The purpose of this paper is to discuss the various enterprise resource planning (ERP) software packages that are commonly used by businesses to manage their operations. The ERPs that will be discussed include People Soft, SAP, Oracle, Microsoft, and Epicor. The discussion will highlight the features of the ERPs and the customers who use them. This will include sample comments from customers and the reasons why they buy the ERPs. The ERPs’ similarities and differences will also be discussed. In addition, the paper will provide a detailed description of the user interface of each ERP system.
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Description of the ERP Systems
People Soft is an ERP with enhanced features and functions that are geared towards providing effective business and industry specific management solutions (PeopleSoft-Oracle, 2013). The system is essentially a human resource (HR) management software that allows corporations to manage their workforce effectively. However, it also has applications that manage other business processes. In particular, the system has four components namely, human capital management, financial management, supply chain management, and industry-specific solutions.
The human capital management component enables users to make smart human resource transactions and engage in demand-oriented recruiting processes (PeopleSoft-Oracle, 2013). It also has applications for managing HR functions such as mid-term performance reviews, training, and talent management. The financial management component of the ERP performs accounting tasks such as cash flow forecasting, cash payments, and payroll administration.
People Soft’s supply chain management provides e-procurement solutions. Specifically, it allows companies to use a self-service business-to-business procurement platform to improve efficiency while reducing the cost of managing their supply chains. The ERP also provides applications that are meant for specific industries such as higher education, public sector, and healthcare.
People Soft was designed based on three principles namely, simplicity, productivity, and lowering operating costs in organizations. Simplicity ensures that the system is easy to use to enhance user experience (PeopleSoft-Oracle, 2013). The system enhances productivity by streamlining various business processes such as human resource management and supply chain management. This leads to improved efficiency, which in turn leads to cost reductions in organizations that use People Soft.
SAP is a comprehensive ERP that provides effective applications to manage core processes in a business. The system supports management functions in varied areas such as accounting/ finance, sales, supply chain, customer service, and operations (SAP, 2014). The system uses a single application package to manage various business processes, thereby eliminating the costs associated with installing different modules to manage each business process.
The main purpose of SAP is to streamline various business processes so that managers can have adequate and accurate information concerning all aspects of their businesses. This enhances the process of making timely and informed decisions.
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SAP’s key features include the following. First, the system provides accounting and financial management solutions. This helps businesses to manage their budgets, financial journals, accounts payable/ receivables, and the general ledger. Second, the system has sales and customer service applications. The applications track sales opportunities and initiate marketing campaigns through e-platforms such as email.
They also provide support services to customers and manage sales processes such as entering orders and invoicing. Third, SAP’s purchasing and operations applications handle supply chain management activities such as procurement, material requirement planning, and inventory control (SAP, 2014). Finally, SAP provides analytical and reporting tools to support administrative functions in businesses. The system collects data across various departments in the organization and generates accurate and concise reports to help managers to make quick decisions.
The Oracle is a complete e-business software package with tailor made applications for managing key business processes. The system supports accounting processes, business intelligence, customer relationship management, inventory management, manufacturing activities, procurement, project management, and supply chain management (Oracle, 2014). In financial management, the system performs accrual based costing, billing/ invoicing, cash flow management, and fixed asset management. Oracle’s human resource management applications support tasks such as payroll management, recruiting staff, training, and performance evaluation. In this regard, it enables large organizations to streamline their HR departments to improve productivity.
Oracle has one of the most comprehensive supply chain management applications. The system integrates procurement, production, warehouse management, transportation, and distribution activities. As a result, it supports long-term planning and sourcing decisions.
Oracle’s customer relationship management component focuses on automating marketing, sales, and customer support activities. This involves performing tasks such as fulfilling orders, selling products, and providing customer support services through automatic e-platforms such as sales websites (Oracle, 2014). Generally, Oracle is designed to enable companies to create competitive advantages by gathering business intelligence and effectively managing their operations. Moreover, the system allows companies to form strategic partnerships with their suppliers and customers through online end-to-end business management solutions.
Microsoft is a flexible, easy-to-use, and relatively cheap e-business management solution. The ERP supports management activities in three areas, which include finance/ accounting, customer relationship, and supply chain (Microsoft, 2014). The system is compatible with various Microsoft software packages. This makes it easy to adopt and use since most businesses are already using Microsoft software packages to manage their operations.
In this regard, the ERP eliminates the costs and risks associated with acquiring and installing a new business management solution. Microsoft promotes consolidation and standardization of business processes. As a result, the system enables managers to gain valuable insights into their companies’ operations to improve performance and compliance with regulations. In addition, standardization of operations allows businesses to manage their activities in different locations by ensuring consistent flow of work and information.
Microsoft supports human resource management activities by helping employees to work fast and smart. The system provides role centers that enable employees to organize and prioritize their tasks, as well as, to access the information that they need to perform their duties effectively (Microsoft, 2014). In supply chain management, the system automates processes such as exchanging transaction documents, fulfilling orders, and supplier management. The system also supports production activities by unifying quality standards and monitoring performance. In addition, the system provides business intelligence to enable companies to react appropriately to changes in their business environment.
