How to Choose Between Generic and Industry-Specific ERP Systems Epicor White Paper How to Choose Between Generic and Industry-Specific ERP Systems 2 Introduction To run a successful operation, every manufacturing organization needs a modern enterprise resource planning (ERP) system to boost efficiencies and drive down costs. However, with so many options available, it can be difficult to make the right choice. If you’re wondering whether a generic or industry-specific solution is the best fit for your business—or if you’re wondering how to even start the ERP selection process—you’re not alone. In this white paper, you’ll discover ways to simplify your ERP selection process, and you’ll learn the differences between industry-specific and generic ERP solutions. The ERP System Selection Process To help simplify the ERP software selection process, follow these eight steps: 1. Evaluate Form an evaluation committee that includes top management, functional experts, and end-users from each department throughout your organization. During the selection process, end each step with a consensus of all members to gain enterprise-wide acceptance of the final ERP system. 2. Assess Assess your existing business processes and the scale of your operation so you can determine what’s being done well and where you need to improve. Identify gaps or key challenges that can be solved with the help of an ERP system. 3. Establish criteria Develop selection criteria to evaluate available solutions. Consider features, price, platform, ease of use, and other criteria important to the committee. Criteria can include manufacturing features such as traceability, integrated EDI, recipe or formulation management, bar code capabilities, integrated production scheduling, and anything else that’s important to your manufacturing business. Then, rank your criteria based on importance. 4. Schedule consultations Schedule phone consultations with sales representatives and product experts from as many different ERP vendors as possible. These “discovery calls” will provide you with better insight about each vendor and their solution beyond what you researched on their website or through other sources. Be sure they address cloud and on-premises deployment options. 5. Create a shortlist Short-list a few ERP solutions that best meet your business needs. Your discovery calls should have helped you eliminate solutions that are poor fits. 6. Make contact Arrange for each shortlisted vendor to deliver a live presentation and product demonstration. 7. Prepare questions Prepare questions to address your most important requirements, needs, and concerns. How each vendor responds to your unique business challenges will help you determine the best fit for your company. 8. Check references Check vendor references by visiting and consulting with companies that have implemented the ERP system. Ask if the system is working as expected, what the company likes or dislikes, and what value has been realized since implementing the solution. If there were issues, explore how the vendor resolved them. How to Choose Between Generic and Industry-Specific ERP Systems 3 Generic and Industry- Specific ERP Systems While most generic ERP solutions have modules to handle the non- manufacturing areas of your business, these systems often lack key functionality to handle manufacturing-specific processes. You can customize a generic ERP application to fill the gaps, but this can be time consuming and costly to implement and maintain. When an ERP application has been developed specifically for your industry, it is better equipped to handle your manufacturing processes with minimal or no customization. This means faster, more affordable implementation and maintenance. Furthermore, an industry-specific ERP module typically offers greater functionality for your specific business and operational needs than a generic ERP package. For example, an integrated whiteboard-style production scheduling application allows production planners to do their job within the ERP system instead of using manual, offline spreadsheets. Manufacturing Industries Top Challenges Some manufacturing segments that benefit from an ERP system built specifically for their industry include: X Industrial machinery An ERP system made for industrial machinery manufacturing improves the ability to control and manage the complete end-to-end process involving engineering design, procurement, produc- tion, and assembly of the finished product. Manufacturers can gain greater visibility into engineering changes that impact the quality and cost of their products. Delivery, installation, and maintenance of the machines at the customer site is supported by integrating key aspects—such as con- figuration control, change management, and project management—that improve the overall quality, speed, and productivity while reducing delivery risks and costs. X Fabricated metals In order to meet just-in-time inventory needs, metal fabricators are investing in machinery to minimize manufacturing lead times. Shorter manufacturing times can improve cash flow by reducing finished goods inventories. Metals fabricators can cut lead times by investing in advanced setup and quick changeover technologies, as well as industry-specific ERP software. X Electronics and high-tech For manufacturers of high-tech products, coordination of information across the extended supply chain is critical in effectively meeting changing customer demand cycles. Successful supply chains require good communication across all participants and throughout all supply chain processes. Early indicators and communication of changes in demand, sourcing, and manufacturing capacities enable supply chain partners to coordinate and address the changes in a cost- effective manner. ERP technologies built for high-tech manufacturers help improve collaboration and reduce disruptions to delivery with real-time information and impact analysis. X Medical devices Manufacturers who focus on medical devices see additional challenges in regulatory compliance and the high cost of product development. As a result, supply chain visibility and validation— alongside traceability in production—are critical. Furthermore, this industry has software validation requirements. An ERP solution with features and processes to address the unique challenges of medical device manufacturing is key. Generic ERP Systems With Vertical Extensions While generic ERP systems may have partners that provide front-end packages that target various industry verticals, consider how well the front-end package integrates with the generic ERP and your existing systems. Multiple systems require synchronization and ongoing maintenance. Consider the industry expertise and experience of the partner that provides the front-end packages. How well this type of vendor understands your industry, the existence of a strong user base, and the vendor’s ability to develop and maintain the applications are all vitally important. Dealing with multiple software vendors can be a headache, so make sure it’s clear who is responsible for resolving software issues when they arise. Lastly, identifying who is responsible for support if the vendors end their partnership is extremely important. About Epicor Epicor Software Corporation drives business growth. We provide flexible, industry-specific software that is designed around the needs of our manufacturing, distribution, retail, and service industry customers. More than 45 years of experience with our customers’ unique business processes and operational requirements is built into every solution—in the cloud or on premises. With a deep understanding of your industry, Epicor solutions spur growth while managing complexity. The result is powerful solutions that free your resources so you can grow your business. For more information, connect with Epicor or visit www.epicor.com. Contact us today firstname.lastname@example.org www.epicor.com The contents of this document are for informational purposes only and are subject to change without notice. Epicor Software Corporation makes no guarantee, representations, or warranties with regard to the enclosed information and specifically disclaims, to the full extent of the law, any applicable implied warranties, such as fitness for a particular purpose, merchantability, satisfactory quality, or reasonable skill and care. This document and its contents, including the viewpoints, dates, and functional content expressed herein are believed to be accurate as of its date of publication, July 2018. The results represented in this testimonial may be unique to the particular user as each user’s experience will vary. The usage of any Epicor software shall be pursuant to the applicable end user license agreement, and the performance of any consulting services by Epicor personnel shall be pursuant to applicable standard services terms and conditions. Usage of the solution(s) described in this document with other Epicor software or third-party products may require the purchase of licenses for such other products. Epicor and the Epicor logo are registered trademarks or trademarks of Epicor Software Corporation in the United States, certain other countries and/or the EU. All other trademarks mentioned are the property of their respective owners. Copyright © 2018 Epicor Software Corporation. All rights reserved. How to Choose Between Generic and Industry-Specific ERP Systems Conclusion Implementing a new ERP solution is a big task. Make sure you have the right people involved from your organization, and spend some time developing relevant selection criteria to meet your business objectives. While you can choose between a generic or industry-specific ERP system for your business, an integrated ERP system specific to your industry will be better equipped to handle your manufacturing requirements. Industry- specific solutions are implemented faster and are less expensive to install and maintain. Although generic ERP system vendors may have software partners who offer front-end packages that target industry verticals, you should consider the issues of dealing with multiple vendors. Finally, you can increase your chances of a successful project by selecting a vendor that can partner with you long term, understands the unique requirements of your industry, and can provide a variety of cloud or on-premises deployment options to fit your needs.