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ERP Modules: Types, Features & Functions

Ian McCue

Enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems have become a critical tool for businesses over the past several decades. An ERP solution automates critical business processes and serves as a shared database for all financial and operational information from across the company. It pulls this data from a number of modules built to help various departments, from accounting to supply chain to human resources, perform their individual functions.

An ERP solution gives all employees access to the information they need to answer important questions about their department’s current performance and future planning, as well as target areas for improvement. This single source of information minimizes data accuracy and consistency issues and ensures everyone is looking at the same numbers, no matter their role. It also drives better decision-making that leads to more efficient processes and cost savings. Additionally, ERP can automate many tasks, reducing errors and freeing up employees to focus on more strategic work.

Common ERP modules support back- and front-office functions like finance and accounting, procurement, manufacturing, inventory management , order management, warehouse management , supply chain management, customer relationship management (CRM) procurement and workforce management. More functionally rich solutions may also include professional services automation (service resource management), human resources management, ecommerce and marketing automation.

What Are ERP System Modules?

Each ERP module is designed for specific business functions, providing the data and supporting the processes that will help those employees do their jobs. Every module plugs into the ERP system, so the system provides a single source of accurate data, even as the business adds new modules. If the ERP system is the toolbox, the modules are the screwdriver, wrench, hammer and other tools in the box that each have specific uses.

Video: What Are ERP Modules?

How Do ERP Modules Help Businesses?

The modular design of ERP allows it to meet the shifting needs of a business and is a big reason this software has become ubiquitous. An organization can purchase only the modules relevant to its business model, operations and key challenges. It can then add ERP modules to address new needs or challenges as the organization evolves.

The beauty of modular ERP software is that a company can add this functionality while keeping the same foundation in place. There is no need to implement a new ERP system—a lengthy process—when requirements change, as long as the company chooses an established ERP provider with a wide selection of modules.

How Do ERP Vendors Charge for Each Module?

There is a wide variance in what is included in an ERP purchase and which modules vendors charge extra for. Typically, the core financial functions are included with the base package, while features like CRM and human resources management may cost extra. Some offerings are bundled by industry so, for example, a manufacturer would buy a package with supply chain management included or a retailer would buy a package with commerce included. On-premises ERP vendors typically charge an upfront per-user license, while software-as-a-service (SaaS) vendors charge on a per-user, per-month or year basis. In some cases, there are transaction-based charges.

13 ERP Modules and Their Features

13 ERP Modules and Their Features

The finance and accounting module is the most important ERP module because it allows businesses to understand their current financial state and future outlook. Key features of this module include tracking accounts payable (AP) and accounts receivable (AR) and managing the general ledger. It also creates and stores crucial financial documents like balance sheets, payment receipts and tax statements.

The financial management module can automate tasks related to billing, vendor payments, cash management and account reconciliation , helping the accounting department close the books in a timely manner and comply with current revenue recognition standards. It also has the data that financial planning and analysis employees need to prepare key reports, including profit and loss (P&L) statements and board reports, and run scenario plans.

2. Procurement

The procurement module , also known as the purchasing module, helps an organization secure the materials or products it needs to manufacture and/or sell goods. Companies can keep a list of approved vendors in this module and tie those suppliers to certain items, helping with supplier relationship management . The module can automate requests for a quote, then track and analyze the quotes that come in.

Once a company accepts a quote, the procurement module helps the purchasing department prepare and send out purchase orders. It can then track that purchase order as the seller turns it into a sales order and ships the goods, automatically updating inventory levels once the order arrives.

3. Manufacturing

The earliest version of ERP , material requirements planning (MRP) systems , were designed for manufacturers, and manufacturing remains a key piece of ERP. Today, ERP systems typically have a production management or manufacturing execution system (MES) . The manufacturing module helps manufacturers plan production and make sure they have everything they need for planned production runs, like raw materials and machinery capacity. During the manufacturing process, it can update the status of goods-in-progress and help companies track actual output against forecasted production. It also provides a real-time picture of the shop floor, capturing information on items in progress and finished goods. It can calculate the average time to produce an item and then compare supply with forecasted demand to plan adequate production.

4. Inventory Management

The inventory management module enables inventory control by tracking item quantities and location down to individual SKUs. This module offers a complete picture of not only current but also incoming inventory, through an integration with the procurement tool. This piece of software helps businesses manage inventory costs, making sure they have sufficient stock without tying up too much cash in inventory. An inventory management application can weigh sales trends against available product to helps companies make informed decisions that boost margins and increase inventory turn (a measure of how often inventory is sold over a certain period). It can help prevent stockouts and delays, which enhances customer service.

Businesses that lack other supply chain management modules may also use the inventory management application to handle purchase orders, sales orders and shipping. Larger organizations will need a version of this solution that can track inventory across multiple locations.

5. Order Management

An order management module tracks orders from receipt to delivery. This piece of the ERP feeds all orders to the warehouse, distribution center or retail store after customers place them and tracks their status as they’re prepared, fulfilled and shipped to the customer. The order management module prevents orders from being lost and boosts on-time delivery rates to keep customers happy and cut unnecessary expenses for expedited shipping.

More advanced order management applications can help a company determine the most cost-effective option for fulfilling an order—a store vs. a warehouse vs. a third-party fulfillment partner, for example—based on available inventory and the buyer’s location.

6. Warehouse Management

A warehouse management module can deliver a rapid return on investment for businesses that operate their own warehouses. This application can efficiently guide warehouse employees through all warehouse processes based on the layout of the facility, from putaway when shipments arrive to picking to packing and shipping. It can also help companies plan labor based on expected order volume. The warehouse management module can support different picking strategies like batch picking, wave picking and zone picking depending on which is most efficient for a given business, and some modules can show employees the most efficient pick path.

When the warehouse management module is integrated with inventory management and order management applications, employees can quickly find the right products and get shipments out the door quickly. Faster delivery ultimately increases customer satisfaction.

7. Supply Chain Management

A supply chain management module tracks each step in the movement of supplies and goods throughout the supply chain, from sub-suppliers to suppliers to manufacturers to distributors to retailers or consumers. It can also manage any materials or products returned for refund or replacement.

As noted earlier, supply chain management can include a wide array of modules like procurement, inventory management, manufacturing, order management and warehouse management. However, it may have functionality beyond the core capabilities of those modules.

8. Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

The customer relationship management (CRM) module stores all customer and prospect information. That includes the company’s communication history with a person—the date and time of calls and emails, for example—and their purchase history. A CRM improves customer service because staffers can easily access all the information they need when working with a customer.

Many businesses also use CRM to manage sales leads and opportunities. It can track communication with prospects and suggest which customers should be targeted for certain promotions or cross-sell opportunities. More robust CRM modules may support customer segmentation (enabling more targeted marketing) and advanced contact managers and reporting tools.

9. Professional Services Automation (Service Resource Management)

A professional services automation (PSA) module , also called a service resource management module, allows an organization to plan and manage projects. Services-based businesses often use this module. The application tracks the status of projects, managing human and capital resources throughout, and allows managers to approve expenses and timesheets. It facilitates collaboration between teams by keeping all related documents in a shared place. Additionally, the PSA module can automatically prepare and send bills to clients based on rules around the billing cycle.

10. Workforce Management

A workforce management module is similar to a human resource management module but is designed for companies with more hourly than salaried employees. It can monitor workers’ attendance and hours and measure things like employee productivity and absenteeism.

Payroll could also fall under the workforce management module. A payroll sub-module automatically distributes paychecks to employees on a set schedule with the appropriate taxes deducted and handles expense reimbursement. It can also provide reports on payroll expenses, total overtime hours and similar KPIs.

11. Human Resources Management

A human resource management (HRM) or human capital management (HCM) module usually encompasses all the features of a workforce management application and offers additional capabilities. HRM could be viewed as CRM for employees. This popular module has detailed records on all employees and stores documents like performance reviews, job descriptions and offer letters. It tracks not only hours worked but also paid time off (PTO)/sick days and benefits information.

Since the HRM module stores a vast amount of information on every employee across the organization, it eliminates a lot of duplicate or inaccurate data that many organizations store in various spreadsheets.

