SaaS/Cloud ERP- a case of When not If……….. and other young companies in the SaaS movement, including WorkDay, NetSuite, have been battling on two fronts:

  • To legitimise their technology and licencing business models
  • To compete with the traditional business models

Microsoft has delivered a Dynamics CRM that ticks the boxes and has announced plans for ERP. To date SAP and Oracle have their own luke-warm but costly internal SaaS development initiatives that have fallen well short of expectations.

But both Oracle and SAP have entered the market with recent acquisitions and are paying a fairly high price. Last week Oracle acquired Taleo following SAP’s acquisition of SuccessFactors late last year. Both acquisitions are in the HR modules based around ‘Talent Management and Workforce Planning”.

Key notes: one of the key negative spins on the Cloud/SaaS model has been that security is not what it should be. People and talent are the key resource of many companies. Looking at the customer lists of both SuccessFactors and Taleo convinces me that many companies no longer see security as an issue.

They have both acquired companies ran a SaaS model and both were making inroads into the ERP/HR domain of the incumbent vendors. Expect that the rolling stone to gather speed.

Download our ERP Checklist and add SaaS to your decision criteria.



10 Predictions for ERP in 2012

The guys at Panorama Consulting have put together a list Top Ten Predications for ERP in 2012. Our Top Trends Guidebook may also be worth you reading.

Here is my broad view on each:

Industry Consolidation Economic turmoil will affect the weaker vendors and some won’t make it. 
Shake-up in the Tier I space I agree, the big 3 (SAP, Oracle and Microsoft Dynamics) will continue to dominate but the second Tier players will be a little different. I expect that the SaaS players to penetrate a bit deeper. SMB vendors will continue to push up-market while the Tier 1 vendors will try and mop up subsidiaries. 
Acceleration of ERP failures This may a US centric view, as I don’t see many local companies doing a DIY on ERP implementations. 
 Increase in the number of ERP lawsuits Again, I see this as a US trend rather than other markets 
Less “do it yourself” ERP projects Locally, I see that CIO/CFO’s have been reducing their pure technical skills and trying to get their groups to be business focussed. 

Agree with the article “expert consulting firm that has fine-tuned selection, implementation, and organizational change management methods over 100s of organizations will be able to deliver better, faster, and cheaper results than they can internally.”


SaaS ERP providers will continue picking off smaller pieces of ERP I agree on the general premise that SaaS is moving mainstream and larger companies are considering it. Not sure I agree that the ‘best of breed’ or point solution strategy is the one that works – I see more complete ERP rollouts. 
 Convergence of CRM and social media I agree with this, in that I see that to have ERP, CRM and Social Media as three separate systems makes no sense, particularly in industries where consumer interaction in key. 

A ‘stock-out’ used to be a lost opportunity, with social media it can quickly become a big issue. A company needs to be agile to its customer demand, so I see ERP and Social Media ties tighten.


Misalignment of ERP systems During the GFC companies did not invest or upgrade in their ERP, so they may now be behind the customer demand and expectation for functions such as online shopping. 
Conducting a business blueprint as part of the ERP selection process This is a sensible trend, don’t trust the demonstration, presentations and your imagination to select the right solution. 

Better to model and map your processes and use them as the basis for the demonstration.


Technology-centric system integrators will continue to struggle to be effective It’s not about the best technical people in ERP, it’s about who can design the best solution, who can help you do change management and help you run a successful project. 




Reporting in ERP – the end of the coffee break

Even though the amount of data we are gathering within our businesses is growing exponentially, some new BI products based on in-memory technology may well see the end of the coffee break – even the lunch break is at risk.

A typical scenario today may be:

I have to run my weekly report, it takes about an hour. I can’t run it during the morning and afternoon as it will slow down the production systems. So I set it up to run at 12.30pm, then I go to lunch ( and cross my fingers that it runs properly).

Sounds familiar?

