TechnologyHeadstart: E-business – But what does it all mean?

Headstart: E-business - But what does it all mean?

ERP, CRM, SEM. Sounds very hi-tech, but if you're baffled over their meaning, come and surf with Philip Smith

ERP is dead – long live ERP vendors. That seems to be the message coming from the people responsible for enterprise resource planning as they seek to reinvent the process in the form of strategic enterprise management.

ERP has been with us for a few years now, and has been one of the major products for the big software players such as JD Edwards, Oracle and Microsoft Great Plains.

Inevitably, as with everything else to do with technology these days, there is a healthy smattering of initials and acronyms which mean absolutely nothing to the uninitiated.

So at the moment we have ERP, which has evolved into SEM, which in turn has spawned CRM – that’s customer relationship management to you and me.

Unless you were there at the beginning there has to be a good chance you don’t know what these terms mean, so can you use the web to find out?

At first it doesn’t appear that easy. Doing a simple search for the apparently random letters of ERP, SEM and CRM does not reveal much, but Google did come up with a very helpful portal, ERPassist.

The site www.erpassist.com brings together a number of different areas of ERP under one roof, and has the all-important section, ‘What is ERP?’

It is a US site from Information Technology Toolbox Inc, but is still useful for UK users.

You can join discussion groups on a number of ERP-related topics, search its news database and look through its detailed list of FAQs (frequently asked questions). It also has a fantastically large database of ERP-related consultants, though inevitably the majority are based on the other side of the Atlantic.

Closer to home, it is certainly worth having a look at CIMA’s site, www.cimaglobal.com, which has an area dedicated to SEM.

It’s not easy to find (go to the site map, it’s under business resources) but once you are there you will get a neat guide to all things SEM. The resource page is particularly useful as you can read easily digestible guides to SEM and ERP implementation.

There is also a list of FAQs from CIMA’s resident expert, Martin Fahy – Accountancy Age recently published a helpful guide to SEM by Fahy; click on www.accountancyage. com/IT/1125668 to read the article.

For information on CRM, it’s certainly worth going to the appropriately titled CRM Forum, based in Edinburgh.

At www.crm-forum.com you can sign up for newsletters, check for CRM-related events and browse an extensive library of documents and articles. You will need to become at least an associate member to fully benefit from all the forum has to offer, but even without membership there’s plenty to get your teeth into.

The forum was listed in the very helpful JD Edwards site, www.jdedwards.com, one of many ERP-related software supplier websites.

JD Edwards’ home page immediately plugs its CRM offering, customer lifecycle management, and if you can get past the sales speak, you can learn more about the rationale behind CRM.

Enterprise Resource Planning: Sites to help inform and explain

www.erpassist.com

***

Helpful portal that covers all things to do with enterprise resource planning, with some good links and discussion forums.

www.cimaglobal.com

***

Small but informative site on strategic enterprise management, including FAQs, or frequently-asked questions, from expert Martin Fahy.

www.crm-forum.com

****

Very helpful site for customer relationship management information, sign up for full benefits of the forum.

www.jdedwards.com

***

Home page immediately plugs its CRM solution, but can be useful just as a source of information and explanation.

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