In the 1980’s cutting edge technology was MRP (Materials Requirements Planning). It used “netting” of inventory with supplier lead times to to develop a computer-based schedule of purchase orders that streamlined purchasing and materials management. In the 1990’s manufacturing industry moved up to MRP II (Materials Resource Planning) which included MRP and people and machine resource scheduling to develop an integrated manufacturing plan. In the 21st century it is all ERP which does all that MRP II can do and communicate the information to the enterprise, integrating the working of all departments within the organization. This integration moves away from the manufacturing environment and makes it possible to use ERP in any organization. Thus, Toyota can use SAP (one ERP leader) for manufacturing near LA, and Towson University can use PeopleSoft (another ERP leader, now Oracle) near Baltimore.
Think of what you can do on PeopleSoft. PeopleSoft manages your enrollment in classes in all its aspects, i.e. putting you on the class roster, managing accounts, transmitting grades, and managing grades till graduation and beyond. It does a lot more, e.g. managing budgets and accounts for departments and administration, managing schedules of construction projects, etc. Discuss how this integration benefits an organization and how it would contribute towards competitive advantage for a business.
The single largest disadvantage of ERP is the cost of acquisition and maintenance of the system and the infrastructure needed to support the system. A new approach to bypass this disadvantage and make ERP available to small businesses and startups is Cloud Computing, where the ERP system is in the cloud and all you need is a subscription. Discuss how you would take advantage of this if you were to start a small business. What would bother you? Remember that the Cloud is everything. You have no control.