My Top Manufacturing ERP Software Picks

No Comments

Photo of author

By Ewen Finser

Last Updated on May 15, 2024 by Ewen Finser

If you are a manufacturing based shop and trying to figure out which ERP stands the best chance to meet your needs, this guide is for you.

Having been in the B2B software space for 10+ years, what I’ve realized is that most mass market ERPs, CRMs, and other enterprise tech is NOT just as expensive as the monthly or annual contract.

Implementing and maintaining ERPs can be just as expensive (if not more) than the “cost” on signup.

This has led me down the rabbit hole of figuring out the easiest, most lightweight, and niched down software stacks for modern companies. With this in mind, I wanted to isolate the specific ERPs that are best suited for small to midsized manufacturers.

Let’s jump right in.

Striven: Best Overall for Small to Mid Manufacturers

Quick View: Striven is an extremely lightweight, “no frills”, ERP that won’t take a team of specialists to integrate and is open and accessible for business operators and managers to maintain, update, and operationalize. If you need an ERP yesterday and don’t have time to hire specialists or hire an “implementation team”, this is the solution for you.

Top Reasons I Like Striven for Manufacturing

  • Straightforward Learning Curve: One of the reasons I avoided enterprise ERPs and CRMs for so long was because of the complexity to operate. For some, you’ll often need to hire specialists and literally build out an entire team (or team of consultants) to just operationalize the dang thing. With Striven, I certainly had to spend some time clicking around but it was all fairly intuitive and uncomplicated. In short, as a non-functional expert, I could make use of it!
  • Transparent Pricing: What you see is what you pay! Striven has simple base + per user modular pricing that is easy to project on the back of a napkin. This is in contrast to many of their upmarket peers (Oracle, SAP, etc…) that feature lengthy sales processes, “customized quotes,” expensive implementation, and ongoing support fees.
  • Great for Small to Mid-Market: If the cost (above) and complexity are turning you off from implementing a true ERP solution, but you clearly still have a need for one, Striven fits the gap nicely and is well worth considering instead. Worst case, you can easily discontinue, whereas many other upmarket ERPs require months of implementation and are feature high switching costs if you decide it’s not the right fit.
  • Cloud-Based: Striven is 100% cloud based, meaning it’s accessible anywhere with an internet connection and doesn’t require “onsite” configuration, lengthy software installations, or implementation teams. This also makes it a good option if some portion of your workforce is remote or has a flex work arrangement.

Striven Compared to Peers:

Odoo: Best Front End

Quick View: Odoo is a visually pleasing ERP with a strong toolset for inventory-heavy businesses and complex logistical supply chains (e.g. importing products from China, or multi stage import + production phases).

Why I Like Odoo

  • Logistics Powerhouse: As mentioned in the summary, if LOG is your main friction point, Odoo is built for more advanced multi-stage production and distribution lines.
  • Easy on the Eyes: Odoo feels very intuitive and is a nice change of pace from the typical “Microsoft Office”-looking upmarket options like Acumatica, Oracle, SAP, Dynamics, etc…
  • App Extensible: With over 40,000+ app integrations, Odoo can be your “one and only” if you need front-end websites, CRM features, social media marketing, you name it…
  • Transparent Pricing: Like with Striven, Odoo offers transparent “per user” pricing that starts around $30/month and goes up towards $50/month (per user). This definitely is a higher per user price than peers, but if you include ALL of the apps (which are included in the price), it’s a good value. No need to haggle with sales teams for “implementation packages”.

MRPeasy: Best for Smaller Shops

Quick View: MRPeasy fills a distinct sub-niche as a “MRP” or Manufacturing Resource Planning suite. Basically, it’s an ERP that’s only trying to solve the manufacturing resource planning pain point. A good option if your business has less than 200 employees and exclusively focuses on manufacturing lines.

