Mini Web Guide: ERP

You may know that ERP isn't just the rude noise you make after downing your fourth taco. You may know that the acronym stands for enterprise resource planning, and that it is pronounced as three individual letters, E-R-P, not as a single word. If you've cruised through the ERP Learning Center section on our website (www.darwinmag.com/learn/erp), you may even know that an ERP software package integrates a company's varied business functions and departments, collecting all of their data in a single database. But you may not be aware that there are websites to help technophobic business executives gain a deeper understanding of this rather gnarly topic. www.erpassist.com At this Yahoo Inc.-style portal, extensive links to ERP books, white papers, articles and other resources are organized by vendor and by broad topic themes (users can rate the usefulness of each link, but unfortunately, it appears that few have taken the time to do so). In addition to offering the latest ERP industry news headlines, the site runs a dozen e-mail discussion lists (some quite techie, others geared more toward business execs) and several newsletters. The site's developer, Information Technology Toolbox, also runs websites on ERP software vendors SAP AG (sap.ittoolbox.com), Oracle Corp. (oracle.ittoolbox.com), Peoplesoft Inc. (peoplesoft.ittoolbox.com) and Baan Co. NV (baan.ittoolbox.com), as well as a portal on the related topic of supply chain management (supplychain.ittoolbox.com). For anyone considering an ERP rollout or wondering how to get the most out of an ERP system already in place, at least one of these sites is worth a bookmark. www.erpsupersite.com Don't be put off by the fact that this site is run by TechRepublic, which bills itself as "The IT Community Hub." Even nontechies will find value here. The site offers links to ERP industry news in general and on the five leading vendors. Its ERP QuickFinder feature lists ERP vendors alphabetically, with direct links to key areas of their sites (products, news, investor relations and so on). Readers new to ERP will appreciate the Analyst Q&A section, which is updated weekly (previous questions include "Does ERP stifle business process creativity?" and "What are the obstacles banks and other financial institutions face when implementing CRM systems?"). There's also an ERP stock index. www.erphub.com Even though this site is a subsection of EarthWeb Inc., another IT industry portal, non-IT executives will still find useful feature articles and case studies on topics like ERP implementation strategies, infrastructure and system performance. www.erpfans.com Yes, ERP does have its own fan-club site on the Web, with links to news, vendor information and the like. The chat rooms were nearly deserted when we visited, but the site's forums seem to get good traction. www.intelligenterp.com Intelligent Enterprise magazine's site has an ERP section with links to features from the magazine, news from CMPNet, upcoming conferences and other Web resources. The day we checked, the discussion forums refused to load.

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