5 Enterprise Resource Planning
Difference Between ERP and Accounting Software
What is the real difference between ERP and accounting software? Most peopleuse these terms loosely without really understanding the difference betweenboth. In reality, most are beginning to use the terms interchangeably. Knowingthe difference will be able to help you compare accounting software and ERPprogram.To start off, let’s explore the terminology of both in detail.
What is Accounting Software?
According to Wikipedia, accounting software’s definition is “Accountingsoftware describes a type of application software that records and processesaccounting transactions within functional modules such as accounts payable,accounts receivable, journal, general ledger, payroll, and trial balance. Itfunctions as an accounting information system.”
What is Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)?
While ERP is defined as “Enterprise resource planning (ERP) is the integratedmanagement of main business processes, often in real-time and mediated bysoftware and technology. ERP is usually referred to as a category of businessmanagement software — typically a suite of integrated applications—that anorganization can use to collect, store, manage and interpret data from thesemany business activities.”To fully illustrate the gap between accounting applications and ERPapplications, let us look at the selection of functionality traditionallyprovided by each.
The Real Difference Between ERP and Accounting Software
Accounting applications, according to its title, deals with accountingarrangements like payroll, accounts receivable, accounts receivable, and trialaccounts. Even though there’s a crossover with ERP performance, both aresomewhat different.ERP applications is a resource management system, monitoring tangible andintangible resources, materials, human resources and operations. ERPapplications cover a selection of performance not generally provided bybookkeeping applications, which includes intangibles elements such as humanlabour hours, product lifecycle, performance components, and customerrelationship management.In other words, accounting or bookkeeping applications, because it istraditionally understood, is a subset of any ERP package.Let us take the Microsoft Dynamics 365 modules for instance, where thefunctionalities are way beyond a simple accounting software. There are variousother modules such as Field Service, Sales Management, Customer RelationshipManagement and more – which works seamlessly together.Operational areas such as supply chain management, analysis and reporting,human resource management, project management as well as IT management areservices which could be coordinated and handled under the Microsoft Dynamics365 applications.But, all this is semantics. Sure, accounting applications and ERP softwaremight be two distinct things, but does this really matter in the modernenvironment?Numerous ERP platforms such as Dynamics 365 are offering exactly the exactsame bookkeeping operation but with scalable expansion possible. The reasonwhy that accounting software and ERP applications have come to mean theidentical thing in the current market is the accounting applications as wetraditionally know is fading away.As the business moves away from the term accounting software, it is likelythat ERP software will completely replace the latter and will be the only termused by most moving forth.If you are ready to explore ERP solutions and replace your accountingsoftware, contact us and we’ll be happy to share more with you.Developing a technical architecture for Web-based enterprise software systems
Developing a technical architecture for Web-based enterprise software
systemsHow to bring consistency to infrastructures that support such developmentVispi Munshi Published on June 01, 2002During the last few years, most enterprise software vendors have announced andimplemented plans to Web-enable their software. Two factors have driven thistrend: * First, by making applications available through a browser, companies have been able to drastically reduce the cost of deployment and maintenance. * More importantly, user interfaces have become more simplified and more uniform, thus reducing much of the user training required during implementation.As more and more applications are becoming Web-enabled, Information Systems(IS) groups are trying to develop technical architectures to support theseWeb-enabled applications within their organizations.
What is technical architecture?
Before I go into how the Web-enabling of applications affects technicalarchitecture, I want to explain what I mean by technical architecture.Technical architecture during the mainframe days was simple: There was one bigcomputer (the mainframe) with dumb terminals attached to it. Then came theclient-server era. Now we have a mini computer (the server) and several PCsconnected to it through a local area network configuration. With advancednetworking, distributed computing became affordable and widespread — in largepart because of the need to access enterprise applications from more than onelocation. Even system software (like databases and operating systems) thatsupported these applications had to address the issues of networks anddistributed computing. Distributed computing raised a hoard of connectivity,performance, and security issues. There was a need to plan and structure thedeployment of applications, as well as the need to do some long-term thinkingin order to understand and plan for the infrastructure needs of theenterprise.Today, the enterprise network is the key component of the enterprise technicalinfrastructure. The application infrastructure includes supporting hardware(servers, storage systems, and client PCs) and associated system software,such as the database and the operating system.
