epicor p21 review

Epicor P21 Review: Is it a Fit for My Company?

epicor p21 reviewToday’s post is an Epicor P21 Review.  You may be considering purchasing a new ERP system and Prophet 21 might be on your list of packages to look at.  ERP is a huge investment, so how do you know if you are choosing the right software to run your company?  As an power user, administrator, and developer for many aspects of Prophet 21, hopefully I can give you some unbiased information to help you make the right decision.

I will tell you that if you are looking for the perfect system, it doesn’t exist.  Every company has a nuance to it.  ERP vendors would go broke if they tried to be all things to all people.  Instead, they endeavor to deliver something that has appeal to a broad audience.  Epicor is no different.  Like any business, they are a for-profit enterprise, so they have to make money.  Make sure to keep realistic expectations of what any system will deliver.

Epicor does interact with their P21 customers on a pretty frequent basis through outreach via user groups and the like.  They also have customer advisory groups for some of their key verticals, among them fasteners, fluid power, and tile

Is P21 Right for My Company?

It could be…but you will have to read this Epicor P21 review to find out!

What is Your Business Model?

First and foremost, if you are considering P21, then a substantial part of your business should be distribution.  If you buy, stock, and resell products, Epicor P21 ERP might be a good fit for you.  There are also other aspects where P21 delivers functionality.  For example there are functions for kitting, light manufacturing, and service / maintenance.

That being said, if your company is primarily engaged in manufacturing and you want things like scheduling, capacity planning or material requirements planning (MRP), those things do not exist in P21.  The manufacturing abilities of the system today (version 2017.1) are functional, but they are basic in nature.  For manufacturers, Prophet 21 is not going to deliver the kind of costing granularity or visibility you will be looking for.  Kitting & Assembly and basic transformation of raw material to finished goods does exist and is fully functional.  If this type of manufacturing exists in your company, and you have significant distribution operations, then P21 may be a fit for you.

What is your Line of Business?

What type of distribution are you doing?  Every distribution ERP system has similar traits, but certain systems seem to have a better fit for a particular industry.  Epicor does interact with their P21 customers on a pretty frequent basis through outreach via user groups and the like.  They also have customer advisory groups for some of their key verticals, among them fasteners, fluid power, and tile.  I have met customers who are also in medical supply, HVAC, electrical, and plumbing/PVF, and other hard goods types of distribution.

If you are not in one of the industries listed above, that doesn’t mean P21 will not work for you.  However, if you are in one of these verticals, then at least you know that Prophet 21 has experience in your arena.  ERP companies are never going to understand your company from A to Z, but it doesn’t hurt if they have some familiarity with the industry.

Do You Desire a Particular Technology Platform?

A good Epicor P21 review needs to discuss the infrastructure.  The P21 database is built on Microsoft SQL Server.  There are no other options for data storage.  As for the front end, historically it has been delivered as a Windows desktop application based on Powerbuilder.  Now the technology is based on Microsoft .NET.  This is true of the Desktop application, the web application and all of the pieces in between.  If you deploy the desktop client, you will only do so on a Windows operating system.  For the middleware and web server, those applications only run on Microsoft Internet Information Server (IIS).    Having said that, if you are running the web version, it is cross-browser compatible, meaning it works on Chrome, Firefox, Safari, etc.  For forms and reports, Crystal is pretty much the go to.  There is support for Adobe Forms, but all the new development is geared to Crystal.

If these platforms are comfortable for your company, then Epicor P21 might be a good fit.  However, if you are looking for choices regarding the database brand and server architecture, Prophet 21 is not going to be the right fit for you.  It will not run on Nginx or Apache.  Likewise, Oracle, MySQL, and other database platforms are not natively compatible with P21.

How Much Customization Do You Want?

Extensibility is one area, in my opinion, where P21 has an edge.  There are a lot of options to customize and extend the software.  Screen changes are fairly straightforward and usually do not require a lot of programming experience.  Simple screen design changes can be made with little effort.  Adding new fields is easy, although SQL knowledge is helpful in advanced cases.  Report and Form changes are done through Crystal or Adobe Forms.

Extensibility is one area, in my opinion, where P21 has an edge.  There are a lot of options to customize and extend the software.

Prophet 21 also allows you to inject your own processing into the system through an add-on called DynaChange Business Rules.  This is probably the single most powerful thing you can do with P21.  Business rules can be used for a variety of automation and customization scenarios.  You are pretty much limited to your imagination.  They do require .NET coding knowledge (C# or VB), but once you start using them, you’ll be hooked.

Also, the portal feature of P21 is pretty interesting.  This allows you to deploy windows/screens into a special part of the system where you can embed your own stuff into the program.  This is a good feature especially if you want to display a web page within P21.  You can feasibly extend the system with a custom web application and then embed it back into Prophet 21.

If you want to work on the system to and dial it into your needs, then P21 may be a good fit.  However, if you want something that is highly customized to exactly the way you conduct business, and you cannot or do not want to adapt any of your processes to how the system works, then Prophet 21 might not be the right solution.

Closing Thoughts on this Epicor P21 Review

Thanks for reading this Epicor P21 Review.  Hopefully this gives you a better feel for whether or not Prophet 21 will be a good software package for your company.  If you are in a distribution based business, you will not get hurt by having P21 on your list of systems for consideration.  However, if you are looking for a totally custom package or if you are in a business primarily engaged in something other than distribution, this may not be exactly the best fit.

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Posted in Buying P21, Prophet 21.