Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP ) refers to the entrepreneurial function as efficiently as possible to use the available resources in an enterprise ( capital, equipment or personnel ) for the operational process and thus to optimize the control of business processes.

ERP systems

An ERP system is a complex application software to support the resource planning of an entire company.

ERP systems differ mainly in

  • Specialist orientation ( target sector ),
  • The scalability to different sizes of business ( number of required user or company locations),
  • The functionality offered
  • And to use upcoming technologies (databases, programming languages, layered architectures, supported operating systems, etc. )

It can be observed the trend that more and more providers rely on Web-based products. Here, the system interface is displayed in a browser window, for example. This provides amongst other things, also take external access to their own system to realize, without having to install a graphical user interface. Thus, about suppliers and customers can be directly involved in the business processes, eg to place orders, to schedule deliveries, etc. These possibilities mean a significant time and therefore cost advantage.

The approach to look beyond the corporate boundaries and to act, is the basic idea of ERP II systems. He makes even the core of service-oriented architectures.

Basically, the task determines the available ERP vendors. A large company must have an ERP solution also can represent its group structure, possibly subsidiaries directly connect ( multi-tenancy ) and requires a variety of complex business functions. Despite the use of standard software consulting and customization (customizing) cause greater implementation costs. In contrast, when using such a solution, such as SAP ERP or Oracle E -Business Suite for a small or medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the implementation project to choose a compact process model and restrict the adjustment to the essential requirements. In addition to complex, highly integrated and adaptable for many industries, universal ERP systems an SME and industry-specific ERP systems with reduced complexity and functionality are available.

Functional areas of ERP software

ERP systems to handle almost all business processes. A continuous integration and a shift away from stand-alone solutions lead to a holistic ERP system can be managed across the enterprise in the resources. ERP systems also improve the flow of communication within the company and can make cooperation in business more efficient in terms of e-collaboration.

Are typical functional areas of ERP software

  • Materials Management ( procurement, storage, disposition ),
  • Production or production planning and control
  • Needs assessment
  • Finance and Accounting,
  • Controlling,
  • Human Resources,
  • Research and development,
  • Sales and Marketing
  • Master data management,
  • BOM
  • Product data management,
  • Document Management

The size of the company often determines the requirements for the functional areas listed above as well as the available volume of investment for hardware, licenses and implementation. So-called SMEs need, for example, often have no integrated controlling and accounting modules. In addition, different sectors of the economy provide some very widely differing requirements for an ERP system. Thus, most major vendors offer industry solutions, whose sub-packages are tailored to specific industries. Alternatively, the solutions of the over 100 smaller ERP / PPS provider in the German-speaking area are available, which are often not fully integrated, but to settle priced much lower in the rule. In addition, currently, more and more come free ERP - systems which are subject to certain restrictions, particularly for smaller companies and new entrants.

An important criterion is the question of the control of product variants has been found in recent years, for the particular ERP modules with specific methods and procedures in the various functional areas of ERP system must be available. Thus requires the number of variants in the automotive industry have special procedures for creation of the production program and special methods in product data management (see also Configurator ) and in the parts list view, which in turn have an impact on the needs assessment.

Implementation of an ERP software

The introduction of an ERP software for medium-sized and larger companies a complex project and can be eg divided into two phases:


