What is Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)?

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) is the ability to deliver an integrated suite of business applications. ERP tools share a common process and data model, covering broad and deep operational end-to-end processes, such as those found in finance, HR, distribution, manufacturing, service and the supply chain.

A Brief History of ERP Systems

In the beginning of commercial computing in the 1960s, software developers built tools that could specifically calculate reorder points and economic order quantities. Through the 1970s these tools evolved to offer large scale manufacturing companies a more comprehensive approach to material requirements planning, which begat the name 'MRP'. The software developers kept coding. By the 1980s MRP tools had moved on to support plant capacity planning – at which point someone got marketing involved and they landed on the term 'MRP II'.

In the 1990s Gartner, an IT industry analyst, broadened the MRP II concept to make it relevant to all enterprise companies (not just manufacturers) and introduced the term ERP - Enterprise Resource Planning (find out more about its history here). By the year 2,000, Gartner were advising their clients to explore the opportunities that the internet created in terms of engaging suppliers and customers more closely with their ERP systems. This demanded a new name. The marketing people got involved again and came up with ERP II (you see what they did there).

Then, in or around 2010, came 'cloud'. Cloud has transformed the market for ERP software in two ways:

1) The list of ERP products that you might consider is now very different. Many existing vendors have struggled to migrate their software from on premise (Oracle, SAP R3, Infor). Other new vendors have emerged (Workday, Netsuite, Xero).

2) Cloud changes the way in which companies can construct Enterprise Resource Planning solutions for their business. Rather than rely on a single application to deliver the integration between processes, departments, divisions, organisations can now look to cloud technology and tools to deliver the same.

In 2020 you’ll find the words 'Digital Transformation' writ large across many websites. The marketing people have been busy again!

History of Enterprise Resource Planning

Why we work with Microsoft

We improve the lives of business system users to enable them to add more value within their businesses using a Microsoft enterprise resource planning system. We do that by making smart use of technology and providing great service.

  • Smart use: We strive to deliver solutions that are well architected and easy to use.
  • Which technology: We deliver solutions based on Microsoft technologies.
  • Great service: We have great people and strength in depth. We’re refreshingly honest and very direct.

Why Microsoft?

Why we work with Microsoft table

Individually Microsoft has products that are #1 or #2 in each of these categories. In combination Azure, Power Apps, Dynamics 365, Power BI, and Office/Teams make Microsoft’s offer unique – and save our customers money.

How so?

  • User experience: Microsoft products have a similar look and feel. This accelerates user adoption.
  • Integration: Microsoft provides this 'out-of-the-box'. That means we don’t have to build it – which reduces the number of days it takes us to deploy solutions.
  • Skills availability: Lots of people know each of these products. Access to a big talent pool has an impact on our salary costs – which has an impact on the rates we charge.

(If you’re wondering about the cost of an ERP system, we’ve got a guide which may help)

There’s another significant factor that we want to be transparent about - we've been lucky. We backed a winner. Navision became Dynamics NAV which became Dynamics 365 Business Central. As a result, the skills and experience we’ve gained over 30 years are still very relevant. We’ve not got many small groups of people focussed on different ERP solutions. We’ve got a big team that gives our people colleagues to learn from, career progression and the ability to deliver great service to customers.

Microsoft Dynamics ERP

Dynamics 365 Business Central

The Alternative Guide to Buying ERP

When it comes to selecting and implementing an enterprise resource planning system, most businesses are unsure of where to begin. To alleviate the strain (and benefit from a level of expertise) many hire an independent consultant to aid the selection process. This consultant reviews the options available, compiles a lengthy document explaining each one, and then organises a series of product demos. 

Pretty tiring, right?

But here’s the problem: this process was designed more than two decades ago – back when there were hundreds of different ERP solutions to consider. Now there are just four. Vendors of these four systems – Dynamics 365 Business Central, Business One, NetSuite and FinancialForce – will tell you that selecting their product will define the success of your project…

But we think they’re wrong.

Each of the above systems will largely meet the needs of your business and as such, the key (and first) consideration isn’t which platform you should choose, but rather who you should enlist to help you. In our free guide, The Alternative Guide to Buying ERP, we highlight how you can modernise your approach to ERP selection and ensure your deployment project is a success.

Download our guide to find out:

  • What’s going on in the ERP software market
  • The six factors to consider when evaluating ERP products
  • What best practice selection processes look like
  • Why your choice of partner and their cultural fit with your organisation is key to success

Your choice of partner will truly impact the success of your enterprise resource planning deployment project, so choosing the right partner – one which has the expertise and ‘fit’ you are looking for – will put you on the path to progress.

Download the free guide to buying ERP

Pick a Partner, Not a Price

For most businesses planning to implement an enterprise resource planning system via a partner, the main factor is always the price. In these projects, there are often several ‘costs’ to consider: the cost of deployment, the cost of support, the cost of training and so on. As a result, many businesses try to get a fixed or estimated cost from a partner upfront, typically choosing one that is ‘less expensive’.

