Mobile Technologies Extending ERP Systems

Mobile Technologies Extending ERP Systems

Dirk Werth (Institute for Information Systems at German Research Centre for Artificial Intelligence, Germany) and Paul Makuch (Institute for Information Systems at German Research Centre for Artificial Intelligence, Germany)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-156-8.ch041


Nowadays the majority of enterprises use Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software to improve their business processes. Simultaneously, mobile technologies which can be used within ERP have gained further importance. This is because ERP, together with mobile technologies, offers a wide spectrum of synergies and both have a significant impact on enterprise efficiency. The improvement possibilities in ERP due to mobility range from sales activities, over logistic processes, up to effects on the human resource management.
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Erp Systems

Enterprise Resource Planning Software offers a spectrum of activities which support enterprises to organize important business processes by providing multimodular software applications. ERP systems have evolved in the middle of the 1990s from manufacturing resource planning (MRPII) systems. Such systems aim to plan and steer the output generation within an enterprise. They comprise of all logistic activities, from the purchase planning and execution through the manufacturing planning, steering and supervision to the sales and after-sales activities. MRPII systems mainly cover the logistical view of the enterprise. Extending MRPII systems by human resource management and by financial management has resulted in ERP systems, that aim to cover all activities and business processes within an enterprise. Nowadays every business transaction can be monitored, analyzed and evaluated.

The performance properties of ERP systems are:

  • Branch neutrality: ERP software is normally not aligned to a specific branch

  • Operating efficiency: the special emphasis is placed on efficiency, not on technology

  • Modularity: There are enclosed areas of activity within the software, called modules

  • Integration: All business activities as an aggregate are continuously supported

  • Standard software: ERP systems are not designed for individual purpose. In fact they are sold on an anonymous market, but of course they can be customized, i.e. adapted to fit customer needs.

ERP systems differ from each other in their complexity, range of functions and procurement costs. First it depends on the branch the enterprise operates using ERP technology. With an ascending number of suppliers or products, more modern warehouse systems or new distributions channels, the complexity of such a system increases. Second, the size of the enterprise including their whole network matters. Small and medium sized businesses don’t need the same range of functions like a world wide operating multinational company. This certainly has an influence on the price of the software solutions, e.g. small sized businesses can install standard versions, whereas concerns need specially developed additional modules. Third, the number of users working with the ERP system plays an important role. The more accounts work simultaneously, the more powerful hardware is needed to guarantee an unproblematic process. Last, the technological base used to realize an ERP system, especially the database and the programming language, is a key factor determining the complexity and the range of functions.

In the future, ERP systems will be increasingly standardized. Therefore the flexibility and mobility of user interfaces will play a more and more important role in order to generate additional advantages.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) System: Allows contactless data transmission by electromagnetic alternating fields and is often used for automatic identification and data acquisition.

Mobile Business: Describes the initiation and the entire support, execution and maintenance of business transaction between business partners by the use of wireless electronic network communication technology and mobile devices

Business Process: A target-oriented, logical sequence of activities which can be performed by multiple collaborating organisational units by using information and communication technologies. This system of functions makes a substantial contribution to the generation of added value

Sensory ERP: A concept for next generation ERP systems. It enables the ERP system to automatically acquire data and supervise enterprise states and events by using sensors (e.g. RFID tags and gates, GPS tracker, etc.). Interfacing between the physical world and the ERP system is no longer performed through human workers, but this data is collected by sensors that directly assess the physical states and that are part of the real world itself. By this, the error rate significantly decreases and business processes become more efficient

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) Systems: Integrated packages of standardized software applications supporting the resource planning of an enterprise. Financial, logistical and human resource related business processes can be improved by using an ERP system

Mobile ERP: Solutions extend traditional ERP systems by location-independently collecting and exchanging data via mobile devices and wireless transfer mechanisms. Standardized interfaces allow a direct and steady connection to the ERP hardware and lead to more flexible and efficient business processes within an enterprise.

Mobile Business Processes: Integrate mobile solutions into classic business processes. Mobile work leads to new collaborative opportunities, improves the enterprise workflow and enables the transaction of digital business processes

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