As ERP vendors such as SAP expand products and services geared for smaller businesses, a telling question may be quietly asked by prospective buyers: what does ERP stand for? An "amazingly small" 22% of small-to-medium-size business executives in a survey released last month by IT services company Whittman-Hart actually knew that ERP stood for "enterprise resource planning".
The number is startling, considering the amount of time and money some of the large ERP vendors are investing in wooing organisations with small IT budgets and staffs. With increasing frequency, major ERP developers are peddling packages tailored for mid-size businesses - those with less than #300 million in annual revenue. SAP, for example, plans to deliver this year a software and services package for high-tech companies, plus a public-sector offering, under its Accelerated Solutions program. More vertical applications are on the way, but SAP declined to give details or release dates. One US SAP Accelerated Solutions user, Pioneer New Media Technologies, found the implementation process daunting. To get around it, the company signed on to Hewlett-Packard's consulting services to implement only the essential processes, said Ann Szilagi, vice president of operations. The system went live in six months . "I felt very relieved", Szilagi said. "I was worried we'd get through the implementation and wouldn't be able to manage it, but it's been very easy to use."
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