“Can I ask you a stupid question about your session? What is ERP?"

Questions aren’t stupid, especially ones about abbreviations in the acronym-laden world of technology. However, to ask for a definition of ERP after spending 90 minutes attending a session that was publicized as “ERP and Accounting Technology Trends” in the schedule for the Sage Summit user conference was a bit surprising. The questioner, given the information that ERP stands for Enterprise Resource Planning, then asked, “What is CRM?”

This is  question that shows the  assumptions that it’s easy to run afoul of. We spend our time analyzing and commenting, only to realize that the audience hasn’t gotten past the basic definition.

Sometime ago, I wrote a column about ERP in which I noted “It’s just accounting software.” Someone at Sage responded that issue arises all the time. Sage personnel use the phrase ERP and draw blank looks from users. Upon adding, “accounting software”, the other person goes “oh, yes.”

This is far more important to Sage then when I wrote the original column because, since then, Sage has renamed its product line. Sage MAS 90 ERP, Sage MAS 200 ERP, Sage MAS 500 ERP, Sage Accpac ERP and Sage Pro ERP.

This was obviously not a completely popular decision inside the company, nor an easy one. I'm not convinced it was a good one.

People in the industry understand that ERP is not as widely known as the Coca-Cola name. However, one person noted, if Sage called it accounting software, competitors would pounce on that term and say that Sage was not selling a complete line, including items such as manufacturing.

Maybe. But there have to be better terms, financial software, business management software, financial and manufacturing software suite.

Part of me thinks that almost anything is better than ERP. Unless maybe it’s BPO, ERM, ECM … you get the picture.

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