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Acumatica Review Acumatica Cloud ERP Review

 
3.5 stars Average rating: 3.5 (from 142 votes)
By Chuck Schaeffer

Acumatica — Another Credible Option in an Emerging Cloud ERP Market

I enjoy research around disruptive technologies as they can contribute to competitive differentiation and accelerate ROI on business software investments in a very big way. Cloud ERP is one of those disruptive technologies that continues to pit old guard legacy ERP publishers against a new breed of innovative challengers.

Acumatica is one of those challengers that is delivering a solid ERP solution to a growing market. This solution is a full ERP suite, including financials, distribution, project accounting and CRM. I had the chance to meet with Acumatica and solidify many of my impressions about their company and product. And after also talking with some of their customers, here’s my take away of the top benefits and limitations for this cloud ERP solution.

Acumatica Benefits

  • Target Market—Acumatica is a strong fit for middle market organizations which require deeper functionality, more flexibility, decision support and more technology options for integration and customization.

  • Leading Technology—The product is developed in .NET and takes advantage of the Microsoft stack. This can deliver integration and customization flexibility (via Visual Studio), scalability (via federated and clustered web servers/databases), workflow automation (via Windows Workflow Foundation), information access (tons of tools) and even information analysis (via Analysis Services, etc.) The biggest downside of an all-Microsoft technology foundation is ubiquitous browser support, however, in this case, Acumatica smartly avoided Silverlight and leverages JavaScript for its presentation layer and multiple browser support.

  • User Experience—The ERP software uses a rich user interface (UI) and flexible on-page navigation that contributes to a positive user experience (UX). The dashboards are strong and the information reporting is far better than many other cloud ERP systems.

  • Software Flexibility—Early ERP systems are often inflexible and infamously known to require companies to change their business processes rather than delivering software that can change to accommodate those processes. While many times it’s only those unique business processes that cannot be handled by the ERP software, those are the processes that the C-suite will be the first to tell you represent their competitive differentiation. Acumatica is breaking this trend by leveraging an underlying development platform (Acumatica Studio) which empowers business process changes while also enabling software extensibility and software customization.

  • Cloud Portability—Acumatica offers customer choice in software delivery, be it on-premise or on-demand, and goes further by also offering cloud ubiquity and portability. Acumatica uses MS Azure for its own cloud hosting, but customers are not locked in to a single cloud, and in fact, may choose among multiple cloud providers based on the cloud delivery services most important to them (i.e. proximity to the data center, data privacy or information security, Service Level Agreement (SLA), price, third party attestations such as ISO 27001 or SAS70/SSAE 16, etc.) Further, being able to switch cloud providers on demand delivers portability with the benefits of lowering the cost of exit and maintaining investment protection. Customers that have extended their ERP software investment with custom development or similar proprietary firmware are able to take and reuse those investments to the cloud of their choice.

  • Partner Channel—Acumatica is sold exclusively through a Value Added Reseller (VAR) and OEM channel. By partnering with VARs the company is able to remain focused on advancing their application software while customers are normally left in the competent hands of mature partners who have been deploying ERP systems for many years.

  • ERP Pricing—The company uses a very unique pricing model that avoids the typical "per user per month" Software as a Service (SaaS) subscription fees in favor of an ERP suite-based consumption model that determines monthly pricing by transaction volumes, storage utilization, processing and similar benchmarks. SaaS pricing is generally between about $1K and $11K per month. Alternatively, customers can bypass SaaS subscription pricing and choose to purchase a more traditional perpetual software license with annual maintenance plan.

Acumatica Limitations

  • Cloud Architecture—the ERP system does not use a multi-tenant database architecture, which many SaaS advocates suggest is essential to deliver several SaaS benefits. It is undoubtedly true that multi-tenant architectures better share compute resources for superior economies of scale and facilitate more frequent innovation by making it much easier to release new upgrades and versions to all customers in parallel. However, Acumatica is clearly one of the lower priced ERP systems and delivers significant upgrades twice per year, somewhat defying these arguments. Whether the company will be able to continue this upgrade pace with scale remains to be seen.

