Industry focus of ERP manufacturers

ERP manufacturers place emphasis on having as many processes as possible at the core of their software to support a business. In order to obtain as high a market share as possible, the focus is placed on the technology and the abstract business process so that the core product can be sold in as many sectors as possible. Therefore, it is not surprising that there are many small and medium-sized implementation partners in the market who have specialised in a certain part of the technology and can thus score points in the awarding of projects through special knowledge in one area. So that the customer has something to “touch”, the tool manufacturer’s partners usually try to develop add-ons to the standard. However, since the add-on only supplements the necessary areas of the standard and must take into account the requirements of the industry and the individuality of the customer, many of these solutions reach their limits. This is because one component of the above-mentioned mix is usually missing. If the partner has mastered the tool, he usually lacks the competence for the industry or vice versa. Common to all add-ons is that a high degree of coverage of the customer’s individual requirements is the noble goal.

At least one well-known manufacturer of ERP systems tries to supplement its standard with model companies of specific industries. These model companies offer the customer a ready-to-use solution, which, however, was designed on the drawing board and is certainly on a level of abstraction that does not make any customer happy. Furthermore, ongoing requirements from day-to-day business have to be mapped in the software, partly due to employee requests, partly due to customer requirements or even quite banally due to changing legislation. Therefore, there will continue to be an enormous need for adaptation in the future in order to take customer-specific wishes into account. Software manufacturers will not be able or willing to do this.

What about, for example, the acceptance of tanker trucks, the difference in the treatment of tank and silo goods, special tax features, or a partially digitalised delivery process in which invoicing and deposits are charged at the same time? Is all this standard? Where is the best place to draw the line? A rudimentary approach would be to limit the manufacturer to a delivery document, as it was in the past. The customer’s claim is surely that this requirement is state-of-the-art in his industry and thus can be expected as part of the standard. If it were state-of-the-art, then a model company should certainly provide it – but it is just one industry and the standard should apply to as many industries as possible – a dilemma that only implementation partners of the software manufacturer can solve.

The implementation partners must therefore continue to fill these gaps in the future and either deal generically with individual parts or focus on specific processes or industries. This three-dimensionality can only be afforded by the current partners if they change their approach to the market. So I predict that there will be providers who will try their hand at three-dimensionality in order to meet precisely this customer need. If one does this well, then this provider has a strong power in the market.