12. Ecommerce

Certain ERP vendors offer an ecommerce module for businesses that want to sell online. This module allows companies to quickly launch a business-to-business (B2B) or business-to-consumer (B2C) ecommerce website. Leading commerce applications include user-friendly tools that allow employees to easily add new items, update product content (item descriptions, titles, specs, images, etc.) and change the look and feel of the website.

When the ecommerce application is integrated with other ERP applications, all payment, order and inventory information feeds from the ecommerce module into the shared database. That ensures all transactions are added to the ledger, out-of-stock items are removed from the site and orders ship on time.

13. Marketing Automation

Like with ecommerce, certain software providers have developed a marketing automation module . A marketing module manages marketing campaigns across digital channels like email, web, social media and SMS. It can automate email sends based on campaign rules and has advanced customer segmentation features, so customers only receive relevant messages.

Marketing automation software, whether part of the ERP system or a separate solution, can provide detailed reports on the performance of campaigns to shape future marketing plans and spend. These applications increase leads, customer loyalty and, over time, sales.

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Choosing the Right ERP Modules for Your Business

While the ERP modules a business should invest in will vary based on business model, industry, current obstacles and other factors, there are a few modules that most organizations need to run their business operations. Every company needs a finance and accounting module to operate, monitor its financial health and ensure its bills are paid. It’s difficult to run a business without software that can provide financial information and execute basic accounting tasks.

Though not as critical as finance and accounting, almost every company—regardless of industry, and whether it’s product- or services-based—depends on some type of customer, so CRM is another module that would benefit most businesses. Similarly, the workforce management or HRM module is a worthy investment for most companies with more than a few employees. Employees must be paid on time, and employers need a central place to track their information and career development.

Any products company—a category that includes almost all manufacturers, distributors and retailers—will benefit from a supply chain management module. Most organizations start with inventory and order management modules, since those are crucial to daily operations, and might later add solutions for manufacturing, warehouse management and procurement .

Services businesses like consultancies, agencies and maintenance and repair companies could realize a fast return on investment with a project management module. It automates complex, time-intensive billing processes and simplifies resource planning for projects.

Commerce and marketing automation are both pieces of software that some would not put under the ERP umbrella, though many businesses rely on them to attract and convert customers, especially as the internet has become a primary driver of new business. Though there are plenty of marketing automation and commerce solutions available from non-ERP vendors, solutions from your ERP provider offer a tighter, more reliable integration and may share a common user interface that reduces the learning curve and increases adoption among employees.

Purchasing and implementing an ERP platform used to be intimidating, even overwhelming, but by beginning with an ERP system that’s right for your business allows you to hit the ground running with the foundations and build it out as you grow. The ideal ERP modules for your business is one that meets your need right now and is scalable to help you meet the challenges and opportunities that growth presents.

ERP Modules FAQs

What are ERP modules? ERP modules are applications dedicated to certain business functions and processes. All modules are integrated with the ERP system’s central database so there’s a single source of accurate data. This also allows different systems — like finance and inventory management, for example — to easily exchange information and work together to execute more complex tasks.

What is ERP and its types? ERP stands for enterprise resource planning and is a platform many businesses rely on to support their daily business operations. Systems that manage key processes related to finance, supply chain, HR, customer relationship management (CRM), project management and more are all connected to the ERP.

There are multiple delivery models for ERP, including cloud, on-premises and hybrid. A cloud system runs on remote servers and may be managed by the software vendor, while an on-premises system requires local, company-owned servers. A hybrid approach blends the two, combining aspects of both on-premises and cloud ERP platforms.

What are the mandatory modules of any ERP system? Business requirements determine which ERP modules a company needs, but most start with a finance module to automate accounting processes, track all financial information and provide key reports. A CRM is another popular module, as just about any company has customers to manage. Products-based businesses typically need inventory management, order management and other supply chain-related modules, while services organizations often require a professional services automation application.

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Enterprise resource planning—Overview

Definition of enterprise resource planning (ERP)

What’s the difference between erp and financials, erp fundamentals, the business value of erp, a brief history of erp, erp deployment models: from on-premises to the cloud, cloud erp—a new erp delivery model, 7 reasons to move to an erp cloud solution.

Enterprise resource planning (ERP) refers to a type of software that organizations use to manage day-to-day business activities such as accounting , procurement , project management , risk management and compliance , and supply chain operations . A complete ERP suite also includes enterprise performance management , software that helps plan, budget, predict, and report on an organization’s financial results.

ERP systems tie together a multitude 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.

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What is an ERP system?

How can these solutions manage organizations day-to-day business activities, such as accounting, finance, procurement, project management, supply chain, and manufacturing.

Enterprise resource planning systems are complete, integrated platforms, either on-premises or in the cloud, managing all aspects of a production-based or distribution business. Furthermore, ERP systems support all aspects of financial management, human resources, supply chain management, and manufacturing with your core accounting function.

ERP systems will also provide transparency into your complete business process by tracking all aspects of production, logistics, and financials. These integrated systems act as a business's central hub for end-to-end workflow and data, allowing a variety of departments to access.

ERP Systems and software support multiple functions across the enterprise, mid-sized, or small businesses, including customizations for your industry.

Although the term “financials” is often used when describing ERP software, financials and ERP are not the same thing. Financials refers to a subset of modules within ERP.

Financials are the business functions relating to the finance department of an organization and includes modules for financial accounting, subledger accounting, accounting hub, payables and receivables, revenue management, billing, grants, expense management, project management, asset management, joint venture accounting, and collections.

Financials software uses reporting and analytical capabilities to comply with the reporting requirements of governing bodies, such as the International Financial Reporting Standards Foundation ( IFRS ), Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) for Generally Accepted Accounting Principles in the United States (GAAP), as well as for other countries (HGB in Germany and PCG in France, for example).

For public organizations, financials software has to be able to produce periodic financial statements for governing regulators, such as the US Securities and Exchange Commission ( SEC ) (with reports such as quarterly 10-Q and annual 10-K), European Securities and Markets Authority ( ESMA ), and others. For these types of financial reports, a narrative reporting tool is used. The person who is ultimately responsible for financials is the CFO.

While financials handles one area of the business, ERP encompasses a wide range of business processes—including financials. ERP software can include capabilities for procurement , supply chain management , inventory, manufacturing, maintenance, order management, project management, logistics, product lifecycle management, risk management , enterprise performance management (EPM), human resources/human capital management .

ERP also integrates with front-office applications to build holistic views of customers, including customer relationship management ( CRM ) solutions. Additionally, cloud-based ERP applications are often embedded with next-generation technologies, such as the internet of things (IoT), blockchain, AI, machine learning, and digital assistants. These advanced technologies deliver data and capabilities that not only enhance many traditional ERP functions; they create new opportunities for increased efficiencies, new services, and deeper insight across an enterprise. Since ERP systems are comprehensive across an enterprise, their management often involves a partnership with the CFO as well as the CIO, COO, and other key executive leaders.

Cloud-based ERP applications are often embedded with next-generation technologies, such as the internet of things ( IoT ), blockchain , AI, machine learning, and digital assistants.

ERP systems are designed around a single, defined data structure (schema) that typically has a common database. This helps ensure that the information used across the enterprise is normalized and based on common definitions and user experiences. These core constructs are then interconnected with business processes driven by workflows across business departments (e.g. finance, human resources, engineering, marketing, and operations), connecting systems and the people who use them. Simply put, ERP is the vehicle for integrating people, processes, and technologies across a modern enterprise.

See how industry analysts compare Oracle Cloud ERP against other financial management software providers.

For example: consider a company that builds cars by procuring parts and components from multiple suppliers. It could use an ERP system to track the requisition and purchase of these goods and ensure that each component across the entire procure-to-pay process uses uniform and clean data connected to enterprise workflows, business processes, reporting, and analytics.

When ERP is properly deployed at this automotive manufacturing company, a component, for example, “front brake pads,” is uniformly identified by part name, size, material, source, lot number, supplier part number, serial number, cost, and specification, along with a plethora of other descriptive and data-driven items.

Since data is the lifeblood of every modern company, ERP makes it easier to collect, organize, analyze, and distribute this information to every individual and system that needs it to best fulfill their role and responsibility.

ERP also ensures that these data fields and attributes roll up to the correct account in the company’s general ledger so that all costs are properly tracked and represented. If the front brake pads were called “front brakes” in one software system (or maybe a set of spreadsheets), “brake pads” in another, and “front pads” in a third, it would be tough for the automotive manufacturing company to figure out how much is spent annually on front brake pads, and whether it should switch suppliers or negotiate for better pricing.

