Enterprise resource planning (ERP) modules guide

ERP systems, which are made up of a variety of software modules, can seem complex. In this guide, you'll find introductions to ERP modules, including PLM, SCM, CRM, HCM, WMS, assets, orders, financials, inventory and projects.

ERP systems are used in all the daily operations of manufacturing. In order to pull data from across the enterprise, ERP systems are made up of many different software modules. Each of the modules in ERP module is specialized to handle specific business processes. In this guide to ERP modules and software, you'll find introductions to the various components of ERP and learn how each module can benefit your organization.

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Supply chain management (SCM) is one of the most important software modules for manufacturers. SCM gives provides visibility into the entire supply chain, from start to finish. ERP SCM modules typically include components for forecasting, demand management, procurement and planning; delivery modules such as logistics; and components for after-market issues like returns, installations and contracts.


Manufacturers can use customer relationship management (CRM) software to organize and view data on individual customer transactions in one accessible place. ERP CRM modules provide customer data integration, or master data management (MDM), which keeps track of customers across all the sales channels from in-person (field sales) to phone (including telemarketing) to online (teleservice and support).

  With product lifecycle management (PLM) software, manufacturers can track the design and attributes of a product throughout its lifecycle, from concept to end-of-life. The components that make up ERP PLM modules include product data management (PDM), product design, portfolio management, direct materials sourcing and customer needs management.

Human capital management is another one of the common ERP modules. ERP HCM modules function as the core employee record, which details personnel actions, benefits administration and payroll, position management and compliance with government regulations. ERP HCM covers three areas of employee management: transactional, talent management and extended management.

Warehouse management systems (WMS) software is a must-have for manufacturers. ERP WMS modules follow the distribution process involved with finished goods or materials from delivery into the warehouse for storage through replenishment and picking for shipment to fulfill orders. WMS modules also help synchronize and control stock on the shop floor.

Manufacturers can track physical manufacturing assets involved in production -- the plant itself and equipment -- using ERP asset management modules. Some of the daily functions that ERP asset management handles are maintenance schedules, equipment uptime and downtime, inventory and warranty management and compliance with hazardous materials and waste tracking regulations.

Financial management is a critical business function for manufacturers. ERP financial management modules include functionality for general ledger, which is the core of ERP financial management. These modules also handle functions for accounts payable and receivable, fixed assets, financial reporting and treasury management.

Order management systems take in data from orders on the front end -- such as customer number and product part number -- and make sure that orders get filled on the back end. Manufacturers use ERP order management modules to fill product orders at the lowest possible cost. These modules are equipped to handle functions such as automated order entry, viewing and tracking; order status; canceled transactions; order and credit limit validation and checking for duplicate orders.

With project management software, manufacturers can organize and review the data around project timelines and costs. These software systems are geared toward organizations that bill clients based on the time their employees spend working on individual projects. ERP project management modules handles project definition, project costing and accounting, project portfolio management, resource management and project billing.

ERP inventory management modules move finished goods through the production cycle. They are often tied into other functions, including shipping, logistics, orders, billing and, on a broader scale, warehouse management. ERP order management software includes functionality for inventory control, serial number tracking, bar code printing, build materials and kitting, inventory valuation and SKU management.

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