Friday, September 25th, 2020
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Historically, ERP (enterprise resource planning) software was used by large corporations and multinational organizations for managing their entire operation from a single platform.
But now these solutions are more accessible than ever before. In addition to enterprises, lots of SMBs have started to leverage these tools over the past several years.
ERP software essentially combines all of your business tools into a centralized console. It encompasses components like accounting, HR, CRM, supply chain management, and more.
By consolidating your business tools into a single ERP solution, it’s much easier to manage. Plus, ERP software gives you tons of extra value from a big-picture point of view, that you normally wouldn’t see from standalone software.
So which ERP software is the best? Find out below.
The Top 5 Options For ERP Software
How to Choose the Best ERP Software For You
In order to find the right ERP software for your business, you need to understand what to look for as you’re shopping around. All ERP systems are not created equally, and there’s not really a “one-size-fits-all” solution.
Rather than blindingly picking a tool, use these feature sets and considerations to narrow down potential options.
Business Processes and Modules
As previously mentioned, ERP software encompasses various types of business processes. These typically come in the form of modules as you’re customizing an ERP solution.
Some of you might only need a handful of these processes, while other businesses could be looking for a dozen. It really depends on your business size, existing tools, and future goals for resource planning.
Examples of modules and processes to keep an eye out for include HRMs, financial management tools, CRM, SCM, inventory management, purchasing and supplier management, sales and marketing tools, and more.
There are even industry-specific processes for things like manufacturing or engineering. These will include crucial functionalities for product planning, production scheduling, bill of materials, shop floor planning, etc.
Make sure the ERP software you’re evaluating has the capacity to handle your needs with modules for these types of functions.
Reporting, Analytics, and Dashboards
The best ERP software on the market today has advanced reporting capabilities. These go above and beyond basic spreadsheets and PDF downloads. Look for a solution that includes real-time data and smart filters.
Some tools might even have agile reporting and ad hoc reporting, so you can quickly adapt to ever-changing needs without interruptions.
You should be able to manage these complex reports and analytics through a simple dashboard. If you can’t figure out the dashboards, you’ll never get the most out of these reports (which renders them useless).
Dashboards should also display KPIs and let you analyze different data with just a few clicks. For example, you might want to compare qualitative vs. quantitative data based on departments or users within your organization.
Your ERP software must seamlessly integrate with your existing tools and software.
From simple file transfers to complete integrations, it’s crucial that these all work together. For example, you should be able to sync your existing CRM with your new ERP software. Or you might want to link an ERP payroll module to an HRMS software that you’re already using.
ERPs that provide flexible integrations can expand the functionality of your existing tools or completely replace them after a smooth file migration.
Customization is crucial when it comes to evaluating ERP software. Otherwise, you won’t get the most of the potential benefits; here’s why.
Each department will have different business workflows. These could potentially have contradictory priorities and goals. For example, marketing teams will focus on spending while accounting teams will be focusing on saving money. Sales teams will be prioritizing a monthly quota, and production departments prioritize daily output. It’s impossible to configure these various workflows into an all-in-one solution.
So your ERP software should have configurable workflows and custom dashboards for each department. This will allow those decision-makers to define specific KPIs and goals based on custom parameters.
Setup and Deployment
It’s no secret that ERP software can be complex. Unlike other business tools, it’s not really a “sign up today and deploy in seconds” type of tool. This is largely due to the custom nature and different modules required to run smoothly.
But with that said, some ERP software providers are definitely easier to set up and deploy than others. If you don’t want to install anything locally, look for a cloud-based ERP solution. You’ll still need a custom solution, but this will be easier overall.
Between cloud-based SaaS solutions and on-premises deployment, you’ll have different options to consider.
Training and Support
Again, ERP software isn’t always easy. You need to find a provider that offers you the resources required to hit the ground running.
In most cases, they will need a proper installation by someone with technical expertise. So if your business doesn’t have a dedicated IT team, make sure you review your SLA.