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 chaos so that all users—from the CEO to accounts payable clerks—can 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 relying on error-prone spreadsheets.

Trending in modern finance

The ERP landscape has shifted with the rapid evolution of software as a service (SaaS) cloud applications. Because of the mobile platforms and decentralized workforce–work anywhere and anytime–ERP systems can no longer be tied to yesterday’s on-premises back-office applications. The next-generation, cloud-based, and modern ERP solutions support the new industry dynamics while providing the ability to reduce support time to enable organizations to respond quickly to volatile markets and industry trends.

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 can align separate departments and improve workflows, resulting in significant bottom-line savings. Examples of specific business benefits include:

From paper cards to mobile devices The history of ERP goes back more than 100 years. In 1913, engineer Ford Whitman Harris developed what became known as the economic order quantity (EOQ) model, a paper-based manufacturing system for production scheduling. For decades, EOQ was the standard for manufacturing. Toolmaker Black and Decker changed the game in 1964 when it became the first company to adopt a material requirements planning (MRP) solution that combined EOQ concepts with a mainframe computer.

MRP remained the manufacturing standard until manufacturing resource planning (called MRP II) was developed in 1983. MRP II featured “modules” as a key software architectural component, and integrated core manufacturing components including purchasing, bills of materials, scheduling, and contract management. For the first time, different manufacturing tasks were integrated into a common system. MRP II also provided a compelling vision of how organizations could leverage software to share and integrate enterprise data and boost operational efficiency with better production planning, reduced inventory, and less waste (scrap). As computer technology evolved through the 1970s and 1980s, concepts similar to MRP II were developed to handle business activities beyond manufacturing, incorporating finance, customer relationship management, and human resources data. By 1990, technology analysts had a name for this new category of business management software—enterprise resource planning.

ERP's past: 1990s to the new millennium From the 1990s until the beginning of the twenty-first century, ERP adoption grew rapidly . At the same time, the costs of implementing an ERP system began to climb. The hardware required to run the software was typically on company premises, with big machines in a server room. Both the hardware and the software licenses required capital investments and depreciated over 5 to 10 years. In addition, organizations nearly always wanted to customize their ERP systems to fit their specific needs, entailing an additional expense of software consultants and training.

Meanwhile, ERP technology was evolving to embrace the internet, with new features and functionality such as embedded analytics. As time went on, many organizations discovered that their on-premises ERP systems couldn’t keep up with modern security demands or emerging technologies such as smartphones.

Software-as-a-service (SaaS) Enter the cloud—specifically, the software-as-a-service (SaaS) delivery model for ERP. When ERP software is delivered as a service in the cloud, it runs on a network of remote servers instead of inside a company’s server room. The cloud provider patches, manages, and updates the software several times a year—rather than an expensive upgrade every 5 to 10 years with an on-premises system. The cloud can reduce both operational expenses (OpEx) and capital expenses (CapEx) because it eliminates the need for companies to purchase software and hardware, or hire additional IT staff. These resources can instead be invested in new business opportunities, and the organization is always up-to-date on the most recent ERP software. Employees can shift their focus from managing IT to more value-added tasks such as innovation and growth.

For businesses of all sizes, including enterprise and small to midsize , retiring on-premises systems and moving entirely to the cloud all at once isn’t possible. Or, at the very least, it’s not something they’re comfortable doing within a short development window. Meanwhile, staying the course with an on-premises ERP, ignoring all the advantages of enterprise resource planning as a cloud solution, is no longer an ideal path, either. Why should you consider using cloud applications to replace or augment your on-premises system?

1. Readily adopt new and evolving SaaS technologies

Next-generation technologies, like artificial intelligence (AI), help cloud-based systems rapidly improve their capabilities with no need for periodic updates, unlike your legacy system. Now, with no additional or new input from the end-user, ERP systems continually become significantly easier to manage and use.

2. Extend the value of your existing ERP System

Augmenting and integrating legacy software with cloud applications can complement, enhance, and supplement important tasks. This approach can breathe new life into legacy ERP systems, giving businesses a great opportunity to start adopting cloud capabilities.

3. Access new technologies

Finding cloud applications that complement your legacy ERP software modules lets you immediately take advantage of rapidly advancing new technologies and improving user paradigms. These provide complimentary systems that deliver immediate business capabilities and value without a fundamental change in your operations.

4. Reduce third-party dependencies

Reporting and analytics for legacy systems typically require involvement from a third-party vendor to generate operational business intelligence. Using cloud applications from your legacy ERP vendor often produces the same or better intelligence without needing an additional vendor relationship.

5. Evolve your financial systems

Legacy systems were never meant to be modern reporting engines. Cloud-based technology was born in the last decade and developed, as a core principle, with an entirely different mindset and understanding of not only what was possible but what was needed to be successful for ERP platforms.

6. More robust security resources

Cloud solution service providers have large, full-time teams that are exclusively dedicated to proactively monitoring and staying current with cloud security issues and threats, 24 hours a day.

7. Attract in-demand talent

The next generation of young workers have grown up with seamless technology that is mobile, easy to use, and always-on. No company that continues to rely purely with on-premises technology will be able to recruit top talent, regardless of age.

Get started with Oracle ERP

Organizations have always struggled to balance traditional ERP’s high costs and complexity against the need for customized features and flexibility, all while meeting the demands of the business. Watch and learn how Oracle ERP Cloud delivers connected teams, unified data, and real-time insights to help you and your finance team ensure that the best business decisions are made. With ERP delivered as a service in the cloud, your organization can be future-ready and outpace change.

enterprise planning system functions

One of the benefits of the SaaS model is that the software is kept up-to-date with the latest features, functions, and best practices. Cloud ERP providers roll out updates regularly (as often as monthly, in Oracle’s case). This means that the latest new and revolutionary emerging technologies—such as AI, digital assistants, machine learning, blockchain, augmented reality, and the Internet of Things (IoT)—become available to subscribers on a regular cadence.

With access to these new technologies, organizations can quickly improve their business best practices as the ERP software evolves. They can automate processes that used to require heavy manual intervention, such as reconciling financial accounts. In addition, users gain a comprehensive, real-time understanding of enterprise business activities not only in the front office, but also in warehouses, on factory floors, and everywhere else across the enterprise. This knowledge is then readily available to every appropriate employee on their mobile devices, including smartphones and tablets.

Built for the digital age, today’s ERP cloud embraces mobile, social, analytics, and the latest emerging technologies. Anything less won’t move an organization forward.

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3 Basic Functions of an ERP systems

Whether you know it or not, you are already engaged in enterprise resource planning. Any time you look at how to get the most out of your software, your equipment, or your people, you are working with resources and trying to plan for their most effective application. ERP management software provides a powerful tool that helps you do this more efficiently. The software available can vary widely in usability and functionality, but you can expect any ERP system you use to perform a few basic functions.

1. Accounting Management

The earliest ERP platforms focused on accounting. While options and functions have expanded, managing your money will always be a core aspect of your enterprise resource planning. An effective ERP system will help you pull together your legacy and current accounting software so you can manage and track your numbers--both currently and over time. It also organizes information in ways that allow you to dive deeper into the data. You should look at the analytics available in any system you consider to ensure you can use it to get the information you need.

2. Human Resources Management

The best CEOs and business owners understand that an effective organization works for reasons that go beyond accounting spreadsheets. ERP software available today helps you use your company data to manage your employees more effectively. You can run payroll, track time, measure performance and efficiency, and examine a multitude of metrics to help you identify your strongest performers, reward success, and identify potential HR problems. You can also look at changes in performance over time to measure the value of leadership meetings and performance evaluations. By taking advantage of the human resources functionality, you can focus in on how to get the most out of the people on whom your success depends.

3. Customer Relationships Management

Finally, enterprise resource planning software helps you examine your customer relationships. You can place orders more quickly and track how promptly you fill those orders. Over time, you can also look at volumes for different customers to help your sales team focus efforts appropriately. Success depends on good customer relationships, so using your ERP system to track and develop those relationships gives you a powerful market edge.

Using ERP software to develop and focus your enterprise resource planning helps you manage your entire organization more effectively. Click below to learn how Custom IS can help you get started.

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Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)

A software system used to manage and maintain the functions of a business

What is Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)?

