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What is the best ERP software for a small to medium size business?

best erp software

To add a little detail, we're a $6 million home services small business that is going to become a medium size business by the end of this decade. We're fairly early in the research and selection process. On criteria for "best erp software," our goals are: - Easier to implement - Easier to use from multiple locations, job functions & tech skill levels - Reasonably priced, including support, etc... TCO. - Not in need of massive/costly modification or replacement as we grow - Time tested and widely used... not a software company's newest shiny thing and we become the beta testers - At least initially implementable this year. I'm sure I'm overlooking a lot and much more will become clearer as we go. That's where we're at. Thanks, Bill


Sarah Jackson
Title: Associate Editor
Company: Proformative
(Associate Editor, Proformative) |

Hi Bill,

I'm sure you'll get many excellent answers on the criteria for best erp software you listed. Here are two free white papers from the vast Proformative Library of White Papers:

"Nucleus Research Report — The ROI of Cloud ERP for SMBs:"


"The Proformative Community Guide To ERP Selection & Implementation:"

It covers just about everything you need to know.


Best... Sarah

Len Green
Title: Performance Improvement Consultant and E..
Company: Haygarth Consulting LLC
LinkedIn Profile
(Performance Improvement Consultant and ERP Strategist, Haygarth Consulting LLC) |

While I like your goals re your business and the implications for your software, I think you should first flush out some key Functional requirements-what features should the software have.

Examples include:
Assume you will be quoting on jobs (projects) as a way of doing business:
1. Job quoting
2. Job based time entry, materials costing, billing (to support comparing actual job revenues and costs with the quote)
2a - will you use sub contractors and do you need to rebill their charges to one or moe jobs?
2c-remote data entry?- e.g. customer quotes, time reporting from a tablet, purchases for the job, collecting customer credit card payments on site
3. Inventory (do you need to track both general inventory and job-specific inventory?)
4. Back office accounting-purchasing, AP, General Ledger and reporting- are you a single legal entity or multi-org?
5. Payroll / HR - pick a solution (does not have to be part of your ERP system) that can accommodate any unique requirements you have for building/construction industry compliance and helps you track time for both job costing and payroll computation.

Your list will help folk suggest products that could fit:
Some that come to mind include Sage 300 (fka Timberline), Dynamics SL, you could also look at Acumatica and also Netsuite.

In addition, what are your needs regarding cloud/SaaS solutions vs on premises? Once you know your key requirements, you can determine whether your likely options could be based on cloud/SaaS solutions, which can speed up deployment, but which must provide the functionality first.

(VP - FInancial Planning and Analysis) |

Lots of options. You might want to take a look at Nivista.

Josee Santoni
Title: Assistant to the Chairman of the Board, ..
Company: Lassonde Industries Inc.
(Assistant to the Chairman of the Board, CPC, Lassonde Industries Inc.) |

You might also want to look at QAD.

Carl Cox
Title: EVP of Operations / CFO
Company: Lightspeed Technologies, Inc.
LinkedIn Profile
(EVP of Operations / CFO, Lightspeed Technologies, Inc.) |

We started using NetSuite since 2005 when we were a small company as well. We have found it to be very flexible, secure and effective for a growing company. It is easy to implement and the cloud-based application provides automatic software updates generally every six months. Today, NetSuite has over 16,000 customers and growing; they had around 1,000 when we joined them in 2005. They are the fastest growing ERP for a reason.

Chris Holtzer
Title: Senior Manager - Strategic Analysis
Company: Sargento
(Senior Manager - Strategic Analysis, Sargento) |

Make a list of your must haves, and nice to haves, then publish an RFQ.

You will get better feedback, positive or negative if you have a few top candidates, and ask for experience/feedback on them. It is very hard to recommend an ERP for a company you aren't intimately involved in. Most ERPs success has less to do with the "brand name" and more to do with the modules you select or use.

Some people love an ERP, others hate it. Same product in most cases, different needs, uses, and maintenance habits.

As a financial professional with a strong IT background, please, please, budget for annual maintenance on it. So many companies, skip the annual maintenance, and then 5-8 years down the road the system is useless, and has to get replaced.

Ruth Michel
Title: Internal Auditor
Company: Girl Scouts of Montana and Wyoming
(Internal Auditor, Girl Scouts of Montana and Wyoming) |

I also like Microsoft Dynamics GP. We had to do a very fast (3 month) implementation due to a sale of the company. We had 8+ different modules to install (GL, AP, AR, FA, Invt, PR, HR, BoM, etc) & while I won't say it was easy, we did get it done in 3 months. It was very easy to use since it worked well with the other Microsoft products. That also made the install easier as we were able to import beginning balances, historical data etc. using Excel spreadsheets. I'm no longer on GP (new job) and I miss it.