There is no doubt that data is growing, both in our personal lives and in our business lives. In business, we now have much more data available from our customers, partners and suppliers. However, most of this is data and not information, its inflexible and hard to get the answer to the immediate question at hand.

Current issues with BI, reporting, dashboards and analytical tools are numerous, but here’s a summary:

  1. They are not up to date – many are a day or two behind your current reality
  2. The data you are using is a cut-down version of the real system information – there’s so much that you need to create an abstract view. Using the real data would impact performance too much
  3. Data and storage is expensive – a data warehouse uses lots of disk
  4. Queries are difficult to run and program, and prone to mistakes
  5. Results can be slow – hence a lunch break query run
  6. Presentation is via a pre-set Dashboard – summarising my business but not allowing me to drill down to understand ‘what happened yesterday to product A in region z
  7. Changing a report, or creating a new one takes too much time – the question has ‘left the building’ before the report is finished
  8. Its really hard if you have to pull data from 2 or 3 production systems and then do a report

Here comes the future ( and Solution)

The solution is something called ‘In-memory‘ Business Intelligence. Its a radical new way of doing BI and reporting being pursued by the likes of SAP HANA, SAS and QlikView to name some of the higher profile players. Essentially, what happens is that you take data from a production system and load it up into a series of high performing computers, that have heaps of memory and run the queries there. As computer memory is really fast compared to disk the queries run really quickly and output results immediately.

A number of examples have been given where a 12 hour report may not run in less than an hour or a one our report taking less than a second to output the results.

The other strong point is that the information that you use will not have to be an abstract of the true data. These new In-memory systems are unlikely to impact the production systems, so you can drill down into it asking all your immediate what and why questions. This will change the way that you work with data and the decision making information that will be available to you.

Another key feature of these new systems is that they readily sit in the cloud, where you can rent the computing capacity on an as needs basis.

If this is interesting to you, add it to your ERP Requirements and we’ll add it to the Top 10 ERP Trends soon.

For more reading:





ERP Vendors

The basic ten step process for choosing an ERP is:

  1. Identifying the business ‘pain’ that needs fixing
  2. Pulling together the needs for the business together
  3. Review the ERP Guidebooks site
  4. Define Requirements, Objectives and Results you want
  5. Review Shortlist supplied by ERP Guidebooks
  6. Ensure Vendors can meet your needs
  7. Shortlist two Vendors
  8. Conduct an Evaluation
  9. Negotiate
  10. Choose the Vendor and Deploy your solution

This section looks at various vendors at a summary level, where their solutions are targeted and the pros and cons of each. These are the summary reasons of why we make recommendations. We cover some corporate content,  where to find out more information, where they blog, what they tweet etc. They are in no particular order.

  • Oracle
  • Microsoft
  • NetSuite
  • SAP
  • Sage
  • MYOB
  • Epicor


Oracle  offers its database, tools, and application products, along with related consulting, education, and support services, in more than 145 countries around the world.  Within the applications market it offers E-Business Suite, Oracle JD Edwards EnterpriseOne and PeopleSoft.

Oracle has grown primarily through acquisition of best-of-breed point solutions and has merged the JD Edwards Enterprise One functionality into Oracle EBS. Oracle EBS is comprised of over ten product lines, each of them having several modules that are licensed separately. Oracle’s best-of-breed approach, on the other hand, allows for more flexibility to accommodate changing business needs, but this strength can become a weakness when it becomes harder to enforce standardised processes across a larger organisation.

JD Edwards supports the manufacturing industry especially well. It is an integrated applications suite of comprehensive ERP software that supports a wide variety of business processes with one common database. JD Edwards EnterpriseOne has an open platform which provides for a broad support for different operating systems, databases, and middleware from Oracle and other vendors. PeopleSoft targets large organizations, especially in the public sector and financial service sector.

PeopleSoft has eight different application solutions such as financials, supply chain, HR, CRM and so on, among which HR and CRM solutions are the most desirable. Before being acquired by Oracle, PeopleSoft suite was initially based on a client-server approach with a dedicated client. The current PeopleSoft version is based on a web-centric design which allows all of a company’s business functions to be accessed and run on a web browser.