Enterprise resource planning – more commonly referred to as ERP – is a software system used to manage and maintain the functions of a business . The tasks are typically done in real-time.

Enterprise Resource Planning

Components of ERP Software

ERP programs are commonly known as business management software. They involve a host of applications that work together to:

Primary Functions of ERP

ERP provides a host of services for companies trying to improve how efficiently they operate. The systems are constantly being updated by the proprietors to offer the speediest and most reliable services.

As the name suggests, ERP’s primary goal is to manage the various resources within the company to make sure they are being utilized in a cost-effective way. It is also designed to make sure that all resources are being used efficiently.

ERP works particularly well for tracking and managing things such as a company’s capacity for production, cash levels, raw materials at its disposal, payroll information, and purchase orders .

Flow of Information

ERP software covers a lot of different areas within a company – accounting , sales, purchasing, manufacturing. One of the most important needs it addresses is the need to communicate all pertinent information to the many departments that may require the data.

The software, being continuously updated and watched in real-time, ensures needed information is accessible by each appropriate department. It is also designed to pass information between departments. For example, manufacturing may need to know about purchase orders on deck. Or, accounting may need to know the status of payroll and business commitments that are lined up to keep the company’s cash flow up to date.

ERP software can also pass the information along to outside stakeholders . Their investment in the company is dependent, typically, on how efficiently a company is running and how financially strong it is. The data within an ERP system reveals the relevant information to all stakeholders to keep them abreast of the company’s capacity to function and generate revenue.

Enterprise Resource Planning in the IT Industry

ERP systems and software are an industry unto themselves, located at the heart of the technology space. Because of ERP systems efficiency, success – and therefore, desirability – it is an industry worth several billions of dollars today.

Investments in information technology boast the distinction of being the category responsible for the largest expenditures within the U.S. Within the past decade specifically, ERP systems skyrocketed in terms of use and, therefore, began to dominate the IT sector. Though the earliest ERP systems were designed specifically for use by large enterprises, they can now be found in a growing number of smaller companies because of their usefulness.

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The 2023 Top 10 ERP Systems Report

The 2023 Top 10 ERP Systems Report

This report highlights the ERP vendors and systems that our consulting team has found to be innovative and strong in functionality.

The 2023 ERP Report

The 2023 ERP Report

Every year, Panorama analyzes industry trends to understand organizations’ selection and implementation practices when it comes to enterprise software.

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The 2022 Top Government ERP Systems Report

The 2022 Top Government ERP Systems Report

Whether you’re trying to optimize your efforts around sustainability, infrastructure, or economic growth, the ERP systems included in this report can help you get there.

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Top 10 ERP Software

Top 10 ERP Software

Our list of top 10 ERP software highlights the vendors our ERP experts have found to be innovative and strong in functionality. This is an overview of those ERP systems.

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ERP Business Functions Found in Most ERP Systems

by Panorama Consulting Group | Aug 18, 2021

ERP Business Functions Found in Most ERP Systems

Are you a department manager trying to make a business case for ERP? Convincing your executive leadership to embrace an implementation can be a herculean task, but it’s a critical one. Without executive buy-in, it’s impossible to obtain the resources you need to get the project off the ground.

When building a business case, it helps to be as thorough as possible. In other words, you should outline all relevant ERP business functions and highlight the benefits they will provide your organization.

If you can articulate how ERP software can help automate, simplify, and streamline processes across functional areas, you’re one step closer to achieving executive buy-in.

Today, we’re outlining the ERP business functions found in most ERP systems so you can determine what benefits to include in your business case. 

Selection & Implementation Case Study

We assisted this client with the selection process, while ensuring it obtained maximum discounts and favorable terms. We were then contracted to assist with implementation.

7 ERP Business Functions With Measurable Benefits

1. finance, accounting, and accounts payable/receivable.

While ERP software provides a host of benefits, none are more sought-after than those that enable simpler and more transparent financial processes. 

When you implement ERP, you gain greater control over nearly every aspect of your financial operations. Not only do system modules help organize volumes of financial data, but they also automate many tasks that were formerly manual.

This greatly reduces the risk of human error and  inaccurate reporting . It also helps team members perform their jobs more efficiently. 

In fact, all financial activity within your organization can benefit from an ERP system . No longer bound to legacy systems or paper files, you can work directly within a modern, integrated interface.

The result is higher levels of productivity, transparency, and quality that your employees and your clients will appreciate. 

2. Customer Service

According to recent research, companies that focus on improving the customer experience see revenue increases of  up to 80% . Moreover, up to two-thirds of companies compete on customer experience alone, and 73% of buyers say that it helps direct their purchase decision. 

The takeaway? It’s never been more important to prioritize your customer-facing initiatives. One way you can do so is to optimize your approach to eCommerce.  

When users engage with your site, it’s critical to know how they got there, what they’re browsing, how long they’re spending on each item, and what they ultimately purchase.

An ERP system can provide these insights. With ERP, you can create tailored promotions that appeal to users’ preferences and encourage repeat buying behavior. 

Many ERP systems have built-in eCommerce functionality , and those that don’t usually integrate with third-party eCommerce systems. By selecting the right software, you can make sure your eCommerce function isn’t operating in a silo. Rather, all the data collected feeds back into your central platform, where you can use it to make important decisions and develop new campaigns. 

3. Supply Chain Management

Does your company deal with materials, inventory, assembly, and line personnel on a daily basis? If so, you know that it can be a challenge to manage so many moving parts. 

You need real-time visibility into every aspect of your supply chain, but you shouldn’t have to rely on a series of disparate systems to achieve it.

With an ERP platform, MRP system, or supply chain management system , all the information you need is centrally located and easily-accessible. This enables you to streamline your manufacturing processes, both domestically and internationally.

You can also oversee all parts of your production activity, making it easy to view and assess your current inventory levels, purchasing data, accounts payable activity, and more.  

In addition to facilitating smoother operations, ERP makes it easy to adjust your processes from country to country by considering differences such as:

Finally, if any issue occurs or is about to occur within your supply chain, ERP enables you to immediately spot it and take action as soon as possible.  

For instance, you’re automatically alerted when critical materials are nearing out-of-stock, enabling you to replenish them before this occurs.

4. Order Processing

When a new order comes in, how does your team currently process it? From there, how do employees track it to make sure it gets to the right destination?

Chances are, there’s an extensive workflow in place that requires data transfers between various departments, team members, and touchpoints. At any point in that process, valuable information could be lost or misconstrued. 

With an ERP solution , you can better manage all areas of your order management process, including:

If your business sells goods of any type, you need an ERP platform that will help team members manage inventory, shipping, and other order fulfillment tasks.

Look for a system that includes an integrated processing module to facilitate these efforts. Many of these systems come equipped with customer interface modules that directly integrate with your company website.

5. Human Resources

According to a recent report,  88% of HR leaders  feel that they are a strategic partner in their organization. To contribute to their company’s success, most rely on a series of administrative tasks that they must complete on a daily basis, most of which are incredibly time-consuming and resource-draining. 

In fact, the same report revealed that HR managers spend at least four full weeks per year on manual tasks. Specifically, 23% of HR leaders report that they manually navigate new federal, state, and local regulations. Twenty percent manually enter inputs such as checking pay stubs, updating employee data, and submitting direct deposits. Finally, 19% manually process employee performance information. 

ERP software can simplify and automate all these functions. A few of the areas where HR team members can benefit the most include:

In addition to basic employee database management, HR workers can also use the platform to create detailed reports and analyses on employee performance. This way, all information is on one spot and easily accessible.

While not every organization will require such robust tools, those that do need them often find that there are very few providers beyond ERP vendors that readily offer them. 

6. Project Management

Any project, regardless of its size, involves key activities such as billing, expense management, and human capital management . When these are scattered, it can be difficult for client services teams to ensure they’ve accounted for everything.

With ERP, all information is stored in the same location, so it’s easy to incorporate this data into your overall balance sheet. This way, you can make sure you’re allocating the right resources to a given project. 

Project management functionality also has many reporting benefits. With a few clicks, users can track KPIs, like project costs, and provide detailed reports to all stakeholders.

Users also can set interim project milestones to be achieved by a certain date, and then group costs and benefits within each milestone using automated sorting and filtering capabilities. This gives managers a clearer understanding of the status of each project, as well as any changes that need to be made. 

