Enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems integrate primary business applications; all the applications in an ERP suite share a common set of data that is stored in a central database. The mainframe-based, legacy systems of the past are being rapidly replaced with ERP software, which runs on client/server (C/S) technology.
From acquiring raw materials to fabricating parts, to assembling products, to customer delivery, a total system perspective can enable you to fashion an operation function like the inner workings of a finely tuned machine. Today that operation can be fine-tuned by using modern information systems. Enterprise Resource Planning software systems provide comprehensive management of financial, manufacturing, sales, distribution and human resources across the enterprise. The ability of ERP systems to support data `drill down' and to eliminate the need to reconcile across functions is designed to enable organizations to compete on the performances of the entire supply chain. To utilize these capabilities managers have to learn how to manage processes in the ERP environment.
ERP projects can sometimes cost millions of dollars. Nevertheless, the payback is high... ERP systems can provide you the reliable, integrated data infrastructure you need to more easily access corporate data and, consequently, manage you business more effectively.
It is not possible to think of an ERP system without sophisticated information technology infrastructure. It is said that, ERP is the finest expression of the inseparability of business and information technology. The incremental improvement in the information technology and the drastic reduction in prices of computers have made it possible even for the small organization to think about ERP systems. The earlier ERP systems were built only to work with huge mainframe computers. The new era of PC, advent of client server technology and scalable Relational Data Base Management Systems (RDBMS) all have contributed for the ease of deployment of ERP systems. Most of the ERP systems exploit the power of Three Tier Client Server Architecture. In a client server environment, the server stores the data, maintaining its integrity and consistency and processes the requests of the user from the client desktops. The load of data processing and application logic is divided between the server and the client. The three tier architecture adds a middle stratum, embodying all application logic and the business rules that are not part of the application, enforcing appropriate validation checks.
It is assumed that the companies implementing ERP solutions have multiple locations of operation and control. Hence, the online data transfer has to be done across locations. To facilitate these transactions, the other important enabling technologies for ERP systems are Workflow, Workgroup, GroupWare, Electronic Data Interchange (EDI), Internet, Intranet, Data warehousing, etc.