A software is no longer a software if we are talking about an ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning). An ERP is much more than a piece of software; it embodies the enterprise, its processes, its people and its culture. An ERP is cannot be used right out of the box, it has to be configured with deep considerations of the enterprise structures and goals. All these are the results of lengthy business discussions. Once an ERP strategy is made, there will be changes to the enterprise operations, in turn affects the daily lives of people using the system. An ecommerce erp system in an organization is both a threat and opportunity; it really depends on how the organization and each individual manage it.
Formally, ERP belongs to a class of business systems that brings together enterprise information, primarily financial, logistical and human resource related, in order to support of enterprise level reporting planning and operations. ERP are typically modular in nature, as it plays a central role of integrating major business lines, such as sales, purchasing, manufacturing, finance, etc. The benefits of ERP are well-documented by Shang & Seddon’s ERP Benefits Framework (2002); the list includes reduced cost, reduced cycle time, improved decision-making, improved customer services, improved external/internal collaboration, empowered employee, learning facilitation, better morale.
Having a centralized ERP presupposes that processes and data are consistently defined. The challenge of ERP is not in the system application itself but rather on the level of clarity the organization has of its own business processes. ERP implementation can fail either due to the organizations having conflicting processes that no ERP application can support, or the ERP itself is not flexible to handle the complex business operations – it is often more of the former than the latter.
In the ERP market, there are heavyweight and lightweight players. The top 3 heavyweights include SAP®, Oracle® and Microsoft®. We can use the below research by Panorama Consulting Solutions as a reference to have a feel on the industry.
SAP provides has two primary ERP products, namely: the heavyweight SAP ECC (SAP ERP Central Component), and a lighter-weight SAP B1 (Business One).
Oracle has at least 5 ERP solutions, namely: EBS (eBusiness Suite), Siebel, PeopleSoft, JD Edwards and NetSuite. Microsoft has one primary ERP product, MS Dynamics AX (aka MS Dynamics 365F&O). Following the Big 3 is Infor; it has acquired 40 softwares (of which a significant number are business systems & ERP) since its 2002 founding. There are too many Infor ERP to be listed.
SAP will be used as the referenced ERP when we are in specific discussions, whilst Oracle will be used as a supplementary comparison where possible.
SAP ECC has very comprehensive modules to cater for enterprise needs. For logistics, it has Sales and Distribution (SD), Material Management (MM), Production Planning (PP), Quality Management (QM), Project Systems (PS), Plant Maintenance (PM). For finance, it has Financial Accounting (FI), Management Accounting (CO). For human resource, it has sub-modules like Personnel Administration, Benefits Administration, Payroll, and Performance Management. In addition, extension modules provide functionalities such TM (Transport Management), WM (Warehouse Management), Treasury (TRM), and Financial Supply Chain (FSCM).
Apart from the ECC Core, SAP also provides ‘new dimension’ applications (which require extra licenses). To name a few: SAP CRM (Customer Relationship Management), SRM (Supplier Relationship Management), SCM (Supply Chain Management), BI (Business Intelligence/Data-warehouse), BPC (Business Planning & Consolidation). SRM, SCM, BI, BPC functionalities are gradually incorporated into the newer SAP HANA solution. Over the years SAP also bought over new companies and products, this further augment its capabilities to deliver. For example, SAP Hybris is positioned as Sales/Marketing cloud solution, SAP Ariba is an alternative procurement solution, and SF (SuccessFactors®) to cater for HR requirements.
With the advancement of technology, in-memory technologies also made its way to ERP. Specific to SAP, the in-memory database is known as HANA® database (technical details at SAP website). HANA is a high performing native database created and used by SAP®; it allows SAP ERP applications to push application level processing into the database level – yielding even better performance and integration. S/4 HANA (aka SAP Business Suite for SAP HANA) the next generation of ERP is made possible with HANA.
S/4 HANA can be deployed in the cloud or installed on-premises. The primary advantages of cloud solution are having the infrastructure support taken care by the cloud provider and the solution can be scaled for optimal performance and new features. There are various cloud options, offering various degrees of customizations. The more interesting part of all these is, the third option – hybrid deployment. For instance, if the organization is deep into customizing its logistical modules but generic in its human resource processes, they can opt for on-premises logistics and cloud human resource. Another example will be individual on-premises subsidiaries’ ERP (SAP or non-SAP) linking back to the HQ Central Finance cloud solution.
The ERP trend now is with in-memory and cloud computing. SAP, Oracle and other major ERP suppliers are supporting this vision with various offerings. We are not quite done yet before having some comparisons with Oracle – the other big player in the ERP space.
Oracle has a different market strategy for the ERP market, it basically uses a mixed approach of building internally and buying externally. It is currently having 5 primary ERP suites, namely: E-Business Suite (EBS), Siebel, PeopleSoft, JD Edwards, and NetSuite. The Oracle support strategy for its ERP offerings is termed as ‘Oracle Applications Unlimited’. This is to say the firm is committed to support all the acquired product suites with new magento developer singapore till at least 2030. Of the 5 Oracle ERP discussed, only EBS is internally built. Looking into EBS, it covers common ERP areas and more; this includes Oracle Financials, Oracle HRMS, Oracle SCM, Oracle Procurement, Oracle CRM, and Oracle Projects. Likewise for Oracle PeopleSoft and JD Edwards suites. The question remains: will there be an ultimate consolidation of these big 5, or a totally new slick ERP will arise after 2030? In spite, there is a 6th internally built Oracle ERP known as Oracle Fusion.
The difference between the two ERP vendors (SAP, Oracle) is at both the marketing level and product level. In Oracle, there is a large basket of matured ERP products, giving different varieties to the customers. In SAP, attention is channeled into refining a smaller basket of ERP products (i.e. ECC and B1), while having more capacity to take-on deeper extended functionalities.
All in all, the specific operating of each ERP products may differ but they are serving a common market that has common requirements. In this sense, it is more important to know what are the business requirements, rather than the exact steps to execute an operation.