In many cases, the installation could be charged entirely separately from the ERP license or subscription. Cloud-based ERPs are definitely easier to set up (as mentioned earlier), but it might still require some training.
What happens when you have a question or need some assistance? Will your software vendor be there to help you out?
These are the types of questions you need to ask yourself as you’re evaluating different options.
The Different Types of ERP Software
Before we get into the ERP software reviews, I want to quickly explain the different types of ERP software available on the market today. This will add some clarity as you’re shopping around.
General Purpose ERP Software
Generalist ERPs are flexible enough to fit the needs of various industries. They have robust customization capabilities, easy integrations, and processes that match a wide range of requirements.
The vast majority of ERP software is branded as a general-purpose ERP. This gives software vendors the ability to target as many different organizations and industries as possible.
Vertical-Specific ERP Software
As the name implies, vertical-specific ERPs are targeted for specific industries. Unlike a generalist solution, this type of software is not geared towards the masses.
These types of ERP solutions are popular in niches like manufacturing, construction, or retail. A vertical-specific ERP won’t be nearly as flexible as a general-purpose tool, but they do a great job hitting the specialized industry.
Open-Source ERP Software
Open-source ERP software only makes up a small portion of the overall ERP market. However, it’s important to know that they exist.
An open-source ERP is ideal for tech teams that want the ability to develop and integrate custom apps to an ERP solution. Since ERPs can handle such highly customized functionality and processes, this type of software is the preferred choice for developers.
Small Business ERP Software
As previously stated, there was a time when only large organizations would be using ERP software. But cloud deployment has made ERP software significantly more accessible to small businesses.
Since some ERPs are delivered with custom modules (as opposed to a fully integrated solution), small businesses can choose just two or three modules and omit the others. For example, you could get an ERP software with just functionality for accounting and HRM. Then down the road, you can add-on a module for CRM or inventory.
Small business ERPs are also known as “lightweight ERPs” because of this flexibility.
#1 – Infor Review — The Most Versatile ERP Software
Infor is a cloud-based ERP software with solutions for SMBs and enterprises alike. They have several different ERP products for you to choose from based on your industry and business needs.
With 30+ years of experience in this space, Infor’s robust and flexible technology earns them a high ranking on my list.
The ERP solutions offered by Infor are a popular choice for wholesale distribution companies, manufacturing organizations, and various service industries. Some of the notable highlights of the software include:
- Ability to personalize home pages and dashboards
- Intuitive role-based user interfaces
- Unlimited financial calendars, ledgers, basis reporting, and dimension strings
- Embedded analytics directly within different user’ workflows
- Production planning and scheduling management
- Optimized purchasing with advanced order controls
- Ability to ensure maximum margins with integrated pricing modules
While Infor is definitely known for its cloud solutions, they do offer single-instance and on-premises deployment options for some of their software.
Infor also has a wide range of specific software for things like HCM, CRM, PLM, SCM, and more. So if you just have one single need, you can explore those choices as well.
#2 – AccountMate Review — The Best Vertical Specific Solutions
AccountMate is branded as the “world’s most customizable accounting system.” It’s designed to help growing businesses gain a competitive edge with unique ERP software based on specific verticals.
The software is trusted by 125,000+ companies worldwide. In addition to the software, AccountMate provides additional services to help you get the most out of your ERP tools.
AccountMate’s vertical solution catalog is extensive, to say the least. They have 30+ vertical-specific category options available. Their development partners help businesses get industry-specific functionality in addition to the base financial software.
Some of those top categories include:
- Budgeting and forecasting
- Business analytics
- Business intelligence
- CRM applications
- Document management
- Food processing
- Human resources
- Invoice automation
- Job costing
- Route management
- Sales analysis
- Warehouse management
The list goes on and on. As you can see, these vertical-specific offerings are extremely versatile. AccountMate can ultimately provide you with a comprehensive front office and back-office solution.
Businesses within industries like manufacturing, wholesale distribution, utilities, government, solution providers, ecommerce, and business services all rely on AccountMate for ERP.
