It’s not advisable for distribution companies to sit out the
software revolution that’s changing the way their industry does business.
Innovations in cloud-based Enterprise
Resource Planning (ERP) software for distribution are enabling
distributors to cut costs and speed up operations. It’s time to make a move,
but what should you look for in a distribution ERP solution? As an Acumatica
partner, we recommend checking out the Business
Management System Evaluation Checklist, which will summarize here.
ERP for Distribution
ERP for distribution management helps you manage your supply
chain and logistics. This may include warehouse and inventory management along
with functions to oversee sales and purchase orders. What makes these new
solutions different from earlier generations of warehouse software is its
ability to integrate with your broader business applications. Acumatica
Distribution Edition, for example, connects seamlessly with accounting and
finance, Customer Relationship Management (CRM), manufacturing management, field
service management and project accounting.
The Distribution ERP Checklist
The Acumatica distribution ERP checklist recommends looking
at a potential distribution solution from five perspectives:
Productivity—How the product can make you and
your staff more productive
Functionality—What the solution’s features and
functions actually do
Technology—How the product’s technology affects
usability, customizability and maintainability
Value—The solution’s financial impact over the
Risk—The solution’s contribution to security
The productivity section of the checklist suggests that you
look into issues like usability, e.g. is the software easy to use and available
on all relevant devices? Multi-language and multi-currency capabilities also
affect user productivity, as do workflow automation tools. Acumatica includes
document management and reporting features as productivity factors as well.
The functionality of a distribution ERP solution is where it
can have a real impact on the way your business runs. For example, the
checklist suggests that you look at how well a potential distribution ERP
handles multiple business entities. This is relevant for companies that operate
in more than one country or have their warehouse operations in a different corporate
entity. A good distribution ERP should handle financial consolidation and
intercompany transactions. Critical workflows like “Quote to Cash” and
inventory control should also be part of the distribution ERP evaluation
The important thing to grasp when assessing distribution ERP
technologies is that not all cloud ERPs are alike. Some, like Acumatica are
native to the cloud. Others may be legacy (on-premises) solutions that have
been adapted for the cloud. A true cloud ERP for distribution will always be
accessible through a web browser alone—with no specialized software to download
and install. Other technological points to examine include whether the solution
has a full relational database and standards-based (e.g. RESTful) APIs for
Value will invariably be part of an assessment of potential
distribution ERPs. Acumatica recommends taking a thorough look at the solution’s
true Total Cost of Ownership (TCO). This figure can be tricky to determine
accurately. The “sticker price” is not TCO. Rather, TCO should consider factors
like support personnel, costs of integration with other systems and so forth.
The value calculus could also be affected by future growth, as scaling some
systems generates unexpected costs.
All conscientious IT managers are aware of cybersecurity
risks as a factor in selecting a new solution. Distribution ERP is no exception.
The Acumatica checklist suggests paying close attention to how and where the
platform stores your customer data as well as its ability to support your
existing controls and security policies. The solution’s backup and disaster
recovery capabilities should also be evaluated in the process of selecting a
We have worked with many distribution businesses on the
selection and implementation of cloud-based distribution ERP solutions. We are
available to help you with this process. If you would like to see how Acumatica
Distribution Edition might work for your business, contact us
for a demo and consultation.