There are companies that operate as if each department and division of its organization is its own separate entity when it comes to technology. An accounting department, for example, would have a widely disparate system from its human resources and sales organizations, with different front end applications and database implementations for each. There are other companies who operate much more efficiently than this. These companies streamline their processes and unify their technology through a solution known as ERP.

Image source: MP Computer

What is ERP?

ERP stands for “Enterprise Resource Planning.” ERP implementations promote more efficient use of company data by providing a process in which all departments share common systems and a universal data set. Rather than every department having its own applications and back end database systems, an ERP implementation gives each division its own “module” with a similar look and feel, sharing a common back end. The core idea behind ERP is that with the same database or data warehouse and similar systems, departments can operate more efficiently and thrive.

How Can ERP Help?

Let’s say Company A’s sales force is really working hard this quarter and have increased client orders by 15%. With an ERP system in place, the manufacturing department would have access to sales data right away and would be able to plan for increased production immediately. The accounting department wouldn’t need to be told about increasing their billing. Instead, they’d know by accessing the ERP data. Purchasing departments, human resources, management and more would also need this data right away for their own operations and, with ERP, they’d have it.

What are the Major ERP Divisions?

In an ERP system, the major divisions or departments are known as “modules.” All modules’ data is integrated with the ERP system for better information sharing and increased efficiency. A company’s modules will vary depending on their industry, but these are the basics:

*Accounting: financials, payables, receivables, assets, general ledger, cash.

*Human Resources: payroll, benefits, recruitment, employee management.

*CRM: sales, sales support, customer data, marketing, customer services.

*Manufacturing: management of work flow, resource planning, QA, capacity planning, process descriptions.

*Project Management: planning, billing, cost planning, budgeting.

*Data Warehousing: aggregation of all business data for analysis and planning.

*Supply Chain: procurement, sales support, management of inventory, ordering, distribution.
Each of these key areas have their own needs and inherent ways that they integrate with one, some or all of the others. Analyzing each, it becomes clear how vital information sharing truly is and how crucial a role ERP plays in a large scale business environment.

ERP’s Impact on Infrastructure

Implementing an ERP system is not to be taken lightly. It’s not a weekend IT project. A new ERP system will affect every desktop in an organization and its effect on the data center is even bigger. Old, separate server-side software will need to be removed, replaced with the components of an integrated ERP solution. Before this can happen, though, all the data in each system being replaced will need to be exported, massaged and imported into the new ERP system. Hardware and software aren’t the only systems being affected, though. IT staff will need extensive education and training in the management of the new system. With its single point of data storage and centralized management, a proper ERP solution will take a lot of burden off IT staff, but it takes a lot of effort to get there.

The Need for Extra Help

The design, planning, implementation and ongoing management of an enterprise resource planning system is an intricate process that can prove daunting for many IT organizations. As with other extremely specialized systems, many IT departments will recognize the need for expert support from consultants, such as Syntax’s ERP consulting division.

Experienced consultants understand the complexities of implementing and managing and ERP system, along with the changes in IT department needs and processes that go with it. ERP-specific consultant can help IT administrators plan and execute an ERP solution, extend the capabilities of an existing system and even provide ongoing support. Consultants can help in all areas of ERP, creating a system that will streamline activities in the business organization and greatly simplify IT processes,