For those of you looking for a vertical-specific solution with a core focus on accounting and finance, look no further than AccountMate.
#3 – Epicor Review — Best ERP Software For Manufacturing
Epicor is another industry leader in the ERP software space. They provide cloud and on-premises solutions for businesses in spaces like manufacturing, retail, automotive, lumber and building, and distribution.
With that said, the manufacturing ERP software offered by Epicor is the clear standout.
It’s trusted by a wide range of manufacturers producing products like industrial machinery, lumber and wood, rubber and plastics, high tech electronics, aerospace and defense products, fabricated metals, medical devices, furniture, and more.
Here are some of the top benefits you’ll get with Epicor’s ERP software:
- Ability to track, measure, and monitor entire operation from raw materials to final product
- Improve efficiencies with real-time visibility into plant and business operations
- Streamline your processes to reduce costs and increase profits
- Adapt to new strategies, changing customer needs, and new manufacturing methods
- Implement lean manufacturing methodologies to eliminate waste
- Make smarter decisions and prioritize customer satisfaction
Overall, the software is designed for mid-sized and large businesses in the manufacturing and distribution space. If you fall into these categories, I strongly recommend Epicor for ERP.
#4 – IFS Review — The Best Agile ERP Software
IFS is a bit unique compared to other ERP solutions on the market today. The software isn’t as complicated and rigid as other tools that you’ll come across.
Instead, IFS gives you the ability to adapt in real-time as market landscapes change, and new technology becomes available. This approach helps maximize the agility of your organization.
IFS has pre-configured ERP solutions for areas like supply chain management, human capital management, project management, financials, service industries, and manufacturing.
Within those categories, some of the noteworthy highlights of the ERP software include:
- Risk and opportunity management
- Digital asset lifecycle journey
- Contract management, variation order management, and payment applications
- Real-time planning and scheduling optimization
- Sales forecasting and demand planning
- Multisite and multi-entity supply network visibility and planning
- CRM and SRM
- Financial accounting, management accounting, project accounting, and strategic accounting
Again, all of these tools and functionality are designed to keep your organization agile as the market changes. You’ll be able to gain a competitive edge and make strategic decisions in real-time using IFS for enterprise resource planning.
#5 – Deltek Review — The Best ERP Software For Small Business
As previously mentioned, ERP software is no longer reserved for global enterprises. There are plenty of great options out there for small businesses that want to leverage these solutions.
Deltek is one of those options for smaller companies, and it’s my top recommendation in this category.
Overall, Deltek is a great option for project-based businesses seeking an ERP solution. They have a wide range of products and modules in categories like:
- Information management and collaboration
- Business development
- Project and portfolio management
- Human capital management
They even offer niche-specific solutions like costpoint for government contractors or project lifecycle management for small architecture and engineering firms. These examples showcase the versatility of Deltek.
The cloud-based deployment makes it easy for smaller businesses to implement as well.
There are dozens of vendors out there offering ERP software. But after extensive research and testing, I can only recommend the five options reviewed above.
Which one is the best? It depends on your situation.
Make sure you follow the methodology I described earlier in this guide to narrow down your options as you’re shopping around. This will make your life much easier and ensure you make the right decision for your business.
If you are a real estate investor, then you need to know about Lending One. It is a direct real estate investing lender that has been around since 2014. They are newer, but they are quickly establishing themselves in the industry. Here is what you need to know to get a jump on deciding whether they are right for you, or not.
The company began as Crestar Funding, but changed its name in November 2016 to LendingOne. In the press release, they say that they realize the potential for this company was much larger than they originally thought.
Is Lending One a Good Option for You?
Bill Green (CEO) and Matthew Neisser (COO) joined forces in 2014 to open a private real estate lending company. The mission? To use technology to streamline and speed up the process of borrowing for real estate investment.
With Green’s skill and expertise in creating world class organizations and Neisser’s background in technology and finance, it did just that. As a result, we have the Lending One of today.. It provides a faster and easier way to apply for and receive approval for loans. Furthermore, it allows borrowers to more easily grow their real estate portfolios.
