ERP software and systems for SMBs

The decision to purchase an ERP system can lead to a number of questions for IT professionals at SMBs. This guide offers tips and articles to address implementation issues.

The decision to purchase an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system can lead to some challenging questions for IT professionals at small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs):
  • Which one offers the proper fit of software to business processes?
  • How fast is too fast when it comes to implementing the system?
  • What effect will the Oracle vs. SAP battle have on my organization?

This IT Management Guide offers tips and articles that answer those questions and more for IT pros tasked with launching ERP systems. For free advice and resources on other IT and business topics, visit our main SMB IT Management Guide section.

Table of contents

      Hasty ERP implementations may fall short
      ERP not just for manufacturers anymore
      SAP All-in-One vs. MS Dynamics
      Oracle-SAP lawsuit carries warning for CIOs
      CRM suites suit SMBs
      More resources

  Hasty ERP implementations may fall short  Table of Contents

[Shamus McGillicuddy, News Writer]

Small businesses that take the plunge into enterprise resource planning tend to go live with their ERP projects faster than midsized and large businesses.

Speed is often a virtue, but businesses that focus on it as a measure of success tend to overlook the true potential ERP has for transforming their operations.

"There is more focus in smaller companies on just getting things in there, which is probably why they're so fast," said Cindy Jutras, vice president of manufacturing and ERP research at Boston-based Aberdeen Group Inc. "At the same time they seem to stop short of taking it to the next level. They get in there, and then they kind of stop."

According to an Aberdeen survey of 1,200 manufacturers about ERP adoption, 86% of small companies achieved their first "go live" milestone within their first year with ERP, whereas midsized companies reached "go live" in less than a year just 64% of the time and large companies just 47%.

Jutras said 24% of the 450 small businesses (companies with less than $50 million in revenue) surveyed measured success by the amount of time it took them to reach their first "go live" milestone.

   Learn more in "ERP implementations may fall short for hasty SMBs." Also:

  • With ERP, implementation is just step one (
    After Willamette Valley deployed its new ERP system, it discovered training employees and setting expectations were just as important as the technology.

  • As the World Turns: CIOs and Their ERP Dramas (
    Implementing an ERP system is a kind of soap opera, with characters and crises galore. But CIO Habitat respondents say it's worth the drama.

  ERP not just for manufacturers anymore  Table of Contents

[Cindy Atoji, Contributor]

Enterprise resource planning has moved out of the old factory building and into shiny new headquarters. Though its roots are in large-scale manufacturing, ERP has evolved to address other functions and sectors, especially small and medium-sized businesses that require integrated systems in order to compete on a global playing field.

This new generation of ERP is more than a traditional accounting package -- it's "the brains of a company," managing all facets of operations, said Ray Wang, an analyst at Forrester Research Inc. in Cambridge, Mass. Most ERP systems have a central database with different modules -- supply chain, human resources, inventory, payroll and more -- that share access to common data. This collective brainpower is especially valuable to SMBs, which often run a disparate set of rusty legacy applications: personnel waste a lot of time keying in the same information over and over.

   Learn more in the full tip, "ERP not just for manufacturers anymore." Also:

  • SAP, Oracle may strive in vain for SMBs (
    Oracle and SAP are trying to push their enterprise applications down into the midmarket, but few SMBs are looking for all-in-one enterprise resource planning applications not tweaked for their own vertical.

  • ERP consolidation may be threatening innovation (
    AMR Research Inc. analyst Jim Shepherd and two top IT executives sound off on the pluses and perils of consolidation in the ERP space.

  SAP All-in-One vs. MS Dynamics Table of Contents


For the giant multinationals of the world, SAP continues to be the dominant enterprise resource planning player. But once you move down a notch, the picture changes dramatically. Microsoft, once content to play second fiddle to SAP's ERP core, is quietly but steadily ramping up its Dynamics series with a uniform Dynamics package offering in the works for a 2008 release.

SAP's All-in-One product has many strong points, but so does Dynamics. On the flip side, either solution has its distinct weaknesses compared with the other guy. Which path is best for your company? And what can you expect in the years ahead? Will Microsoft's lower cost and ubiquitous presence (i.e., existing "beach heads") translate into market dominance, or will SAP continue its midmarket growth through focus on business values and technical finesse?

   Read the arguments for each side in "SAP All-in-One vs. MS Dynamics." Also:

  • Microsoft's latest ERP push: What does it mean for SAP, Duet? (
    Microsoft has been making plenty of noise lately about its Dynamics ERP line and the enterprise. What should SAP users, particularly the early Duet adopters, take away?

  • SAP could expand on-demand with mySAP All-in-one suite (
    SAP CEO Henning Kagermann said the company could transform its All-in-One software for midmarket customers into an on-demand offering.

  Oracle-SAP lawsuit carries warning for CIOs Table of Contents

[Linda Tucci, Senior News Writer]

It's gonna get ugly.

Oracle Corp. has publicly called out German rival SAP AG as a thief. In a lawsuit filed in U.S. Federal District Court in the Northern District of California March 22 and posted on its company Web site in English and German, Oracle accuses SAP and its TomorrowNow Inc. subsidiary of engaging in "systematic, illegal access" to Oracle's computerized customer support systems. The suit claims SAP used the passwords of former or soon-to-be former Oracle customers to download information outside the purview of what the customer had licensed.

Oracle's no-holds-barred legal action against SAP may turn out to be a case "about corporate theft on a grand scale," as the lawsuit states. The claims are very serious, said attorney Erik Phelps. The breadth and depth of Oracle's complaint indicates the seriousness with which it views the matter. SAP has vowed to "aggressively defend itself against the claims made by Oracle in the lawsuit," and it will be interesting to see its response, added Phelps, who is not affiliated with the case.

But for CIOs, the 43-page complaint by the leading developer of database and applications software against the largest German software company should read more like a cautionary tale, said Phelps, who specializes in technology issues at Michael Best & Friedrich LLP in Madison, Wis.

   Learn more in the full story, "Oracle's call-to-arms against SAP carries warning for CIOs." Also:

  • Oracle's SAP lawsuit: Boon or bust for third-party support? (
    Regardless of the outcome of Oracle's lawsuit against SAP, one thing is becoming clear: Third-party software support is here to stay.

  • Oracle sues SAP for 'stealing software' (
    Oracle has filed a lawsuit against SAP, charging the German software giant with "corporate theft on a grand scale."

  CRM suites suit SMBs Table of Contents

[Sue Hildreth, Contributor]

Small and medium-sized businesses need customer relationship management (CRM) software just as much as their big-company competitors do. It not only automates many time-consuming sales and service-related tasks, such as fulfillment, but it also provides a 360-degree view of customer buying habits and problems.

But purchasing the right CRM system -- one that fits the budget and really works the way the staff needs it to -- can be daunting for a small firm. And price is almost always the first and most problematic stumbling block for SMBs.

"It always comes down to cost," said Jim Berkowitz, CEO of consulting firm CRM Mastery Inc., based in Denver. "I say to people, this is not about spending money. It's about making an investment that should bring a return to the business."

   Find out more in more in "CRM suites suit SMBs." Also:

  • CRM for SMBs: IT Management Guide
    CRM options for SMBs are rapidly increasing. This guide will help you make informed choices with CRM news for SMBs, product options, how-to tips and expert advice.

  • Business intelligence applications
    Read this excerpt from Business Intelligence: The Savvy Manager's Guide to learn about the various applications of business intelligence and how you can use information strategically to help your business.

  More resources Table of Contents

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