by Rakesh Sharma
Published on 21 July 2011
In one of my previous posts, I had written about popular SaaS solutions. CRM and ERP came out tops. Both solutions integrate multiple modules of an organization into a single solution. The problem with their popularity is that almost everyone wants a share of the SaaS pie. As a result, we have multiple ERP solutions vying for our attention.
How does one distinguish itself from competition, then? This week we will review Epicor Manufacturing Express Edition - one such ERP solution that claims to be different from competition. We will look at its interface, functionality and see how it can be of use to you.
So what's so different about Epicor Manufacturing Express Edition
I asked Chad Meyer, Product Marketing Director with the company, the same question. His response was that it was combination of focus and experience. "Most vendors selling SaaS ERP applications offer immature products that lack necessary functionality for manufacturers," he says. "They focus on marketing the "SaaS" aspect." According to Meyer, solutions simply fall short without broad and deep functionality, even if they are SaaS-based. This is where Epicor's experience is useful. The company has over two decades of experience, providing ERP solutions to manufacturers.
That experience, according to Meyer, is coupled with customer focus."Thousands of job shops and small manufacturers use our solutions to effectively manage their businesses," he says. This means that their software has the broad functionality that manufacturers require. He adds that the SaaS model minimizes cost and complexity of managing software for our customers. Thus, while other SaaS-based ERP solutions do a little bit of a lot, job shops and small manufacturers are assured Epicor Express will meet their needs.
The details of Epicor Manufacturing Express Edition
In a nutshell, I was pretty impressed with the solution. The software is, quite literally, an end-to-end solution that includes everything for the quote to cash process; including functionality for customer management, production planning and lean manufacturing, inventory management and accounting.
The system offers cost based estimating driven from real costs; material costs, labor costs, subcontract costs, and burden costs. This ensures that each quote has a degree of confidence and is based on experience of the estimator. The beauty then is when the quote becomes and order, the planned costs flow into production and are measurable after the job is shipped.
Epicor comes in Enterprise, Standard and Express versions. "A completely unique feature of Epicor Manufacturing Express Edition is its inherent ability to support a customer's growth and future functional requirements," says Meyer. "The Express version of the software is based on the same data model and business logic as the Standard and Enterprise editions." He says the common foundation enables customers to easily move editions and deployment models. Data and customizations seamlessly move to other edition databases and little to no end user training is required as they are familiar with the applications already.
The basics: what does it look like?
I was intrigued by the user interface which offers a choice between a rich interface like a typical Microsoft client alongside a browser based option. Epicor Express should not be too difficult for you, if you are a user of Microsoft products. The user interface designers seem to have borrowed heavily from Microsoft's ribbon-styled interface and panes. In addition, Epicor's interface supports the user's ability to personalize and customize.
Implementing and Supporting Epicor Manufacturing Express Edition
According to Meyer, a typical implementation is less than 60 days ."The implementation is solely focused on configuring the system to a customer's specific needs and, if necessary, migrating their business data," he says. Epicor provides templates, online training resources, and application experts to help customers implement quickly. In addition, each customer has a dedicated project manager from start to finish" says Meyer. Ongoing customers have direct access to Epicor's support representatives, and online support center.
Is it for you?
I was pretty impressed with the solution because it simplifies ERP, provides broad and deep functionality, and offers an array of useful tools for modifying it to your businesses needs. If you like experience coupled with low cost, then Epicor Manufacturing Express Edition is for you.