5 top ERP systems for your business
There are a host of excellent tools for finance teams out on the market right now. Half the battle is choosing the right one. But where do you start? How to know which one suits your company – and team – best? And once you have the right tools, how can you best optimize your finance tool stack?
These questions are tough to answer, so we turned to the experts. CFO Connect surveyed more than 180 finance leaders, asking them about their favorite finance tools and why they love them.
This article will cover one category of tools in particular: ERP systems. We’ll discuss what they are, who needs them, and the top five favorites as voted on by finance leaders.
What is ERP?
ERP stands for Enterprise Resource Planning. According to Microsoft (who has a much-beloved ERP system, which you’ll learn more about later): “Enterprise resourcing planning (ERP) is a type of software system that helps organizations automate and manage core business processes for optimal performance.”
But what does that mean, exactly?
SAP, another favorite ERP platform, defines ERPs in true layman's terms: “Enterprise resource planning (ERP) is a software system that helps you run your entire business, supporting automation and processes in finance, human resources, manufacturing, supply chain, services, procurement, and more.”
These tools become necessary once a company reaches a certain size and having these functions separated becomes impractical.
Why use an ERP system?
There are many reasons why companies choose to implement an ERP system. These include anticipated growth, disparate tools or processes that need to be streamlined, and a desire to automate manual or error-prone tasks.
But the biggest benefit to using an ERP system is having most of the company’s data centralized in one spot. This is an invaluable advantage that has knock-on effects: centralized data leads to better data security, improved workflows, and one source of truth for company financial data.
Other benefits to using an ERP system include:
Better risk management
Real-time data and improved reporting
Now that we’ve seen why ERPs are useful, next we’ll cover highly-rated ERP systems and why finance professionals love them.
Top ERP system examples as voted by finance leaders
Over 180 finance leaders voted on their favorite finance tools – including their preferred ERP systems. We’ve rounded up the top five winners with descriptions, popular features, and ratings.
Without further ado, here are five highly-recommended ERP systems:
Our survey respondents voted Oracle NetSuite as their top ERP of choice. It’s the dominant player in the mid market and for small businesses, seen as simpler and more flexible than larger competitors. The tool began as a true finance and accounting platform, and has grown to include inventory, HR, omnichannel commerce, and much more.
Popular features: Cloud platform, third-party integrations, flexibility and customization, CRM capabilities
Best for: SMBs moving from relatively simple cloud accounting tools to their first true ERP
G2 rating: 4.0/5
Capterra rating: 4.1/5
2. Dynamics 365
Dynamics 365 Business Central is Microsoft’s cloud ERP, ideal for companies already comfortable with the Microsoft suite. The platform integrates your accounting, procurement, and reporting processes, and connects natively with other common Microsoft tools.
Popular features: General ledger, AP automation, purchase orders, custom reporting
Best for: SMBs already using Microsoft products
G2 rating: 3.8/5
Capterra rating: 3.9/5
3. SAP ERP
SAP S/4HANA Cloud is aimed more at enterprise-level companies, with global customers including the NBA and PwC. While this can make it more complicated and time-consuming to set up, reviewers noted its robustness and the wide range of tools and processes available. Once you’re up and running, you’re unlikely to ever grow out of this ERP platform.
Popular features: Payment processing systems, API integrations, customizable workflows
Best for: Larger companies with increasingly complex needs
G2 rating: 4.5/5
Capterra rating: 4.4/5
4. Sage Intacct
With customers including startups and public companies, Sage Intacct positions itself as a “partner for long-term success.” Users note its ability to make complex financial and accounting processes simple, deal with multiple currencies and entities, and to automate consolidation. The tool also has functions and flows built for specific industries.
Features for industries: Nonprofit, Software & SaaS, Healthcare, Construction & Real Estate, Hospitality
Best for: SMBs and growing tech companies
G2 rating: 4.5/5
Capterra rating: 4.2/5
5. Odoo ERP
Odoo is an all-in-one ERP software system known for its open-source development model, making it more flexible than other ERPs. Odoo is a scalable solution, thanks to its 19,000 fully integrated business apps. This means that each business function is carried out by a dedicated app.
Popular features: CRM dashboard, integrations and API, pipeline management, lead nurturing
Best for: Startups and SMBs
G2 rating: 4.2/5
Capterra rating: 4.1/5
To ERP or not to ERP?
ERP systems aren’t a silver bullet, nor are they the best solution for every company. But they can be a boon for companies and finance teams who could benefit from centralized data, maximized efficiency, improved collaboration, enhanced analytics, and better planning and resource management.
You probably don’t need an ERP system if:
You don’t have much data. ERP systems are meant to handle large amounts of data from across the company. If your business does not collect, rely on, or otherwise use a lot of data to run smoothly or make strategic decisions, then you don’t need an ERP.
You’re already happy with your existing finance tech stack. It may sound deceptively simple, but if you find that you’re managing just fine without an ERP, then you probably don’t need one. Don’t force an ERP system on your company if it’s not necessary or won’t provide significant ROI.
You have major budget constraints. ERP systems can be prohibitively expensive, usually way beyond the budgets of most SMBs. Not only are they expensive to acquire, but costs can quickly spiral out of control because you’ll need to hire trained professionals to implement and maintain an ERP. This leads to our next reason…
You don’t have the manpower to dedicate to managing the system. Some companies have entire teams (or at least one FTE) to manage their ERP. These systems are data-heavy and require trained experts to wrangle them, which can prove costly.
You’re not ready to commit. ERPs take a long time to implement and get up and running. If you don’t have at least a few months to commit to your ERP system, then it may be a sign that it’s not the right time.
You have no plans to scale. Implementing an ERP system is a great investment – if you’re scaling or you anticipate significant future growth. It’s a good idea to get your system in place before your growth outpaces your current processes. But if you’re not growing, and your current tool stack is satisfactory, there’s no reason to splurge on an ERP.
If you identify with any of the blockers above, then right now might not be a good time to implement an ERP.
The high price and steep learning curve are blockers for many, but those who invest in ERP systems are generally satisfied with them.
Learn more about finance tools
Ready to connect smart spend management to your ERP? Much like ERP systems, smart spend management tools put all your company spending data in one place. See how Spendesk connects with your favorite ERP and accounting platforms.
If you’d like to learn more about the top tools preferred by finance professionals, including the best spend management platforms, download our free ebook here: