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Guest Post: In the Middle – Identifying Software Needs for Medium-Sized Businesses

By David Turbide, CFPIM, CMfgE, CIRM

Medium-sized businesses often have a tough time finding just the right fit in many areas. They typically have more people and resources than small businesses, but their supply chains and controls are often more complex.

Conversely, a medium-sized company is more likely to be selling to, buying from and – most importantly – competing with those big multinationals that often have all the world’s technology at their command. The big guys run their supply chains using the technology developed by ERP juggernauts and specialty companies like i2 and Manugistics (that have both been acquired by others along the way). The medium-sized company often can’t afford these big, complex systems – either from a financial perspective or the internal IT and intellectual resources required to put the technology to productive use. But they still need the same planning and control capabilities to compete.

Enter the mid-range software and systems community that is tasked with providing top-grade capabilities at an affordable price, while also providing small and medium enterprise (SME)-friendly ease-of-use. For the most part, these providers have succeeded, in part because one can argue that leading Tier 2 ERP developers have built very sophisticated and capable applications and made them accessible.

The Tier 1 players have long lusted after the mid-range market and have approached it with some success, but the task has been difficult for them because neither their software nor their sales channels were designed to address this market. The Tier 2 (and Tier 3) specialists know their market, its needs and abilities and have designed their products and services accordingly.

Bottom line: Just because you’re not paying the “big bucks” to the Tier 1 suppliers doesn’t necessarily mean that you are compromising on functionality, scope or depth. On the contrary, an ERP solution designed for your tier, and especially one that is focused on your industry, is likely to provide the systems and support that you need at a price that you can afford.

Dave is a consultant, writer, educator and subject matter expert with first-hand knowledge of manufacturing management practices, supply chain functions and enterprise systems. He is certified by APICS as a Supply Chain Professional, at the fellow level in Production and Inventory Management and in Integrated Resource Management. He authored six books, published hundreds of articles and is currently President of the APICS Granite State Chapter. For more information, visit www.daveturbide.com.