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The Datacor Blog

Industry Specific vs Generic ERP Differences & Buying Advice

September 3, 2020 by Caitlin O'Donnell

If your business is looking to select and implement a new enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, you have a critical decision to make. Do you go with a generic ERP solution that comes with “one size fits all” functionality? Or do you look at industry-specific ERP software? While generic software can be cheaper up front, industry-specific solutions are an investment in your company’s future, offering all of the features that meet your needs.

To learn more about ERP software and the benefits it offers, see our introductory guide. In this post, we’ll compare the differences between generic and industry-specific ERP systems.

Generic ERP software

ERP software helps businesses consolidate data, streamline operations and improve processes across the organization. Among other benefits, the right system will save time and effort, lower operating costs, increase data accuracy and enable more informed decision-making. 

A generic ERP system is a general software solution that offers a wide range of functionality for companies across various industries. These systems typically address accounting and finance, but do very little for operations. While they may have a lower application cost, they can actually cost you more in time, effort and money over the long run. 

Why? For specialized industries, such as chemical and process manufacturing, these systems offer very limited functionality. They will require a lot of modifications, customizations, integrations and add-ons in order to perform essential functions — which drastically increases cost and risk. Implementation costs are also high, because it takes time for the developer to learn your business and to create and test an application that will meet your needs. 

While many customers seek software to help them stay compliant with industry standards and account for gaps in knowledge, chemical and process manufacturers who use generic software often end up teaching developers about their industry when designing custom solutions. This can result in regulatory violations and costly oversights.

Industry-specific ERP

Industry-specific ERP software provides all the same essential tools for accounting, finance and business management as generic systems do. But these systems go further, offering features and capabilities tailored to your industry and operational needs that generic ERP systems simply can’t provide. 

For example, using industry-specific software, a production planner could utilize integrated batch scheduling functionality to assist them in planning and scheduling product production. To perform the same task using generic software, you would need to integrate a third-party software product — or design, develop, test and implement a costly add-on or custom module. 

In short: The software you choose should make it easier, faster and more cost-effective for workers to do their jobs, but generic ERP software often makes it more difficult, costly and labor-intensive. 

Generic vs. industry-specific ERP software

Here’s how the features and capabilities of generic and industry-specific ERP systems stack up:

Generic ERP software features:

  • Accounting and financial management
  • Customer relationship management (CRM)
  • Business intelligence (BI) and artificial intelligence (AI)
  • Human resources (HR)
  • Demand planning and forecasting
  • Inventory management
  • Supply chain management
  • Project management

Industry-specific ERP software features:

  • Accounting and financial management
  • Customer relationship management (CRM)
  • Business intelligence (BI) and artificial intelligence (AI)
  • Human resources (HR)
  • Demand planning and forecasting
  • Inventory management
  • Supply chain management
  • Project management
  • Manufacturing
  • Material requirements planning (MRP)
  • Wireless barcoding
  • Price change management
  • Computerized maintenance management system (CMMS)
  • Automatic unit-of-measure conversions
  • Batch manufacturing records (BMRs)
  • Quality management
  • Lab, recipe and formula management
  • Regulatory compliance
  • Safety data sheet (SDS) and certificate of analysis (COA) creation
  • FDA software validation 
  • Plant preventative maintenance / computerized maintenance management system (CMMS)
  • Non-conformance / corrective actions 
  • ...and much more

Choosing the right system

Selecting a new ERP solution is a difficult process, but the first question you should consider is whether a generic ERP system or an industry-specific ERP system is the best fit for your organization. Carefully look at your business processes and see which type of system will provide you with not only the basic functionality that you need, but the specialized capabilities that will help your organization streamline processes, improve operations and grow both productivity and profits. 

Datacor ERP is an all-in-one solution designed specifically to meet the needs of chemical and process manufacturers and distributors. Backed by 30 years of industry experience, our team knows how to help you succeed. To learn more, contact us or sign up for a demo

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Editor's note: This post was originally published in February 2018 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

Topics: ERP, Enterprise Resource Planning, Selection

Caitlin O'Donnell

Written by Caitlin O'Donnell

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