Corporate Site




Microsoft Dynamics is a line of business management solutions that enable companies and their people to make business decisions. Microsoft Dynamics offers a range of business applications designed to help midsized businesses become more connected with customers, employees, partners, and suppliers by automating and streamlining financial, customer relationship, and supply chain processes.

This is a summary of the positioning and relative strengths of various Microsoft Dynamics ERP Solutions.

Microsoft Dynamics GP

Microsoft Dynamics GP (formerly Great Plains) is solid, easy-to-use, low-cost, and offers well-developed pre-packaged functionality for accounting, e-commerce, and manufacturing.

Microsoft Dynamics SL

Microsoft Dynamics SL (formerly Solomon) is great for project accounting and project management, making it ideal for the professional services industries.

Microsoft Dynamics NAV

Microsoft Dynamics NAV (formerly Navision) supports a large number of languages, giving it more global reach.  It is highly flexible and modular, offering customers the ability to customise its tools to meet manufacturing and distribution needs. In terms of scalability, however, it is better for local, rather than centralised large-scale enterprise deployments.

Microsoft Dynamics AX

Microsoft Dynamics AX (formerly Axapta) is the right choice if you need enterprise scalability. It is highly customisable, offering an “integrated development environment (IDE) and multi-tier architecture”.  That translates into easy customisation, giving on-site developers the ability to create new features whenever the business growth requires it.



For more information – vist the the ERP Partner blog for Microsoft Dynamics


Corporate Site




NetSuite targets growing midmarket business with its Web-based business-management system. The company’s NetSuite application includes modules for ERP, CRM, e-commerce, marketing automation and more. NetSuite serves customers across a variety of industries, such as software, finance, education, manufacturing and retail.

NetSuite provides online, hosted customer relationship management (CRM) and enterprise resource planning (ERP) software designed to help small and midsized companies manage their businesses and automate their processes. NetSuite’s software handles such functions as sales, customer communications, order management, inventory management, finance, e-commerce, time and billing, and Web site management.

NetSuite provides midsize businesses on demand web-based business applications to run their entire company. NetSuite  provides integrated front office customer relationship management (CRM), back-office enterprise resource planning (ERP), and ecommerce in one powerful application with the modularity and flexibility necessary to meet your specific business needs.

NetSuite holds all corporate data in a single database, giving you access to your key performance metrics on a customisable, real-time dashboard and does not require synchronisation between disparate systems.

NetSuite’s hosted, web-based services and solutions are delivered on demand for robust, end-to-end ERP and business process management.

NetSuite Offers products either as standalone or integrated. The major delineations are:

  • NetSuite – for Financials, CRM or Ecommerce
  • NetSuite OpenAir – a version for professional services organisations
  • NetSuite OneWorld  –  real-time global business management and financial consolidation to mid-sized companies with multinational and multi-subsidiary operations.


Corporate Site





SAP has a range of options for potential and current customers

  • SAP Business One
  • SAP Business ByDesign
  • Business All-in-One
  • SAP Business Suite

SAP is one of the leading international providers of business software. SAP has more than 109,000 customers in over 120 countries and employs 53,000 people at locations in more than 50 countries.

Based on SAP’s technology platform NetWeaver, SAP Business Suite is a set of integrated business applications that provides industry-specific functionality and scalability. Although very powerful, SAP can be more difficult to change as a business evolves. This is both a strength and a weakness: it is tightly integrated and helps enforce standardised business processes across an enterprise, but it can be more difficult to modify the software to adjust to evolving core processes and requirements.

SAP’s other core offerings include SAP Business All-in-One and SAP Business One. SAP Business All-in-One is a comprehensive integrated enterprise software which offers industry-oriented solutions. Different from SAP Business Suite, All-in-One focuses on small or midsize companies. SAP Business All-in-One is template-based version of SAP Business Suite.

