While the future relevance of ERPs is often debated, ERPs are expanding in both size and scope. This pattern is mirrored in other best-of-breed categories where integration and consolidation are favored by private equity to expand market share. This evolution emphasizes the lasting significance of the ERP strategy. Deciphering it will help find a solution that not only stands the test of time but also stays committed to your specific market segment.
Consistent with our prediction last year, major ERP players have opted for a conservative M&A strategy this year. And that is with only a few engaging in active M&A activities. Meanwhile, other vendors, relying on M&A for growth, haven’t hit the brakes. Some private equity companies even birthed newer entities following the same decade-old ERP strategy of creating ERP companies. Key acquisitions include SAP’s LeanIX, IFS’s Falkonry and Poka, QAD’s Redzone, and Epicor’s DSPanel and EXTRA. As well as Aptean’s BPIT Solutions, 3T Logistics, Apparel Business Systems, trend SWM, Affinitus, TOTALLogistix, and Drink-IT. Notably, ERP and vertical software vendors like Advantive and Constellation Software remain fairly active in their acquisition strategies.
This article delves into the top ERP vendors for 2024, offering insights into their strategies to guide your ERP selection process. Our list is the result of a thorough analysis, drawing from publicly available information. As well as our team’s expertise in evaluating numerous ERP systems. This article isn’t a vendor recommendation; your specific needs should guide your choice. Additionally, a key distinction to note is that this article focuses on ERP vendors rather than specific products.
- Overall market share attributable to ERP offerings. How large is the market share of this company in the ERP market? The higher the market share, the higher the company ranks on our list.
- Potential growth/funding/valuation. How much was the last funding round? How much did they sell for? And how much was it valued in the last deal? The higher the valuation, the higher it ranks on our list.
- Product and acquisition Strategy. Which company did they acquire last? Was it to fill a strategic hole in the ERP product portfolio? The more aligned the acquisition strategy with the ERP, the higher it ranks on our list.
- Depth of cloud-native capabilities provided out of the box. How behind are they with their cloud-native capabilities? The more advanced the capabilities, the higher it ranks on our list.
- Product mix to support best-of-breed or full-suite architecture. The more complete the portfolio with different models, the higher it ranks on our list.
- Company ownership. Owned by a PE company? The strategy may change with the new owner. Owned by a strategic long-term corporate investor or an enterprise software company? The more the vendor is aligned with the investment firm’s strategy, the higher it ranks on our list.
Deltek is a specialized vendor, honing in on the government contracting, construction, and architecture sectors. Demonstrating success in small to upper-mid-market accounts within these verticals, Deltek offers distinctive capabilities. As well as data platforms tailored to its niche. However, its suitability might be limited for companies with diverse business models. Or those engaging in M&A cycles aiming to diversify their operations.
Unlike QAD, Deltek is now under the ownership of Roper Technologies. Roper is not a large private equity firm like Thoma Bravo. Roper Technologies, with a diverse portfolio including solutions like IntelliTrans—a TMS and real-time visibility offering—has strengthened Deltek’s capabilities in regulated manufacturing through strategic acquisitions. Deltek’s multifaceted portfolio, particularly with access to government data applications, proves invaluable for companies. Proves invaluable when needing DACA compliance and essential integration points for successful engagement with government customers.
Offering both suite and standalone solutions that can integrate with Deltek or other ERP systems, Deltek previously shared the #8 position. They shared it with with Odoo and Plex, Unit4, and QAD. While the enthusiasm surrounding QAD has led to a slight downgrade for Deltek, it retains its #10 rank. This rank is among the top ERP vendors, given its authority in government contracting and the architecture space.
It’s hard to get a spot among the top 10 ERP vendors when their revenue is still under $100 million. But Acumatica is one of three cloud-native ERP vendors, along with NetSuite and Sage Intacct. While there has been a significant discrepancy between Sage Intacct’s valuation at $850M and NetSuite at $9.3B, their number of customers wasn’t too far off. Acumatica is likely to have a similar or higher market valuation based on its momentum in the market.
As of today, the large majority of Acumatica’s customers are relatively smaller in size (under $100M in revenue) but bigger than those of Odoo. While Acumatica is richer with operational capabilities and is a true ERP solution, operational and micro-capabilities remain on the leaner side for complex business models such as manufacturing. Their larger peers, such as Infor, Epicor, and IFS, provide more mature capabilities for companies advancing on their ERP maturity curve. But that is also the reason why Acumatica would be easier and cheaper to implement – and ideal for companies outgrowing solutions such as Odoo or QuickBooks.