Epicor is a “flexible ERP that provides a single end-to-end business management solution” (Epicor, 2014, p. 2). The system has a variety of scalable solutions to help businesses to manage their most critical resources (Epicor, 2014). In particular, the system helps companies to minimize internal inefficiencies and access business intelligence. As a result, it facilitates competition based on cost, quality, and ability to respond to customers’ needs in time.
Companies that use Epicor are able to target their customers with the right products and marketing campaigns to increase sales. Epicor’s customer relationship management application is designed to leverage marketing activities. In particular, it provides an effective contact management system that allows managers to provide customer support services. It also enables marketers to convey personalized marketing messages through devices such as smartphones. Epicor’s sales management module provides point-of-sale (POS), demand planning, and e-commerce solutions. The system incorporates technologies such as electronic data interchange (EDI) to facilitate online transactions.
Epicor also has a product data management system whose role is to support production processes by providing relevant information about the goods that are to be manufactured and marketed. The information provided by the system includes the materials and components that are required to produce a given good and the techniques that must be employed to achieve the best quality at the lowest cost (Epicor, 2014). The system also enhance product lifecycle management by serving as a single knowledge repository where all the information needed to align a product to market needs can be accessed. Furthermore, the system allows businesses to synchronize their supply chain activities to ensure effective coordination and cooperation among the members of the supply chain.
Typical Users of Various ERP Systems
People Soft is mainly used by large companies that have operations in various countries. It is used by companies that operate in different industries, which include automobile, education, finance, and manufacturing among others (PeopleSoft-Oracle, 2013). Some of the organizations that currently use People Soft include Westfiled, Daimler, Caterpillar, and KPMG. These customers buy People Soft mainly because of its superior HR management capability. The system helps large organizations to manage thousands of employees across different locations. Customers also purchase the system because of its improved user experience and ability to enhance productivity.
SAP is mainly used by companies that are interested in streamlining their operations in order to use their scarce resources to improve their core competencies rather than managing non-core business activities (SAP, 2014). In this respect, small and midsize enterprises buy the system to gain effective control over their activities while reducing their operating costs. Large businesses, on the other hand, buy the system to gain quick access to information about various business processes in order to make timely decisions. Some of the users of SAP include Accenture, Burger King, BP, and Audi AG.
Nearly half of Oracle’s users are midsize businesses that intend to improve their competitiveness through a superior ERP system (Oracle, 2014). Some of the customers include Taconic, Open TV, and Digital Cinema Media. These companies buy Oracle because of its ease of customization and installation. Microsoft is mainly used by companies in the apparel, retail, manufacturing, and home furnishings industries.
The major customers include Ashley, Hitachi Solutions, and Pandora (Microsoft, 2014). Microsoft is preferred by its users because of its low cost and ability to enhance standardization of business processes. Epicor is used by nearly five thousand companies that require an ERP system with scalable solutions to help them to respond easily to emerging management needs (Epicor, 2014). American Eagle and Gymboree are some of the users of Epicor.
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The five ERP systems discussed in the foregoing paragraphs are similar in the following ways. First, the systems focus on streamlining business processes to improve the performance of companies. Each system has a set of applications that help companies to manage different business processes such as supply chain management and operations. In this respect, the role of each ERP system is to support managers’ supervisory role by providing information about the activities of every department in their companies (Microsoft, 2014).
Second, the systems are meant to reduce operating costs in the organizations that use them. In this respect, each system enhances automation and access to business intelligence to reduce costs. Specifically, routine management tasks are performed by the systems, thereby eliminating the costs associated with employing a large number of managers to oversee various business processes. Improved access to business intelligence reduces the cost of acquiring the information that companies need to make decisions or develop new strategies.
Third, all the ERP systems can be deployed through cloud computing. In this deployment option, the ERP system is hosted by the vendor who offers it to customers for a limited subscription period. Cloud deployment facilitates quick access to the ERPs and reduces the cost of using the systems (Oracle, 2014). Fourth, each of the five ERPs promotes the use of e-commerce to enable businesses to improve their competitive advantages. The systems have inbuilt business-to-business and business-to-customer e-commerce platforms. As a result, they help their users to maintain strong customer relationships by responding effectively to new market needs.
Finally, the ERPs are run on similar platforms. The platforms that are commonly used by companies to operate the ERPs include Windows, Linux, and Unix. These technology platforms are the most dominant in the market. Thus, manufacturers of ERPs have opted to make their products compatible with Windows, Linux, and Unix to increase sales.
The ERP systems are different in the following ways. First, the systems are different in terms of their features and capabilities. For instance, SAP has a suite of applications that facilitate real-time monitoring of management activities in areas such as finance, procurement, and sales. Oracle, on the other hand, is essentially an object-relational database management system. This means that the system provides historical data or information concerning the performance of a business.
It also has analytical tools that can be used to analyze historical data so that managers can understand the performance of their companies (Oracle, 2014). People Soft’s core application is human resource management. This makes it different from Epicor, Microsoft, and SAP, which focus on providing applications for nearly every business process.
