Should you choose a generic or industry-specific ERP system?

Implementing a new ERP system is no small task.

Add in the time pressures and volatility of the metals market, and you can be certain this implementation is not something you want to be doing again a few months down the line.

So, selecting the right software can be a pretty daunting decision. This is why we suggest breaking it down.

One of the first choices to be made is whether a generic or industry-specific ERP system is best for your business.

Here, we outline the key differences between the two and explain why industry-specific triumphs over generic for metal manufacturers.

What is an ERP system?

ERP stands for Enterprise Resource Planning. It’s a form of software that enables companies to manage and streamline business operations.

So, areas such as order processing, stock management, project management, accounting, customer relationship management, compliance and reporting are all connected through an ERP system, allowing data to be stored in one central space.

Having this shared database that integrates all the different areas of your business can save you time, boost productivity,  increase accuracy and lower costs.

But that’s only if the ERP system is right for you.

This leads us to the generic vs industry-specific debate.

What is a generic ERP system?

Generic ERP software is a standard system that addresses the typical needs of a business across industries. So, areas like accounting, sales, HR, customer relationship management, purchasing and marketing tend to be covered.

Think of it as a “one size fits all” solution.

But, as is discovered by many industries, in particular manufacturing, one size doesn’t always fit all.

Those with generic ERP systems then have to turn to customisations and add-ons to integrate with their software. Something that can be costly, time-consuming and stressful.

What is an industry-specific ERP system?

As you’ve probably guessed, an industry-specific ERP system is designed specifically for your sector. So, it covers the generic functions but goes multiple steps further.

Features and functionalities are included specifically to solve the challenges that the industry faces, delivering a tailored solution to meet their needs.

So, if you’re a metal stockholder or processor, the ideal ERP system would include modules to support stock control, quality assurance, traceability, dynamic pricing and units of measure, minimising wastage, coil planning, logistics planning and so on.

Rather than paying for more features or trying to invent functionalities that will work with your generic system, the capabilities are already there, readily available for you to get on with your day-to-day operations.

What are the benefits of an industry-specific ERP system for metal stockholders and processors?


The most obvious of the benefits. A generic ERP system is built to serve a broad range of industries. And although similar challenges of running a business can exist across the board, there’s also a fair amount of crucially different needs. For example, you can’t expect a school to have the same needs as a metal stockholder.

As we’ve mentioned, you can get add-ons for generic systems. But too many can over-complicate a tool that’s supposed to make things easier. What’s more, you’re then left with having to work with lots of different software vendors. This can make it especially hard if you encounter problems and don’t know which vendor is best placed to fix it.

An industry-specific ERP system is dedicated to only one industry, meaning time is spent to solve, design and deliver everything a company in that industry should need to optimise operations.

Opting for a generic system may mean having to change a lot of your processes and data in order to adapt to the software. Industry-specific, on the other hand, fits around you.

Easier to use

Because an industry-specific ERP system is developed with your industry in mind, it can be simpler for your whole company to use.

Too many add-ons can make a generic system complex, putting people off trying to tackle it. Since functionalities are tailored to each department in your company, an industry-specific ERP system can feel familiar from the outset.

Meaning your team will actually be happy to use it.

This is key if the system is going to serve its purpose of streamlining processes and increasing productivity.

Expert vendors

When it comes to generic software, you may find yourself having to teach the vendor about your industry. This is lengthy and frustrating.

Industry-specific systems, on the other hand, tend to be created by vendors who are expert in the field. They have specialist industry knowledge that ensures needs are met, they know the lingo to allow for easy communication and they understand the challenges so can provide valuable advice.

So, vendors of an ERP system created specifically for the metal manufacturing industry should know how crucial it is that you have accurate and up to the minute information on stock; how important it is to be flexible in terms of pricing, costs and measurements; why it’s key you use the most efficient method of cutting; and how time-consuming it is managing the logistics of loading and transport, as well as how much paper work can be involved.

And because they know all of this and more, they’re on hand and ready to provide a solution.

Long-term solution

An ERP system shouldn’t be static. It should evolve in line with an industry’s developments to stay current and meet new needs.

The software should have a product development roadmap that sets out the updates for the users. These updates are usually based on vendor knowledge and customer requirements.

So, an industry-specific ERP system roadmap is more relevant and useful to you than a generic, since vendors are up to date with industry news and the customer base all have similar processes.

Straightforward customisation

It is important to note that industry-specific ERP systems can still be customised. Although you are in the same industry, different companies have different objectives. Plus, you want to stay ahead of the competition.

Implementations for industry-specific software are made as simple and painless as possible as the professional service staff have had years of experience implementing systems into one industry.

To sum up

Choosing an ERP system is no easy decision. But, if you’re in the field of metal manufacturing, one thing you can be sure of is that going with an industry-specific system is a smart move.

The very purpose of an ERP system is to simplify and streamline processes in order for your business to achieve its objectives. Going for a generic system runs the risk of only adding to your problems and overcomplicating operations.

At PCI Systems we’ve developed an ERP system specifically for metal stockholders and processors. We only partner with those companies we know are suited to our Prof.IT software, so you can be confident in your choice. With a combined experience (within the senior management team alone) of over 60 years within the industry, we offer you a specialist software that’s for life.

If you’d like to chat to one of our team about how Prof.IT can work for you, give us a call on 0114 201 2200 or send us an email at