Enterprise Resource Planning systems — a primer

By Gerson Safran
|CHRR, Guide to HR Technology|Last Updated: 04/07/2003

Lately, the acronym ERP has been appearing regularly in journals, HR publications, seminars and the business press. As an HR practitioner you should understand what an ERP is and what it can do for you, your career, and your firm.

ERP stands for Enterprise Resource Planning (it really should be ERPS, with an added S for System.) ERPs are normally found in big organizations, as the word enterprise, rather than company, indicates. Resources, within the context of the system, are enterprise-wide. (Resources are all the financial assets, people, production, distribution equipment and facilities plus all the functions involved in the business.) Planning refers to the ability of users to perform analyses. In other words, the system’s function is not just to provide the user with statistics about how much inventory exists or to calculate the number of back orders, employees and their skills. An ERP offers simulations and analyses to create what-if situations.

The ERP market is dominated by several large players including PeopleSoft, Baan, SAP, J.D. Edwards and several others which are upgrading and enhancing product suites to move into the lower end of the market.