I remember when we started our software search - there were some very good online questionnaires to help point you to software choices that best fit your needs. You don't really say what your needs are, so I would start there and narrow down your choices.

We didn't need a whole IT department for support and really required very little support for day to day operations. Good Luck!

(Global Finance, Enterprise Reporting Manager) |

There are a lot of considerations that go into the ERP selection process.

What business processes do you need the system to be able to perform? is this for back office or front office applications? What are your transaction volumes? How complicated is your sales process?
- Finance
- HR/ Payroll
- Sales quoting, order to cash
- Purchasing/inventory management
- Manufacturing/warehouse management

Does your company have a tolerance to implement a cloud system? Or do you need an on premise system (hardware, network, data center, IT support dollar considerations)?

What is your budget for system implementation + professional services + ongoing software maintenance? What internal resources do you need for this project?

Do you have international considerations (how does the vendor manage Safe harbor)?

Who will support the system, in future?

Do you implement a small system now and then scale to an ERP in 5 years time, when your Business grows?

The devil is in the detail. Good luck.

Topic Expert
Wayne Spivak
Title: President & CFO
LinkedIn Profile
(President & CFO, |

Whichever system you finally choose, think long and hard before you customize.

Custom programming is the gift you give to your vendor, year in and year out, since those "fixes" need to be undated with every update and upgrade of the core system.

Welles Hatch
Title: Senior Managing Director
Company: Adrian Loring Advisors LLC
LinkedIn Profile
(Senior Managing Director, Adrian Loring Advisors LLC) |

Recommend NetSuite. It is full-featured, will scale with you, and provides integrated CRM as well as substantial portal capabilities. The last point is a generally under-appreciated but very compelling feature set. You can be in the app with 3 users for under $10K a year through a partner.

Zoho Suite may be of interest, and you should evaluate MyERP. Recommend you stay away from any on-premises solutions. Compared to SaaS offerings they are Inflexible and endangered generally. Welcome follow up--let me know.

Deb Morrin
Title: President
Company: Kase Orion CFO
(President, Kase Orion CFO) |

Look at Intacct and NetSuite, both are excellent and can grow with you, and are flexible to many services type businesses. They are also easy and quick to implement, are cloud-based, and widely used by other mid-market businesses. MicroSoft Dynamics is a third option. Our non-manufacturing clients have had good success with both Intacct and NetSuite.

(President) |

Your request for an ERP system implies one that integrates all the functional systems into a single, centrally located, easily accessible system, which will tell you what you need to know, when you need to know it. First, there is no such system, just as there is no “run-my-business" button. All of these systems start with a core expertise which they have built out from, with varying degrees of success and interrelatedness. This means your need to customize, train and maintain to achieve your particular goals will also vary, and that is really where the vendor makes his money. Naturally, many of the systems specifically named here start with finance, since this discussion is aimed at a financial audience. Is that your company’s core concern, or is it something else, like sales or production? As you prepare your list of requirements and expected outcomes, don’t forget to include this consideration. Best wishes!

Kim Hall
Title: Consultant
Company: HWG, Inc.
(Consultant, HWG, Inc.) |

I am impressed that you are looking at this early! It shows a company that understands the importance of techonology as a tool for growth. And I understand that you might not want to tell us who you are otherwise you might be swamped with vendor calls!

Sooooo here is what I would do -
1)Tell us 3 or 4 of your competitors.
2)Tell us which competitor is closest to what you think you want to be - your role model if you will.
3) Find out what systems people are using in your industry.

That will give us ideas about functions you might normally need for your industry. And someone might be able to tell you what system your role model is using and why that one is best for your industry. And/or what short comings it has.
Looking at your competitors will also allow you to start to discover best practices.

Best regards,

(Managing Member) |

Requirements and long-term goals considerations should drive the decision as you know. I would suggest Intacct, NetSuite and Dynamics GP. I too am impressed that you are doing this early. It is an important growth supporting piece of the ever changing business journey. Good luck with the search!

Lindy Antonelli
Title: Partner
Company: Armanino Consulting
(Partner, Armanino Consulting) |


Our clients most often use these 4 criteria when going through an accounting solution selection process:
-Functionality - letting your department leaders pick the solutions to match to your business requirements (best in class)
-Fit - meaning how easy the solution is to adapt to your workforce, stakeholders and power users
-Financial - Looking for the lowest TCO (total cost of ownership) and a rapid ROI (return on investment)
-Future - picking the software publisher and implementation partner for your long term success

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