SAP Business One is a single, integrated application designed for small companies with less than 100 employees. It mainly supports retail, wholesale, services, and manufacturing. With third party add-ons, SAP Business One is able to support over 10 industries.

In order to meet the needs of small or mid-size businesses, SAP now delivers a SaaS solution.  SAP ByDesign supports companies with 100 – 500 employees. As a SaaS-type on-demand system, SAP ByDesign has low upfront costs and may require fewer IT resources than traditional ERP software.


Corporate Site



By Design!/SAPByDesign


The Sage Group plc, a leading global supplier of business management software and services. For more than 30 years, Sage has delivered easy-to-use, scalable, and customisable software for accounting, customer relationship management, human resources, merchant services, time tracking, as well as for the specialized needs of the construction, distribution, healthcare, manufacturing, nonprofit, and real estate industries.

Sage Accpac ERP

Sage Accpac is equipped to meet small- to mid-sized business demands and is able to handle to over 400 users with a choice of operating systems and database platforms.

Bundled with SageCRM, Sage Accpac Extended Enterprise Suite allows organisations to carry out  sales, marketing, and customer service functions for greater cost savings and higher revenues.

With a track record of customers in 169 countries, Sage Accpac provides companies with capabilities to manage their global business including multicurrency and multi-location functionality, multi-jurisdiction compliance, and multiple language versions.

Sage ERP X3

Sage ERP X3 is a software suite with advanced, simple, and cost-effective business applications designed to meet the functionality requirements of mid-to-large distributors and manufacturers.

It offers first-class integrated functionality in the areas of finance, sales, CRM, inventory management, while remaining affordable, quick to implement, and simple for users

Sage ERP X3 is a multi-audit system available in 8 languages and legislations.





Epicor Software is a global leader delivering business software solutions to the manufacturing, distribution, retail, hospitality and services industries. With 20,000 customers in over 150 countries, Epicor provides integrated enterprise resource planning (ERP), customer relationship management (CRM), supply chain management (SCM) and enterprise retail software solutions that enable companies to drive increased efficiency and improve profitability.

Epicor’s ERP solutions help midmarket organizations and divisions and subsidiaries of  Global companies to maximize their most important resources for profitable growth. Solutions are available for a number of industries including manufacturing, distribution, services, hospitality and retail.

At the core of Epicor is an adaptable, collaborative architecture that delivers business management, providing real time, in-context business insight throughout any manufacturing environment.

Epicor is a multidimensional solution uniquely equipped with rich feature sets supporting  environment including make-to-order (MTO), engineer-to-order (ETO), configure-to-order (CTO), mixed-mode, make-to-stock and discrete manufacturing. In addition to a full range of manufacturing capabilities, Epicor extends tools across back-office processes including financial management, customer relationship management, sales and customer service, providing real-time, in context information to employees from the shop floor to the top floor.


Corporate Blog




MYOB is traditionally thought of as the powerhouse small business accounting package in ANZ. They have now extended their product line to include MYOB EXO for medium sized business to migrate to as they grow.

MYOB EXO Business is a complete fully integrated financial and business management system consisting of modules supporting Finance, Job Costing, Point of Sale, Fixed Assets, Customer Management, Reporting and Inventory Control. EXO Business will provide a business management view of an entire operation.

EXO Business is the next step in the MYOB product range and is perfectly suited to organisations that require:

  • A large number of users across multiple locations
  • Stricter control over the general ledger
  • Graphical visibility via management dashboards into how your business is performing
  • Advanced stock management across multiple warehouse locations
  • Importing of stock from overseas suppliers
  • Management of jobs, including, quoting, labour charges, tracking and reporting
  • Assembly of goods
  • High volume of transactions.
  • Compatibility

The Modules in our EXO Business system are part of an integrated business solution and are fully compatible with each other, meaning you can add modules as and when you need to



You Tube



SAP Business ByDesign ERP Released in Australia

SAP Business ByDesign has been released into the ANZ market. The Software-as-a-Service solution was originally designed to target medium enterprises with between 20 and 500 employees, and while this is still the main market for the product, it is also being promoted to multinationals requiring a rapidly deployed integrated SAP solution for subsidiaries as part of a two-tier ERP system.

