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You’ve heard of ERPs and have a general understanding of what they do but aren’t sure how they actually work or if they can contribute to your current business process.

Don’t worry—here we’ll give you an explanation of ERPs, talk about who uses them, and break down how they work. We’ll also demonstrate how companies can benefit from an ERP using real-life examples.

First, let’s quickly run through the basics of an ERP software system.

What Is An ERP?

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software systems are used by companies to oversee, customize and automate time-consuming daily activities of the business operation.

This includes business functions such as:

  • Financial management
  • Human resources
  • Project management
  • Warehouse management
  • Supply chain management
  • Risk management
  • Inventory management

ERPs utilize a central database to store information regarding the above processes, offering valuable business intelligence capabilities to help you streamline business processes and reduce costs.

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Who Uses ERP Systems?

Any business or organization that wants to benefit from the integration of business processes can benefit from an ERP solution—this includes mid-market and small businesses. 

Industries in which ERPs are commonly utilized are healthcare, pharmaceutical, manufacturing, e-commerce, and non-profits/governments.

According to, as a business grows in complexity with new products and service offerings, financial functions can quickly become overwhelmed.

Because of this, small and mid-size businesses experiencing these growth complexities should consider an ERP system.

How Does ERP Software Work? 

Instead of separate standalone systems, ERPs use one common database, either local or cloud-based, to store business information and a suite of modules to manage each individual process.

An ERP implementation merges various applications, such as accounting software and inventory management, into one system that creates an easier flow of information and can improve data security.

This also reduces time and errors and offers powerful business tracking and forecasting capabilities using real-time data from the different departments.

ERP platforms like Netsuite ERP, SYSPRO, and Epicor allow users to automate workflows and reduce time-consuming daily tasks like data entry or running reports from multiple systems.

ERP systems also work with Material Resource Planning (MRP) products. defines MRP as a standard production planning system to help businesses understand inventory requirements while balancing SCM (Supply Chain Management).

ERP solutions can also be combined with Customer Relationship Management software (CRM). CRMs manage interactions with customers and potential customers and contain basic information like names and contact details.

While traditionally ERPS have been on-premise, modern cloud-based ERPs and SaaS (Software as a Service) systems like Acumatica remove the need to manage complex hardware.

3 Real-life ERP System examples From

Now let’s take a look at three well-known companies and discuss the ERP vendors they use. We’ll review the name and history of the system and show you examples of what the software actually looks like, to help you choose what’s the best fit for your business. 

1. Amazon

Amazon uses an ERP software called Systems Analysis and Program Development (SAP).

SAP was created in Germany in 1972 by five former IBM employees who envisioned a software integration of all business and data processing in real-time. 

By 1975, the small company had built applications for:

  • Financial accounting
  • Invoice verification
  • Inventory management

SAP has continued to grow and transform from a small startup company to a global leader in business software, so it’s no surprise Amazon chose this system to help streamline its business processes.

Now SAP business customers can manage their… 

  • Finances
  • Logistical business needs
  • Human resources
  • Order management
  • Sales

...and more through just one database.

SAP S/4Hana Cloud is the most modern version of SAP ERP with built-in AI, machine learning, and advanced analytics.

Here we have an example of a SAP customization: 

SAP S4 Hana Cloud Interface Screenshot
Customized SAP S/4 Hana Cloud interface.

On the left, a menu allows users to choose which area of business they’d like to view – from marketing to third-party order fulfillment, all aspects of the business are provided

Here’s an example of a SAP ERP with a focus on shipment:

SAP ShipERP Screenshot

This customized solution provides shipment details, a tracking tool, and the ability to view reports.

SAP ERP Interface Screenshot
SAP ERP interface.

The interface above allows the user to choose options on the left panel – these include production metrics, MRP, service, Human Resources, customized reports, and the ability to use an Interactive Analysis.

2. Starbucks 

Starbucks uses Oracle ERP – a cloud-based software solution used to automate back-office processes and day-to-day business activities. It’s a business management software suite that includes financial management, supply chain management, project management, accounting, and procurement.

Oracle E-Business Suite provides users applications for customer relationship management (CRM), enterprise resource planning (ERP) and supply chain management (SCM) processes.

Oracle ERP Dashboard Screenshot
Oracle ERP dashboard.

The Oracle ERP above shows revenue analyses and includes information you need to know at-a-glance including: 

  • Revenue
  • Expenses
  • Sales data
  • Inventory management
  • Operations updates

Check out this next Oracle example – it demonstrates the way you’re able to have all business needs listed in a Navigator section, allowing users to view all areas of a business on one screen:

Oracle ERP Screenshot
Oracle ERP allows the user to view all areas of a business on one screen and includes identifying information.

3. Toyota 

Toyota Industries Corporation is Toyota’s head company. It wanted to expand its reach globally to offer high-quality services like improved operational management accuracy, a paperless system, reduction of work hours, and increase in overall efficiency.

So, Toyota chose Microsoft Dynamics 365 for the job. Dynamics helps manage the after-sales service skills and operations for distributors offering services to their products to customers all over the world.

Here’s an example of a Dynamics Summary page. This section allows the company to view budget information, opportunities for sales, and timelines.

Dynamics ERP User Dashboard Screenshot
Dynamics ERP provides a user dashboard to view multiple areas of business at once.

Here’s an example of a Microsoft Dynamics Sales page – notice the ability to create a timeline of events and a customer relationship rating.

Dynamics ERP Sales Page Screenshot
Dynamics ERP sales page.

Check out our other articles on ERP Systems:

Choosing The Best ERP For You

With multiple options among enterprise resource planning systems, it can be tough to decide which is best for your specific needs.

Companies and technology are always growing and expanding, and new companies coming on board provide competition for the old. For example, Infor, a new ERP solution, appears to have recently surpassed all three ERP giants we discussed above – SAP, Oracle, and Microsoft.

To get the latest, check out our guide to the Best ERP Software on the market today covering functionality, usability and pricing.

For more on ERP systems and the latest in HR and business tech subscribe to the People Managing People newsletter. You’ll receive all the latest articles and podcasts with generous advice from industry leaders passionate about people and culture.

For more on ERP systems and the latest in HR and business tech subscribe to the People Managing People newsletter. You’ll receive all the latest articles and podcasts with generous advice from industry leaders passionate about people and culture. 

By Brandy Bischoff

Brandy Bischoff is the Deputy Chief of a public-safety organization in the United States. While she’s had successes as a manager, she’s always working to become better in her role and wants to learn all she can about leadership. She believes deeply in treating people with respect no matter the circumstance, exercising patience, and continued learning in all aspects of life. Brandy believes in the guidance provided within her writing and hopes it’ll help other leaders learn and become better too. Outside of her full-time career, Brandy is passionate about her loving and supportive friends and family, and she follows her passion for writing when the kids go to bed.

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