In the nineties, we were introduced to a new abbreviation: ERP, or “Enterprise Resource Planning”. The term was devised at about the time of the stormy growth of Job, SAP, etc .. Even Microsoft used the term after the acquisition of, among others, Axapta and Navision.
Now, 20 years on from the emergence of ERP, new (cloud) providers have recognized that ERP solutions need to be part of a more integrated platform and adapt their current way of working to consider open and flexible solutions.
So that raises the question; Should we still refer to ERP in same context? Should we find another term or continue with the same abbreviation, but with new definition? Might we suggest using the terms below!
E = Enterprise or Eco-system
When we refer to Enterprise, you can associate images that sums up the definition of the phrase such as a company name, a location (with a parking lot, often an entrance gate and a reception). More often something tangible. In recent years, companies are becoming part of an increasingly virtual world and now their demand is to participate in an eco system of suppliers, partners and customers. ‘Physical boundaries are removed, doing everything yourself is almost certainly not an option for a business and they need external support.’ Enterprise as we know it does not exist anymore; The eco system determines the success. I therefore suggest that we keep the ‘E’, but with a new definition!
R = Resources
Even when it comes to Resources, we immediately think of traditional definitions: employees on the payroll, office equipment, inventory in the warehouse, etc… Is this still the case? As a term, Resource has changed since it was first used in this context. Organizations are now increasingly working with a flexible contractor list, the stock is demand driven, production is outsourced, etc. The ‘R’ may remain, but we should have the underlying realization that we are increasingly talking about Resources that are outside our own organization. With that in mind, can my current business application support this? Or does it limit me to gain insight into all the resources in my eco system?
P = Planning
Under the ‘P’ of ‘Planning’ organizations assume some kind of sense of certainty when it comes to the near and distant future. Planning is time consuming and once again completed. In today’s business climate, we are expected to respond almost instantly to changes outside and within our organization. We collect continuous data and if we do not collect the data that we need, unwanted questions will be asked. Any solution can record data and have alerts but then what. What do we do with that data? How can we arrange the analysis to get the right data from that information? Can my current business application handle all that data? What does my performance do? How do I solve that and what impact does it have on my planning process?
Many questions; The answer lies in an unconditional quest for predictability. Predictability must be embedded in our business processes. Collecting data and converting it into available real-time and accurate information is crucial. Organizations that are well-organized are ready for the future and further growth. Will the term ‘planning’ continue to be used? Possibly not. Let’s just go for ‘Predictability’.
Good news: We can continue to use the abbreviation ‘ERP’. However, with new words that fit the time we live now. From now on we are talking about ‘Eco-system Resource Predictability’. Whether we agree to change the phrase is just a question; what matters right now is what our businesses demand from our applications!