In 1964, Joseph Orlicky, a Specialist Engineer at IBM, developed the early form of digitalised Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP). ERP was formerly known as Manufacturing Resource Planning (MRP). As the name suggests, it was designed for major-scale manufacturing companies. Factories used this single management system to track and optimise real-time data workflows in every department, from production to sales to invoicing, instead of different management solutions for each department.
However, ERP came with a big price tag. After all, ERP was a very powerful solution created for huge manufacturers with complex processes and flows. In the early days of ERP – these companies were the only ones who could afford it, as they were large enough to require the solution in the first place. Makes sense… But does this mean that smaller/growing companies do not have access to the benefits of ERP solutions? In short, this used to be the case, but not anymore.
Today, the ERP market is different. ERP, as a tool, has undergone multiple designs, feature changes, specialisations, and customisations. As time went on, additional applications for ERP were discovered for other company sizes and industries like healthcare or hospitality by companies like Multiable and SYSPRO. These industries found uses for ERP in areas like finance, recruitment, payroll, organisation, etc. In fact, companies like SYSPRO not only cater to manufacturers but distributors as well. ERP options are available for companies looking to grow their company and streamline their management process.
Smaller companies should benefit from ERP too because they must be resilient to stay in the race with more seasoned competitors! That’s why, over time, even ERP options for smaller companies have been developed to solve this issue. Of course, this doesn’t mean smaller companies need to look to regular ERP vendors like SAP. Quite frequently, smaller companies find that a 'one-size-fits-all solution' doesn't meet their needs. Instead, they require distributors capable of offering customised ERP systems specifically designed to suit their company's unique requirements.
One thing that has not changed is that searching for and negotiating for the right ERP solution is a lengthy but detailed process that requires serious investigation from companies big or small. Interestingly, that’s why an entire side service has become popularised, where courses and consultation services for ERP training/implementation are provided by numerous ERP vendors, including SYSPRO.
If past developments are any, we can look forward to further developments for ERP options to be more accessible, applicable, and affordable (hopefully) by businesses of any size.