The integration of the cloud into existing communication technology systems has transformed the way in which business management solutions operate, including ERP software. However, a mixture of several factors (including expediency and genuine ignorance) has led to ERP vendor networks to generate misleading information on the nature of certain modern ERP products. Businesses seeking to choose the best ERP to implement will have a harder time than ever sifting through this misinformation to find the answers they need.
Sage Enterprise Management (formerly Sage X3) and Infor CloudSuite Industrial (formerly Infor SyteLine) are two solutions with many competing talking points related to modern ERP features. The former is a midmarket software system whose key qualities include native scalability and process manufacturing capabilities, while the latter is designed as a cloud solution meant for discrete manufacturing SMBs. Though both of these ERP systems are marketed as flexible applications, there are several key differences in how each executes on their stated functionality.
Here are four factors to consider when comparing Sage Enterprise Management versus Infor CloudSuite Industrial:
Comparing ERP systems one to one is nearly impossible as the value of each solution is defined by the needs of your business. Different business software products are designed to fulfill different factors, including organizational size and user volume. ERP solutions are divided between growth stages and certain systems are rigidly defined by what market segments they can be deployed for. Choosing ERP software that cannot meet your scope will generate loss on your ROI and operational value.
Infor’s marketing for CloudSuite Industrial is vague and occasionally contradicting regarding its business size targeting. It is positioned primarily as a solution for SMBs, yet the messaging jumps around to promise higher-tier functionality and global insight only when it is convenient to mention these features. This language is further complicated by the introduction of the CloudSuite, of which the former SyteLine ERP was folded into to create a general manufacturing module offer for smaller businesses.
Sage ERP is more clearly defined in what role each solution fulfills, and Enterprise Management is designed as a midmarket system that provides a path for growing companies to enter the enterprise stage. Its native scalability is a primary factor in this positioning as the flexible architecture in Sage Enterprise Management allows the solution to be adopted by a wider range of medium-sized businesses. No functionality is exchanged for this malleability either, so that Enterprise Management is able to support up to 1000 users in multiple organizations, languages and countries.
Vertical and micro-vertical functionality is as important, if not more so, as business size in reviewing factors for choosing an ERP system. Many of the primary features in the most popular SMB and midmarket enterprise solutions contribute heavily to pain points found within particular industries and subsectors. In the case of Sage Enterprise Management versus CloudSuite Industrial, both are strong in manufacturing, but each displays a noticeably different level of performance in this industry.
CloudSuite Industrial is positioned specifically as a general manufacturing-focused solution that fulfills discrete, process, made-to-stock and mixed-mode functions. However, the original SyteLine ERP historically was only strong in discrete manufacturing and could not meet the needs of these other subsectors. Even Infor themselves prioritize other, more focused ERP products to provide process manufacturing verticals with the functionality required in those sectors, such as lot traceability and formula management.
Sage Enterprise Management provides vertical solutions for services, distribution and manufacturing sectors, although its out-of-the-box functionality provides the greatest value to process manufacturers. Enterprise Management contains native features for quality control, material resource processing, formula management and end-to-end traceability that allows manufacturers in the food and beverage, cosmetics, chemicals and life science markets to track product lifecycles from ingredient to distribution. SWK has developed our own bundled solution powered by Enterprise Management and combined with EDI, warehousing and shipping automation to enable smoother regulatory compliance processes.
Out-of-the-box performance contributes significantly to the total cost of ownership (TCO) of your software. It is the deciding factor in determining the level of additional development that will be required to position the ERP to your unique demands and fulfill the pain points you face now, and will meet in the future. Lack of native functionality that provides immediate value to your needs consequently means that you will incur continuing expenses on modifying the software, bringing you further away from ROI on your ERP purchase.
The Infor CloudSuite presents a nightmare scenario in this case as the majority of solutions are strictly vertically-driven products and a few are even segmented by micro-vertical features. This rigid structure and the lack of custom development ability on the user side means that your business will be constricted to the features delivered in initial implementation. Even the smallest modification will require additional programming, and in the worst case purchasing an entirely separate ERP to fulfill those requirements.
Enterprise Management in contrast is highly malleable and allows users to perform a certain degree of adjustment to create a system that fits best with their established processes. SWK has firsthand knowledge in developing integrations for Sage software (including multiple software bundles and Sage certified original products) for a variety and is a Sage Authorized Training Center as well. Leveraging Sage-certified training and experience, SWK will enable you to build the Enterprise Management solution that adapts to what your business needs.
The integration of the cloud with ERP systems has evolved into a contentious topic as a lack of understanding and conflicting information about the topic has led to debates over what actually constitutes cloud software. Further deliberation has emerged over other factors regarding cloud ERP, including the integration of legacy systems with Internet-facing functionality and security concerns that arise from networking these technologies. Legacy ERP software that has been hastily misconfigured for the cloud has already become a subject of warnings from federal agencies over renewed hacker focus on solutions such as SAP.
As previously mentioned, the Infor CloudSuite presents a multitude of problems for users, not the least of which is how much of a functional cloud network it actually is. Even if the more robust products in the suite operate in the cloud, there are several solutions such as CloudSuite Industrial that are based on legacy systems that have been rebranded with minor cloud integrations at best. This creates an identical situation as what is occurring with outdated SAP systems, where the reconfigured solution has Internet functionality added on but without all of the back-door defenses modern ERP products feature natively.
Sage launched the Sage Business Cloud as a committed and transparent strategy for integrating cloud technology into their most popular products. This includes Enterprise Management, which is evolving into a hybrid cloud solution that enables “cloud connections” but still maintains the benefits of traditional software models. Users can take advantage of this secure connectivity to move to the cloud at their own pace and leveraging external services such as cloud application hosting to streamline their technology infrastructure.
Sage vs Infor
The ultimate factor of what is the best ERP for you is how well it fits with your existing processes, but when comparing Sage Enterprise Management versus Infor CloudSuite Industrial, one has a clear advantage over the other. The Infor CloudSuite is a vertically-focused stack with very defined functionality for particular roles. Enterprise Management is naturally scalable with built-in flexibility designed to provide midmarket businesses with an open framework to build from.
Read about these differences between Sage Enterprise Management and SAP B1 to see how this solution stacks up against another midmarket ERP.