7. Customer Relationship Management

ERP systems that include CRM features can bring customer relationship data into your centralized database. This way, every business activity that you perform ties back to the value you’re delivering to end-users.

In seconds, employees can access all the information they need on each account, including contacts, order history, and prospect status.

When this information is digitized and automatically updated, team members can easily perform tasks, such as:

Many types of CRM software  are sold as standalone systems and focus on outward-facing activities, such as:

However, there is a great advantage to integrating CRM and ERP functionality. When you do so, you can align your customer-focused activities with your back-end processes and operational data. This enables centralized control of accounts and contracts.

If the systems are separate, users must retrieve this data by bouncing back and forth between two platforms. By integrating, you can eliminate the risk of data duplication or inaccuracy, and you can facilitate cross-department collaboration.

How to Optimize ERP Functional Benefits

It’s true that ERP software can automate many of the functional areas described above, as well as many more. However, relying on ERP to fully transform your company could be a recipe for ERP failure .

Why is this the case? If your current business processes are inefficient, then it doesn’t make sense to automate them – even if you’re implementing a robust system like SAP or Oracle . If you do, then you’ll still experience most of the same pain points you’re already feeling.

Instead, we recommend taking the time to optimize these core areas before you begin ERP selection . Start by conducting requirements gathering workshops. This is where you map your current processes and identify opportunities for process improvement or business process reengineering .

When you improve your processes, your ERP implementation is no longer an IT project, but a strategic initiative that executives are more likely to support.

You Must Understand ERP Business Functions Before Building a Business Case

There are many different ERP features and understanding how each one works will be critical to building your business case. 

Our ERP consulting team is well-versed in the various ERP business functions, and we can help you understand how each might align with your organizational goals. If you’re ready to turn your IT project into a strategic business initiative, request a free consultation below to meet with our ERP consultants .

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Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)

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Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP): Meaning, Components, and Examples

Investopedia contributors come from a range of backgrounds, and over 24 years there have been thousands of expert writers and editors who have contributed.

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Investopedia / Joules Garcia

What Is Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)?

Enterprise resource planning (ERP) is a platform companies use to manage and integrate the essential parts of their businesses. Many ERP software applications are critical to companies because they help them implement resource planning by integrating all the processes needed to run their companies with a single system.

An ERP software system can also integrate planning, purchasing inventory, sales, marketing, finance, human resources, and more.

Key Takeaways

Understanding Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)

You can think of an enterprise resource planning system as the glue that binds together the different computer systems for a large organization. Without an ERP application, each department would have its system optimized for its specific tasks. With ERP software, each department still has its system, but all of the systems can be accessed through one application with one interface.

What Does ERP Do?

ERP applications also allow the different departments to communicate and share information more easily with the rest of the company. It collects information about the activity and state of different divisions, making this information available to other parts, where it can be used productively.

ERP applications can help a corporation become more self-aware by linking information about production, finance, distribution, and human resources together. Because it connects different technologies used by each part of a business, an ERP application can eliminate costly duplicates and incompatible technology. The process often integrates accounts payable, stock control systems, order-monitoring systems, and customer databases into one system.

How Does It Work?

ERP has evolved over the years from traditional software models that made use of physical client servers and manual entry systems to cloud-based software with remote, web-based access. The platform is generally maintained by the company that created it, with client companies renting services provided by the platform.

Businesses select the applications they want to use. Then, the hosting company loads the applications onto the server the client is renting, and both parties begin working to integrate the client's processes and data into the platform.

Once all departments are tied into the system, all data is collected on the server and becomes instantly available to those with permission to use it. Reports can be generated with metrics, graphs, or other visuals and aids a client might need to determine how the business and its departments are performing.

A company could experience cost overruns if its ERP system is not implemented carefully.

Benefits of Enterprise Resource Planning

Businesses employ enterprise resource planning (ERP) for various reasons, such as expanding, reducing costs, and improving operations. The benefits sought and realized between companies may differ; however, some are worth noting.

Improves Accuracy and Productivity

Integrating and automating business processes eliminates redundancies and improves accuracy and productivity. In addition, departments with interconnected processes can synchronize work to achieve faster and better outcomes.

Improves Reporting

Some businesses benefit from enhanced real-time data reporting from a single source system. Accurate and complete reporting help companies adequately plan, budget, forecast, and communicate the state of operations to the organization and interested parties, such as shareholders.

Increases Efficiency

ERPs allow businesses to quickly access needed information for clients, vendors, and business partners. This contributes to improved customer and employee satisfaction, quicker response rates, and increased accuracy rates. In addition, associated costs often decrease as the company operates more efficiently.

ERP software also provides total visibility, allowing management to access real-time data for decision-making.

Increases Collaboration

Departments are better able to collaborate and share knowledge; a newly synergized workforce can improve productivity and employee satisfaction as employees are better able to see how each functional group contributes to the mission and vision of the company. Also, menial and manual tasks are eliminated, allowing employees to allocate their time to more meaningful work.

ERP Weaknesses

An ERP system doesn't always eliminate inefficiencies within a business or improve everything. The company might need to rethink how it's organized or risk ending up with incompatible technology.

ERP systems usually fail to achieve the objectives that influenced their installation because of a company's reluctance to abandon old working processes. Some companies may also be reluctant to let go of old software that worked well in the past. The key is to prevent ERP projects from being split into smaller projects, which can result in cost overruns.

Employing change management principles throughout the ERP life cycle can prevent or reduce failures that compromise full implementation.

Some familiar names are leaders in ERP software. Oracle Corp. ( ORCL ) originally supplied a relational database that integrated with ERP software developed by SAP ( SAP ) before entering the broader enterprise market in a big way in the early 2000s. Microsoft ( MSFT ) has long been an industry leader, with many customers using multiple software applications from the company.

As cloud-based solutions have grown in popularity in recent years, the traditional ERP industry leaders have seen challenges from upstarts such as Bizowie and Workwise.

ERP Examples

Fulton & roark.

Men's grooming product maker Fulton & Roark successfully implemented enterprise resource planning to better track inventory and financial data. Like many other businesses, the North Carolina company used spreadsheets to track inventory and accounting software to record financial data.

As the company grew, its processes lagged. Their antiquated inventory tracking system did not account for changing costs, and the accounting software could not record the metrics needed for key financial statements. These breakdowns created manual processes, which further compromised time and resources.

To eliminate unnecessary processes and centralize work, they chose the Oracle NetSuite ERP system. Immediately, Fulton & Rourk was better able to identify accounting errors related to inventory, eliminate costs from employing third parties to evaluate their financial records, and better report financial positions.

Cadbury, a global confectioner and maker of the popular chocolate Cadbury egg, also successfully implemented an ERP system. The company had thousands of systems but could not keep pace with its rapid growth and used ineffective warehouse management systems.

It implemented a system that integrated its thousands of applications, standardized processes, and restructured warehouse management systems—breaking down silos for seamless, integrated coordination of work.

What Is the Importance of Enterprise Resource Planning?

Enterprise resource planning software offers single-system solutions that integrate processes across the business. These applications allow users to interact within a single interface, share information, and enable cross-functional collaboration. They increase productivity, collaboration, and efficiency.

What Are the 5 Components of ERP?

The components of an ERP system depend on the organization's needs. However, there are key features that each ERP should include. Generally, packages include finance, human resource, logistics and manufacturing, supply chain management, and customer relationship management.

What Are the Types of ERP?

Generally there are three deployment options for ERP systems; Cloud-based, on-premise, and a hybrid of the two. Within these options, a business can choose from hundreds of types such as finance, supply chain management, and human resource management.

What Are the 2 Main ERP Applications?

Which ones are the main applications depends on the business and the industry it operates in. Most companies can benefit from supply chain management, logistics, and financial applications to help them streamline their operations and expenses.

Enterprise resource planning (ERP) manages and integrates business processes through a single system. With a better line of sight, companies can better plan and allocate resources. Without ERP, companies tend to operate in silos, with each department using its own disconnected system.

ERP systems promote the free flow of communication and sharing of knowledge across an organization, the integration of systems for improved productivity and efficiencies, and increased synergies across teams and departments. However, moving to an ERP system will be counterproductive if the company's culture does not adjust to the change and the company does not review how the structure of its organization can support it.

