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Epicor ERP, which has a long history of traditional on-premises deployments, is moving further into the cloud.
While some of Epicor's manufacturing customers remain reluctant, many are taking advantage of Epicor's commitment to the cloud by stepping up their migration efforts.
Epicor ERP focuses on functionality for midmarket manufacturers, including supply chain, inventory planning and management, distribution and finance. A newly available version of its SaaS offering, Epicor ERP 10.2.700, includes new features designed to make the cloud more attractive to manufacturers, as well as address issues that have arisen during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the company. For example, improved mobile functionality makes it easier for manufacturers to manage remote workers. Epicor, based in Austin, Texas, has also updated its Kinetic UX to be more modern, flexible and mobile-centric.
The release of new features and functionality comes on the heels of Epicor's acquisition by the private equity firm Clayton Dubilier & Rice LLC in September for $4.7 billion.
Taking a closer look
Innovations in Epicor ERP 10.2.700 include features like Data Analytics Budgeting and Forecasting, a cloud BI application for financial reporting; Quick Ship, a cloud application that automates and processes shipments; and Epicor Identity, which provides secure access across all Epicor applications using multifactor identification (MFA) and single sign-on (SSO), said Christine Hansen, Epicor principal product marketing manager.
One industry-specific innovation is Advanced Unit of Measure (AUOM), which improves inventory management and traceability for metal fabrication and metal services companies.
The updated Kinetic UX includes hundreds of new templates for forms, reports and processes available across multiple devices. It also now includes the Epicor Application Studio, a low-code design environment that enables users to customize and personalize their own experiences, such as adding custom forms, dashboards or reports.
Epicor is concentrating on moving its customer base to the cloud, offering its ERP product as a SaaS model deployed on Microsoft Azure, Hansen said. However, the company is not pressuring customers to move before they are ready and is committed to supporting legacy on-premises systems.
Although some manufacturers remain content to stay with on-premises systems, current circumstances are driving more to consider the cloud, she said.
"The majority of our customers are sitting on premises today, but the pace of customers moving to the cloud has increased tremendously in the past six months," Hansen said. "We have a team dedicated to moving customers to the cloud and that conversation about it has become a lot easier."
The COVID-19 pandemic has been the impetus for some manufacturers to move to Epicor's cloud ERP offering, Hansen explained, but there are other reasons, including a spate of ransomware attacks targeting on-premises systems.
"There's been a lot of that in the news especially around healthcare, but it's been happening in manufacturing already," she said.
Move to cloud improves efficiency for manufacturer
The reasons why Enjet Aero LLC implemented Epicor ERP in the cloud are less severe, but no less beneficial.
Enjet Aero, in Overland Park, Kan., manufactures parts and systems for the aerospace industry, with customers that include GE, Pratt & Whitney and Honeywell. The company operates five manufacturing facilities across the U.S., and has standardized on the cloud Epicor ERP system, said Nicholas Mueller, Enjet Aero's director of ERP systems.
Because several of the facilities were acquisitions, each facility was running its own ERP system, Mueller said. But the company was so impressed by its first exposure to Epicor ERP at its facility in Erie, Pa., it decided to move a second facility, in Terre Haute, Ind., onto an on-premises version in 2018.
"By May 2019, we realized that we saw huge benefits by putting them on that and aligning processes, and realized that we could do it multi-company," he said. "So, in June 2019, we decided to move forward with a multi-company setup that would bring all of our sites onto the same instance of Epicor."
The decision required Enjet Aero to migrate all facilities onto the SaaS version of Epicor ERP. However, going to the cloud was not universally embraced at first, according to Mueller.
"We have a lot of old-school machinist style mindsets in our shops, and when you say cloud, everyone freaks out because they didn't know what it was about," he said. "The SaaS model is so much more available for us, we don't have to mess with all of the internal system setups. Now with COVID and places being shut down, a person can work from home or be remote or virtual and they can get access to data from different sites without having to VPN [in]. As long as they have internet at home, they can touch anything that they need in the ERP."
Epicor ERP's improved functionality a plus
Epicor is headed in the right direction with the improved feature functionality, especially for manufacturing-specific use cases, said Shawn Windle, founder and managing principal of ERP Advisors Group, a firm in Lakewood, Colo., that consults with businesses on ERP projects.
The release of Epicor ERP 10.2.700 along with the Kinetic UX couldn't come at a better time for companies that want to upgrade their technology stack immediately, he said.
"Customers want modern technology and they demand it to be user-friendly," Windle said. "So having an updated and modernized user experience is really just table stakes for any ERP in 2020."
There are indications that Epicor's new owners Clayton Dubilier & Rice are committed to investing in the company's growth.
"This could mean more tech-related acquisitions in the foreseeable future," Windle said. "We're looking forward to seeing whether this new ownership team can position Epicor more competitively as a modern ERP with excellent customer service."
Epicor is making good progress in making its strategic products available in a SaaS model, said Cindy Jutras, president of Mint Jutras, an ERP industry research and advisory firm in Windham, N.H.
While it's not hurrying customers to the cloud, Epicor is creating incentive for them to make the move by delivering industry-specific innovation in its cloud offerings, Jutras said.
"Epicor is not only accelerating the pace of innovation to the go-forward solutions, it's also striving to share even more innovation across product lines," she said. "Advanced technology and component-based architectures makes this very achievable and cloud connectivity makes that innovation far easier to consume."