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ByDesign vs. NetSuite: What's the Best ERP for SMEs?

Choosing an enterprise resource planning (ERP) software solution is a big decision. Your ERP software is meant to be a cornerstone tool that helps you with all areas of your business. It needs to be flexible enough to suit your specific and unique needs.

Two of the current industry leaders in ERP software are SAP Business ByDesign and Oracle NetSuite. Both consistently get top ratings, and both have a slew of glowing reviews from industry trade publications and users from the SME sector.

Having said that, we recommend SAP Business ByDesign as the better investment for the vast majority of medium-sized business out there. Here are our reasons why.

1. Cost transparency

Dollar for Dollar, SAP Business ByDesign isn’t necessarily less expensive than NetSuite. But with Business ByDesign, you know exactly what you’re paying for. NetSuite practices a modular licensing approach in which many functions are considered add-ons that you have to pay extra to use—and many of these functions are quite basic, such as accounts payable scanning, Excel compatibility, and even telephone support. Also, while NetSuite’s initial contract terms may seem highly attractive, they will undergo a steep price hike after the first year.

In contrast, SAP Business ByDesign offers full functionality out of the box. It’s designed to be inherently scalable, meaning all features for all business sizes are readily available and you can choose whether to use them or not to suit your needs. Also, you get free access to updates and new added features—something NetSuite charges you extra for.

2. Ease of configuration

Your business isn’t like any other. You may or may not be in a niche sector, but your particular business needs are unique to your business alone.

Your ERP software needs to be configured for those needs so that it can become the cornerstone it is meant to be. NetSuite addresses the configuration issue by employing a template that isn’t flexible at handling the complexities of customization. This just adds extra time and cost to the configuration process.

SAP Business ByDesign, on the other hand, can be rolled out much more quickly. Its standardized processes and built-in implementation methodology mean you spend much less time on initial configuration, and it even offers full localization to aid companies around the globe. Its built-in configuration capabilities also include a sandbox feature that allows you to test each new release before going live, an essential practice for new software rollout. This feature is free in Business ByDesign, whereas NetSuite charges for it.

3. Customer support

The level of customer support you’re getting with your software is often underrated during the buying process. We’re all familiar with vendors that lavish you with attention when they’re trying to score a sale, but are nowhere to be found once money has been exchanged.

NetSuite has scored poorly on support for two reasons: email support is standard, but telephone support is an additional charge. And its support hub is based outside the US, and this cultural distance from many of its users has been the cause of customer complaints over the years.

Conversely, SAP Business ByDesign has scored highly on support in many customer satisfaction surveys. SAP often works directly with their consultant partners throughout sales, contract, and deployment, which means customers can get reliable help from the people who sold them the software. And SAP provides 24/7 internal email and telephone support as a standard feature.

4. Global support

If you’re from a non-English-speaking country, it’s likely you’ve often been frustrated at the lack of support many popular software packages have for your language. The fact that most software developers are based in the West means they’ll almost always cater to English speakers first before adapting to other language markets. Localization takes time and money, and many software companies neglect these other markets.

This is another advantage SAP Business ByDesign has over NetSuite. ByDesign is fully localized in 19 countries, not just in terms of language but also when it comes to tax and local accounting standards and practices; these countries include France, Germany, Italy, Spain, China, India, the U.K., Canada, Australia, and Japan. NetSuite claims to have over 100 localizations, but most of them are only for language and indirect tax.

When you compare Business ByDesign and Netsuite, you begin noticing that the platforms are not the same for global business needs.

5. Scalability

If your business expands from a local to an international one, you’ll want your ERP software to scale with you.

Once again, SAP Business ByDesign has the edge here in its ability to adopt new operational requirements and expand into new markets seamlessly. NetSuite has a feature called OneWorld for global organizations, but it requires an upgrade and re-implementation. ByDesign has the same functionality built-in.

If NetSuite’s deceptive pricing terms haven’t already given you pause, the comparatively poorer flexibility of their offerings should further steer you in another direction. SAP Business ByDesign is our clear choice for the better ERP software package for SMEs, both from a value-for-money standpoint as well as a pure value perspective.

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