    Some argue that single-tenant SaaS ERP systems can enable increased software flexibility or software customization not available in multi-tenant applications. This may be have been true at the turn of the century, but most of today’s SaaS applications include PaaS (Platform as a Service) tools which permit extremely flexible software customization and use layers of abstraction in order to avoid modifying the source code, and keep the application in sync with future version releases. I’ve also heard the argument from single tenant cloud ERP makers which suggest that isolated tenancy delivers superior information security and is favored by certain security-intensive industries. However, as a guy who’s been an infosec lead auditor, and developed infosec security plans in conjunction with SaaS application deployments for the federal government and large financial services firms I find this to be a false argument. Single tenant versus multi-tenant SaaS architectures can sound a bit like an esoteric technology debate, but they do impact certain business benefits so it is incumbent upon ERP buyers to understand if their business objectives may be influenced by underlying technology enablers or constraints.
  • Brand—Acumatica lacks brand recognition and market visibility among ERP buyers and the ERP industry at large. The company is still young, but having been founded in 2006, it’s time to make themselves known or forever fall into oblivion. Failure to remedy this will most certainly impact business performance.

    Verticals—At this point in time the Acumatica ERP software is only available as a horizontal product. No vertical market or industry specific editions are offered. The company is building an ISV partner channel, and a bit of an online ecosystem, so I expect we’ll see the introduction of a few vertical market ERP products from channel members in the future.

  • Global Reach—While the Acumatica ERP software does offer multi-currency support and multiple languages, it’s not yet a global-ready solution. Sales and support resources are almost entirely focused on the U.S. market. The company is growing its international channel partners (both VARs and OEMs) however it will likely be some time before multi-national companies will find acceptable global support.

  • CRM—As is typical with cloud ERP software solutions, the CRM software is decidedly behind the rest of the application. It handles the basics of account, contact and activity management, but doesn’t equate to the CRM-only systems. Company management suggested that CRM may see an upgrade in the forthcoming version 4.1 release.

  • Social Enterprise—The company has yet to leverage social media within its application. While it’s often the CRM software providers which offer the social CRM tools, pioneering ERP providers are in prime position to enable their customers to become social enterprises. While social CRM has become table stakes, enabling the social enterprise is still a somewhat nascent but increasingly requested disruptive technology that several leading analysts firms suggest will see dramatic growth over the next five years. At this point, few ERP providers are delivering the tools to support social strategies, but this is clearly starting to change and it will be interesting to see if Acumatica acts as a leader or a laggard in enabling this change.

Anybody that’s been in this industry for a while knows that having the best ERP product doesn’t create a sustainable company. I often say that the software technology companies with the best combination of the 3 P’s—people, product and promotion—win. Acumatica has smart people, in fact much smarter than most. They also have a solid product which can compete favorably with any cloud ERP system bar none. But the company lacks promotion and failure to remedy this critical success factor will most certainly render the effort short. I’m hopeful that the company will clarify its message, amplify its reach and inject themselves into a rapidly growing SaaS ERP market that is clearly wanting to view and review more solid applications like Acumatica. End

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Comments (5) — Comments for this page are closed —

Guest Jeff Whitman
  Who does Acumatica normally compete with?
  Chuck Chuck Schaeffer
    In cloud ERP sale opportunities, Acumatica normally competes with NetSuite. If the sales prospect is a middle market or larger company, Acumatica competes with NetSuite’s direct sales force. Otherwise, they may be competing with a NetSuite partner. If the prospect is a small business or an accounting firm they may compete with Intacct. Because Acumatica also offers their solution on-premise, they frequently compete with Microsoft Dynamics and Sage solutions.
  Guest Marti Chandler
    Does Acumatica compete with FinancialForce?
  Chuck Chuck Schaeffer
    Acumatica’s CMO, Stijn Hendrikse, told me they don’t see FinancialForce in the market, presumably as FinancialForce.com serves smaller businesses.

Guest RonJon
  It's interesting that you brought up cloud portability. We never even considered that in our ERP software selection several years ago and when we decided to leave NetSuite, we were unable to take any of our custom productivity tools, added mash-ups or integration to third party tools with us. Combined with great difficulty in getting our data out of NetSuite, the entire process was nothing short of a nightmare. I can guarantee you when we look for our next ERP system we will insist upon cloud portability and minimal exit barriers.
 

 

 

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Acumatica offers customer choice in software delivery, be it on-premise or on-demand, and goes further by also offering cloud ubiquity and portability.

 

 

 

 

 

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