Why I Like MRPeasy

  • Narrow Focus: While some might find their laser focus constraining, if you are focused on specifically optimizing your manufacturing line, MRPeasy is a great targeted ERP solution.
  • Small Business Focused: They really target SMB manufacturing shops, and even state their goal of serving companies between 10-200 employees. If this is you (and you don’t plan on growing quickly beyond a 200 team head count), MRPeasy is worth a long look.
  • Straightforward Pricing: I wouldn’t say MRPeasy is “cheap” on a per user basis – and this makes sense due to its advanced specialization – BUT I would say they are very transparent with pricing and there’s no sales run-arounds, quotes, or implementation gimmicks…
  • Growing Integration List: While not a huge list, they have a growing direct integration partnership with popular platforms like Google Drive, Hubspot, WooCommerce, Magento, and more…

StartProto: Best Manufacturing Prototyping

Quick View: If prototyping is a significant component of your day-to-day work in a manufacturing setting, StartProto is a fairly unique and incredibly use ERP system that acts as an all-in-one “shop” software.

Why I Like StartProto

  • Prototyping! As the name suggests, StartProto is a more closely tailored ERP for production lines and shops specifically relaying on prototyping as a core (or key) manufacturing process. It’s actually a useful enough micro-application that it may be worth operating a more traditional financial ERP as well as StartProto (if your business can support both).
  • Government Contracting Friendly: StartProto has key ITAR certification and other government alignment systems so you can more fully integrate into government systems (notoriously difficult to work with, at times).
  • Solid Integration List: While it’s narrowly focused on prototyping, StartProto has some very well placed integrations. Apps from QuickBooks, Xero, and other bookkeeping platforms, to practical apps like Fusion 360, SolidWorks, to Shopify and ShipStation can really help expand the utility for machine shops and other light manufacturing use cases.
  • C-Suite to Shop Floor Utility: This platform isn’t just for the “white collar” workers “measuring productivity” and planning capital allocations. Since it’s a practical prototyping system, it really is useful at ALL levers of the company structure down to the machinists and production line staff.

Acumatica: Best Upmarket Upgrade

Quick View: Acumatica is definitely in the “enterprise” category, but I think it’s approachable enough for mid sized or growing SMBs to “grow into” if they need something more comprehensive. I definitely prefer them to the Oracle and Microsoft “blob” software solutions approach (jack of all trades, master of none).

Why I Like Acumatica

  • Dedicated Manufacturing Suite: While Acumatica is targeted towards servicing larger operations, they do have an more focused product solution for manufacturing oriented business ops.
  • Extensible: If you DO need to add functional areas like Distribution, IT, or Finance, Acumatica can fairly easily be extended into these areas without need to spin up an entirely new software product.
  • Well Supported: Because Acumatica is a more established name, there’s plenty of global talent and specialist sub-contracting agencies that can assist with customizations, troubleshooting, and implementations.
  • More Integration Friendly: Acumatica isn’t as territorial as other platforms (e.g. Oracle) and integrates with a variety of third-party platforms like QuickBooks, Microsoft Dynamics, NetSuite, and Sage.

Honorable Mentions

These are some names I need to mention and are worth it for specific use cases, but are probably not my first go-to picks:

  • Oracle Manufacturing: Ok, so I really don’t like Oracle products in general. They try to do everything, but are incredibly expensive to implement and maintain. Worse, the UX / UI is really unappealing and technically complex, requiring a small army to maintain. THAT SAID, for complex large enterprise manufacturing, I can see where Oracle Manufacturing has it’s place. It’s really the bar to which everyone else is measured!
  • Microsoft Dynamics 365: Pretty much the same situation as Oracle, but I like the UX a bit better and for Microsoft-heavy workplaces, it’s an easier cultural adoption. Also has more transparent pricing than Oracle, even if it’s still pricey.
  • SYSPRO: If you JUST need an operationally focused planning and scheduling system for the manufacturing lifecycle, I really like SYSPRO. It doesn’t have a lot of the financial modules, integrations, and HR functions that others on this list include and it’s not an easy learn, but for productivity line management, it’s second to none.

My Bottom Line for Manufacturing ERPs

As you can tell from my list and testing, there’s a good assortment of more dedicated ERPs for Manufacturing. It still might be a bit difficult to decide, so here’s how I’d narrow it down for MOST use cases…

Leave a Comment

English