Design and Conception of an ERP System for SMEs

This work has been finished in May 2012.

In today’s business world, enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems are essential for larger enterprises to conduct their business. ERP solutions fulfill several tasks in companies, including the management of resources, sales, warehouse, employees, and accounting. Since even small and medium enterprises (SMEs) can gain profits using them, ERP solutions especially for those are developed. The main difference between them is the reduced complexity of ERP software for SMEs. Since about 98% of all Austrian companies have less than 50 employees, the market for appropriate ERP systems is large. Those statistics also apply to the entire European Union. Many SMEs do not work with an ERP system yet, but instead use Microsoft Excel and send business documents via email.

Another reason for a basic ERP system is that e-Invoicing is becoming more and more essential for SMEs. Larger enterprises are already using e-Invoicing for many years, but smaller enterprises lack the technical requirements. Most electronic data interchange (EDI) standards are too complex and the software is too expensive. Therefore a cheap and easy to use approach for SMEs to exchange business documents is desirable. The Vienna University of Technology project „E-business Registry Permitting Enterprise Liaisons“ (ERPEL) fulfills those requirements. The main purpose of ERPEL is both to enable business clients to search for companies and their products and services and to facilitate the transmission of documents (like invoices, offers, quotes,…) between different ERP systems. In order to motivate even small companies without any ERP system in use to partake, a basic ERP system is needed. A self-made solution is built especially including messaging, instead of adopting an existing open source ERP system.

Hence, if a new ERP solution for SMEs should be developed, it is beneficial to use and analyze best practices. Those are figured out by comparing existing ERP systems for SMEs. Messaging functionalities (exchange of business documents) are the key to success. Therefore they should be considered in the whole design process.

All basic features are described shortly, together with the way they are implemented in different ERP solutions. The focus lies on sale and warehouse management functionalities, due to the requirements of the research project ERPEL. Other features are examined as well, but not in detail. The final artifacts are among other things wireframes, showing the functional requirements for a basic ERP system. The goal is to design a widespread ERP adoption for SMEs, supporting seamless communication between different enterprises.