They make loans to citizens of the United States, Canadian citizens, and permanent resident aliens.
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What Types of Loans Do They Offer?
There are a range of options when it comes to loans with Lending One. They include:
For example, if your real estate game is to purchase homes to rehab and then sell for profit, then fix-and-flip loans are for you. Amazingly, rate quotes are available online in as little as 2 minutes.
They will loan up to 80% of the cost of the project, or LTC (Loan to Cost.) The minimum loan amount is $75,000. They do not list a maximum. Also, there is no interest charged on unused funds, and there is no penalty for early repayments. The minimum FICO required for a Fix-and-Flip loan is not noted on the website. They state only:
“We are much more flexible in the FICO score we accept and are happy to work with each client’s individual situations.”
Additionally, you will need to have the following documents on hand.
- Sales contract
- One month’s bank statement
- Construction budget
- List of properties currently owned
- 2 years tax returns
- LLC operating agreement, or Articles of Incorporation
Remember to send copies. Never send originals.
Now, if your business is more “fix it up and rent it out” based, you will be more interested in the rental loans. With these, there are two options. The first, RentalOne, and then the Apartment Bridge loans.
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This option is available on either a 5 or 7-year ARM (adjustable rate mortgage.) Or, if you would rather, as a 30-year fixed loan. Loan amounts go up to $2 million.
The FICO requirement for the RentalOne loan is flexible, same as with the Fix and Flip loans. However, these requirements change without warning. The truth is, you really do not know until you try. You do not have to turn over income verification, not even a W-2. Instead, they consider the cash flow of the property itself in the decision-making process. It appears, however, that there is a prepayment penalty on this one.
Multifamily Bridge Loans
These are available for buildings with 5 to 200 rental units. There is no interest on funds that are not drawn, and the terms range from 12 to 36 months. The loan amount is up to $15 million.
There is a minimum FICO requirement of 650, but closing is super-fast, sometimes in as little as 20 business days.
New Construction Loans
Another product they offer is new construction loans. Amounts range up to $5 million. These loans are available in terms ranging from 12 to 24 months with fast approval. Eligible properties include single family, townhomes, condos, and multi-family buildings.
Rehab to Rent
If you want to rehab a home to rent for profit, you can do that as well. Here is how it works. First, you apply for a Fix-and-Flip loan. Then, when the rehab is complete, they will roll it into a 30-year fixed rental loan. As a bonus, since you are already a customer with the Fix-and-Flip, you will get a discount on the fees toward your rental loan.
Lending One Pre-Approval
There is an easy, fast pre-approval process, and it’s free. You can have your terms and rates in writing before you ever submit an offer. Honestly, the proof of funds provided with pre-approval makes submitting an offer easier than ever. Pre-approvals are available for amounts up to $5,000,000.
Lending One Partner Program
The company also offers a partner program. It’s a community of investors, realtors, real estate attorneys, and third parties. Potential partners have the opportunity through the program to earn compensation in exchange for client referrals. Interest parties are invited and encouraged to participate.
The following options exist:
- The Referral Partner Program is for real estate investors, real estate attorneys, and other third partners that want to refer business to Lending One.
- The Broker Partner Program is for mortgage brokers or loan origination consultants that wish to refer business.
- Finally, the corporate partner program is designed for businesses that provide goods or services to those that invest in real estate not occupied by the owner.
Partner consultants contact potential partners within 24 hours of application to the program.
Making Payments on Your Lending One Loan
They have a contract with FCI Lender Services. This company services and accepts payment for loans. Borrowers get a welcome package with directions directly from FCI about 2 to 3 weeks after the loan closes. Payments are made via ACH, and are due on the first of the month.
Lending One and the Better Business Bureau
It never hurts to seek out what type of online reputation a company has. Online reviews are huge these days. For this company we found the following.
The Better Business Bureau
As it turns out, not only do they have an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau, but they are actually accredited since February 2017.