Oracle. “ Oracle for SAP Technology Update ,” Page 42.

Microsoft. “ Annual Report 2021 .”

Workwise. “ About Us .”

Bizowie. “ A Different Kind of Enterprise Software Company .”

Oracle NetSuite. “ Fulton & Roark .”

Oracle NetSuite. “ 3 Successful ERP Implementation Case Studies .”

Microsoft. “ Mondelēz International Moves to Microsoft Azure for Great SAP Performance and AI Innovation .”

SAP. “ How Does Support From a Dedicated Engagement Team Accelerate Digital Transformation? ,” Page 3.

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What is ERP? Enterprise resource planning systems explained

Enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems standardize, streamline, and integrate processes across a wide range of business functions. Here’s what to know about these critical IT systems.

ERP - Enterprise Resource Planning

ERP definition

Enterprise resource planning (ERP) is a system of integrated software applications that manages day-to-day business processes and operations across finance, human resources, procurement, distribution, supply chain, and other functions. ERP systems are critical applications for most organizations because they integrate all the processes necessary to run their business into a single system that also facilitates resource planning. ERP systems typically operate on an integrated software platform using common data definitions operating on a single database.

ERPs were originally designed for manufacturing companies but have since expanded to serve nearly every industry, each of which can have its own ERP peculiarities and offerings. For example, government ERP uses contract lifecycle management (CLM) rather than traditional purchasing and follows government accounting rules rather than GAAP.

Benefits of ERP

ERP systems improve enterprise operations in a number of ways. By integrating financial information in a single system, ERP systems unify an organization’s financial reporting. They also integrate order management, making order taking, manufacturing, inventory, accounting, and distribution a much simpler, less error-prone process. Most ERPs also include customer relationship management (CRM) tools to track customer interactions, thereby providing deeper insights about customer behavior and needs. They can also standardize and automate manufacturing and supporting processes, and unify procurement across an organization’s business units. ERP systems can also provide a standardized HR platform for time reporting, expense tracking, training, and skills matching, and greatly enhance an organization’s ability to file the necessary compliance reporting across finance, HR, and the supply chain.

Key features of ERP systems

The scale, scope, and functionality of ERP systems vary widely, but most ERP systems offer the following characteristics:

Types of ERP solutions

ERP systems are categorized in tiers based on the size and complexity of enterprises served:

ERP vendors

The top ERP vendors today include:

Selecting an ERP solution

Choosing an ERP system is among the most challenging decisions IT leaders face. In addition to the above tier criteria, there is a wide range of features and capabilities to consider. With any industry, it is important to pick an ERP vendor with industry experience. Educating a vendor about the nuances of a new industry is very time consuming.

To help you get a sense of the kinds of decisions that go into choosing an ERP system, check out “ The best ERP systems: 10 enterprise resource planning tools compared ,” with evaluations and user reviews of Acumatica Cloud ERP, Deltek ERP, Epicor ERP, Infor ERP, Microsoft Dynamics ERP, NetSuite ERP, Oracle E-Business Suite, Oracle JD Edwards EnterpriseOne ERP,  Oracle Peoplesoft Financial Management and SAP ERP Solutions.

ERP implementation

Most successful ERP implementations are led by an executive sponsor who sponsors the business case, gets approval to proceed, monitors progress, chairs the steering committee, removes roadblocks, and captures the benefits. The CIO works closely with the executive sponsor to ensure adequate attention is paid to integration with existing systems, data migration, and infrastructure upgrades. The CIO also advises the executive sponsor on challenges and helps the executive sponsor select a firm specializing in ERP implementations.

The executive sponsor should also be advised by an organizational change management executive, as ERP implementations result in new business processes, roles, user interfaces, and job responsibilities. Reporting to the program’s executive team should be a business project manager and an IT project manager. If the enterprise has engaged an ERP integration firm, its project managers should be part of the core program management team.

Most ERP practitioners structure their ERP implementation as follows:

Hidden costs of ERP

Four factors are commonly underestimated during project planning:

Why ERP projects fail

ERP projects fail for many of the same reasons that other projects fail, including ineffective executive sponsors , poorly defined program goals, weak project management, inadequate resources, and poor data cleanup. But there are several causes of failure that are closely tied to ERPs:

Over the past few years, ERP vendors have created new systems designed specifically for the cloud, while longtime ERP vendors have created cloud versions of their software. Cloud ERP There are a number of reasons to move to cloud ERP , which falls into two major types:

For most enterprises, ERP as a service offers three advantages: The initial cost is lower , upgrades to new releases are easier, and reluctant executives cannot pressure the organization to write custom code for their organization. Still, migrating to a cloud ERP can be tricky and requires a somewhat different approach than implementing on on-premises solution. See “ 13 secrets of a successful cloud ERP migration .”

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What Are the Functions of an ERP System?

by David Weedmark

Published on 9 Aug 2019

ERP seems to mean different things to different people. Moreover, one version of an ERP solution can be very different from another. That's because, at its core, ERP, or Enterprise Resource Planning, is designed to improve business processes, which themselves vary from one organization to another. So explaining an ERP is much like asking what a business process is. To use a more simplified analogy, asking what's involved with an ERP is like asking what's inside a toolbox.

Business processes can include accounting, human resources, customer relationship management (CRM), order management and inventory control. The role of ERP is to integrate these processes and the associated data into a single system.

Features of ERP

Regardless of what types of ERP solutions you look at, they almost always have three major features that can be used by any business.

Shared Data: All of the information is placed in a single database that can be shared by different systems in different departments. So, for example, the sales department has the same information used by the shipping department, customer service and the accounting department. So, for example, if the accounting department freezes a client's account, or if customer service changes a client's address, the other departments can see this immediately – no phone calls or urgent emails to the shipping department are needed.

Centralized Modules: Employees are able to manage their tasks without switching from one application or screen to another, even when they are working with tasks grouped with other departments. All of the information they need is stored in the same part of the system.

Accurate, Timely Reports: Because information is integrated into the same database, generating reports takes less time and the information they contain is more timely. A common feature of an ERP system is portals or dashboards that allow anyone in an organization to see key performance reports or metrics.

The Evolution of ERP

Enterprise Resource Planning developed slowly, beginning in the 1960s when manufacturers wanted to improve inventory management and control systems with computer programs. In the 1970s, Material Requirements Planning (MRP) systems began to emerge for scheduling production processes, which evolved into MRP-II, or Manufacturing Resource Planning. In the 1990s, these systems began to include other functions, including accounting and human resource systems and, at the beginning of that decade, the term ERP was first used by Gartner to describe these emerging solutions.

ERP today can include all of these things from the past as well as business intelligence (BI), sales force automation (SFA), e-commerce and automated marketing. Any company, large or small, and regardless of its industry could have a use for ERP.

Major Functions of ERP Today

While any business may have different uses for ERP, there are six key functions that are found most commonly in the software.

Human Resources

An HR module should be able to process tasks related to managing your employees, including payroll, timesheets, benefits, onboarding and offboarding. The HR module should automate payments, including deductions so, for example, an hourly employee's wages are automatically calculated based on her timesheet, benefits and taxes are deducted and the net pay is automatically deposited into her bank account.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

A CRM module stores data related to customers and prospects, giving employees insights that can improve sales and marketing processes. For example, CRM can track customer buying habits, so you can see what types of products you may be able to upsell and when the best time may be to offer these products. CRM is especially useful for an e-commerce business, allowing you to target prospects with ads that are meaningful to them. A CRM module can also track when prospects have been contacted and what was discussed, eliminating additional sales calls that may not be appropriate.

Business Intelligence (BI)

A BI module can help business leaders make well-informed decisions based on meaningful and timely data from any department as needed. This module can analyze practically any business process and provide reports without any excess information. Reports can be in a visual format or presented in tables, depending on the manager's preferences.

Supply Chain Management (SCM)

An SCM module usually works with an inventory management system to improve the efficiency of a company's supply chain by using real-time data to optimize manufacturing and distribution processes. This can give you the ability to intervene when a problem happens, rather than waiting to find out the next day or later. More than that, today's SCM software can track and analyze these processes to predict when a problem is likely to occur. An example of this is the ability to notify customers when orders are being processed and shipped in real-time.

