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Enterprise resource planning (ERP) is a type of software designed to help a business plan with the use of its assets and resources. An ERP is an integrated system that allows different departments to exchange data and information. Functions performed by an ERP platform include financial data management, business assets management, and personnel and workforce management. Without an ERP, businesses normally have separate software for each function, and the different types of software may not be able to exchange data among them. Companies that manufacture ERP platform software include Infor Global Solutions™, Oracle™, and the Sage Group™.
ERP hosting can be performed on site at a server maintained at the place or business, or it can be hosted off site at a server maintained at a remote location by an ERP platform hosting company. Online ERP companies can be a beneficial choice for smaller businesses because they offer a low-cost option for business owners to get familiar with an ERP. On-site server-based ERPs are usually used by large companies that want a dedicated server for ERP in the business. Using a server-based ERP platform may be a prohibitively expensive investment for smaller businesses.
Financial tasks performed by ERP software include bookkeeping, managing cash, and handling accounts payable and receivable. Responsible for billing and processing payments, accounts receivable programs handle transactions related to money owed to the company. Accounts payable ledgers keep track of money the company owes and has yet to pay out. In an ERP, a ledger is an electronic spreadsheet a company uses to record its financial transactions to determine an overall balance. Most ERP platform software also has a ledger in which a business owner can record all financial transactions.
One of the primary advantages to running on an ERP platform is that data are made available to people who need it more quickly and easily than in systems that do not integrate data into an ERP platform. Since ERP is itself a platform, a platform of this type is often called ERP. By definition, an enterprise is a business that is built to make a profit. This is in contrast with businesses designed simply to support the employees in the business.
An ERP platform is designed to help a business organize its resources to make the most profit the business can make. Using an ERP, a business can schedule its use of resources like property, machinery, and workforce assets in a means that helps the company achieve more productivity and efficiency. A school might use an ERP to organize its class schedule to maximize the available space and schedule personnel for the classes. This may include ensuring that each class has a teacher and getting classes scheduled in the available classrooms with no overlaps.
A small business may not have a need for an ERP platform at all, online or otherwise.
How many different programs would most small businesses have or need to maintain financial records?
Most likely, a spreadsheet-based program can do everything a small business would need without the extra cost of even a cheaper online ERP platform.