Second, the ERPs target different market segments. People Soft is designed to serve large organizations in specific industries such as financial services and the public sector. SAP targets small and midsize businesses, which it serves by offering over 700 industry-specific solutions (SAP, 2014). It also has a package known as SAP Business One, which offers integrated applications that manage all business processes. Although Microsoft also targets small and midsize businesses, it focuses on serving companies that are interested in customized rather than generic solutions. Epicor is different from the other ERPs because it targets only midsize businesses.
Third, the ERP systems have different levels of flexibility and ease of customization. Generally, SAP is the most difficult ERP to customize. Companies that intend to customize SAP to suit their needs have to consult external experts or SAP personnel due to the complexity of the system. By contrast, Oracle has a pluggable architecture that allows its users to modify it easily (Oracle, 2014). Similarly, Microsoft has an open architecture that enables its users to customize it according to their business needs. Epicor is the easiest to modify since it has easy-to-understand touch-enabled dashboards that allow users to customize the system whenever they want.
People Soft has a user-friendly interface that promotes intuitive usability. The system has “a configurable user interface with a single navigation across all applications” (PeopleSoft-Oracle, 2013, pp. 2-13). The interface is supported by an effective global and component search functionality that allows casual and experienced users to find the information they need to interact with the system. SAP’s user interface is also intuitive and facilitates straightforward interaction with the system. However, it does not provide excellent user experience because it uses outdated presentation technologies such as flash and silver-light.
Microsoft has an advanced user interface that employs several navigation tools to enhance user experience. The navigation tools include an advanced search functionality, role centers, simultaneous logins, and role-based home pages (Microsoft, 2014). Role centers provide users with all the tools and information that they need to perform their duties. Oracle’s user interface is designed to promote simplicity, mobility, and extensibility.
As a result, it enhances the usability of the system by allowing users to perform tasks easily and to transition from computer to mobile phone platforms seamlessly. Epicor’s user interface is touch-enabled, thereby allowing individuals to use the system easily on touch screen devices. The user interface focuses on providing responsiveness, simplicity, and collaboration among users of the system.
Sample Customer Comments
According to Madani (2014), People Soft has enabled Madinah Monawarah Development Authority to optimize service contract management. It has also helped the organization to introduce paperless operations in Saudi Arabia. In addition, “People Soft has delivered seamless integration and cost-effective scalability, which are important as the workforce grows” (Madani, 2014).
Oracle “combines the benefits of maximum availability, unrivalled performance, and on-demand scalability from a single pre-integrated technology” (Corley, 2013). Corley’s comments are based on the customer relationship improvements that his company (Kwik Fit GB) achieved after adopting Oracle. Batteries Plus Bulbs (2014) noted that Microsoft enabled them to develop a loyal customer base, thereby improving the profitability of their business.
SAP enabled ACH Food Companies Inc. to reduce finished goods inventory by 20% and order processing cycle time by 25% (Steward, 2014). According to Yu (2014), Epicor has improved the performance of Feruni because the management “can easily generate an overview of the company’s financial performance with the ability to drill down further into sales by entity, product, and department” (1-3).
Most Interesting Thing
The most interesting aspect of the ERP systems is their ability to streamline the operations of businesses. This has enabled “large and small companies to improve their efficiency and profitability” (SAP, 2014, p. 3). The EPRs enable small and midsize companies to grow by integrating their sales, accounting/ finance, and production systems (SAP, 2014). As a result, managers can easily access the information they need to make strategic production and marketing decisions in order to respond to market needs in time. In addition, streamlining operations using ERP systems has enabled managers to allocate more time to important matters such as developing and implementing business strategies rather than gathering information concerning their companies’ operations (Yu, 2014).
In large multinational corporations, the ERP systems facilitate effective management of supply chain, human capital, production, and sales in a standardized manner. This ensures consistency in business processes and enhances the quality of the decisions made by managers at the subsidiaries and the headquarters of multinational corporations.
Corley, A. (2013). Oracle customers. Web.
Batteries Plus Bulbs. (2014). Batteries Plus Bulbs uses Microsoft Dynamics GP to manage rapid growth and create loyal customers. Web.
Epicor. (2014). Epicor enterprise resource planning overview. Dublin, CA: Epicor.
Madani, M. (2014). Madinah Monawarah Development Authority ensures compliance with government regulations by optimizing public procurement and service contract management. Web.
Microsoft. (2014). Enterprise resource planning. Web.
Oracle. (2014). Oracle enterprise resource planning. Web.
PeopleSoft-Oracle. (2013). Upgrade to PeopleSoft HCM 9.2. Redwood Shores, CA: Oracle.
SAP. (2014). Streamline your business, accelerate profitable growth. Walldorf, Germany: SAP.
Steward, D. (2014). ACH Food Companies Inc: Transforming from a commercial to a customer-branded business. Walldorf, Germany: SAP.
Yu, S. (2014). Epicor EPM software helpds Feruni drive business growth. Kuala Lumpur: Feruni Ceramiche.