Syspro may have been around for 43 years, but the company is focused on renewal and growth.
The privately owned company specializes in ERP software for manufacturing and distribution, focusing on 11 discrete and process manufacturing industries for a mostly small to midsize customer base. Founded in South Africa with its global office in the U.K., the company's 15,000 global customers mainly lie in the U.K. and Europe, but it is investing in growing its market presence in the U.S. and the Americas, according to Scott Hebert, CEO of Syspro USA. The efforts may be paying off, as independent ERP consulting firm Panorama Consulting Group included Syspro in its annual list of top 10 ERP systems for 2022.
In this Q&A, Hebert discusses how Syspro's hybrid approach to cloud deployment compares with cloud-first competitors and describes some of the challenges its customers have faced as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Like many other longstanding ERP firms, Syspro has a primarily on-premises customer base, and manufacturers have been slower to move to cloud-based systems. How does Syspro help its customers digitize their ERP systems and move to the cloud?
Scott Hebert: We're enabling digitization for our customers and allowing them to make the move. Our intent is to allow them to find the latest technologies -- like IoT and machine learning -- and help them to get ahead of their customers' needs and be more predictive about their production quality and their production delivery lines. For example, COVID impacted all of us, but we were able to help them digitize their businesses when something as simple as accounts payable and accounts receivable were working remotely. Many systems don't allow that, so digitizing something like their check writing process allows them to pay bills and receive invoices. You can talk about the manufacturing process, but paying your vendors and getting paid for your product is important as well.
What are some of the biggest challenges that Syspro customers have faced?
Hebert: One of the things we've built into the system from the beginning is the flexibility to control how you run the business or report against it. For example, we've been working with a fine foods manufacturer that does high-end proteins that are prepped for restaurants. … But when the pandemic hit, it really impacted restaurants, and as they shut down, it shifted the business toward the Costcos and high-end supermarkets. [Our customers have] been able to measure the production and the time it takes to make their products -- because some take longer to prepare than others. This [functionality] has allowed them to shift and manage inventory and production much better. So flexibility is really important, and it helps our customers achieve their goals. Many [ERPs] force you into certain processes, and we believe that customers have to be allowed to run the business as they want and let the software work with them on that.
Who does Syspro see in ERP selection processes?
Hebert: Now we're seeing Oracle NetSuite, as well as Acumatica -- which are pure cloud plays -- the most. We also see Epicor, Infor and Microsoft quite a bit as well. For some RFPs, we see everybody under the sun, but we're seeing NetSuite and Acumatica in a majority of cases.
How does an older ERP company like Syspro compete against cloud-first vendors like Acumatica or NetSuite?
Hebert: The "born in the cloud" strategy like Salesforce does make sense in many cases, but one of Syspro's advantages is that we allow customers to have a hybrid approach, which gives them more control. Because when you go all the way to a pure SaaS, you give up control, and there are some things you can't do because they are protected at the database layer and above. We do hosted solutions on Microsoft Azure, and we're continuing to move toward offering a cloud option but giving them that spectrum. It's a matter of control and performance and how you deliver to your customers that's really key.
What can customers expect in the Syspro ERP product roadmap?
Hebert: We're going to continue to develop core competencies, the advancement of machine learning and IoT, which we will deliver in new releases, and we will deliver cloud technology and our control of the cloud technology.
Jim O'Donnell is a TechTarget news writer who covers ERP and other enterprise applications for SearchSAP and SearchERP.