Acumatica caters well to companies favoring cloud-native capabilities such as enterprise search and mobility over core operational functions. While its vibrant marketplace compensates for core solution gaps, Acumatica’s current weakness lies in native global localization capabilities, making it less comparable to rivals like NetSuite and Sage Intacct. The perceived benefit of Acumatica’s pricing is also a challenge, as it’s notoriously difficult to understand and predict. Despite some minor usability and functionality updates in 2023, there have not been any substantial updates for them to command higher ranking, and thus they still retain the #9 spot among top ERP vendors on our list.
QAD stands out as a distinctive solution tailored for supply chain-intensive industries like Automotive, F&B, and Life Sciences. With integrated supply chain and PLM products, it offers unique capabilities designed for specific micro-verticals within automotive and F&B. These micro-verticals demand highly specialized PLM and supply chain processes, presenting challenges that other industry solutions may find difficult to address.
QAD has demonstrated its effectiveness with global, small-to-upper-mid-market organizations. Through strategic acquisitions, they have enhanced support for shop floor workforce-centric processes, which is particularly beneficial in specific industries. The acquisition of Redzone in 2023 aligns with recent industry trends, akin to moves made by IFS and Epicor, incorporating HCM and shop floor processes into the ERP category. QAD continues to build on its momentum, solidifying its position in 2023.
One of the highlights for QAD in 2023 is the anticipated release of O3, representing a significant shift to a true cloud solution. This move involves transitioning away from Progress and hosting on AWS, utilizing Java as the main platform and MariaDB as the database. Extensions are expected to be developed in Typescript, mirroring NetSuite’s approach. The integration platform aligns with InforOS, sitting atop the core ERP. While the release may not be ready or fully stable in 2024, the announcement is particularly exciting. As a Thoma Bravo-owned entity, this positions QAD with capabilities akin to other leading solutions like IFS. Last year, we had several solutions at this spot, but because of the momentum in QAD’s portfolio, they are a clear leader over other solutions, and now they rank at #8 among the top ERP vendors.
While IFS shares a similar strategy with QAD, Deltek, and Unit4, it boasts higher revenue. Like Epicor, IFS has experienced substantial growth, reaching the elite $1B revenue club. IFS holds a unique market position, serving as a great alternative for enterprise companies seeking deep operational functionality not available with vanilla, horizontal ERP solutions like SAP or Oracle. With enterprise-grade capabilities for EAM and field services, IFS has successfully secured contracts with large airlines and MROs, traditionally dominated by SAP and Oracle. These accounts often involve extensive fleets of service technicians.
In 2023, IFS made strategic acquisitions to enhance AI and predictive maintenance capabilities, focusing on integrating with shop-floor processes. This commitment to manufacturing verticals is exciting to witness. Although traditionally a European company, IFS has been expanding its presence in North America. The average size of accounts where they hold the largest market share is significantly larger than Epicor and comparable to Infor. Overall, IFS competes in the enterprise ERP market against heavyweights like SAP, Oracle, and Microsoft.
Sharing a strategy akin to other niche vendors like Infor, Epicor, Aptean, Deltek, and ECi, IFS distinguishes itself with a unique focus on large accounts in the MRO and Airline space. This specialization sets IFS apart from the others, especially in winning against vanilla vendors like SAP and Oracle. With a distinctive market position, IFS holds its rank at #7 on our list of top ERP vendors.
Much like IFS, Epicor is a member of the $1B club, featuring a diverse portfolio with leading solutions dominating numerous micro-verticals. Key products like Epicor Kinetic, Epicor Prophet 21, Epicor Eclipse, BisTrack, and LumberTrack stand out. Despite a late start in its cloud journey compared to other legacy vendors, Epicor has made significant strides. Their Kinetic UI and UX now offer mature cloud capabilities, including Enterprise search. Additionally, they have been developing enterprise traceability transactional maps akin to those found in SAP products, which is a very exciting development for Epicor.
Epicor’s products and go-to-market strategy excel in dominating specific micro-verticals where even industry-specific solutions might face challenges. Positioned at the intersection of manufacturing, distribution, and retail, Epicor places equal emphasis on all three, with a significant focus on industrial verticals. Their strength shines in sectors like Metal, Fastener, Building Supply, Automotive, HVAC, Plumbing, Electrical, Aerospace, and Medical Devices, each product strategically targeting specific micro-verticals.
