What is ERP?
Enterprise resource planning (ERP) is a software system that helps small companies run their entire business, supporting automation and processes in finance, human resources, manufacturing, supply chain, services, procurement, and more.
ERP stands for enterprise resource planning, but what does ERP mean? The simplest way to define ERP is to think about all the core business processes needed to run a company: finance, HR, manufacturing, supply chain, services, procurement, and others. At its most basic level, ERP helps to efficiently manage all these processes in an integrated system. It is often referred to as the system of record of the organization.
Yet today’s ERP systems are anything but basic and have little resemblance to the ERP of decades ago. They are now delivered via the cloud and use the latest technologies – such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning – to provide intelligent automation, greater efficiency, and instant insight across the business. Modern cloud ERP software also connects internal operations with business partners and networks around the world, giving companies the collaboration, agility, and speed they need to be competitive today.
ERP examples in different industries
Businesses in every industry – from automotive to wholesale distribution – need accurate, real-time information and effective business processes to compete and thrive. Different industries rely on their ERP software for quite different reasons, however. Here are just a few examples: Utilities need to constantly review their capital assets, not only to meet demand for future services but also for the replacement of aging assets. Without ERP, the effort to prioritize these major asset investments would be difficult and error prone. ERP also helps solve another critical utility company issue: forecasting of spare parts. Not having the right parts during an outage can create a significant customer service issue. On the other hand, having too many spare parts means excessive costs and out-of-date stock. For wholesalers, importers, direct store delivery, and 3PL/4PL firms, on-time delivery is key. All of these organizations want to reduce distribution costs, increase inventory turns, and shorten order-to-cash time. To achieve these goals, they need integration of inventory management, purchasing, and logistics functionality, as well as automated processes that are customized to their needs. Discrete, batch, and continuous process manufacturers all rely on ERP and supply chain systems to meet product quality goals, manage asset utilization, control overtime costs, handle customer returns and more. Manufacturers can also gain end-to-end inventory control by monitoring stock movements, pinpointing top and underperforming products, and managing procurement more efficiently. Service companies – including accounting, tax, engineering, IT, legal, and other professional services firms – require powerful, real-time mobile ERP technology to balance service delivery commitments with financial health. Key to professional service success is the ability to stay on schedule while managing project profitability, resource utilization, revenue recognition, recurring revenue objectives, and growth opportunities. Retail has undergone a significant transformation now that e-commerce has merged with other sales channels as well as brick-and-mortar operations. The ability to provide self-service options for identifying, configuring, purchasing, and shipping products is dependent on integrated data. A modern ERP also helps retailers reduce cart abandonments, improve Web site conversions, boost average order value, and increase customer lifetime value.
ERP modules we provide
Enterprise resource planning systems include a variety of different modules. Each ERP module supports specific business processes – like finance, procurement, or manufacturing – and provides employees in that department with the transactions and insight they need do their jobs. Every module connects to the ERP system, which delivers a single source of truth and accurate, shared data across departments. The most widely used ERP modules include: Finance: The finance and accounting module is the backbone of most ERP systems. In addition to managing the general ledger and automating key financial tasks, it helps businesses track accounts payable (AP) and receivable (AR), close the books efficiently, generate financial reports, comply with revenue recognition standards, mitigate financial risk, and more. Human resources management: Most ERP systems include an HR module that provides core capabilities such as time and attendance and payroll. Add-ons, or even entire human capital management (HCM) suites, can connect to the ERP and deliver more robust HR functionality – everything from workforce analytics to employee experience management. Sourcing and procurement: The sourcing and procurement module helps businesses procure the materials and services they need to manufacture their goods – or the items they want to resell. The module centralizes and automates purchasing, including requests for quotes, contract creation, and approvals. It can minimize underbuying and overbuying, improve supplier negotiations with AI-powered analytics, and even seamlessly connect with buyer networks. Sales: The sales module keeps track of communications with prospects and customers – and helps reps use data-driven insights to increase sales and target leads with the right promotions and upsell opportunities. It includes functionality for the order-to-cash process, including order management, contracts, billing, sales performance management, and sales force support. Manufacturing: The manufacturing module is a key planning and execution component of ERP software. It helps companies simplify complex manufacturing processes and ensure production is in line with demand. This module typically includes functionality for material requirements planning (MRP), production scheduling, manufacturing execution, quality management, and more. Logistics and supply chain management: Another key component of ERP systems, the supply chain module tracks the movement of goods and supplies throughout an organization’s supply chain. The module provides tools for real-time inventory management, warehousing operations, transportation, and logistics – and can help increase supply chain visibility and resilience. Service: In an ERP, the service module helps companies deliver the reliable, personalized service customers have come to expect. The module can include tools for in-house repairs, spare parts, field service management, and service-based revenue streams. It also provides analytics to help service reps and technicians rapidly solve customer issues and improve loyalty. R&D and engineering: Feature-rich ERP systems include an R&D and engineering module. This module provides tools for product design and development, product lifecycle management (PLM), product compliance, and more – so companies can quickly and cost-effectively create new innovations. Enterprise asset management: Robust ERP systems can include an EAM module – which helps asset-intensive businesses minimize downtime and keep their machines and equipment running at peak efficiency. This module includes functionality for predictive maintenance, scheduling, asset operations and planning, environment, health and safety (EHS), and more.