But while every business wants to keep project costs low, choosing a ‘less expensive’ partner is no guarantee of savings. If anything, they could cost more in the long run! The truth is that the cost of an enterprise resource planning implementation project – regardless of the initial estimate or fixed cost given – will be wholly dependent on the hours (or days) spent on it. Therefore, the best way to control the cost of a project is to look at other factors (the partner’s people, culture, methodology and expertise) and mitigate potential risk.

By choosing a partner based on the factors above, you put yourself in a position where you can control the progress of your project and have the best opportunity for success. There’s always going to be some kind of risk – that much is clear, but we can help you to minimise it. In our ERP Pricing Guide, we address the main questions businesses have about ERP implementation projects, as well as:

  • Estimated vs fixed price costing
  • Real-life ERP deployment stories
  • Evaluating ERP partners
  • How to reduce risk, scope and timelines

If you want to find out more, you can download our guide for free by pressing the button below.

Download the free ERP pricing guide

The top 4 reasons why people don’t implement a new ERP

Finding the right Enterprise Resource Planning solution and support partner for your business can be a delicate dance that can end with a stunning finale… or terrible crash! For many people, it’s easier to find good reasons to not take the risk and therefore to not start the implementation journey, such as:

1) ‘This is not a priority for me or the business because we have bigger things to focus on’ (like the mundane, hard work of searching for all the answers from a mass of data and dealing with the constant backlog of work).
Just think of all the more creative, enjoyable things you and your colleagues could be doing rather than being hunched over computers looking for a range of data, getting caught up in the detail and searching across various programmes. At the touch of a button or two, your new Enterprise Resource Planning system will be able to give you all the data you need, offering the transparency to see exactly what is happening in your business – where, how and when. It will allow you to plan more strategically, based on facts and figures. What can be more important to focus on than this?

If you’re worried about the time-consuming process of buying ERP, check out our free guide for an alternative, streamlined and cost-effective approach. 

2) ‘It will be more hassle than it’s worth to change’
Sure, it will be time-consuming as you focus on the preparation, implementation and going live – but then it’s done! And if you’ve chosen Dynamics 365 Business Central, you will never have to go through that again, evolve with extensions, and whatever else may be developed. It’s like the mothership or docking station – other things can come and go but these continue to remain fit for purpose.

3) ‘I’m worried about the risk of repercussions if I make the wrong decision’
The real risk is not in moving forward, embracing the new technology and being prepared for the future, but in falling behind, clinging to the old ways of doing things while your competitors power ahead. If you choose a really professional, specialist support partner who knows the enterprise resource planning solution and your industry well, there will be no risk! The support partner will be with you every step of the way during and after the implementation. For example, The NAV | 365 People a large ERP solutions team of highly skilled and professional IT consultants and Customer Service consultants who have all been out in the field, can speak ‘tech’ when needed, and can also clearly get the message across to non-tech users. They are all highly regarded (the best in the country as far as our customers are concerned!) and your business will be in a ‘safe pair of hands’.

4) ‘Someone else makes the final decision’
Prepare a Return on Investment (ROI) – let the numbers speak for themselves!

Enterprise Resource Planning Implementation Process 

Something that distinguishes us from other resellers is our unique ‘Day in the Life’ methodology. We created an ERP implementation process which involves developing a model of your business within the software itself - your real data in a real environment - so you can see exactly what you’ll be getting.

This process involves us talking to everyone in your business to understand how your processes work in simple terms. No large overwhelming documents outlining everything you do – just the basics.

If you haven’t got an ERP system and need help choosing one, our free guide will help.  

ERP Resources

We have hundreds of free ERP resources readily available, including recorded webinars by topic specialists, how-to videos taking you through some of the simpler processes, and various eBooks & whitepapers.

Some of our resources include:

eBooks and Guides
The Ultimate Guide to Dynamics NAV & 365 Business Central: Our magazine covers everything you need to know about our favourite Enterprise Resource Planning system, Dynamics 365 Business Central (formerly known as Dynamics NAV)!

How to implement an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) System
Implementing an ERP system with Agile
Start with what you can do with your ERP system... not what you can't!
Rapid Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) Implementation

Case Studies
Sambro International

Enterprise Resource Planning Support

We have over 185 people in the company, including over 40 customer support staff - this coupled with over 1,900 years of combined experience makes us the number one Microsoft Dynamics NAV and Dynamics 365 Business Central ERP partner in the UK & Ireland! 

We can help you with...

Want to find out more?

Looking to understand more about our enterprise resource planning software or simply want to know what a successful ERP implementation looks like? 

Check out our case studies here or contact our friendly team and we will get back to you in a jiffy! Alternatively, if you’d rather call us, get in touch via +44 (0)208 328 9818.