Epicor stands out as perhaps the only vendor offering a true MES integrated with a robust ERP, also with an option to purchase MES as a standalone solution. This positions Epicor as a formidable choice for companies requiring Industry 4.0 capabilities. Recent acquisitions have enhanced Epicor’s cloud capabilities, enabling a comprehensive suite experience akin to Infor. These strategic moves make Epicor uniquely powerful in industries seeking a complete package from a single vendor without the need for additional third-party solutions. As a result, Epicor retains its #6 rank on our list of the top ERP vendors.
Sage, positioned between Infor and Epicor in revenue, primarily targets accounting firms and smaller companies. While they had marketshare in the ERP market competing with their larger peers, the outlook for their legacy ERP products, like Sage 300 and 500, remains unclear. Despite featuring flagship cloud products such as Sage X3 and Sage Intacct, community support for Sage X3 is virtually non-existent, raising doubts about its commitment. While Sage has made efforts to enhance operational functionality in Sage Intacct, its scope is limited, heavily relying on external add-ons.
While Sage has acquired solutions like Brightpearl and Corecon to address gaps in Sage Intacct’s functionality, their integration lacks the depth seen with other ERP vendors, especially in micro capabilities. The robust macro capabilities of Sage solutions cater to accountants and accounting firms, driving most functionality, acquisitions, and roadmaps based on their needs. While they promote best-of-suite capabilities, this typically results in much higher prices for companies as customers would need to buy multiple solutions such as Salesforce, ServiceTitan, ProCore, Gorilla, and Martus for its functionality to be comparable with other ERP solutions.
These solutions not only come with a hefty price tag but also pose integration challenges as each vendor aims to influence the architecture. Even if multiple solutions are purchased from Sage, customers report internal organizational fragmentation, with competing priorities leading to inconsistent communication and advice. That said, Sage still maintains their rank at #5 as the leading ERP vendor because of their market share in the mid-market.
Infor’s current revenue is higher than Sage and Epicor but lower than other larger ERP vendors. Infor has a complete product suite to meet the needs of an enterprise similar to Epicor, SAP, Oracle, or Microsoft. While the products may not be as globalized as SAP or Oracle, they fit the needs of specific verticals. Infor is also perhaps the only vendor after the larger ones that has the capabilities to build best-of-breed architecture akin to SAP, Oracle, and Microsoft. In fact, Infor might have deeper capabilities than Microsoft in some areas with pre-integrated best-of-breed solutions such as Infor WFM and Nexus.
Infor is also the only vendor that can provide depth in several industries while not struggling with the transactional processing requirements of large accounts. Smaller solutions, such as Epicor or Aptean, typically struggle to process MRP and scheduling engines for global companies. For the industries such as Fashion, Aerospace, Automotive, Aftermarket, Utility, Water, and Healthcare, they have deep capabilities. These capabilities might take forever to build in vanilla solutions such as SAP, Oracle, or Microsoft.
Infor hasn’t been active in the acquisition space since its acquisition of Lighthouse in 2022. They also don’t have a clear roadmap for when they might be able to offer LightHouse integrated with their suite. Because of these reasons, they still maintain the #4 rank for the top ERP vendors.
Microsoft has aggressively enhanced its cloud-native functionality for two flagship products, Microsoft Dynamics 365 F&O and Business Central. Similar to SAP and Oracle, Microsoft boasts several best-of-breed applications as part of its suite to build enterprise architecture, along with Azure being the top two cloud infrastructure platforms that can be used to build custom applications. The native integration with the Microsoft 365 Suite further strengthens its comprehensive offerings.
Microsoft leads in cloud-native capabilities for its F&O product, outpacing SAP. Securing the #2 position in the CRM market, Microsoft goes head-to-head with Salesforce, which is also a unique advantage Microsoft enjoys in being a leader in two major categories. But they are not as strong with their third pillar, HCM, which is likely to be a critical success factor for companies where Microsoft is relatively strong, such as non-profit, public sector, banking, finance, media, telecom, energy, and utilities – very similar market verticals that Oracle targets. One unique advantage that the F&O product enjoys is that it can handle several business models in one product. This makes Microsoft Dynamics F&O one of the most mature products in the cloud category for the upper mid-market, while MS Business Central enjoys a fairly dominant position in the SMB space.
