Prophet 21 Catchy Product Review
Updated August 22, 2018

Prophet 21 Catchy Product Review

Aaron Pace | TrustRadius Reviewer
Score 9 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User

Overall Satisfaction with Epicor Prophet 21

We use Prophet 21 in every area of our business and use it to solve everyday problems like providing accurate and timely price quotes to customers and getting purchase orders in the hands of our suppliers in time to replenish inventory. As a wholesaler, we rely on Prophet 21 to help us make good business decisions to help our distributors succeed. Really. The open database structure means we can get the information we need in basically any format to help us and our customers make more informed decisions.
  • Ease of use. Prophet 21 application designers have put a lot of thought into making Prophet 21 simple to use yet powerful enough to meet the demands of thousands of distribution businesses.
  • Open database. I love the open database architecture. It allows me all the functionality I need to write custom reports for my business.
  • Fits a wide range of business requirements.
  • Lots of stuff in there we just don't use.
  • Can sometimes be slow aggregating data.
  • Artificial limit on the number of windows that can be open in the software at one time. Most computers today are more than capable of handling a much higher limit.
Yes - Prophet 21 replaced an old Unix-based system called Tribute. Because the Tribute system was antiquated, migration from Tribute to Prophet 21 was not easy, but that was because we decided not to leave any data behind. Data conversion is only as bad as the source system. In our case, it was terrible. Setting up Prophet 21 and training our people was a much simpler prospect than the previous package because of how simple the interface is to use.
Change management was a major issue with the implementation - Everyone knows change is hard. Having executive buy-in is so critical to the success of an implementation project. I spent a lot of time priming the upper management and c-level folks for how difficult it was going to be. It was still terrible. The laggards had loud voices and I had little support from upper management until they saw there was no turning back. At that point, they got behind the project. If I had it to do again, I would have gotten their support commitment in writing.
  • Positive: real-time reporting has allowed us to save a lot of money right to the bottom line.
  • Positive: application framework makes it easy to tailor business processes to the software or the software to business processes.
  • Negative: can be costly to implement additional users.
When I did my initial evaluation prior to implementing Prophet 21, I reviewed 18 different ERP solutions. I was able to quickly narrow the field down to 4 applications that seemed to meet most of our business requirements. I invited all 4 software providers to come on site and do product demos for me and then a select group of managers. The evaluation process lasted more than two months. Eventually, the selection was narrowed to 2 companies (both of whom are now under the Epicor umbrella). Each was reviewed on site for an entire day before a selection was made. At the end of the day, Prophet 21 rose to the top of the heap as the application best suited to our needs.
Prophet 21 is a great application suited to managing, in particular, the financial aspects of our business. It is easy to get financial reports from the system and because of the open database structure, the sky is the limit on other reports needed to manage the overall financial health of the business.

Epicor Prophet 21 Feature Ratings

Accounts payable
Accounts receivable
Global Financial Support
Primary and Secondary Ledgers
Not Rated
Journals and Reconciliations
Configurable Accounting
Not Rated
Standardized Processes
Not Rated
Billing Management
Not Rated
Cash and Asset Management
Travel & Expense Management
Not Rated
Budgetary Control & Encumbrance Accounting
Not Rated
Period Close
Inventory tracking
Automatic reordering
Location management
Order entry
Credit card processing
Cost of goods sold
Order Orchestration
Not Rated
Standard reports
Custom reports
API for custom integration
Role-based user permissions
Single sign-on capability
Not Rated
Work Execution
Inventory Planning
Performance Monitoring

Using Epicor Prophet 21

7 - Accounts Payable, Financial Management and Planning, Accounts Receivable, Warehouse and Logistics, Purchasing and Inventory Control, Operations, and Sales.
1 - Epicor has a great support group so you don't have to have a lot of technical expertise working in your organization to effectively run the software. It mostly self-maintains, but if anything does go awry, support is always just a phone call or email away. Their internal support structure means they can often respond much quicker than you would expect from an organization their size.
  • Inventory Control. This is one probably the primary reason for purchasing the software. As a wholesale distribution company, inventory control is critical to our success. Epicor Prophet 21 is head and shoulders above our previous solution and allows us to make real-time decisions about managing our inventory.
  • General Ledger. Our previous system didn't have an open general ledger that allowed us drill-down capability into the profitability of the company. Prior to Epicor Prophet 21, we had mountains of spreadsheets to keep track of this information.
  • Order Entry. Our previous system had order entry, but not with the kind of flexibility we've been able to achieve with Epicor Prophet 21.
  • Add-on reporting. Because of the open database architecture, you can write custom reports to your heart's desire. That's probably been the most innovative way we've used the software.
  • Classes. Class fields exist throughout the application. Orders can be classed so that a particular report will be sent to a particular person, for example. There are limitless ways the class fields can be used.
  • Sorry, I can't see the future.
I've used Epicor Prophet 21 for about 12 years (in various iterations). It started out as CommerceCenter by Prophet 21 then became Prophet 21 by Activant and then Prophet 21 by Epicor. So frequently, when a software company is acquired, it stops being great. That has not been the case with Epicor Prophet 21. Over the years they've been under Epicor, the product has just gotten better and better, with major extensibility enhancements and new mobile components coming online.

