Columnists Features

Enterprise resource planning


MANY companies today are managing their day-to-day business transactions through the use of computers, i.e. running some specialised application software.
Gone are the days when organisations managed their business transactions by recording the transactions in books such as accounting journals and many others. This used to be very tedious especially when it comes to balancing your sales as well as managing suppliers, debtors and creditors. Thanks to developers whose efforts cannot go without recognition. It is never easy to create a business solution. I am one of those many ICT people who did programming just for the sake of gaining ideas of it and for passing purposes only.
I remember my Java programming lecturer at Zambia Centre for Accountancy Studies (ZCAS) Mr Joseph Moonga encouraging us to work extra hard in programming and ensure that we understand it very well because we might need to use it in future in one way or the other. Thanks a lot to you comrade, as you liked calling us.
Today I thought of discussing how organisations manage their businesses using application software and how they consolidate their businesses through the use of enterprise resource planning (ERP). But, first of all, let us understand what these two things are and how they help organisations and businesses.
Application software refers to a subclass of computer software that employs the capabilities of a computer directly and thoroughly to a task as instructed by the user. The applications differ depending on the use and are customized according to the problem at hand. No two applications can work to sort out a problem, or in short, you cannot just purchase an application off the shelf but it has to be developed based on the problems that need solutions.
There are various types of applications used in different units of the organisations such as accounting, marketing, human resources, procurement, production etc, but as much as these perform and help organisations reduce manual operations and partial cost control, they are not enough if they work independently.
They need to be integrated and allow the users in the organisation to share resources such as products, processes, policies, plans and other details that might be helpful in decision-making and delivering quick services to customers and other business partners. However, this can only be done through the use of enterprise resource planning (ERP) software.
ERP refers to a business process management software that allows an organisation to use a system of integrated applications to manage the business and automate many back office functions related to technology, services and human resources. It has a lot of advantages to every business or organisation in any industry, be it in product-based or service delivery. Countless advantages of implementing ERP software include improving organisation productivity, increasing efficiencies in production or service delivery, decreasing costs and simplifying operational processes.
There is a lot of ERP software available and their usage, as I earlier mentioned, depending on your company needs, the problems you are facing in your business will help you determine which one to go for. Please never just go to any organisation dealing in a similar business as you are and pick what they are using, no! That won’t help you at all. Actually you shall spend more than your benefits, and this is simply because their problems are totally different from yours.
Therefore should you wish to implement one, simply get in touch with software vendors locally or even out of the country, invite them to visit you, present to them your business problems and what solutions you would like to get. Believe me we as ICT people are trained to turn your business nightmares into workable solutions. Some of the commonly used ERPs include SAP, Microsoft Navision, Sage Evolution, Oracle, and I recently learnt about Udaan ERP.
Implementing an ERP is the only way your organisation can consolidate its business activities as it enables you to share resources and access them from any part of your business unit. Obviously for those yet to test one, there are questions ringing in your minds about the costs. Please allow me to state that these particular software are not very cheap but are manageable.
The question is, what do I mean by this? Well, it is possible to start with few and important modules that you can afford, but do it with the aim of adding more modules until such a time when all modules will be acquired and gain yourself one full ERP.
Just ensure to work out a very good contract with your vendor or supplier so that in case of any upgrades, you are covered. Having a functioning ERP in your organisation will enable your business to solve critical issues that can become detrimental to the organisation’s bottom line, if left unchecked. All the best and hope you found this discussion helpful.
The author is Zambia Daily Mail Limited Deputy ICT Manager, for any reaction, contributions or comments please write to

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