The company boasts one of the most robust developer and marketplace ecosystems, with vendors like Aptean crafting industry functionality atop Microsoft solutions. Microsoft is also one of the most globalized and localized ERP solutions, with talent available virtually in any country or language. For these reasons, Microsoft still maintains the #3 rank among top ERP vendors.
SAP still has the largest market share in the ERP market, primarily because the average deal in the enterprise space is exponentially bigger than the mid-market. It has applications in its portfolio with superior capabilities for best-of-breed architecture. The architecture that goes along with the S/4 HANA Suite that enterprise-grade companies are likely to prefer, including leading products such as SAP SuccessFactors for HCM, SAP Hybris for Commerce, SAP EWM for WMS, Ariba for P2P, and Concur for T&E.
SAP S/4 HANA may be among the only choices enterprise companies generally have because of their transaction volume, enterprise governance, and traceability requirements. It is especially strong for product-centric enterprises where mature capabilities such as MRP and allocation would be a must-have for enterprise-wide workloads. Most other solutions might struggle with the transactional processing requirements of such heavy workloads that only HANA may be able to handle. SAP S/4 HANA is also one of the strongest solutions for companies that might operate in multiple countries and might require these entities hosted in one database for easier and faster reconciliation.
Offering a compliance process such as SOX integrated built into the solution, SAP S/4 HANA is an ideal choice for publicly traded and regulated companies. However, SAP’s SMB presence faces challenges, with uncertainties surrounding the progress and roadmap of solutions like SAP Business One and ByDesign. Despite significant progress in the cloud, SAP lags behind competitors. Nonetheless, SAP retains its position at #2 among the top ERP vendors, demonstrating clear authority and leadership in the enterprise market.
Oracle has two leading cloud ERP products in the form of Oracle Cloud ERP and NetSuite, and they are both significantly advanced in their cloud ERP capabilities. NetSuite is a global, localized solution with operationally deep capabilities, ideal for small to upper-mid-market companies.
Oracle has also been winning in large accounts that require deeper cloud and operational capabilities as part of the core ERP suite. Oracle is especially strong with companies that might have robust IT departments with depth in Java and Oracle databases. These accounts also need to maintain a large share of custom-developed apps that they might sell as part of their offerings. For example, accounts such as Media, Telecom, Energy, Financial Services, and Utility are likely to have depth with their internal IT departments. Oracle is also expected to be a go-to solution for healthcare verticals because of its Cerner acquisition. Compared to other ERP vendors, Oracle also has a unique position in the market with the success of its mid-market ERP solution, NetSuite. They have equal dominance in both enterprises as well as mid-market.
While they might not be as strong with the core ERP industries in the enterprise accounts, they still have one of the largest marketshare and ecosystems that provide them an edge compared to other ERP vendors on this list. For these reasons, Oracle maintains the #1 rank among the top ERP vendors.
Although these emerging vendors didn’t secure a spot in the top 10 due to lower market share or their focus being niche, it doesn’t diminish their potential as excellent options. Each of them boasts unique capabilities tailored for specific business models and transaction volumes.
Unit4 specializes in suite-centric solutions tailored for small to upper mid-market accounts, focusing on non-profit, public sector, universities, and schools. With unique operational capabilities for non-profit organizations, it addresses specific workflows for students and teachers, integrated procurement, and HCM processes, particularly in the service verticals.
Although primarily a European solution, Unit4 has been expanding its presence in North America. While not ideal for diverse organizations or those actively engaged in M&A cycles, Unit4 continues to dominate the large public sector and education market, especially in Europe.
Plex targets the automotive and supply chain-centric verticals, similar to QAD, with a limited install base despite offering a cloud-native solution. Originating as an MES-first provider, Plex’s strengths lie in MES-centric processes rather than ERP-focused capabilities.
Currently owned by Rockwell Automation, Plex incorporates best-of-breed quality and compliance features for the Toyota and Ford ecosystems. While positioned as a mixed-mode manufacturing solution, Plex might face challenges in diverse manufacturing modes. Additionally, it may not be the optimal choice for companies with diversified business models or those actively engaged in M&A cycles.
Odoo, an easy-to-use and open-source solution, caters to small businesses and startups seeking global financial capabilities, similar to QuickBooks. With localization and globalization in multiple countries, Odoo is ideal for startups operating globally.
