The 21st century has seen a dramatic increase in the use of technology in the workplace. One of the most significant developments in this area has been the adoption of enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems. Let’s investigate these systems and see how they can benefit your business.

What is ERP?

ERP is software that enables organizations to manage their resources more effectively and efficiently. By integrating all the various functions within an organization, ERP systems provide a real-time view of the business, which can help managers make better-informed decisions. In addition, ERP systems can automate many of the tasks associated with running a business, such as supply chain and financial reporting. As a result, ERP is software that can provide a significant competitive advantage for organizations that adopt it.

The history of ERP software

In 1990, research firm Gartner coined the term “enterprise resource planning.” The new name recognized that many businesses—not just manufacturing—were now using this technology to increase the efficiency of their entire operations.

This is when ERP systems took on their current identity: a unified database for information from across the company. ERP systems brought in other business functions, like accounting, sales, engineering, and human resources (HR), to serve as a single source of accurate data for all employees.

ERP systems continued to evolve throughout the ‘90s. One major breakthrough was the advent of cloud ERP, first offered in 1998.

In 2000, Gartner introduced the idea of ERP II to refer to internet-enabled systems that could pull data from other sources, including front-office applications like CRM, ecommerce, and marketing automation, and back-end applications like supply chain management and human capital management.

Today, there are countless enterprise planning resources available, designed for different industries, business models, and challenges. ERP is a system that acts as command central for what can be a vast network of software.

How do ERPs work?

ERP systems are designed to manage the flow of information between different departments within a company. In many cases, ERP systems are implemented to replace legacy systems that are no longer able to keep up with the demands of a growing business.

ERP software typically consists of a central database that is used to store data from all departments within a company. This data can then be accessed by authorized users to make decisions and coordinate activities. In some cases, ERP systems also include modules for specific tasks such as finance, manufacturing, or human resources. By consolidating all of this information into a single system, businesses can save time and money while improving efficiency.


There are a lot of acronyms in the business world, and two of the most common are CRM and ERP. CRM stands for customer relationship management. Both CRM and ERP systems are designed to help businesses manage their data and operations, but they do so in different ways.

How do CRM systems work?

CRM systems focus on managing customer data. This includes information like contact details, purchase history, and communication logs. CRM systems help businesses keep track of their customers and better understand their needs. They can also be used to create targeted marketing campaigns and improve customer service.

What makes ERPs different than CRM systems?

While CRMs focus on customers and the externals, ERP systems, on the other hand, focus on managing a business’s internal resources. This includes things like inventory levels, financial data, and employee records.

Should I choose ERP or CRM for my business?

What system, ERP or CRM, you choose for your business will depend on your specific needs and goals. If you want to focus on improving your customer relationships, then a CRM system is a good choice. If you’re more interested in streamlining internal-facing systems, then ERP is a better option. Ultimately, the best way to decide is to talk to a business consultant who can help you assess your specific needs.

Top benefits of ERPs:

  • Help manage and automate business processes
  • Increase efficiency and productivity
  • Improve decision making
  • Provide insight into customers and markets
  • Aid in developing effective marketing strategies
  • Reduce costs
  • Streamline operations
  • Improve supply chain management

How will these benefits from ERP systems impact my organization?

ERP systems gather data from all aspects of a company’s operations, including finance, sales, manufacturing, and human resources. This gives managers a 360-degree view of the business, which makes it easier to identify issues and make informed decisions. ERP systems also automate many routine tasks, such as data entry and inventory management. This frees up employees to focus on more strategic tasks.

Finally, ERP software can help companies increase their profits by reducing costs and improving customer satisfaction. For example, enterprise planning resources can help companies manage their inventory more effectively, which can lead to lower inventory costs. ERP systems can also help companies track customer orders and improve customer service, which can lead to repeat business and higher sales. In short, ERP systems offer many benefits that can help companies improve their operations and bottom line.

Are ERP systems hard to learn?

ERP systems can be complex, and there is a learning curve associated with them. That being said, once you learn how to use your ERP software, it can be a very powerful tool.

Many small business owners hesitate to invest in ERP systems because they fear that the ERP software will be too complex and time-consuming to learn. While ERP systems do require a significant investment of time and resources, the benefits of using enterprise planning resources often outweigh the costs.

With proper training and support, most businesses are able to successfully implement an ERP system and reap the rewards. In addition, many ERP partners offer subscription-based pricing models that make it affordable for small businesses to get started with their enterprise planning resources. As a result, there is no need for small businesses to shy away from using ERP software; with the right support, they can realize significant benefits.

3 types of ERP systems:

  1. Cloud ERP
  2. On-premise ERP
  3. Hybrid ERP

What is a cloud ERP?

Cloud ERP is a type of enterprise planning resource that uses software running on a remote server accessed via the Internet. It provides businesses with a flexible, scalable, and cost-effective way to manage their ERP needs.

Who should use a cloud ERP?

Cloud ERP is used by businesses of all sizes. It offers a number of advantages over traditional on-premise ERP systems, including lower upfront costs, pay-as-you-go pricing, and the ability to scale up or down as needed.

In addition, cloud ERP can be accessed from anywhere with an Internet connection, making it ideal for businesses with multiple locations or mobile employees. While cloud ERP offers many benefits, it is important to choose a reputable and experienced provider in order to ensure a successful implementation of this enterprise planning resource.

