I am beginning to think there is considerable confusion between true ERP systems and simple software programs. And I have to admit, I take offense when a company refers to their product as an ERP system, when in fact, it appears to be a software package with functionality focused in one or two operational areas.
I realize I'm probably overly sensitive on this subject, but ERP is my career and my livelihood. It consumes both my time and my thoughts. So yes, when I read about software suppliers I've never heard of refer to their new or improved product as the "next ERP" or the "ERP alternative", I get a bit disturbed.
Although there are certainly different tiers of ERP packages, ERP at the core is an enterprise wide system. My company, Technology Group International, is not a tier one product like SAP or Oracle, but we do offer an enterprise wide solution. We are a tier two ERP provider that offers significant functionality and quite honestly we are proud of our product. We've spent over fifteen years developing and supporting one core product - Enterprise 21. On average, my development team has well over eight years in tenure with both my product and my company. They are dedicated people. And thus, I feel compelled to be dedicated to them and defend their honor when I read of new products with limited functionality being labeled as ERP systems.
A true ERP system requires significant development time. It is not something that can emerge instantaneously. It needs to grow and be nurtured. It has millions of lines of code and thousands of screens and tables. My development staff has worked hard creating a product for which we can all be proud. It is a software package that includes functionality not just in accounting, but in all aspects of sales, manufacturing, and the entire supply chain. It reaches across the organization to provide a solution set for a company and not just a departmental fix.
Even though I know my company and my product are far from perfect, I feel confident in our product claims and the image we portray to the buyer. If I say we have ERP software, it is because I believe we have a true ERP system that offers a full solution. As fast as I am to sing our praise, I'm also quick to discuss our weaknesses in a given area or market. But as my husband states, not everyone is as vocal as I am or as open about every subject imaginable.
In response to the ongoing feed of ERP news and announcements, I say buyer beware. If you are considering the purchase of an ERP system, make sure it is a true ERP system and not just an ERP wannabe. Look deep into the functionality it offers, perform scripted demonstrations, and check references. Make sure you are buying a real ERP system and not simply a software application that is clinging to popular technology buzzwords.