Enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems are generic and comprehensive business software systems based on a distributed computing platform including one or more database management systems. They combine a global enterprise information system covering large parts of the information needs of an enterprise with a large number of application programs implementing all kinds of business processes that are vital for the operation of an enterprise. These systems help organizations to deal with basic business functions such as purchase/sales/inventory ('distribution') management, financial accounting and controlling, and human resources management, as well as with advanced business functions such as project management, production planning, supply chain management, and sales force automation.
First generation ERP systems now run the complete back office functions of the worlds largest corporations. The ERP market rose at 50% per year to $8.6 billion in 1998 with 22,000 installations of the market leader, SAP R/3. The benefits of a properly implemented ERP system can be significant.
Typically, ERP systems run in a three-tier client/server architecture. They provide multi-instance database management as well as configuration and version (or 'customization') management for the underlying database schema, the user interface, and the numerous application programs associated with them. Since ERP systems are designed for multinational companies, they have to support multiple languages and currencies as well as country-specific business practices. The sheer size and the tremendous complexity off these systems make them difficult to deploy and maintain. Despite the worldwide success of systems like SAP R/3 and BaanERP, the underlying architectures, data models, transaction mechanisms and programming techniques are to a large degree unknown to computer scientists.
The goal of this tutorial is to present the information technology of BaanERP, as a representative of the ERP system paradigm, from a computer science (rather than from a business management) perspective, relating it to established database and distributed systems concepts and techniques. A critical assessment of BaanERP will point out some of its merits and weaknesses. The tutorial will help attendees to understand the potential of ERP system technology in general, and of Baan ERP system technology in particular, and how it relates to their own research and development work.