What is ERP Software? Getting Started with Enterprise Resource Planning

What is ERP software?

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software is comprehensive business technology that enables organizations to use one system to manage company processes. ERP software is accounting and operations oriented, and features one database as a master source of enterprise information. An ERP system is used to identify and plan the time and resource needs of an enterprise.

Enterprise Resource Planning software has evolved from its background in manufacturing to its modern role as the main source of truth for many businesses. Organizations that implement this software range from small businesses to large corporations, and across a variety of industries including manufacturing, distribution, professional services, architecture, engineering and construction, and more.

ERP software has become the leading software of choice for growing businesses that want to maintain and improve their competitive edge. If you’re new to ERP, below we explain what it is, and why it matters.

ERP Software Capabilities

ERP platforms streamline a wide range of business processes. ERP supports multiple functions used by different business areas, operates in real-time, has a consistent look and feel across modules and includes installation of the system with elaborate application and data integration by the IT department.

What can ERP software do for your organization? An enterprise resource planning solution enables:

  • Easier access to important company data
  • Improved financial compliance with regulatory standards
  • Business risk reduction
  • Automation of core business operations (such as lead-to-cash, order-to-fulfillment and procure-to-pay processes)
  • Better customer service
  • And more

ERP software solutions have modules to address needs in the following areas and beyond:

  • Financials
  • Accounts payable
  • Order processing
  • Order management
  • Customer relationship management
  • Logistics
  • Supply chain management
  • Project management
  • Manufacturing
  • Sales
  • Service work
  • Budgeting and forecasting
  • Human resources
  • Payroll
  • Quality control
ERP, enterprise resource planning

Business Benefits of Implementing ERP

There are many business benefits of implementing ERP. Below we list a few.

One Source of Truth

One source of truth means one business system that provides the framework for all important business data. Finding one source of truth for your business can

  • Eliminate confusion and provide clarity
  • Enhance the strategic direction of your organization
  • Improve overall company performance
  • Increase customer satisfaction


Modern ERP software, implemented correctly, provides the reporting tools business leaders need to define key performance indicators, measure performance, and plan for growth.

Increased Efficiency

ERP systems can significantly increase efficiency through better:

  • Business processes
  • Visibility into workflows
  • Tools for financial planning
  • Data security
  • Communication tools for collaboration
  • Ways to track resources
  • Customer relationship management
  • Flows of information throughout the enterprise

WATCH: ERP explained in less than four minutes

Short, high-level overview explaining what ERP software is, as well as the biggest business benefits (watch time 3:26)

A Brief History of ERP

The concept of ERP software dates back as far as the early 1900s, when the first systems were introduced to organize manufacturing processes. As prominent assembly line and mass production businesses, such as Ford, began taking over the manufacturing industry, the need for organization became much more significant.

As a result, Economic Order Quantity (EOQ), a formula for ordering inventory, was created in 1913 by a production engineer named Ford Whitman. This was the same year that the Ford assembly line was introduced, and EOQ is thought to be one of the first concepts related to Enterprise Resource Planning. Demand for war materials and other manufactured goods throughout the early 20th century reinforced the need for these concepts. Companies continued to increase production by planning and allocating their resources.

Advances in ERP Technology – from MRP to ERP

Later, as software and computer technology developed, so did the concepts related to Enterprise Resource Planning. Technology to record inventory and demand levels became available, especially as inventions like the word processor and public internet were introduced. New technologies and industry competition fueled the demand for better manufacturing planning. As a result, tools such as MRP (Material Requirements Planning) and MRP (Manufacturing Resource Planning) II were developed in 1964 and 1983, respectively. MRP allowed businesses to utilize the latest technology to complete master scheduling, capacity requirements planning and more.

ERP software developed initially as a related concept to MRP, but with more modern features and added functionality.

ERP Software Today

Over the past years the industry has increasingly shifted toward cloud based ERP. A cloud service is delivered through an off-site model, as opposed to on-premise  hardware and software. SaaS cloud technology is present in more than 77% of all organizations today.

Despite the shift to the cloud by ERP vendors, some businesses today run on-premise (versus cloud ERP) systems. Since there are multiple factors that go into the decision between maintaining an on-premise solution or switching to a cloud solution, in some cases, a hybrid of the two is the right move for an organization. Some factors include whether the on-premise solution is upgradeable, security concerns, and if the company is still seeing a good return on investment from the on-premise solution.

Leading ERP Vendors

Top tier Enterprise Resource Planning software vendors today include:

  • Oracle
  • Workday
  • SAP
  • Sage
  • Microsoft
  • Infor
  • IFS
  • Epicor
  • FinancialForce
Each vendor has a variety of applications in their software suite. The ERP selection process is generally an in-depth process that requires strategic planning. A good place to start is initial research to compare the various ERP software options.

Working with an ERP Consulting Partner

Most organizations work with an ERP consulting partner, versus implementing and maintaining an ERP totally in-house. As an Oracle platinum partner, Terillium is specialized in Oracle ERP. Our team has helped over 700 businesses with ERP projects and serves as a trusted technology and business process advisor.

ERP solutions are often complex, and finding a reliable ERP consulting partner can help ensure your company is successful. While hiring a technology consulting firm isn’t a magic fix, selecting the right technology partner can be transformative for your business.

Read Next: Comparing Types of ERP

types of erp systems