What is on-premise ERP software?

On-premise ERP is software installed on a company's own servers and computers rather than being hosted by a third-party provider. The benefits of on-premise enterprise planning resources include complete control over the security and customization of the system, as well as the ability to scale the system to meet the needs of a growing business.

Which companies benefit from on-premise ERP?

On-premise ERP systems can be complex to implement and maintain, and they often require a larger up-front investment than cloud-based solutions. As a result, on-premise ERP is often best suited for larger businesses with extensive IT resources.

What are hybrid ERP systems?

A hybrid ERP system is a combination of traditional on-premise ERP software and cloud-based ERP software. The advantages of a hybrid system include the flexibility to choose which components are deployed on-premise and which are deployed in the cloud and the ability to scale. The disadvantages of a hybrid ERP system include the need to manage two separate systems and the potential for security breaches if data is not properly protected.

What ERP solution tools should I look for?

The most up-to-date and innovative ERP solutions are designed with commercially inspired features that provide a simplified user experience and digital insights to enable timely and effective decision-making. For example, CGI Advantage is ready out of the box with the features and functionality that is:

  • User-friendly and intuitive – adapting to each person’s role with minimal training and increasing productivity with a greater return on investment
  • Smart – providing embedded analytics that empower users to make the right decisions faster as they perform tasks
  • Unified – promoting seamless access across core ERP components, facilitating audits utilizing a single source that promotes transparency
  • Flexible – offering a configurable role-based user experience that streamlines engagement and is tailored to the individual, both for daily and occasional users alike
  •  Powerful – supporting complex payroll and labor cost distribution mandates
  • Mobile – allowing users to make decisions on the go through a mobile-first design that travels with them from desktop to tablet to mobile throughout their day
  • Secure – working closely with international security associations and standards bodies to deliver security that is baked in, not bolted on
  • Compliant – meeting federal government requirements for compliance mandates

The most innovative ERP partners will also provide a product roadmap that includes continued investment in new technologies and a modernized user experience, enabling new, innovative ways for you to meet citizen expectations, drive efficiency, and grow capacity within your organization.

Considerations - what ERP system is right for my business?

When it comes to ERP systems, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. What ERP system is right for your business will depend on a number of factors, including budget. With so many options on the market, it can be difficult to know where to start. Some important factors to consider when ERP shopping are if your business is:

  • Large
  • Small
  • Commercial
  • Public sector

ERP and company size

One of the first things to consider is the size and complexity of your company. ERP systems are designed to meet the needs of businesses of all sizes, from small businesses to large enterprises. If you have a small business, you will want to look for an ERP system that is designed for that purpose.

For large organizations, a solution that can handle the rigor required to support hundreds of users and stakeholders – much broader in scope and scale than most commercial ERP implementations – is fundamental. For smaller organizations, the need to ramp up quickly with relevant public sector functionality available out of the box is essential.

What ERP for public sector vs. commercial businesses?

The needs of public sector organizations typically differ from commercial enterprises, often with complex requirements for compliance, transparency, and reporting. An experienced public sector ERP partner is a smart choice in this instance.

If you are looking for a more structured approach, organizations can measure the total cost of ownership (TOC) of an ERP system to best decide which solution to invest in.

An example of ERPs for government

There are many examples of ERP software in use by governments around the world. One well-known example is the U.S. Department of Defense's ERP software, which is used to manage inventory, finance, and other data for the military.

In the U.K., the government's ERP software is used to manage data for tax, benefits, and other government services. And in Canada, the government's ERP is used to track data for immigration, customs, and other government programs. These are just a few examples of how ERP software is being used by governments to manage their data and improve efficiency.

How to implement an ERP

At CGI, we guide clients through the implementation of their enterprise planning resources using the following approach:

CGI can help you implement your ERP by:

  1. We take human-centered design approach. We interview, understand, document, and communicate customer journeys and user requirements. We talk to business users to discern solutions to their problems and enlist their support to drive adoption.
  2. We act as intermediaries for client requests – a conduit for information coming from multiple business units.
  3. We conduct a technical review with architecture experts to build a technical roadmap for proof-of-concept.

The most important step is to find a partner that can implement strategies to take you where you want to be – at a pace that is manageable and affordable. Their approach must include guidance through all aspects of implementation of your enterprise planning resource, including change management to address barriers and resistance.

What ERPs can offer you

CGI Advantage ERP, for example, offers:

  • Insights, expertise, and the latest public sector and commercial best practices
  • A proven solution to transform an organization and position it for the future
  • Intuitive and holistic solutions based on an unparalleled foundation of expertise and depth of functionality through CGI Advantage
  • Access to a robust and active client community
  • The scale, reach, and capabilities of a global IT champion, delivered locally and committed to the communities where we live and work

You need an ERP if:

You need an ERP solution if you are managing a large and complex organization where there is a demand for accountability, transparency, and effective stewardship of resources, especially in the public sector.

For large organizations, a solution that can handle the rigor required to support hundreds of users and stakeholders – much broader in scope and scale than most commercial ERP implementations – is fundamental. For smaller organizations, the need to ramp up quickly with relevant public sector functionality available out of the box is essential.

Organizations everywhere are being asked to do more with less but at the same time, deliver the services expected in today’s on-demand world. Maximizing the untapped potential of an ERP system is a great place to start modernizing and unifying your core IT systems to meet those demands.