In that whole time, there has only been one complaint. The company addressed it and it was solved. There are only 3 reviews, and unfortunately the most recent one is negative. However, it is from someone who was in the middle of the loan process and the process was put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This is an extreme circumstance, of course.
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Benefits of Using Lending One
They use proprietary technology that allows them to streamline the underwriting process. As a result, application processing is much faster. Along with pre-approval and good reviews from previous customers, they sound like superstars. Yet, nothing’s perfect, right?
The Downside of Using Lending One
The main drawback is, they are a young company. Of course, that will not always be the case. One can only hope they will continue the positive path they are on and continue to work to get rid of any bugs.
Another negative is that you would not be able to get enough money for larger projects due to the maximum loan amounts offered. With a max of $2 million for rehab and $5 million for new construction, commercial jobs are pretty much out the window. Lending One would not be an option for those looking to do commercial flips or flips on more expensive homes in higher income areas.
A Quick Review of Real Estate Investing
If you happen to be newer to the world of real estate investing, you may want to consider these tips before you go much further.
Many real estate investment lenders will not lend to individuals. Form a legal business so that you have the best options available when it comes to funding. This is just one of many lenders that will only lend to companies. An S-corp, LLC, or corporation will work.
Tell the Truth
In real estate, there is even more importance placed on doing honest business. If you cut corners when working on a rehab, or if you are a bad landlord, word will get out. This will not only cause problems when you try to sell or rent in the future, but it can detour future funding efforts as well.
This is especially true in relation to flipping homes. A fabulous home in a terrible location is probably not going to yield a significant enough profit.
Watch the Markets
Pay attention to what is selling and where. Take note of trends in what people are willing to pay for, as well as what they are not. This will help you figure out how to best use your funds.
A Word About Credit
This lender is more flexible than many lenders when it comes to credit. However, they make it very clear credit history still counts. Consider these tips to raise your credit score if you need to.
- First, make sure you have separate business credit. This includes getting and using an EIN, and incorporating, which as noted above is something that needs to be done anyway. Also, you need to have separate contact information for your business and a dedicated business bank account.
- Next, get copies of all your credit reports.
- Look first at what is affecting your score in a negative way. Then you will know where to focus your efforts.
- After that, review the report for mistakes.
- Report mistakes to the issuing agency, in writing.
- Only send copies of backup documentation, not originals.
- Monitor your personal and business credit score continually using a credit monitoring service. This will help you stay on top of things. You can monitor your credit with both Dun and Bradstreet and Experian through Credit Suite for 90% less than it would cost you at the business credit reporting agencies. You can monitor your credit with Equifax through them directly.
Of course, none of this really matters if you are not making your payments on time. Make sure you are doing that regardless. Nothing helps a credit score like consistent, on time payments.
Is Lending One for You?
In the end, Lending One isn’t a bad option. It does have higher interest rates and lower maximum loan amounts than some. However, they are also more lenient with their credit score requirements. That means if you are not able to get the funding you need somewhere else, they could be just what you need. They have a good reputation and offer a variety of loan options.
As with any decision on a lender, do you own research. Things change frequently, and the COVID-19 pandemic changed a lot of things. You’ll want to double check details such as loan amounts and interest rates. It seems though, despite being a young company, Lending One is doing pretty well, not only for themselves, but for their customers as well.
If you want financing for commercial flips, CreditSuite might be a better option. Financing ranges up to 20,000,000 which is much more suited to that type of project.
Loan-to-values range from 55-65%. Which one you can get depends on the purpose of the loan. Funding programs are available that include conventional property financing, money for investment properties and hard money loans, bridge loans, and loans for the purchase of commercial real estate. SBA loans are also an option. For renovation, you can get a loan-to-value of up to 60%. They have many other loan programs as well, including some for residential flips.
In the end, you just need to find which option will work best for you. Lending One is definitely one to consider. I’d even give them four out of five stars. But don’t stop there. Be sure to explore all your options.