The Necessary Background Information for Investigating Enterprise Business Applications

Posted by Romeo Elias on Tue, Jan 02, 2007 @ 08:48 PM

On behalf of Gunay Kose

The process of researching enterprise business applications is overwhelming. Without proper background information it is difficult to know what to even look for. It is important to review the different types of applications available, and their overlaps. From there, it is important to fully understand your enterprise’s needs. This background information may seem straight-forward, but it is common to discover the software you selected lacks features you never even knew you needed. Software companies do not market the features and benefits their solutions lack. Software sales personnel will not understand exactly what your company needs. You must take the time to fully understand both the software industry’s current offerings and the needs of your company before searching for enterprise business applications.

1. What are the Categories of Enterprise Applications?

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP): A business management system that integrates multiple facets of the business, including planning, manufacturing, sales and marketing. As the ERP methodology has become more popular, software applications have emerged to help business managers implement ERP in business activities such as inventory control, order tracking, customer service, finance and human resources. ERPs are also sometimes defined generically as “business management systems.” In reality, ERP applications are not capable of managing all aspects of the business. ERPs are best for managing database-driven operations such as inventory control, orders, etc. (E.g. SAP).

Business Process Management (BPM): A business process that is a complete and dynamically coordinated set of collaborative and transactional activities. BPM software’s main purpose is to deliver value to the end user. BPM applications are built around process and/or workflow management, meaning they usually have the ability to manage or automate activities following a defined method. (E.g. Savion, Ultimus, Handy Soft etc.).

(Enterprise) Project Management (EPM): EPM applications are task-based and manage tasks, resources and cost-related tasks. (E.g MS Project, Primavera, eProject).

Enterprise Platforms: Fully-functional enterprise platforms are only now emerging on the market. These horizontal applications offer intensive configurability so that each enterprise can tailor the application to their exact needs. (E.g. Interneer Intellect).

Others (Document Management, E-mails etc): There are various other enterprise applications that do not fit in the above groups. They are either developed specifically for an industry or certain needs such as document management, e-mails, etc. (E.g. Microsoft Outlook).

2. What Does an Enterprises Need?

If we look at each enterprise’s needs we typically see that every function of ERP, BPM, EPM or other applications is not required. Rather, a combination of functionalities is ideal. If we look at “Company A” in the figure below, we can see that this company’s needs are mostly encompassed by EPM, but they also have needs from BPM, ERP and other areas. The figure demonstrates that:

  • Each organization has its own unique needs
  • Organizations do not require all the detailed functionalities of any business management group
  • Any organization needs more than one area of functionalities.
     

3. How to choose an application

When it comes time to choose an application it’s tempting to take the easy route -- demo a few products, make a guess, and hope for the best. It is extremely challenging to understand even your own organization’s requirements, and even more challenging to match requirements to functionalities in a software solution.

These two vital steps can consume a lot of time. Identifying your needs as shown in the figures above will provide guidance.

It may be assumed that “Company A” would be best suited by investigating EPM applications, while “Company B” should look into BPM applications. The problem is that these applications will not address all the requirements. To make up for this, organizations tend to use more than one application to satisfy their needs.

This does not mean applications do not exist capable of solving the vast majority of enterprise business process management requirements. A platform application should be the first consideration made by organizations similar to “Company A” or “Company B.” With a platform application you benefit from building and changing your solution as you go, and as your business changes. This is even more helpful if you can not fully predict all future requirements.

Interneer Intellect is the most robust of the enterprise platform applications on the market. It is used by many organizations, ranging in size and industry. The below figures shows how Interneer Intellect could be implemented for “Company A” and “Company B.”