As we noted back in June, SAP needs to get this version right, hence why its local launch has been delayed.

SAP Business ByDesign offers access to a range of SAP modules, businesses can choose which processes they wish to use, with pricing beginning from $11 per user/month for self-service and simple data entry, through to $197 per user/month for full access to the on-demand suite.

SAP is also offering a number of “starter packages” – for CRM, ERP Financials, Manufacturing, and a Professional Services starter package.

The version of Business ByDesign released in Australia has been customised to meet Australian regulatory requirements. While the solution is industry-generic, SAP will undertake some adaptation of the solution for various industry verticals over time, and it is also supporting development partners in customising Business ByDesign for individual sectors.


ERP Functionality Videos

Sometimes, watching Product demonstrations can be a bit boring. Here’s a series of short videos on SAP Business One that are not too long.

MRP(Materials Requirements Planning)

Service Management


Banking & Cash



Forrester White Paper – Two-tier ERP Strategy

This is an excellent read for companies that are medium to large in size. It looks at the confronting questions of how to equip subsidiaries with integrated business management—without the high costs required for the SAP, Oracle or other ERP systems they run at headquarters.

It’s Time to Clarify Your Global ERP Strategy, for a look at how two-tier “hub-and-spoke” ERP can offer greater speed, efficiency and cost-effectiveness.

I received my copy on the NetSuite site and the link below goes to that landing page. Read it in association with our Compare ERP Guidebook.

In this white paper, Forrester discussed how the main players can fit in with various strategies, covering Oracle, SAP, Microsoft, Netsuite &  Epicor. Below is a diagram explaining the typical single-hub model, paper explains other options and when to use them.

2-tier ERP

Sales Opportunities Functionality in SAP Business One

SAP Business One for Sales

SAP Business ByDesign due very soon – here come’s the 800 pounder

An elephant’s gestation time is about 22 months – quite a bit less than SAP Business ByDesign has been in a controlled release phase. Well for client’s in Australia, New Zealand, India and China the wait may be nearly over! Local APAC Chief Steve Watts has announced a Q3 Release Date.

But with the release of ByDesign the 800 pound gorilla or ERP vendors will enter the market.

Local pricing has not been released but US pricing is $149/user/month –  which means that you have one common interface performing at least 80-90% of all your business functions including CRM, HR, MRP and ERP.

The market for the product is twofold:

  • large companies that are running SAP products and want a low cost on-demand solution to run their subsidiaries
  • 10-50 person businesses – or SMB’s with an pretty extensive ERP solution

The key to success is SAP’s Partner/Reseller strategy. This will be for two key reasons:

  1. Adding functionality that the core product does not
  2. Market access to SMB’s

SAP has a rich history at partnering well at the top end with SI’s and consulting firms but it has had a relatively restricted channel strategy for SMB’s. This has been by choice and may have restricted the opportunities for the current low-end SAP product BusinessOne.



SAP Business ByDesign Video

SAP Business ByDesign is the new SaaS ERP system from SAP. Some debate if its too late, but knowing SAP, they will have thoroughly built a solid product.

Here’s a couple of promotional videos. Second one includes some idea of time and cost to implement.

Second video

SAP Business One Roadmap

Considering SAP Business One? Here’s a video( bit long) on the future of SAP Business One – as a standalone solution and also as a system for subsidiaries and remote offices to use.

Cloud ERP Vendors

The Cloud/SaaS CRM market is quite a bit more mature than the Cloud/SaaS ERP vendors. Definitions in this arena are constantly getting re-hashed by vendors and a bit of qualification may help here.

Most of many of the vendors can help you move your ERP application into the Cloud – basically picking up your current hardware and software solution – and putting it into a vendor data centre.

