For a while I've been wanting to learn ERP. What I would like to do is set up a system, and then practice running a business doing things like generating invoices, raising purchase orders, producing monthly accounts, and keeping track of fixed assets. Then look at enhancing the system further by adding custom code.

Is there a book out there that's the de-facto standard for describing best practices, design methodologies, and other helpful information on ERP? What about that book makes it special?

  • Are you sure you want ERP? Sounds more like your looking for an accounting tool. Anyways, the single best resource for ERP processes ( and tools built around them) that I know of is Goldratt - en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eliyahu_M._Goldratt . His Theory of Constraints has been great and tools built around it are well worth examining – etechpartner Apr 12 '11 at 12:48

As mentioned in another answer, you will probably struggle to find a free version of a mainstream ERP system to use for learning. An open source system you could try out is OpenERP.

A couple of books that may be of use,

These books have been recommended by the project manager of our ERP implentation. I haven't read them myself.

If you want to understand the business processes you are probably best finding introductory books on those particular areas rather than an ERP book. This will give you a better understanding of what ERP is trying to accomplish. You will also be better suited to evaluate how well each ERP system fulfils each business function.

A few topics worth studying are,

  • Value stream mapping. For analysing business processes / supply chain
  • Manufacturing Scheduling. Forwards / Backwards. Infinite / Finite.
  • Methods for tracking progress of manufacturing items eg, barcode scanning, shop floor terminals
  • Project management. From the perspective of company using the ERP system rather than management of software projects. Something like PRINCE2.

I'm not sure if you are aiming to develop an ERP system from scratch or implementing/customising a commercial product for a particular company. I can only speak from the perspective of customising an existing system. The IT knowledge required will be based heavily on the ERP system you use. For example, our system uses VBScript for custom code and Crystal Reports for reporting.

If you are developing something from scratch I would start be studying enterprise development best practices such as N-tier architecture. You will probably require a reporting tool of some sort. Crystal Reports or SSRS are the two main packages I have come across.

I hope this is enough to get you started. Good Luck.

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