Despite being one of the fastest-growing platforms with over $200 million in funding and 7 million users, Odoo is best suited for companies under $10M in revenue that doesn’t require advanced ERP capabilities, particularly in industries like manufacturing or construction. The product is particularly friendly for eCommerce and retail businesses, offering an integrated suite without the complexity and cost of advanced ERP implementation.
Aptean, an ERP vendor with a strategy akin to Infor, focuses on smaller customers in process manufacturing and the food and beverage verticals. Offering suite-centric integrated solutions for various industries and geographies, Aptean provides professional services and support through internal teams.
Additionally, they offer solutions built on top of Microsoft Dynamics Business Central, distinguishing them as a unique ERP vendor.
15. ECi Software Solutions
ECi Software Solutions, another ERP vendor, focuses on verticals similar to Epicor but caters to smaller customers. Their solutions feature simpler data models suitable for smaller operations transitioning from QuickBooks, offering an integrated suite without the complexities of extensive integration or implementation.
In their portfolio, ECi Software Solutions includes products like ECi JobBoss and M1, targeting smaller job shops. Macola, similar to SYSPRO, serves smaller food and beverage distributors but with legacy technology. Deacom is designed for process manufacturers, including those in the pharmaceutical and life sciences industries.
ERPNext, akin to Odoo, is a well-regarded open-source solution tailored for smaller companies with limited budgets. For businesses unwilling to invest heavily in licensing fees, ERPNext presents a compelling option.
FinancialForce, an ERP system built on top of the Salesforce platform, is designed for upper mid-market professional services organizations. With a focus on robust Professional Services Automation (PSA) capabilities, it caters to companies desiring a Salesforce-like system experience across all teams.
Originating as an HCM system, Workday has expanded to include a robust financial module and enterprise-grade FP&A solution. Their focus spans verticals like banking, financial services, technology, and media, aligning with Oracle and Salesforce.
While widely adopted for HCM in enterprises, some companies leverage Workday’s financial module, particularly those with significant HCM operations and lighter financial needs.
Rootstock, also part of the Salesforce ecosystem, caters to smaller manufacturers and distributors seeking an ERP system with a Salesforce look and feel. Ideal for companies valuing the Salesforce user experience, it ensures a cohesive environment for all teams within a Salesforce-like system.
SYSPRO focuses on smaller food manufacturers and distributors with a product akin to SAP Business One. While they’ve invested in their cloud version, they may not be as advanced as some leading vendors in the market.
Similar to Odoo, Zoho is favored by small businesses and startups requiring multiple apps for their operations. While Zoho provides various apps as part of its suite, it lacks the process tightness found in leading ERP solutions. This distinction makes Zoho easier and more cost-effective to implement for smaller businesses compared to complex ERP systems.
Blackbaud caters to smaller non-profits seeking fully-baked solutions with last-mile functionality for micro-verticals like charities and associations. While traditionally focused on operational functionality, they’ve now integrated accounting into their offering.
However, process integration remains limited, and their cloud transition poses challenges. The legacy apps are not fully cloud-native, potentially affecting companies seeking advanced cloud capabilities like enterprise search.
Advantive, a newly established ERP vendor backed by a large private equity, adopts a strategy akin to Infor, ECi, and Aptean. With a focus on small markets transitioning from QuickBooks, they’ve acquired ERP solutions in manufacturing and distribution, popular solutions such as DDI, DistributionOne, InfinityQS, WinSPC, and more.
Unlike ECi, which targets commerce and DTC-centric verticals, Advantive uniquely integrates SPS, MES, QMS, TMS, WMS, and 3PL solutions with specialized ERP offerings for manufacturing and distribution segments.
The ERP market, fiercely competitive, poses challenges for new entrants, requiring substantial backing from corporate giants or private equity for survival. Barriers from existing ERP vendors and influential investors shape the landscape. Alliances with best-of-breed vendors add complexity. This makes the market unpredictable and tilted towards larger vendors with deep pockets and ecosystem influence.
In the ERP industry, success is not solely a product play; it involves intricate dynamics and political elements in deals. Opting for larger ERP vendors, provided they offer essential industry functionality, mitigates disruptions with an ERP product and its expected support. This list serves as a guide for informed investment decisions, whether for career advancement or laying a robust enterprise architecture foundation.