Inventory Management System

An inventory management system module processes order fulfillment and tracks warehouse inventory, greatly reducing the need to track inventory manually. This is very useful to manufacturers or companies with their own distribution centers where tracking inventory can become extremely complex. Features can include real-time inventory on the company's website to inform customers what is and what isn't in stock.

Financial Management

Just about every business with an ERP will use a financial management module. It works in conjunction with the other ERP components to track the flow of money, from the purchase of new supplies to paying employees and issuing invoices to customers. Financial management software in an ERP can also help you budget, produce financial forecasts and give you insights into where costs can be reduced.

Small Businesses and ERP

While the first word in ERP is still Enterprise, this is quickly beginning to lose its importance. Until the 21st century, ERP solutions were usually found only in companies with enterprise (i.e. large) computer networks with dedicated servers and the budgets required to manage them. Today, more and more small businesses are tapping into the benefits of ERP. This is primarily for two reasons.

First, cloud computing solutions, still often known as SaaS (Software-as-a-Service), have made ERP system extremely inexpensive. Any small business can sign up for a monthly or annual subscription and select the functions they want to use. The software company runs the ERP systems on its own servers and takes care of the maintenance, upgrades and backups for all of their customers with its own technicians.

The second reason more smaller companies are using ERP is because of the increasing amount of data they now have access to and, consequently, need to manage this data so they use it effectively.

Recent Trends in ERP Technologies

Like many other software solutions, ERP continues to adapt to the changing needs of business, large and small alike. One interesting development is an SaaS and On-Premise Hybrid , currently being offered by companies like Oracle and Salesforce. This allows companies with its own in-house ERP software to integrate it with a cloud-based solution, so the two work together. Similarly, large multinational corporations are beginning to use two-tiered ERP solutions so the parent corporation can use one, while subsidiaries use another that takes into account different national regulations, as well as differences in markets and cultures.

Social ERP, also known as ERP 2.0 , integrates social media data from platforms like Twitter and Facebook. This can be quite valuable for CRM systems to determine levels of customer engagement, brand mentions and sharing of posts, as well as their effects on conversion rates.

A third trend in that shouldn't come as a surprise in our increasingly mobile society is Mobile ERP . Software companies are making apps for smartphones and tablets that allow managers and employees to access important data like sales, web traffic and lead conversions. While security is still a concern when data can be accessed anywhere and at any time, accounts can be strictly controlled to ensure only those who need the data in a mobile platform can access it.

ERP Functions and Software Requirements List

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There’s buzz surrounding ERP software these days. You might’ve heard it’s a necessary tool to stay competitive in today’s market. Or, you overheard how efficient it can make your business operations. But choosing new software isn’t a cakewalk. The critical step is brainstorming the proper functions of ERP and requirements before browsing specific vendors.

Get our ERP Software Requirements Template

ERP Functionality Requirements

But first, let’s start with something simpler. Enterprise resource planning (ERP) software is a business solution that integrates all your applications and manages your resources. So what can ERP software do? To answer that question, we need to understand the essential ERP functions and requirements.

We’ll cover everything from a brief history and trends to advantages, disadvantages and critical modules.

Table of Contents


Inventory Management


Project Management

Advantages and Disadvantages

Key functional requirements, purchasing considerations, how to choose the right modules and software.

We’ll cover all the ideal requirements, benefits and more for your ERP selection journey.

Key Requirements/Features

This list, though not exhaustive, is a great starting place when deciding what functions of ERP you should consider.

1. Manufacturing

Before ERP, there was MRP or manufacturing resource planning. Eventually, businesses realized they needed support for their back-office operations as well. MRP resembled current ERP systems when developers added back-office tools. Manufacturing functionality has remained an ERP staple to this day.

Manufacturing helps businesses manage their product development and production. This ERP functionality gives users ease in managing resources, finances and shop floors. Your manufacturing system can also assist with planning and scheduling, budgeting, forecasting, procurement and materials management.

Additionally, manufacturing ERP functions rely on project management tools to track design iterations. These functions of ERP should all work together to streamline your manufacturing process. This integration gives your team more time and resources for product creation instead of addressing errors.

Manufacturing ERP Functional Requirements

An example of a manufacturing ERP interface.

2. Accounting

As aforementioned, ERP derives from the need to combine manufacturing and back-office functions. Accounting, as one of the latter processes, has long been a primary function of ERP. Accounting tools support accounts receivable and payable, and general ledger functions to manage finances. Accounting ERP functions also support payroll , time tracking and tax management .

But accounting software works differently when incorporated into an ERP. In this situation, your ERP database provides the accounting module with automated data from company-wide processes, garnering a few benefits.

First, these ERP requirements reduce the time accounting staff spends collecting financial information. Second, it reduces erroneous and redundant entries. Lastly, it gives your team a comprehensive look at your finances.

Accounting ERP Functional Requirements

An example of accounting software.

3. Human Resources

Human resources is another back-office software type modern ERPs facilitate. ERP software covers all HR functions an employee experiences during their time with your company. Applicant tracking , one of many functions of ERP, keeps tabs on prospective employees during job recruitment. It enables your HR staff to search for the best candidates according to the criteria your team sets.

These ERP software requirements encapsulate the onboarding process and benefits administration. Additionally, HR deals with functions such as training, payroll and performance management . Performance management aids reporting and analytical tools.

Thanks to centralization, all applications within your system pull data from one source. This integration helps you recognize patterns in your hiring practices and employee performance. Workforce management solutions can manage employee data like time and attendance, work schedules, PTO, sick days and more.

HR ERP Functional Requirements

A preview of an HR interface.

4. Customer Relationship Management(CRM)

The foundation for all your other business functions is a strong client relationship. Without loyal clients , there simply won’t be a business to run. CRM software makes fostering these connections more straightforward than ever before.

CRM functionality helps companies track campaigns, nurture leads and maintain client information. While standalone solutions perform these tasks, an integrated CRM can transform your business.

You may be entering customer data by hand if you don’t have an integrated CRM system. Not only is this a waste of time, but it also causes issues. It’s unlikely that each entry is going to include comprehensive data on your customers. A CRM as part of an ERP solution provides complete customer data in one place. This program offers customer data access for swift shipping, billing or marketing purposes.

CRM Dashboard

An example of CRM software.

5. Inventory Management

Inventory management is vital in our ERP software requirements list. Inventory management solutions give users more stock control and visibility. Inventory management works best in an all-inclusive ERP solution like our previous requirements.

Inventory management software in ERP exchanges data with manufacturing, distribution, sales and customer records. This data sharing gives greater supply chain visibility and helps users predict issues.

This module can also forecast demand with analytical tools. These analytics can determine the best sales tactics for products during particular time frames.

Inventory Management ERP Requirement

A preview of inventory management software.

6. Supply Chain Management (SCM)

Exemplary SCM software can reduce expenses, forecast and supervise demand, diminish mistakes, perform automatic finances and streamline product allocation.

Some SCM accessories include bidding and spending, supplier management, compliance, shipping statuses and more.

Procurement , a subset of SCM, detects and purchases merchandise for all industries. Aligning procurement strategies with your company regulations facilitate supplier decisions, governs supplier performance and more.

SCM ERP Functional Requirements

An example of SCM software.

7. Warehouse Management System (WMS)

WMS programs have various types , including standalone, cloud, supply chain and ERP. It offers potent labor management and distribution, enhances supplier and customer relationships, provides complete inventory transparency, optimizes warehouse space and dwindles operating costs.

Some ideal WMS modules include picking, receiving, content creation, inventory management and more.

WMS ERP Functional Requirements

A preview of a WMS program.

8. Analytics and Reporting

Leverage in-depth analytical and reporting modules to supervise all business aspects. You can craft customizable dashboards to tailor your specific KPIs.

Gather and evaluate several report types, such as project, sales, service, manufacturing management, HR, inventory and more to manage department efficiencies and bottlenecks. You also gain documents to store for auditing purposes.

You can also invest in business intelligence (BI) and business analytics (BA) tools to gather information, craft in-depth dataset visualizations and pinpoint trends.

ERP Functional Requirements BA

An example of BA software’s data visualization capabilities.

9. Asset Management

Conduct audit assets to confirm items according to locations, categories and departments. Implement linear asset management to describe, exhibit and supervise all items, such as roads, railway tracks, powerlines, cables and more.

