holding back SAP S/4HANA from the #1 spot? The system is often overkill for smaller and mid-size organization, SAP failures such as Lidl continue to cast a dark shadow, and SAP system integrators often leave major deficiencies in their offerings.
Official response from SAP: LIDL and SAP have successfully worked together for many years and plan to continue doing so. While LIDL is discontinuing the current project, this does not in any way affect our close relationship and cooperation in other areas.
#1 Top ERP system for 2019: Microsoft Dynamics 365
A few years ago, the Microsoft Dynamics product roadmap and ecosystem was a mess. Choosing between Great Plains, Navision, Axapta, and other options was very confusing – even among resellers and system integrators.
With the Microsoft Dynamics 365 platform, however, it finally has a cohesive cloud ERP strategy. Though the product lacks the maturity of NetSuite and other native cloud ERP offerings, it is a very flexible and scalable solution with relatively easy integration to third-party systems. Companies ranging from smaller organizations to large organizations are quickly adapting the platform.
The biggest weaknesses of the D365 offering is the fragmented and loosely managed ecosystem (choosing the best Microsoft D365 system integrator is very important), relative immaturity of the cloud solution, and flexibility that can be a curse during a transformation. Large companies looking to standardize operations or move to a centralized shared services model may not find the product to be a good fit.
Which technology didn’t make the list of top ERP systems for 2019?
There are a lot of really good ERP systems in the market, so it was hard to narrow this list to just five options. Here are a few other systems that scored extremely well, particularly in specific niches and industries:
- Infor, which rates particularly well in retail, distribution, and manufacturing
- Epicor, which rates particularly well in small- to mid-size manufacturing, distribution, and retail organizations
- IQMS, which rates very well in the mid-market manufacturing and distribution space
- Deltek, which rates well in project-based environments such as Aerospace, Defense, government, and professional services
- Ariba, which rates well in the supply chain management space
- SAP SuccessFactors, which rates well in the HCM space
- Plex, which rates very well in the automotive industry
The list could go on, but these are just a few of the additional ERP systems worth considering on your ERP long-list in 2019.
Top ERP systems are largely dependent on company size, industry, and strategic goals
At the end of the day, the best ERP systems for your organization will largely be dependent on your company size, industry, and strategic goals. Where one particular system may not even make a company’s top 10, that same product could be the #1 pick for another. For example, a technology-agnostic comparison of SAP S/4HANA vs. Microsoft Dynamics 365 illustrates two products that couldn’t be much different.
This is where independent ERP consultants such as Third Stage can help. We help the world’s leading organizations define their digital strategy, select the right software, prepare for implementation, provide implementation quality assurance, and manage organizational change.
Contact us to learn more about how we can help your organization plan and execute its digital transformation in 2019 and beyond.