ERP Pricing Models: Cloud-based vs On-Premise ERP Pricing

ERP Pricing Models, Cloud ERP, On-premise ERP


Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems play a vital role in the effective functioning of businesses. Having a comprehensive understanding of ERP solutions and their prices is crucial for making informed decisions. In this guide, we will explore the key differences between cloud-based ERP and on-premise ERP pricing models, providing valuable insights to help businesses align their needs and budget with the right ERP system. By understanding the cost implications, businesses can confidently navigate the ERP landscape and optimize their operations for success. 


Introduction to ERP Pricing Model  

An ERP pricing model is essentially the cost structure that a business would need to consider when implementing an ERP system. There are primarily two types of ERP pricing models – cloud-based and on-site models. The cloud-based ERP pricing model is subscription-based, where organizations pay a periodic fee for using the service. This model is renowned for its scalability, low upfront cost, and reduced maintenance responsibilities. On the other hand, the on-premise ERP pricing model involves a one-time substantial investment for the software license, installation, and hardware. It offers more control and customization but demands a higher level of technical expertise and maintenance. 


The choice between these two pricing models is significant as it impacts not only the initial investment but also the ongoing costs, the level of control, scalability, and customization possibilities. Selecting the right pricing model requires a comprehensive understanding of the organization’s needs, technical capabilities, budget constraints, and long-term growth strategies. 


Cloud-based ERP Pricing

Under the cloud-based ERP model, costs are typically divided into three key components: 


  1. Subscription Fee: This is a recurring cost, usually paid monthly or annually, that grants access to the ERP software and services. The fee varies based on factors such as the number of users, functionality needs, and the size of the company. For example, a small business with 10 users may pay $100 per month, while a larger enterprise with 100 users may pay $1000 per month. 


  1. Customization Fee: While the cloud-based model offers less customization compared to on-premise solutions, any necessary changes to fit the organization’s unique processes will incur additional charges. For instance, if a company requires specific workflows or reporting features tailored to their industry, they may need to pay a customization fee. This fee can range from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars, depending on the complexity of the customization. 


  1. Support and Training: While basic support may be included in the subscription fee, advanced training or additional support may require an extra fee. For example, if a company wants on-site training or dedicated support personnel, they may need to pay an additional fee. The cost of support and training can vary depending on the level of service required. Basic support may cost around $500 per month, while advanced support and training options can range from $1000 to $5000 per month. 


It’s also important to consider other potential costs associated with a cloud-based ERP system, such as data migration and integration with other systems. These elements contribute to the overall cost of implementing and running the ERP system and should be carefully evaluated. 


On-premise ERP Pricing

Under the on-premise ERP model, the cost components are generally more substantial upfront but can offer more control and customization. The main investments include: 


  1. Licensing Fee: This is a one-time cost to license the ERP software. The price can vary wildly depending on the size of the company, the required functionalities, and the software provider. For example, a small company might pay $10,000 for a basic software license, while a large enterprise might pay upwards of $100,000 for a comprehensive suite of ERP applications. 


  1. Installation Charges: These include the costs associated with the initial setup of the ERP system, including data migration, system testing, and user training. Depending on the complexity of the system, these costs can range from a few thousand dollars to tens of thousands of dollars. 


  1. Maintenance Costs: Unlike cloud-based ERP systems, on-premise ERP systems require regular maintenance to ensure they continue to run smoothly. This includes software updates, bug fixes, and system improvements. For many businesses, this means hiring or training in-house IT staff, which can add significantly to the ongoing cost of the system. 


  1. Hardware Costs: On-site ERP systems also require substantial investment in the necessary hardware infrastructure, including servers, network equipment, and data storage devices. These costs can be substantial, especially for large enterprises with complex operational needs. 


It is important to note that while the upfront costs of an on-site ERP system are higher, it might be more cost-effective in the long run for businesses that require a high level of customization and control over their ERP system. However, these businesses will also need to have the necessary IT expertise and resources to manage and maintain the system effectively. 


Comparative Analysis

Factors  Cloud ERP  On-Premise ERP 
Scalability   + High scalability due to flexible subscription model.  

 + Can easily add or reduce user licenses based on need. 

 + Limited scalability.  

 + Any expansion often requires significant hardware and software upgrades. 


Upfront Costs   + Low upfront costs.  

 + No investment in hardware infrastructure is necessary.  

 + Setup costs are typically part of the subscription package. 

 + High upfront costs due to software license and installation charges.  

 + Substantial investment in hardware infrastructure is also required. 

Ongoing Expenses   + Monthly or annual subscription fee, possibly including customization, support, and training fees.  

 + These costs can change based on the number of users and required functionalities. 

 + Ongoing costs are higher due to regular maintenance, software updates, bug fixes, and potential need for in-house IT staff.  

 + These costs are fairly constant, independent of the change in requirements or size of the company. 

Customizability   + Limited customizability. 

 + Changes suitable to organization’s unique needs can incur additional charges. 

 + High customizability. 

 + Allows for extensive modification and control over the system at additional cost. 

IT Expertise Requirement    Low, as the service provider handles most of the technical tasks.    High, as on-site management and operation require in-house IT expertise. 


Factors Influencing ERP Pricing

The total cost of ownership (TCO) for both cloud-based and on-premise ERP systems is influenced by several key factors: 


Company Size: The size of a company can greatly impact the TCO. Larger organizations typically require more user licenses, more complex functionality, and potentially more customization, which can drive up costs. 


Industry: The specific industry a company operates in can also affect the TCO. Industries with complex regulatory requirements or specialized processes may require more customization and advanced features, which can increase costs. 


Implementation Timeframe: A faster implementation process can minimize disruption to business operations, but it may also necessitate additional resources and thus increase costs. 


Data Complexity: The complexity and volume of data to be migrated to the new ERP system can significantly affect the TCO. More complex data migrations require more time and technical expertise, increasing costs. 


Training Needs: Training staff to use the new ERP system is a critical component of implementation. The extent of training required will depend on the system’s complexity and the users’ familiarity with such systems. 


Support Requirements: The level of support required from the ERP vendor – from basic troubleshooting to dedicated support personnel – can significantly influence the TCO. 


Integration Needs: If the ERP system needs to be integrated with existing systems or third-party applications, this can also add to costs. 


Upgrade and Maintenance: Over time, software upgrades, system maintenance, and potential hardware replacements (for on-site systems) can contribute to ongoing costs and thus the overall TCO.  


By evaluating these factors, organizations can get a clearer picture of the total cost of ownership for both cloud-based and on-premise ERP systems. This analysis can enable more informed decision-making around which type of ERP system is the most cost-effective solution for their specific needs. 



In conclusion, both cloud-based and on-premise ERP systems present their unique cost structures and benefits. The cloud-based model offers high scalability, low upfront costs, and reduced IT expertise requirement but may have limited customizability. On the other hand, the on-premise model provides high customizability and control over the system at the expense of higher upfront and ongoing costs and the need for in-house IT expertise.


The selection of the right pricing model hinges on various factors such as the size of the company, industry, implementation timeframe, data complexity, training needs, support requirements, integration needs, and cost of upgrades and maintenance over time.  


For smaller companies with a tight budget and less complex customization requirements, a cloud-based system could be an economical choice. In contrast, larger corporations that require extensive customization and have the resources to handle significant upfront and ongoing costs may find the on-premise model a better fit.  


Therefore, it’s crucial to conduct a thorough needs assessment and cost analysis before deciding on the most cost-effective ERP system that aligns with the organization’s specific requirements and budget constraints. 

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