For the purists, this is not good enough as this type of solution lacks a few things:

  1. Shared hardware – often called multi-tenant
  2. Shared resource – or virtualisation

Why are these important?

They are important for a couple of reasons, firstly shared hardware means that you pay less for the hardware than if its 100% dedicated to your ERP system needs. The second reason is that sharing hardware means that you have better flexibility – to increase the resources you need or to reduce them.

Typically, a server in your own data centre may be 15-30% utilised across the business day. You may only use it at 100% capacity once a day or even once a month. By sharing hardware you can share the costs of this expensive and underutilised resource. Similarly, if you start to grow rapidly then adding more computing resource is easier than buying and adding new hardware resources.

The knock-on benefit is that its ‘easier‘ for a vendor to offer you SaaS licence terms – that is a rental model of $x per user per month, rather than the typical licence model.

Are they important to you?

Let the vendors quarrel about the technical aspects of this. The key question is the importance of this to you and your business? If its critical then unfortunetly at this point in time it limits your choice, unlike the CRM market where there are a number of good options.

Use our ERP Checklist as a time-saving way to start comparing vendors.

If ERP you will want to look at Netsuite, Plex Systems and SAP Business ByDesign will meet the needs of the purist. Note that other SAP solutions won’t meet the strict criteria set out above and the ByDesign solution is not yet formally released in this region.

If there any other vendors who can meet this criteria – please let me know.

Mobile ERP

A mobile workforce with access to information in real-time is key for “At the Coalface” credibility for sales and customer service staff. Here is an example from SAP and their Business One package. It looks at how they integrate with the iPhone and shows in a short demo the sorts of capabilities you may need – such as Business Intelligence and reporting.

Trends in BI for ERP

Business Intelligence or BI is a hotbed for activity in the ERP market at the moment. The key drivers have been market consolidation and a series of new trends.

There have been major rounds of consolidation:

  • SAP buys Business Objects/Crystal Reports,
  • IBM buys SPSS and Cognos,
  • Oracle buys Hyperion

The major standalone vendors is SAS. The ERP vendors have been busily buying into BI vendors to both gather market share and to use the installed base as a wedge into the competitor market s-hare. eg Oracle can attack the SAP base with Hyperion and vice-versa. In addition, most of these tools were vendor agnostic – so they play well on competitor platforms

As for trends, the key ones are:

  1. BI on demand – cloud-based scalable capacity
  2. In memory tools and data
  3. Reporting and dashboards
  4. Analysis and prediction tools
  5. Enterprise Management

ERP and CRM systems are essentially ‘systems of record’. The BI tool-sets essentially can take their data and use them for decision making and action, but today this does not happen in real-time at the pace that the market needs. Hence why BI on-demand is important, as is ‘in memory’ BI – both promise faster results in real-time to the range of ‘what-if’ questions that get asked of managers.

Download our ERP Solutions Guidebook for more information.

SAP Business One Overview Video

A video looking at the key features of SAP Business One – version 8.8. Looks at enhancements, reporting and processesetc. Runs for about 40 mins. If this is a potential product for you to consider – add it to the ERP Checklist that can be downloaded.


ERP Vendors – sap

SAP All-in-one is the mid-sized solution from SAP. Whereas the BusinessOne product is for small business. They are based on different platforms and often with different resellers. The All-in-one product is more focused on delivering INDUSTRY solutions. This is partly through the All-in-one product set coming out of the same development base as the large business ERP product platform.

Accounting in ERP with SAP Business One

The core reasons for utilising ERP packages include getting better (and faster) results to Financial and Accounting areas of the business. This SAP Business One video discusses these.

CRM integration with ERP

This video shows how SAP Business One offers CRM functionality within the ERP package for SME businesses.

An introduction to SAP Business One

Here is an introduction to SAP Business One. This is SAP’s solution for Small and Medium sized businesses. Medium sized businesses tend to move up to the All in One product and then the full ERP platform for large companies.