The acronym ERP stands for enterprise resource planning. It refers to the systems and software packages used by organizations to manage day-to-day business activities, such as accounting, procurement, project management and manufacturing. ERP systems tie together and define a plethora of business processes and enable the flow of data between them. By collecting an organization’s shared transactional data from multiple sources, ERP systems eliminate data duplication and provide data integrity with a “single source of truth.”
Today, ERP systems are critical for managing thousands of businesses of all sizes and in all industries. To these companies, ERP is as indispensable as the electricity that keeps the lights on.
ERP systems are designed around a common, defined data structure (schema) that usually has a common database. ERP systems provide access to enterprise data from multiple activities using common constructs and definitions and common user experiences.
A key ERP principle is the central collection of data for wide distribution. Instead of several standalone databases with an endless inventory of disconnected spreadsheets, ERP systems bring order to the chaos so that all users—from the CEO to accounts payable clerks—create, store, and use the same data derived through common processes. With a secure and centralized data repository, everyone in the organization can be confident that data is correct, up to date, and complete. Data integrity is assured for every task performed throughout the organization, from a quarterly financial statement to a single outstanding receivables report, without deploying error-prone spreadsheets.
The Business Value of ERP
It’s impossible to ignore the impact of ERP in today’s business world. As enterprise data and processes are corralled into ERP systems, businesses are able to align separate departments and improve workflow, resulting in significant bottom-line savings. Examples of specific business benefits include: