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Leia Davis8/10/23 9:30 AM4 min read

Decoding ERP Software Buzzwords: A Guide for Beginners

Decoding ERP Software Buzzwords: A Guide for Beginners

Buzzwords can be helpful within any industry to make our repetitive descriptions more efficient, but they don’t help people who aren’t familiar, or even worse we’re all just making up our own ERP software definitions.

I want to define some of the most commonly used ERP software buzzwords. If you feel like you’re missing something when you hear the words "ERP, cloud-based, SaaS, CRM" and more… read on as we break down the buzzwords.

BI or Business Intelligence

Every company seems to have a different definition of business intelligence, so let’s talk about the basics, and then how we think of it here at Milestone.

BI is a term used for analyzing and reporting on data from multiple sources. Business Reporting is the rear view mirror, it tells you about what’s happening today and yesterday.

Milestone Definition: Business Intelligence tells you about more than what’s happening in your business today, it tells you about the future.

The Cloud

The cloud is a revolutionary concept that has transformed the way businesses operate and store their data. It refers to a network of servers that are housed and maintained by a third-party company. These servers are not physically located on-premises but are instead accessed remotely through the internet.

By utilizing the cloud, businesses can take advantage of various cloud-based services such as Software as a Service (SaaS) and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS).

By leveraging cloud-based services like SaaS and IaaS, businesses can enjoy numerous benefits. They can reduce their IT costs by eliminating the need for expensive hardware investments and ongoing maintenance. Additionally, the cloud offers scalability, allowing businesses to easily increase or decrease their computing resources based on their needs.

The basics: The Cloud is someone else’s computers, servers and hardware that you access on the internet through an internet browser.

Continue for our definition of  SaaS and IaaS. 

Core Financials

Core financials describe the base financial accounting suite that usually includes the general ledger, accounts receivable, accounts payable, cash management, fixed assets and more. Sometimes known to those in the "biz" as GLAPAR.

CRM (Customer Relationship Management)

CRM is software that companies use to manage customers, leads, quotes, contact information, along with customer support tracking and automating marketing and sales processes.

CRM helps you log all of the steps, and track the interactions that lead from the first contact to the closed deal. This gives management better oversight and the ability to track trends, campaign success and patterns in buyers.

ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning)

ERP is a shared database software that will serve as the backbone you use to run your business. An ERP system manages your financials, order management, inventory, distribution, manufacturing, operations, production, job costing, reporting and more.

With everything under the same software ‘umbrella’ you’ll be able to streamline and automate processes.

Depending on your business, you may choose complimentary applications that integrate with your ERP Software for additional functionality like CRM or more in depth supply chain management, business intelligence, etc.

AKA: Accounting software, business management software

ERP Implementation

What is everyone going on about implementation? Why is this such a big deal?

The basics: ERP implementation is the process of installing your ERP software.

The nitty gritty: An ERP software installation is so much more than any other software install process you will go through. When done correctly, every business process is mapped, analyzed, revised, and analyzed again. This ensures that the system fits your business and helps identify bloated processes and opportunities to automate. Every financial account, incoming and outgoing process is documented and mapped for re-creation within the system.

These things may not sound like software installation, but the process of mapping your entire business and redesigning them or recreating them in the software is what we call ERP Implementation.

IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service)

IaaS providers offer computing power and infrastructure resources that businesses can rent on a pay-as-you-go basis. This means that companies can access and utilize powerful servers, storage, and networking resources without having to invest in their own physical hardware. Examples of IaaS providers include Amazon AWS, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform.

Examples: Your website host, G Suite, Amazon AWS, DropBox or Microsoft Azure.

Automation, AI, and Machine Learning

Automating a process could be cutting down on the number of clicks necessary to complete a task, or it could completely automate a process previously done by a person that took upwards of 5 minutes at a time, like eliminating the need to duplicate data entry in more than one system.

Modern cloud ERP solutions (like Acumatica) implement machine learning, as well. The more your team uses the program, the better it gets at predicting what processes come next. 

SaaS (Software as a Service)

SaaS is an application that lives in ‘the cloud’, and you access from your computer or device.

SaaS applications are software programs that are hosted in the cloud and can be accessed by users via the internet. These applications eliminate the need for businesses to install and maintain software on their own servers, as everything is managed by the SaaS provider. 

When you use Office 365, Google Applications or GoToWebinar for instance, you are using SaaS applications.

Web Portals

A web portal is a special website designed to give customers access to account information, create support cases, check status’ and make purchases.

It’s a secure place on the web where they can login and see their own account information that is only relevant to them.

Some other ways to use a portal could be to provide access for relevant vendors/suppliers or employee self-service, updating HR information.