Enterprise resource planning software, or ERP, doesn’t live up to its acronym. Forget about planning—it doesn’t do much of that—and forget about resource, a throwaway term. But remember the enterprise part. This is ERP’s true ambition. It attempts to integrate all departments and functions across a company onto a single computer system that can serve all those different departments’ particular needs. That is a tall order, building a single software program that serves the needs of people in finance as well as it does the people in human resources and in the warehouse. Each of those departments typically has its own computer system optimized for the particular ways that the department does its work. But ERP combines them all together into a single, integrated software program that runs off a single database so that the various departments can more easily share information and communicate with each other. That integrated approach can have a tremendous payback if companies install the software correctly. Take a customer order, for example. Typically, when a customer places an order, that order begins a mostly paper-based journey from in-basket to in-basket around the company,
ERP’s best hope for demonstrating value is as a sort of battering ram for improving the way your company takes a customer order and processes it into an invoice and revenue—otherwise known as the order fulfillment process. That is why ERP is often referred to as back-office software. It doesn’t handle the up-front selling process (although most ERP vendors have developed CRM software or acquired pure-play CRM providers that can do this); rather, ERP takes a customer order and provides a software road map for automating the different steps along the path to fulfilling it. When a customer service representative enters a customer order into an ERP system, he has all the information necessary to complete the order (the customer’s credit rating and order history from the finance module, the company’s inventory levels from the warehouse module and the shipping dock’s trucking schedule from the logistics module, for example). People in these different departments all see the same information and can update it. When one department finishes with the order it is automatically routed via the ERP system to the next department. To find out where the order is at any point, you need only log in to the ERP system and track it down. With luck, the order process moves like a bolt of lightning through the organization, and customers get their orders faster and with fewer errors than before. ERP can apply that same magic to the other major business processes, such as employee benefits or financial reporting.
ERP software typically consists of multiple enterprise software modules that are individually purchased, based on what best meets the specific needs and technical capabilities of the organization. Each ERP module is focused on one area of business processes, such as product development or marketing. A business scan use ERP software to manage back-office activities and tasks including the following: Distribution process management, supply chain management, services knowledge base, configure, prices, improve accuracy of financial data, facilitate better project planning, automate employee life-cycle, standardize critical business procedures, reduce redundant tasks, assess business needs, accounting and financial applications, lower purchasing costs, manage human resources and payroll.
Two-tier ERP enables an organization to optimize regional back office processes at a site that operates under a business model that is separate from the main company. At some locations the ERP requires special considerations — including translations or regionalized business models — and organizations my look to maintain a legacy ERP at headquarters with two-tier ERP solutions to support specific needs at the subsidiary level that fully integrates with the corporate system. Survey Analysis: Customers Rate Their BI Platform Functionality Master data management is one of the biggest concerns for organizations deploying two tiers of ERP. There should be no duplication of effort between the two ERP systems. Consistency is required at the second tier to ensure the corporate first-tier ERP achieves a single source of information for financials, orders and other business.