Evaluating Epicor Prophet 21 and Competitors

  • Product Features
  • Product Usability
  • Positive Sales Experience with the Vendor
  • Third-party Reviews
For us, the feature set was most important. We were the first fluid power distributor in the United States to go live with Prophet 21. Having all the essential components for custom light manufacturing was essential. Most packages didn't have it. Even Prophet 21 needed it but they saw an opportunity and fast-tracked program changes to fit our specific needs. It was pretty awesome!
I don't think I would. When I did the original evaluation, I looked 18 software packages. When I'd narrowed it down to 4 packages, I did an exhaustive review of more than 300 features in each package. I also had day-long demos of the software for key personnel so they could really dig in and answer questions about what the software could and couldn't do. Overall, we spent a couple of months just reviewing candidates.

Epicor Prophet 21 Implementation

The overall implementation is smooth. Prophet 21 sends someone on-site for as many days as you need them to step through the initial implementation. Data conversion is the biggest trick. Make sure you get help with that portion of implementation. Also, be sure to offer plenty of training incentives to keep people coming back for more training. A little money spent up front will save you tons of headaches later.
Yes - I suppose you could say we implemented in phases. There was the evaluation phase, the data conversion phase, the almost-dying-from-lack-of-sleep phase, the go-live phase, and the post-go-live phase. The data conversion and almost-dying-from-lack-of-sleep phases go together. For anyone who is thinking about handling their own data conversion: DON'T. Get Prophet 21's help. This is one area where the extra spend is absolutely worth it. I converted 10 years of history for 8 locations by myself and it almost killed me.
  • Data conversion. As I already mentioned, we came from a very old system to Prophet 21. I had to write a middleware application to move data from my Unix-based system to the Microsoft SQL database used by Prophet 21. It was a nightmare; not on the receiving end - just getting the data out and formatted for Prophet 21.
  • Customer pricing. We made the mistake of trying to implement a new pricing model at the same time as go-live. It was fraught with problems and unanticipated complexity. We made it through, but I'm kind of surprised we didn't lose more business.

Epicor Prophet 21 Training

  • Online training
  • In-person training
  • Self-taught
The on-site training was great. I give it a 9 because the trainer was a chain smoker who had to excuse herself a lot to smoke. Kind of unprofessional. She was a very good trainer though.
I had a great time with the online training. Most of the online trainings were live which meant you had opportunity to interact with instructors. I liked trying to derail them by posting funny comments to the chat window. The only complaint I had about these is they weren't recorded for later use. Well, another complaint is that they were sometimes too short.
The self-teaching only came after we'd had extensive training. This was the self-guided training that we did to discover features of the system we didn't know were there because they weren't needed during the initial implementation.

Configuring Epicor Prophet 21

For the type of product it is, the amount of configuration is good. Most small to mid-sized distributors really have access to as much configuration as they need. Because of the open database, an extension can be created as needed (at your own risk).
That's a really long conversation. Best practice is to pay attention to the implementation specialists who are involved in the project. They've done extensive best practice studies and have built the software around them. If the system doesn't fit your process, consider changing the process because there's a good chance it can be done more efficiently.
Some - we have done small customizations to the interface - Prophet 21 has a function called DynaChange that allows for customization and extension of the platform. It's pretty easy to use once you get used to the logic. So, there is a bit of a learning curve, but it's powerful when you know what you're doing.
No - we have not done any custom code
Because of the open database, you can create external reports that run in Microsoft Office (for example) pretty easily. We've done quite a bit of that to get reports in just the format we want.