The need-based selection of an ERP system depends to a large extent on the individual requirements of the company. The level of awareness and market presence of a software can here provide only a nebenrangigen regard to the individual suitability. First, an individual needs assessment should be carried out. To help serve the one hand, reference processes (best practice ), which are compared with their own business processes. On the other hand, the functional requirements, which arise due to the modeled processes are supplemented by standard function catalogs. This first sub-project is often carried out on their own the company, but sometimes supported by management or consulting firms. Already here important decisions for the further procedure to be taken. Needs assessment offer some consultancies of methods from which specifications arise for software selection. For this purpose, the business processes of each company, which wants to introduce the software, recorded and derived from what must make the candidate software. This requirement profile is converted into a specification and published as such for the ERP vendors. After a sighting of the market and requests to providers who usually require the specification of load heft related fulfillment degrees of the respective software, suitable provider will be included in a shortlist of only a few (5-6) providers. In addition to the requirements of the specifications, other criteria can be incorporated into the evaluation of providers, such as the performance or economic power of the provider / system house. The thus selected provider will be invited to present their product. The presentation should provide an overview of the software on the one hand, but on the other hand, also respond to the needs of the business and if possible include a specific task. Finally, the provider will be judged according to predetermined selection criteria and selected according to the order of the assessment results. To develop a service contract, it may be useful to consider also the second-placed supplier.

Implementation phase

The actual software implementation is subject to a rule also the project jurisdiction of the user company, however, is often conducted in practice by the provider company or a service partner of the supplier, as they often present correspondingly high practical experience. In a first step, all the company's business processes are analyzed. Then it is decided whether the process is maintained as usual or should be changed. Only when all business processes, including their interfaces are modeled within the company or with suppliers and customers, these business processes are mapped in the ERP software. All the required data (master data) are recorded in the system or, if necessary, taken from an existing system, which is to be replaced. After several simulations of business processes and a test phase then starts the real operation of the ERP solution.

Alternative implementation models

But there is also an approach to the introduction of ERP systems, not based on this two -phase model, but makes use of methods of agile software development. In this approach, the iterative process model is used together with Scrum Extreme Programming to implement certain parts of the ERP system gradually. After each development step, the results are then validated and improved.

Commercial ERP software

The world's largest provider of ERP software are:

The largest players in Germany by revenue are:

The largest supplier in Germany to spread are:

Free and Open Source ERP Software

For several years, there are also open source or even free ERP. Free ERP software can be installed and used by the company itself. However, there are also systems integrators, who specializes in free ERP programs and provide fee-based services based on this software.

The advantages of a free system are firstly the ability to adjust to his needs, the program itself or to fix bugs. Since free software is nowadays mostly also available for free, it is also often beyond to reductions in investment volume. The resulting free spaces within the budgets can be used more intensively for the adjustments required in most cases. In addition, a license- free system the length of the selected launch schedule is offset by neutral because over time, no costs are incurred. Even in the wake of investment is the arbitrary and in principle free scalability of the system of advantage (aside from indirect costs such as infrastructure provision, but which are to be considered in all such installations). Depending on the license extensions, adaptations and solutions for recurring tasks in the business environment can flow back into the system. So can benefit from it in the course of time all the users of a free ERP software.

Free ERP systems are technically quite competitive, of importance in the selection, however, are questions of liability and themes development, maintenance and service. With the general availability of the source code free ERP systems provide otherwise basically the greatest possible independence from the manufacturer and thus, at least theoretically greater future security, which is solely dependent on the ideas of lasting benefit providers and users. In theory, because in practice, only a small part of the user is able to make changes to the software itself, or to pay other purpose.

For examples of ERP software systems with disclosed source code see the Category: Free enterprise information system.

Tax accounting assessment

In order to balance tax assessment of expenses for the introduction of a business software system ( ERP software ) is since November 18, 2005 before a ministerial letter.

Strategic assessment

In the context of the strategic planning of a company an evaluation must take place, whether the introduction of an ERP solution generates a competitive advantage for the company. Nowadays applies to large companies that ERP is no longer a competitive advantage, because now use most industrial enterprises such. Thus, the use of an ERP system is to be regarded rather as a hygiene factor, that is, with the system one is not better than the competition, but no one is worse.

It is important that ERP software only becomes a strategic competitive advantage for the business processes are modeled on the program and on the other hand can integrate already existing enterprise processes into the software. It is not the software itself brings the added value, but the responsible and prudent dealing with it. It is also important that the relationship between the company and the ERP vendors is characterized by trust. In this case, the size of the provider or the distribution of the product of little importance.