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What is ERP? A guide to enterprise resource planning systems

Thomas Wailgum | July 28, 2017
Enterprise resource planning (ERP) software doesn’t live up to its acronym. Forget about planning — it doesn’t do much of that — and forget about resource, a throwaway term. But remember the enterprise part. This is ERP’s true ambition. It attempts to integrate all departments and functions across a company onto a single system that can serve all those different departments’ particular needs.


How do I know my ERP data is any good?


When you start talking about data integrity and just how "clean" your enterprise data is, you'll usually hear about the goal of getting to "one version of the truth" with your ERP data. As usually is the case, the bigger the company, the more systems it has with more employees that need to touch those systems, and the more complicated it becomes to keep data accurate and timely.

Most of time, companies don't want to know just how dirty their data is. But when companies do start "peeling back the onion" in an attempt to remedy their data ills, what they typically find is a hodge-podge of systems and anywhere from a dozen to hundreds of financial and HR data sources. Therefore, the job of new data management techniques, such as master data management (MDM), is to rectify those inconsistencies by creating an integrated and standards-laden system that automatically fixes data discrepancies. (Beware: It's not easy.)

Because ERP systems are the backbones of most businesses, they are a key piece of any data-management overhaul. General ledgers, financial data repositories, reporting applications, purchase orders, invoices, customer contact information, inventory data, performance management tools — they will all be part of a company's data management initiative.


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