Enterprise Resource Planning, or ERP as it is commonly known, is process management software that integrates all aspects of a business operation from product planning and development to manufacturing, promotion, sales and marketing, and many others. By integrating a system of applications it allows a company or business to manage all its functions, front-end as well as back-end. Thus, many functions relating to Human Resources, Accounts, Sales & Marketing, Product Manufacturing, Services and Technology are brought together using software processes.
The term ‘enterprise application’ is used because the applications of ERP can also be extended to larger firms and companies where dedicated teams of tech personnel customise the software to specific needs, analyse the data to tweak the business end, and provide for upgrades, deployment and management of assets etc. SME ERP applications, however, are lightweight business management solutions customised for specific small industry applications.
ERP applications usually consist of multiple layers of enterprise software application modules, which are directly purchased by a company based on its requirements and after due diligence of software to see if it has the technical capabilities to meet specific needs. Each module is focused on a particular aspect of the business function such as Marketing or HR. Companies often use ERP software modules to manage specific task areas and critical activities such as the following:
• Distribution Process Management
• Supply Chain Management
• Customer Relationship Management
• Sales & Marketing
• Project planning
• Financial applications and accounting data
• Price configurations
• HR and Payroll
• Business needs and procedures, etc.
Amongst these, the most common modules for most businesses include product planning, inventory control, material purchasing, accounting & finance, distribution and marketing, and human resources.
With the increasing popularity of ERP methodology, more software application modules are being designed to help businesses integrate other finer aspects of the business – e.g. Business Intelligence with CRM, employee attrition and retention with HR and Payroll etc. to enable better reporting and structuring of data between corporate offices and branch offices across different geographical locations.
Therefore, using ERP is a means of providing a central repository of all data that can be accessed, shared, analysed and correlated depending upon specific needs and requirements.
In the initial years, ERP implementation and trends were slow but over the last few years, new areas of focus have chartered faster growth and fundamental changes. In continuance, some of the top ERP trends according to indications are:
• Mobile ERP
• Social ERP
• Cloud ERP
• 2-tier ERP