Epicor Prophet 21 Support

Epicor Prophet 21 used to have a 10 - without question. But, they moved all their Tier 1 customer support to India. There's an inherent latency involved in those transactions so it does take longer to get resolution, but the people are no less knowledgeable on the platform than the local support people. Epicor has done a very good job of training their international support team.
Good followup
Knowledgeable team
Problems get solved
Kept well informed
No escalation required
Support understands my problem
Support cares about my success
No - The support level we have that was included as part of our original package is sufficient for our needs. There are two levels of support above the one we have, but we've always felt like we have adequate support and are willing to pay a little extra when we have an emergent case.
Yes - Yes, and yes. We've had occasion to report minor bugs in the software. I can only remember one time when we had a bug that shut down our ability to use the software for a time. They were very quick to respond and correct the issue. Otherwise, we've only ever had a handful of minor issues that were something we could live with until the next build release came out.
Absolutely! Prophet 21 has an open database. I thought I was smarter than the software so I created a custom import without understanding all the implications of what I was doing. The end result was that every order written had to be approved by accounting. I had no idea how to undo what I did. I uploaded a copy of my database to Prophet 21 and within two days they had written custom scripts to undo the mess I'd made. It was pretty remarkable.

Using Epicor Prophet 21

Overall, I love using Prophet 21. With a few rare exceptions, functions within the application have been streamlined so they can be used with as few clicks and key presses as possible. That's not to say they've given up any functionality. The platform is incredibly powerful; just easy to use.
Like to use
Relatively simple
Easy to use
Technical support not required
Well integrated
Quick to learn
Feel confident using
  • Item creation. I've created thousands of items by hand in Prophet 21 and got to where I could create an item in under a minute. The system also allows for on-the-fly item creation which takes just a few seconds.
  • Order entry is also elegant. The screen is packed with features, but so many can be set as default - or simply used to extend the capability of order entry - that the process of writing up an order is very quick.
  • Purchase order generation. Prophet 21 has this cool tool called PO Requirements/Generation that can evaluate buy requirements in about half a dozen different ways. It's very efficient and allows you to review requirements for one, several, or all suppliers simultaneously.
  • Prophet 21 integrates with Crystal Reports. Getting Crystal up and running on a new computer is never an easy proposition. They've made it a little better with recent releases, but it's still kind of a bear.

Epicor Prophet 21 Reliability

Prophet 21 is very reliable. The database is robust and well designed. The application is also hard to break. If there's one feature I don't like, it's that they haven't accounted for the dreaded single quote. That's kind of the bane of Microsoft SQL's existence. They need to escape that character in every field that will accept it in the system. Otherwise, the system throws all kinds of errors and many times will crash.
When hosted locally, you don't have to worry about outages unless the power goes out and the battery backups fail. It can also be hosted in the cloud which is as reliable as your internet connection. There's really no concern for outages in the software by itself. Outages are controlled by external factors.
I do feel like there are some screens and reports that could be streamlined. Prophet 21 likes to load features all at once when going into a program but a quicker load time into order entry, for example, is worth having a little latency while a non-essential tab that doesn't get used very often is opened.

Integrating Epicor Prophet 21

From an ODBC perspective, they're doing great. But, they can do a lot to expand data accessibility across other access points.
  • Microsoft Office
If you understand ODBC (Open Database Connections) you can connect with P21 from any ODBC-supporting application. That is the only way I've tried connecting with Prophet 21.
I don't have any integration plans. I know Prophet 21 is expanding their API offering in P21 making the software even more extensible.
  • File import/export
Have fun! You're really only limited by your imagination - even with a simple protocol like ODBC. As the API set matures, that will afford even greater interaction with all kind of platforms.

Relationship with Epicor Software

I really enjoyed my experience working with Prophet 21 during the sales process. I'm actually Facebook friends with our sales rep. He keeps tabs on us even 12 years later which is really awesome. Their people are very professional and knowledgeable about the platform which made the sales process flow smoothly.
I've continued having a positive experience with Prophet 21 since our initial implementation in 2007. As I mentioned earlier in the review, Tier 1 support is overseas, but the people have been thoroughly trained. When things get particularly sticky, I can still connect with some of the technical support people I worked with 12 years ago as they are now the managing directors of the various support groups.
We were able to negotiate equal pays on the platform's initial cost. We were also able to talk them down about 15% off the sticker price.
Play nice. They're good folks who genuinely want to help distribution businesses thrive. There will be hiccups along the way; just work with them and things will go smoothly.

Upgrading Epicor Prophet 21

Yes - Early on, we had a few system down emergencies related to the upgrades. Fortunately, they were triggered by minor scripting issues that were quickly resolved. And, because we were smart enough to test the updates on a test environment first, we never had an issue where our production database was out of commission. Those issues happened a long time ago, though. We've been through 6 or 7 error-free updates over the years. I would recommend staying up on new releases.
  • With each new release, greater extensibility options are introduced. New features for controlling the software and adding business logic to the platform are being added all the time.
  • To be honest, I haven't evaluated the next version yet. The move from 12.x to 2017 then to 2018 were such significant moves, I haven't even looked at what's next.