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ERP stands for Enterprise Resource Planning. ERP is a way to integrate the data and processes of an organization into one single system. Usually ERP systems will have many components including hardware and software, in order to achieve integration, most ERP systems use a unified database to store data for various functions found throughout the organization.
The term ERP originally referred to how a large organization planned to use organizational wide resources. In the past, ERP systems were used in larger more industrial types of companies. However, the use of ERP has changed and is extremely comprehensive, today the term can refer to any type of company, no matter what industry it falls in. In fact, ERP systems are used in almost any type of organization – large or small.
In order for a software system to be considered ERP, it must provide an organization with functionality for two or more systems. While some ERP packages exist that only cover two functions for an organization (QuickBooks: Payroll & Accounting), most ERP systems cover several functions.
Today’s ERP systems can cover a wide range of functions and integrate them into one unified database. For instance, functions such as Human Resources, Supply Chain Management, Customer Relations Management, Financials, Manufacturing functions and Warehouse Management functions were all once stand alone software applications, usually housed with their own database and network, today, they can all fit under one umbrella – the ERP system.