Sunday, February 27, 2011

What is an ERP system?

Since Sage started branding their mid-market accounting software as an ERP system some years back, Accpac business partners have been asking me these questions:

  • Is an MRP system a kind of ERP system?
  • Is an ERP system a kind of MRP system?
  • Is an ERP system an ERP system if it doesn't have an MRP component?
  • What does an MRP system need to make it an ERP system?
  • I've often wondered whether there is some universal definition of an ERP system that I would use to bolster my answer to the questions.

    According to Wikipedia, "an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) is an integrated computer-based system used to manage internal and external resources including tangible assets, financial resources, materials, and human resources."

    So it sounds like one of the tasks of an ERP system is to manage material assets (possibly manufacturing inventory?). This is what a Material Requirements Planning (MRP) system does, right?

    Digging further, I found the following definition in webopedia's glossary:

    "Short for enterprise resource planning, a business management system that integrates all facets of the business, including planning, manufacturing, sales, and marketing. As the ERP methodology has become more popular, software applications have emerged to help business managers implement ERP in business activities such as inventory control, order tracking, customer service, finance and human resources."

    This makes it clear that an ERP system binds several business management tasks together, including manufacturing (MRP).

    The next time I'm asked "Is an ERP system a kind of MRP system?" I'll know to answer "No, but an MRP system is a component of an ERP system."

    I'll have to mull over the answer to the question "Is an ERP system an ERP system if it doesn't have an MRP component?"

    Hmmmm.... What do you think?

    1 comment:

    Sonia Gray said...

    I think ERP can mean different things to different firms. If it's a manufacturer though, "enterprise resource planning? should include MRP as part of the over software solution.