Dos and don’ts for the technical architect
It is the duty of the application architect to correct any wrong assumptionsthat the application team might make with regard to the enterprise technicalarchitecture. The application architect also has to ensure that theapplication and its supporting infrastructure (such as databases and operatingsystems) follow the norms and standards of the enterprise architecture.Digressions from the established norms are often costly in terms ofmaintenance, as they might require skills that the current staff may not have.However, sometimes these digressions are necessary in order to support newapplication features. When this is the case, the application architect has toproperly understand the digression and convey and discuss the implicationswith both the application team and the people responsible for the enterprisearchitecture.For each component of the application, the application architect has toprovide accurate specifications for the application team and others to use.Sizing a server is a common example of the application architect’s tasks. Shealso has to test connectivity from all locations and resolve the issues beforethe application rollout. Performance issues are also a concern for theapplication architect: A proper understanding of the application’s data flowscan provide her with insights and enable her to predict any bottlenecks.Deciding whether to amend the application or the enterprise architecture is adelicate issue that can often lead to conflicts.In addition to her technical role, the application architect acts as anarbitrator between the application team and those responsible for enterprisearchitecture. The application architect defines and conveys the agreed upondeliverables to the enterprise team and also follows up on their progress.This helps to avoid any major impact on the project schedule. Typically,changes to the enterprise infrastructure take a longer time to complete, asthey go through a detailed and slow approval process. The architect isexpected to create and support the environments necessary for projectactivities like prototyping, development, and testing. Another importantresponsibility of the application architect is to provide the projectmanagement team with a technical plan that clearly defines the deliverables.
Enterprise Resource Planning
The term Enterprise Resource Planning was coined in the early 1990s. ERP is asoftware solution that integrates information and business processes to enableinformation entered once into the system to be shared throughout anorganization. While ERP had its origins in manufacturing and productionplanning systems, the scope of ERP offerings expanded in the mid-1990s toinclude other back office functions such as finance, human resources, andsales and marketing. The range of functionality of ERP systems has furtherexpanded in recent years to include other applications, such as supply chainmanagement, customer relationship management, and sales force automation.Common examples of ERP systems available include SAP and Peoplesoft.Figure 1 illustrates the high-level technical architecture of a typicalenterprise application.
Figure 1. Technical architecture of an enterprise application
In Figure 1, the application is supported by two servers at the main location.Both locations B and C also have a server. While users at location A aredirectly connected to the server at the main location, other users connectthrough the Internet and firewall to the server at the main location. Most ofthe time, such users are mobile users. The application architect has todetermine which location will have an application server on site. Factors thatdetermine such decisions include: number of users at the location, bandwidthavailability between the location in question and the main location, andexpected response time of the users. This highly simplified example explainskey considerations in determining the technical architecture for a givenapplication. Depending on the application, the application architect has tosketch out high-level, detailed architectures as appropriate.After discussing the process of developing a technical architecture, I want tolook at how the process has evolved and what new issues have arisen because ofthe Web-enabling of enterprise applications.
Early client-server applications were designed mostly for departmental use.Hence the data traffic generated by the application was mostly within thelocal area network of the user’s own department. Very rarely was theapplication used far from its home location. The application technicalarchitect’s role was mostly linked to performance issues of the application.Connectivity and security were very rarely major concerns of the applicationarchitect. Most of the time the database administrator (DBA) played the roleof technical architect in the application team, as the database was typicallythe cause of any application performance issues. The need for an enterprisearchitecture was small.The enterprise network developed as companies began feeling the need toconnect their sites. However, the applications were still localized.Enterprise applications like Enterprise Resource Planning (see sidebar)created the need for connectivity across the enterprise.
1. Microsoft Office
A strong background in all Microsoft Office programs is crucial for those inadministrative roles. Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook form the basis ofmany business communications and processes.The amount of experience in each program that is required for a role willdepend largely on the level of the position. For example, an entry-levelAdministration Assistant may only be required to update existing documents andcreate basic reports, while an Office Manager might need to create newprojects, procedures and templates. Overall, knowledge of Microsoft istherefore the most important criterion in the recruitment of administrativeemployees.
5. Enterprise Resource Planning
New technology has changed the way we work on a daily basis, and exploringtechnology is definitely key to moving forward within a business. A creationof this technological change, is Enterprise resource planning (ERP). This is acommon business process management software that provides one centralrepository for all information to improve the flow of data across a business.Administrative professionals may be expected to be familiar with ERP softwareto develop custom report cards. Common ERP software for businesses includefinancial and payroll software such as Oracle, SAP and Pronto.