Applications for the Enterprise

As the personal computer proliferated inside organizations, control over the information generated by the organization began splintering. Say the customer service department creates a customer database to keep track of calls and problem reports, and the sales department also creates a database to keep track of customer information. Which one should be used as the master list of customers? As another example, someone in sales might create a spreadsheet to calculate sales revenue, while someone in finance creates a different one that meets the needs of their department.
However, it is likely that the two spreadsheets will come up with different totals for revenue. Which one is correct? And who is managing all of this information? 

There are some specific applications related to business organizations such as Enterprise Resource Planning, Customer Relationship Management and Supply Chain Management. 

In the 1990s, the need to bring the organization’s information back under centralized control became more apparent. The enterprise resource planning (ERP) system (sometimes just called enterprise software) was developed to bring together an entire organization in one software application. Simply put, an ERP system is a software application utilizing a central database that is implemented throughout the entire organization. 

ERP systems were originally marketed to large corporations. However, as more and more large companies began installing them, ERP vendors began targeting mid-sized and even smaller businesses. Some of the more well-known ERP systems include those from SAP, Oracle, and Microsoft. 

In order to effectively implement an ERP system in an organization, the organization must be ready to make a full commitment. All aspects of the organization are affected as old systems are replaced by the ERP system. In general, implementing an ERP system can take two to three years and several million dollars. In most cases, the cost of the software is not the most expensive part of the implementation: it is the cost of the consultants. 

So why implement an ERP system? If done properly, an ERP system can bring an organization a good return on their investment. By consolidating information systems across the enterprise and using the software to enforce best practices, most organizations see an overall improvement after implementing an ERP. 

A customer relationship management (CRM) system is a software application designed to manage an organization’s customers. In today’s environment, it is important to develop relationships with your customers, and the use of a well-designed CRM can allow a business to personalize its relationship with each of its customers. Some ERP software systems include CRM modules. An example of a well-known CRM package is Sales force. 

A supply chain management (SCM) system manages the interconnection between supply chain links, as well as the inventory of the products in their various stages of development. A full definition of a supply chain management system is provided by the Association for Operations Management: The design, planning, execution, control, and monitoring of supply chain activities with the objective of creating net value, building a competitive infrastructure, leveraging worldwide logistics, synchronizing supply with demand, and measuring performance globally.


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