How many applications do you need to run your business?

Over the last 10+ years, a number of acronyms have popped up in the enterprise application space. Traditionally most companies started out with in an ERP system and depending upon their business added additional applications to support the business.
What is ERP?
ERP stands for Enterprise Resource Planning. ERP is a way to integrate the data and processes of an organization into one single system. This seems to be the commonly accepted definition of ERP systems, if that is true then why do we need so many other applications?
I am going to post a series of blogs on the different applications and describe their roles, capabilities, maturity and why the need for them appeared and who the “big players” of these markets are.
In this post, I am going to list out the applications seen in the landscape and briefly describe their function.
Some of the applications that you would see in the IT landscape are
• CAD (Computer aided design) to support modeling of hardware and electrical/electronics
• PDM (Product data management) systems to support data management
• PLM (Product lifecycle management) systems to support workflow, engineering change, bill of material management, release to manufacturing etc.
• MES (Manufacturing execution systems) to manage work in progress on the manufacturing floor
• CRM (Customer relationship management) systems manage, track and organize its data / contacts with its current and prospective customers
• BPM (Business process management) systems provide process management capability with workflows
• SCM (Supply chain management) systems provide the ability to manage the entire supply chain and support planning, sourcing, manufacturing, delivery and return logistics.
• KM (Knowledge management) to support knowledge sharing of best practices and lessons learned.
• SRM (Supplier relationship management) to support managing vendor relations and lifecycle.
• PPM (Project Portfolio Management) systems used for analyzing and collectively managing a group of current or proposed projects.
• BI (Business intelligence) systems help the business acquire a better understanding of its commercial context.
• EMM (Enterprise Marketing Management) systems manage marketing’s end-to-end internal processes including Web Analytics, Campaign Management, Digital Asset Management, Web Content Management, Marketing Resource Management, Marketing Dashboards, Lead Management, Event-driven Marketing, Predictive Modeling etc.
• HRMS (Human resource management system) or HRIS (Human resource information system) manage all processes within human resources.
Though this list is long, this list is not complete. Depending upon the industry many other applications exists for e.g. LIMS (Laboratory Information Management System) is important to healthcare, drug and the food industry…In addition, almost all companies have a suite of internal applications to manage issue tracking and resolution, portals to share information with their customers, suppliers and different organizations…
Now if you step back and wonder why so many systems exist, and perform a root cause analysis the usual culprit is lack of capability to support all facets of the business within one application resulting implementation of best of breed / internal applications as opposed to one integrated systems.
In later posts, I will describe the factors driving “best of breed” Vs integrated systems.
With all these different applications, IT organizations are challenged with (1) integration and seamless of flow of information (2) managing application portfolio and associated costs (3) managing platform obsolescence and ensuring that the whole application portfolio is on the current/latest release levels. These challenges would make an interesting post as well :)

"Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed here are my own only and in no way represent the views, positions or opinions - expressed or implied - of my employer (present and past) "
"Please post your comments - Swati Ranganathan"


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