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Laugh at me, but enlighten me, please!

Is it not that an ERP system is a bundle of many applications that one would otherwise create independantly, catering to solving a problem in a specific area of industrial affairs. Just that they are all integrated at the back-end, so that a change in one reflects through other relevant portions? Is there anything more to it? When I browse ERP search results from search engines, I must be honest that I do not understand *anything* from what I read.

What softwares are ERP systems made with? I've read some pages of marketing info and some whitepapers from Microsoft Business Solutions (MBS), AccPacc, BMS, and SAP, and I still don't understand anything.

Is it possible to build an enterprise-wide system in languages like VB, C etc? I surmise the most critical aspect of ERP systems is the linkages extant between database objects/tables, and the integrity rules. To amplify, in an ERP system, a change in the sales ordering system because of the arrival of a new order must in effect change the total debtors in the General Ledger or Financial Accounting system, since the customer who has ordered has turned a short term debtor until he repays his credit by discharging payment towards the order. Am I right in thinking so?

If database linkages are the most critical part, then, should it not be possible, albeit extremely sedulous a venture, to undertake the creation of an ERP system in Visual Basic or C?

Would someone know a Web resource that reveals the basics of this esoteric and seldomly touched fiefdom?

Really Anonymous
Friday, May 07, 2004

And that is why reading a thesaurus is dangerous ;-)

Steve Jones (UK)
Friday, May 07, 2004

I've seen on the huge ERP systems; Oracle Applications. Its a really strange beast consisting of

Loads of C/C++
Loads of PL/SQL
Some Forms/Java (for the web stuff)

...and last but not least a database model of ~ 7k tables :)

Patrik
Friday, May 07, 2004

Since the userbase for such systems is usually larger than that for desktop apps, I would think it is ideal for them to mostly have web-interfaces. By your experience, what is more common - a web based interface or a Windows based interface?

Really Anonymous
Friday, May 07, 2004

We use one written in Open Road.

gad
Friday, May 07, 2004

Anonymous,

The big ones usually have both Windows and "real" clients. These systems are pretty mature, and date back to the days when the web was unheard of.

Nowadays you can do both web and client/server.

Our userbase uses both clients and web based stuff, depending on what functionality the use in the system. For data entry web is tedious to use, so the people that do data entry have "real" clients.

People that audit stuff, and mostly use the reports in the system use web the web.

Patrik
Friday, May 07, 2004

Thank you, Patrik.

Am I right in assuming that an ERP system is a huge mass of many smaller applications glued together at the back-end? And that the glue are the linkages in database tables and the database rules that tie together sub-systems that could otherwise have been back-ends for independant applications/functions in an organization?

Really Anonymous
Friday, May 07, 2004

Anonymous,

Yes. You are correct, ERP systems are made up of alot of smaller parts glued together with various glue logic.

In the Oracle case the glue logic is made up of PL/SQL code and triggers in the database.  It happens when the ERP and database is written by the same vendor :)

In really huge ERP systems there are 100+ modules, ranging from the basic finacial system components like general ledger, accounts payable, accounts recievable and those, all the way to web portal stuff that intergrates nicely into the system. Alot of HR and time reporting stuff is intranet based, along with expense reporting and things along those lines.

Hope that helps.

Patrik
Friday, May 07, 2004

Sure it does help. I wonder why those websites can't be so straight-forward about it when they write white papers and stuff? Why don't they explain it like this? Your thing was so point-blank and easy to understand. Thanks again, Patrik.

Really Anonymous
Friday, May 07, 2004

ERP applications represent the model of the large company.

A large company is made up of lots of different divisions, each with lots of competent people who are only prevented from doing a good job by the fact that they have to meet the expectations and bureacracy of all the other divisions of their company, with the result that the whole tining is one opaque mess, and almost nothing gets done that does not have a budget of $20M.

An ERP system combines lots of other applications, that would be fairly easy to design individually and which would work and do their job with little bother, but they have all been combined into one monstrous application so that nobody knows how to change anything, and getting any non-standard information out of them is like having a telephone conversation with a planet two hundred light years away.

They do however provide employment for many - a kind of New Deal for the well-off. A colleague of mine in Saudi now gets double the salary he got teaching English working for the same contractor as a PeopleSoft instructor. He is having no more sucess with the ERP than he did with EFL,but that doesn't matter because in the next year or do they'll probably update the software and he'll have another round of training.

Stephen Jones
Friday, May 07, 2004

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enterprise_resource_planning

Anonymous
Friday, May 07, 2004

The reason you can't understand anything you read on the web pages is that it's an area full of buzzwords and fertilizer (often indistinguishable).  I worked in this field for four years before burning out.

If a system is well built, you don't get the hideous complexity and inability to expand or change.  That's rare though, and I don't know of any commercial ERP packages that fit that description.  My experience is in custom systems (not customized), and because we designed systems to meet the realities on the shop floor, things were only as complex as necessary.

Any language could be used to build an ERP system.  I've had good luck with Progress ( http://www.progress.com ) in all its forms, ASP also worked nicely.  Visual Basic was nice in theory, but miserable in practice.  Whatever you use needs to support rapid updates, because the systems that will work the best model the shop floor reality.  Since that reality changes on a pretty regular basis, your software will too.

Clay Dowling
Friday, May 07, 2004

The Wikipedia is indeed an easier place to look up things (at least occasionally).

Alex
Saturday, May 08, 2004

The information on the Wikipedia page is very easy to understand but limited. Some more weblinks, please?

Really Anonymous
Saturday, May 08, 2004

http://discuss.fogcreek.com/joelonsoftware/default.asp?cmd=show&ixPost=139050&ixReplies=13

Need more information on ERP, please? Readable, easy-to-follow, like the posts made in that thread.

Sathyaish Chakravarthy
Sunday, May 09, 2004

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