The simplified definition of enterprise resource planning (ERP) software is a set of applications that automate finance and human resources departments and help manufacturers handle jobs such as order processing and production scheduling. ERP began as a term used to describe a sophisticated and integrated software system used for manufacturing. In its simplest sense, ERP systems create interactive environments designed to help companies manage and analyze the business processes associated with manufacturing goods, such as inventory control, order taking, accounting, and much more. Although this basic definition still holds true for ERP systems, today its definition is expanding.
Today's leading ERP systems group all traditional company management functions (finance, sales, manufacturing, human resources) and include, with varying degrees of acceptance and skill, many solutions that were formerly considered peripheral (product data management (PDM), warehouse management, manufacturing execution system (MES), reporting, etc.). While during the last few years the functional perimeter of ERP systems began an expansion into its adjacent markets, such as supply chain management (SCM), customer relationship management (CRM), business intelligence/data warehousing, and e-Business, the focus of this knowledge base is mainly on the traditional ERP realms of finance, materials planning, and human resources. The old adage is "Such a beginning, such an end", and, consequently, many ERP systems' failures could be traced back to a bad software selection. The foundation of any ERP implementation must be a proper exercise of aligning customers' IT technology with their business strategy, and subsequent software selection. This is the perfect time to create the business case and energize the entire organization towards the vision sharing and a buy in, both being the Key Success Factors (KSFs). Yet, these steps are very often neglected despite the amount of expert literature and articles that emphasize their importance.