How Would You Describe ERP? 20 Explanations from the Experts

Last Updated: January 27th, 2023
Researched and Written by: Adam Bluemner

There are a lot of synonyms for enterprise resource planning (ERP): financial suite, system software, basic operating system, business planning software, and so on. Why so many? Because there’s no single, canonical definition of ERP. And as a result, everyone has their own way of explaining it.

Sick of reading recursive synonyms? You’re not alone. Separating the signal from the noise when it comes to quality ERP definitions can require a bit of work. Fortunately, Software Connect has a shortcut.

Below you’ll find our collection of 20 ERP definitions–each with their own angle and perspective–from some of the most qualified sources to speak on the subject. Instead of creating an endless loop of synonyms, they’ve built a general consensus on what ERP really is.

ERP Defined by Technology Media

1 Aberdeen Group

[ERP is] an integrated suite of modules that forms the operational and transactional system of record upon which any business is based. With its roots in material requirements planning (MRP), it is most ubiquitous in the manufacturing industries, but has truly expanded beyond these boundaries to become a mature business application that provides value to a far more extensive set of industries. (more)


Enterprise resource planning software, or ERP, doesn’t live up to its acronym. Forget about planning–it doesn’t do much of that–and forget about resource, a throwaway term. But remember the enterprise part. This is ERP’s true ambition. It attempts to integrate all departments and functions across a company onto a single computer system that can serve all those different departments’ particular needs. (more)

3 Gartner

Enterprise resource planning (ERP) is defined as the ability to deliver an integrated suite of business applications. ERP tools share a common process and data model, covering broad and deep operational end-to-end processes, such as those found in finance, HR, distribution, manufacturing, service and the supply chain. (more)

4 PC Magazine

Enterprise resource planning [is] an integrated information system that serves all departments within an enterprise. ERP implies the use of packaged software rather than proprietary software written by or for one customer. (more)

5 Techopedia

An enterprise resource planning system (ERP system) is an information system that incorporates enterprise-wide internal and external information systems into a single unified solution. (more)

6 Computer Weekly

ERP systems typically carry out financial and business planning functions, which might formerly have been carried out by many smaller standalone applications. ERP applications tend to be modular in nature, sharing vital business information which is held on a central database repository, or repositories. (more)

7 Investopedia

Think of ERP as the glue that binds the different computer systems for a large organization. Typically each department would have their own system optimized for that division’s particular tasks. With ERP, each department still has their own system, but they can communicate and share information easier with the rest of the company. (more)

ERP Defined by Noted Authors

8 Alexis Leon, Enterprise Resource Planning

ERP software is a mirror image of the major business processes of an organization such as customer order fulfillment and manufacturing. Its success depends upon reach–a circumscribed ERP system is not better than the legacy system it replaces. (more)

9 Karl Kapp, Integrated Learning for ERP Success

A complete understanding of an ERP system requires the concept of an “ERP system” be examined from five different perspectives. The first is that of a data management system. The second is simply that all the software modules in the organization are sharing the same database. The third is that of a manufacturing philosophy. The fourth is that of a business philosophy communication tool. Finally, ERP can be viewed as a knowledge management system. (more)

10 Elliot Bendoly, Strategic ERP

More than ever before, ERP systems are being viewed as the central binding mechanisms behind future cross-functional planning activities, both within individual enterprises and among their value-chain partners… Fundamentally, ERP systems and their implementations represent essential enablers of improvement, development, and growth. (more)

11 Stephen Harwood, ERP: The Implementation Cycle

The implementation of an ERP application is about organizational change. The focus of the ERP implementations is the ERP system. The ERP system can simply be described as an integrated information system servicing all aspects of the business. It handles transactions, maintains records, provides real time information and facilitates planning and control. However, its effectiveness is an outcome of the success of the implementation life cycle. (more)

ERP Defined by Developers

12 Syspro

ERP is an industry acronym for Enterprise Resource Planning. Broadly speaking, ERP refers to automation and integration of a company’s core business to help them focus on effectiveness & simplified success. (more)

13 NetSuite

The central feature of all ERP systems is a shared database that supports multiple functions used by different business units. (more)

14 Microsoft

ERP stands for enterprise resource planning [and is] software that allows companies of all sizes to manage their entire business organizations, including supply chain, procurement, human resources, financials, and projects. (more)

15 Visibility

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) has evolved from Material Requirements Planning (MRP) as a means for covering all of the basic functions of an enterprise, in addition to production and inventory. Traditionally the software is installed at the customer site, but many companies now offer hosted or ‘cloud’ ERP solutions to reduce the up-front and technical costs. (more)

ERP Defined by Vendors

16 Godlan

ERP facilitates information flow between all business functions inside the organization, and manages connections to outside stakeholders. In simple terms it hooks up information with interested parties and creates new information by logically combining data to create new resources. (more)

17 eSoftware Professionals

An enterprise resource planning system, commonly known as an ERP system, is a set of business software tools designed to facilitate the flow of information between all departments or functions within a business.With a modern ERP system each person within the company has the information they need to do their job and it is available now–or as the technology folks like to say it “in real-time”. (more)

18 Kranbery

ERP systems are generally used by most businesses to track business resources such as cash flow and production capacity and the status of other business knowledge such as orders, purchase orders, and payroll. The applications that make up the system share data across the various departments of the company based on security of the user logged in. (more)

19 Mantralogix

[ERP] is a technology platform and it is composed of many different components. The platform is valuable to companies of all sizes, complexities, and industries. Some companies will use/ need all the components and others will only leverage a portion of these. Components include: purchasing, manufacturing, inventory and order management, accounting, human resources, customer relationship management. Long thought of as a synonym to an accounting system, clearly ERP systems are much more than that. (more)

20 Kissinger Associates

ERP stands for enterprise resource planning, a software platform that helps manage, monitor, and analyze every area of your business in one interface. Imagine your finance/accounting, manufacturing, distribution, sales and service, payroll, customer relationship management and more–all in one place and accessible from any workstation–even mobile devices. (more)

Now that you’ve seen all the options, how do you define ERP? Have a completely different definition of ERP? Let us know what you think at @SoftwareConnect using the hashtag #whatisERP.

For more information on ERP software, especially regarding how to find the right enterprise resource planning system for you business, make sure to check out our ERP guide.

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