Managing Manufacturing via the Cloud

Michael Vizard

As the economy begins to rebound, manufacturing activity is starting to accelerate. Unfortunately, most of it is taking place in relatively small companies with little access to sophisticated management software.

Epicor wants to change that with the launch today of Epicor Express, a software-as-a-service implementation of its recently revamped suite of ERP applications designed specifically for manufacturing companies.

According to Chad Meyer, director of product marketing for Epicor, there are somewhere between 800,000 and 1 million manufacturing companies that manage their operations using spreadsheets, accounting software from Quicken and paper-based systems.

Meyer contends that the cost of not only ERP software, but the underlying IT infrastructure, has prevented many of these companies from embracing more sophisticated IT-enable business processes. Epicor's SaaS offering allows customers to pay only for the software they need, a model like that of CRM vendors such as Salesforce.com

Over time, Meyer expects to see blended cloud computing models as enteprise computing evolves. But for now, Meyer says most of the interest in Epicor Express will be from companies that only need a lightweight version of the company's core ERP suite for manufacturing.

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Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
May 13, 2010 7:18 PM Patrick Fetterman Patrick Fetterman  says:


It's good to see you covering our space (SaaS ERP). Epicor's announcement, while welcomed by the market, seems to adhere to the mistaken assumption that SaaS is only for small companies. They are targeting job shops and small manufacturers, generally with 10-25 employees. I think selling these companies any software is going to be a tough job, and I wish them well. But I think they're missing the boat, as many legacy software companies do when they think about SaaS - they think it's a limited function, low cost solution for very small companies, and anybody who needs more sophisticated software needs to switch to the on-premises model. That's simply not true, and it's doing many companies a disservice.

My company, Plex Systems (www.plex.com), has been selling SaaS ERP/MRP solutions to mid and large manufacturers for many years. Most of our customers are in the $10-500 million annual revenue range, though our largest are over $1 billion in annual revs. These companies have complex requirements for robust functionality, and demand AT LEAST 99.9% uptime (less than 42 minutes per month) - they'd never be satisfied with the 99.5% uptime in Epicor's SLA, as that translates to nearly 4 hours of downtime per month.

Until the legacy ERP vendors get wise to what customers are demanding, I think we're going to see many SaaS adventures fall by the wayside. Just my two cents, of course.



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