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The history and future of resource planning software

Resource planning software is behind some of the most exciting changes in business software development at the moment. Resource planning software, often called Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) was first developed to improve efficiency in factory assembly lines. Today it is helping all types of business to become more efficient and more importantly, more profitable.

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What is resource planning software?

Resource planning software is a specialist business support service that is designed to make planning and organizing your business resources easier and more efficient. This is done by centralizing all company data to allow managers to run business health reports in close to real-time.

Previously managers mostly relied on monthly management accounts to assess how well their company was performing in comparison to set goals and benchmarks. With modern Cloud ERP systems each business department can update the system continuously and this is used to create management reports which enable managers to react extremely rapidly to changing market conditions.

How it was developed

Enterprise Resource Planning is an evolution of Manufacturing Resources Planning (MRP), which was developed during the 1960s as a way to streamline the product process.

The period from the 1970s through to the 1990s saw both computer hardware and software improvements that allowed for more complex data analysis. Companies such as Oracle and SAP started to develop ERP systems that resemble the format used today.

Resource planning quickly moved beyond manufacturing and started to include all areas of business operations, such as supply chain, accounting and HR processes along with production and delivery.

ERP rapidly became an invaluable new tool for companies, however, it was notoriously expensive to install. It was necessary to invest heavily in new computer hardware and IT support services and very often ERP project implementation exceeded budgets.

A new generation of ERP

The biggest change in resource planning has been the move to cloud based solutions. Since the introduction of super-fast and secure Internet services, businesses no longer need to purchase new computer hardware to take advantage of ERP.

However, the advantages of moving resource planning onto the Internet extend beyond the reduction in hardware costs. Modern ERP systems can now be accessed via any web browser allowing managers to view reports on laptops, tablets and smartphones wherever in the world they may be.

Also, because there is no longer the requirement of having a central physical database within a company, businesses operating multiple locations can also take full advantage of resource planning. Companies may operate effectively across state and country borders with the help of cloud based resource planning software. Managers have the latest business information at the fingertips at all times and are able to react rapidly to changing business needs.

The future of resource planning

The next step is likely to be an increase in the level of automation in ERP systems, with more smart devices being configured to automatically record and upload data to cloud based databases that can then be used to run reports at company headquarters.

The combination of cloud based ERP and improvements in smart mobile devices will see the services cater for a wider range of businesses and locations.