Arrange, review and organize data by worksite in real time and in several languages for KPI maintenance management. Create QR codes and barcodes for all items to improve tracking. Establish asset profiles in a centralized database with manufacturers, vendors, serial numbers, warranties, BOMs and other critical information.

ERP Functional Requirements Asset Management

A preview of an asset management solution’s reporting tools. Source

10. Order Management

Administer backlog orders with adjustable supply and demand requirements. Review and input order numbers, order line numbers, customer names and more. Craft automatic workflows and revise multiple protocols, such as quote-to-sales order conversion, update-to-sales order statuses, returns and more.

Manually or automatically split orders into manageable portions. Develop dropshipping purchase orders, and chronicle customer and product data with pricing records, item numbers, availability, cost breaks and more.

ERP Functional Requirements Order Management

An example of order statuses in order management modules. Source

11. Procurement

Upkeep vendor profiles and data in a centralized repository with dates, types, document numbers, addresses, PO boxes and more. Draft purchase orders with fields for effective and expiration dates, requesters, line types, amounts and more.

Procurement tools enable you to simplify supplier selection, reduce routine fees, gauge supplier performance and more. Implement three-way matching to verify vendor bill details against purchase orders and merchandise receipts.

ERP Functional Requirements Procurement

A preview of a procurement software interface.

12. Project Management

Bill projects according to completed tasks, hitting milestones and date schedules. Utilize different bill scheduling types, including time and materials, fixed-bid intervals, milestone billing and more.

You can implement numerous project management tools for tracking, planning, definition and resource allocation. Delegate, merge or split project tasks as needed. Establish task statuses and apply them manually or automatically.

ERP Functional Requirements Project Management

An example of a project management software’s time logs tool.

13. Service Management

Access help desks, ticket managing, service desks, case handlings and more. Craft service requests with product IDs, partner functions, item nodes, partner IDs and more. Generate customer service contracts and detect them by customer sites, service items, repair terms and conditions, and more.

Installation management enables you to supervise material deliveries, services, subcontractors and more resources to execute smooth product placements.

Use technician portals to begin and finish field appointments, edit assignment statuses, review service request details and more.

ERP Functional Requirements Service Management

A preview of service management software. Source

14. Integrations and Extensibility

Centralize all tasks and solutions into one area without having to log out or into other systems.

Access AP integration features with REST and other methods for custom integration building. Merge with computer-aided design (CAD) tools to streamline product designs, models and simulations in a digital atmosphere without wasting money on real prototypes.

ERP Functional Requirements CAD

An example of a CAD interface.

Despite all of these advances, there will always be advantages and disadvantages of ERP solutions . Read on for an overview:

ERP Advantages and Disadvantages


There are a few ERP functions that all systems should contain. You can think of functional requirements as the benefits and experiences an ERP system provides. Below are a couple of crucial functions of ERP:


Centralized modules allow users to manage grouped tasks without switching applications or screens. House all information needed for a particular operation in the same part of the system. Also, every department accesses and receives data in one unified interface.

One of this system’s greatest assets is automating tasks. You can automate anything in the program, from creating bills and receiving quotes to sending invoices and printing reports without lifting a finger. This trend saves loads of time and money to boost productivity.

There are several considerations to mull over when browsing for new software and ERP requirements, from company size and deployment options to industries.

How Big Is Your Company?

Are you a small business living in your basement, a local corner store, a global enterprise or something in between? Most ERP solutions are scalable and accommodate your ever-growing employees, departments and/or machinery.

What’s Your Ideal Deployment Option?

Are you interested in cloud, on-premise or hybrid deployments for your next solution? On-premise enables you to host the software on your company servers and hard drives and store vital information. This choice typically suits small businesses.

The cloud offers third-party hosting, so you may access the software and data via the internet. If your company has many regional or global sites, you can monitor their performance remotely on any mobile device, such as phones, tablets and laptops. There are multiple techniques to protect information within the cloud, including data encryption, multi-factor authentication, access control and more.

Hybrid merges cloud and on-premise capabilities into one solution to stay mobile and safeguard company details.

What Industry Do You Serve?

Does your organization specify in or have different departments for accounting, manufacturing, etc.? For example, if your company serves BI, it’s best to keep your focus on BI-specific features and whether or not they integrate with your current system or modules. If your company dabbles in different industries, you’ll likely invest in a solution that encompasses every sector in one centralized location.

Do You Need New Software or Add-ons?

One of the biggest quandaries you face in software selection is whether you need a new system or additional features. For example, your current system is great at bookkeeping, gathering customer data and exhibiting production KPIs, but you lack employee time tracking accessories. In this situation, you can zero in on vital time-tracking platforms that mesh well with your existing solution.

SelectHub’s easy-to-follow methodology called Lean Selection helps you find the right solution and ERP functionality in nine simple steps:

Lean Selection Steps

Finding the right ERP software requirements is no picnic. However, we hope this article has helped you gain perspective on your search and the best modules to choose for your company’s practices and objectives.

Our free requirements template for ERP lets you prioritize which software modules and features you care about so you can easily find the best-matching products.

What functions of ERP are most important to you? Let us know in the comments.

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Levi Armstrong - September 15, 2020 reply

It’s great that you mentioned that one of the beneficial functions of ERPs is inventory management, which helps business manage their goods or supplies and forecast demand. Dad and I are thinking of starting a hardware store downtown since my godfather is renting a commercial space. If we proceed with our plan, I’ll definitely discuss getting ERP software with my dad. Thanks!

Avatar photo

Madeline Reinbolt - October 12, 2020 reply

Thanks for sharing, Levi!

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MiniBigTech - July 24, 2019 reply

Industry This type can be tailored to suit the needs of Industry such Retail, Automotive. Web-Based: This type, also referred to as cloud-based, is hosted by a vendor or open source business remote access from anywhere or any device. Small Business: This type is particularly attractive to smaller businesses to help with order management and human resources management. Check it out click on ERP software modules. Please contact us at any time.

MiniBigTech - March 13, 2019 reply

Excellent blog. It is very informative for entrepreneur who is trying to relaunch it business they should see this ERP Software Modules seeing that it will be fruitful.

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Kim O'Shaughnessy - March 13, 2019 reply

Thanks for reading! We’re glad you found the article informative.

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TOP 8 Functions Enterprise Resource Planning System Must Have

enterprise planning system functions

The market offers a variety of Enterprise Resource Planning systems and their supply is constantly growing. Developers use a variety of tricks to increase the popularity of their system, and one of them is additional functions that at first glance seem to be useful in business. However, additional features can only be considered when the system already has its core functionality that is needed every day.

Let’s briefly discuss TOP 8 functions that must be present in every Enterprise Resource Planning system.

Contact Management

Contact Management is one of the key features that has benefits we often overlook. It seems we could easily replace this feature with traditional methods like the Excel spreadsheet. However, efficiently managed contacts probably bring the most benefits, and various studies estimate that this feature allows you to increase customer loyalty by up to 27 percent.

Sales Management

Sales Management is equally important as sales are the engine of business activity. Invoices and payments is the area that must constantly be monitored and controlled, and when there are several hundred customers, it becomes really difficult to do it manually.

Task Control

Task Control has many benefits: maintaining quality, connecting with customers and more. If you have an ERP system, you must also have this feature.

Sales Planning

Sales Planning should be included in the ERP of your choice as it allows you to be one step ahead. Once you know what income to expect, you can plan how to spend it effectively.

Sales Automation

Sales Automation can be implemented in many ways and depends on the specifics of your business, but even simple features such as automated invoicing or contract validity control greatly reduce workload and human error.

Stock Management

Stock Management lets you ensure smooth operation and monitor your warehouse in real time. No residual products or non-existent product sales that infuriate customers and damage company’s reputation.

Communication Tool

Communication Tool allows you to automatically receive and distribute customer requests. This feedback does not require a lot of effort from the company, but is extremely important to the customer. Rapid response, qualified help and effective problem solving are essential if you want to enjoy a great reputation in the market.

Information Search

Information Search function seems like an additional advantage for an ERP system, but it is not. Every system must have a search function because sometimes you need to quickly find a specific record or story. Information search function saves a lot of time and makes work easier, so it must be included in ERP system.

If you are looking for a reliable Enterprise Resource Planning system give priority to the ones that have the functions mentioned above. Additional functionality is of course great, but only when the basics are already included. Hanna CRM system has all these useful features and more to give your business a boost!


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