Enterprise resource planning, or ERP, is a way of integrating organizational data and processes into a single system. ERP systems will generally have a hardware component, a software component and a process documentation component. ERP systems usually integrate with several aspects of an organization. For example, an ERP system may cover manufacturing, quality control, manufacturing engineering, parts ordering, accounts payable or human resources. The type of system best suited for your business will depend on the size of your business and the functions that will support your business requirements.
SAP R/3 and B1
SAP is probably the best known supplier of ERP software. SAP offers two solutions. The first is the R/3 suite and the second is the B1 suite, sometimes called "business one." R/3 is an integrated software system that can support everything from very small companies to very large corporations. R/3 is customizable to meet your specific business needs. R/3 uses a client/server architecture that runs on a variety of platforms, including Unix, Windows Server and OS/400. It can be implemented using a number of database packages, including Oracle, SQL Server, or DB2. B1 is targeted more at small and medium-sized businesses and offers pre-built modules for finance, warehousing, customer relationship management (CRM), e-commerce, purchasing and reporting.
Baan ERP software was originally created by The Baan Corporation in The Netherlands. It was purchased by Infor Global Solutions in 2003. Baan ERP software is designed for manufacturing industries working on complex products with complex supply chains that work on different methodologies. Baan is especially suited for large made-to-order and engineering-to-order companies. Baan is used by companies like The Boeing Company, Ferrari, Solectron, Fiat, Flextronics, Evenflo, Navistar and British Aerospace & Engineering Systems. Baan is highly customizable and supports flow chart based process and procedure documentation.
Microsoft Dynamics NAV and AX 2009
Microsoft offers two ERP software packages. Microsoft NAV is targeted toward small and medium-sized businesses and offers modules for analysis, e-commerce, CRM, supply chain management, manufacturing and finance. Microsoft AX 2009 is designed for medium to large organizations and has functions that are useful for companies doing business in multiple countries. It is focused on improving individual productivity and is best suited for service organizations, manufacturing companies, wholesalers and retail-oriented companies. AX 2009 is more customizable than NAV.
JD Edwards EnterpriseOne
EnterpriseOne from JD Edwards is an Oracle-based ERP system. EnterpriseOne is currently owned by the Oracle Corporation. EnterpriseOne offers pre-designed modules that focus on standards-based process engineering and deep understanding of different business processes and requirements. Available modules include, among others, analytics, capital asset management, CRM, finance management, human capital management, manufacturing, ordering systems and project management. Higher level modules can be added for specific industries like real estate, construction, and food and beverage production.
Oracle E-Business Suite Financials and PeopleSoft Enterprise
Oracle offers two other ERP products. The first is E-Business Suite Financials. The other is PeopleSoft. E-Business Suite Financials is an easy to use package targeted to the financial services industry. It supports distributed organizations and offers modules for financial and operational information, dynamic planning, budgeting, forecasting and multidimensional profit analysis. PeopleSoft is a highly customizable suite that can support complex business requirements. It offers customizable modules for a wide range of business types and styles and runs on a wide range of database systems and hardware architectures.
Although he grew up in Latin America, Mr. Ma is a writer based in Denver. He has been writing since 1987 and has written for NPR, AP, Boeing, Ford New Holland, Microsoft, RAHCO International, Umax Data Systems and other manufacturers in Taiwan. He studied creative writing at Mankato State University in Minnesota. He speaks fluent Mandarin Chinese, English and reads Spanish.