ARTICLE TABLE OF CONTENTS
This is about the meaning of ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) experience.
- What ERP experience is
- How to get ERP experience
- How to put ERP experience on a resume
- Lots more
So if you want to learn all about ERP experience in one place, then this article is for you.
Let’s get right into it!
What Is the Meaning of ERP Experience?
So, you found your dream job, and you can’t wait to apply. But then, under Desired Qualifications, you see something funky: ERP experience preferred.
You ask yourself, ERP experience meaning what, exactly? Then you wonder if, by some miracle, you already have it?
Anything’s possible, right?
If that sounds familiar, you’ve come to the right place. Your dream job may not be off the table, even if it says ERP experience is required—and even you’re asking, “What does ERP experience mean?”
See, lots of professionals actually have experience using ERP software for their given profession, and they don’t even know it! They may have used it under a brand name or a company nickname and just need help understanding the technical jargon.
In other cases, a job might rely on a deep technological understanding of how ERP software works. And, not knowing what an ERP system is would be a complete deal-breaker when it comes to employment.
If you’re struggling with what ERP experience means in a job advertisement, you won’t want to apply for such a position. Of course, first, you have to identify whether or not that’s the case.
What is ERP?
First things first, what does ERP experience stand for?
ERP stands for Enterprise Resource Planning.
You might be thinking that sounds like a lot of business mumbo-jumbo.
Those three words hardly go together! But when you think about what an ERP system is, it starts to make sense.
ERP software systems handle all the different facets of a given business, from accounting to sales. Put another way, ERP systems help any given enterprise manage or plan for their available resources.
For example, a company might have accounting software that helps track inventory and record transactions. They might also have Human Resources software that tracks employee hours, benefits, and wages. On top of that, they probably have sales and marketing software that tracks client history, potential sales, lost sales, and so on.
ERP software takes all those separate systems and combines them so that everyone in the organization is working off the same information. As you can imagine, this makes for a much more efficient operation.
Easy Ways to Spot an ERP System
You might be thinking that’s a great definition but still find yourself unsure of what an ERP system is. Sometimes it can be easier to understand if you know what they typically contain.
If it has feathers, webbed feet, and says quack, you know it’s a duck. In the same way, if a company has a system that does the following, you know it’s an ERP system.
- ERP systems are integrated, meaning the different departments within an organization are all talking to each other and sharing information via one system.
- They act in real-time or near real-time.
- They have a consistent style across all modules. So, even though each module has a different function, you can easily tell it’s all part of the same program. Your point-of-sale interface will likely have the same font, button-shapes, and colors as your accounting or human resource modules.
- They always have an analytics function that synthesizes information from all departments to generate accurate reports.
- They always have a workflow view that helps track projects from beginning to end.
A Brief History
At this point, you might be wondering where ERP systems came from. It’s worth noting that Enterprise Resource Planning came about in the 1990s under the moniker MRP (Material Resource Planning).
At first, the concept was only used in manufacturing. Businesses needed a way to efficiently track raw materials and manage the manufacturing floor, which early MRP software provided.
By the mid-1990s, businesses outside the manufacturing sector began to utilize the MRP technology to track more than just inventory and manufacturing processes. Things like customer relationship management and human resource systems were included in the newer software.
Today, ERP systems are commonplace in many business sectors, and many jobs require or highly recommend ERP experience.
Whether you’re in sales, accounting, or an executive position, seeing “ERP Experience” in the job description isn’t uncommon.
Popular ERP Providers
Since the late 1990s, ERP systems have grown in popularity, and nowadays, it’s not uncommon for even small businesses to utilize one.
That’s opened up the market for many ERP providers who differ in scale and scope of what they offer. In general, ERP professionals group ERP providers into three tiers.
Tier one ERP software providers specialize in serving national or multinational, large-scale corporations. And, you probably will recognize most of their names.
It’s not uncommon to see “Oracle ERP Experience Required” or “SAP ERP Experience Required” on a job listing.
By the way, and just to be clear, they’re not interchangeable, so understanding Oracle doesn’t mean you have SAP or Microsoft ERP experience.
These ERP providers are known as niche providers. They may serve large, even multinational companies, but within a niche market.
For example, in the world of hotels and restaurants, Reserve is a common ERP provider that caters to the hospitality sector’s unique needs, like vacancy levels and optimal menu mix percentages.
In manufacturing, Incore and Epicore are common niche ERP providers that zoom-in on manufacturing issues.
Tier Three and Best of Breed
Tier three ERP providers are made for small businesses and may not even be complete ERPs. They may have accounting and human resource capabilities but lack customer relationship management or vice versa. There are hundreds of smaller ERP providers that function in this area.
Best of Breed ERP systems are becoming more and more common as well, typically in smaller companies. This approach picks the best system for each given area of the company.
So, the marketing team uses its ideal customer relationship management system; accounting uses their favorite tracking system, and so forth. Then, a customized ERP connects the individual systems.
It’s a sort of Frankenstein approach, but it has its advantages, especially in small, niche markets where a larger ERP system might miss department-specific variables.
What Jobs Use ERP Software?
Because ERP software systems are umbrella systems for a company or organization, a wide range of job advertisements list ERP experience as necessary or beneficial.
So what is ERP experience?
Well, what ERP experience means varies based on the job you’re seeking.
Some jobs that require ERP system experience are looking for an applicant who’s familiar with using an ERP system as it applies to their core-profession.
For example, a marketing executive may benefit from a basic understanding of ERP software but really only needs deeper knowledge as it pertains to the CRM (customer relationship management) portion of the ERP system.
Other jobs, like project manager or system integrator positions, may require more intimate knowledge of how the ERP software works on a technical level.
An ERP system project manager is typically in charge of setting up and running ERP software for a company.
Sometimes this person is internal and may have other responsibilities. Other times, this person is an independent contractor who comes in to get an ERP system up and running.
The bottom line?
An ERP project manager needs to be tech-savvy when it comes to ERP systems and needs to understand the business they’re applying the systems to.
Employers will often seek out project managers with prior ERP implementation experience for this role.
That’s because implementing new ERP software can be a considerable challenge. Employees don’t like changes to systems and protocols, all of which the project manager must help oversee.
The systems integrator is in charge of the hands-on customization of ERP software. This person needs to fully understand the technical aspects of things.
They’ll likely have to code customizations creating a unique ERP system tailored to their employer’s needs. This person also has to be able to troubleshoot and fix ERP systems as necessary.
With some ERP software providers, a systems integrator will need technical knowledge above and beyond basic coding languages like Java.
Software providers like SAP and Oracle use high-level proprietary language, like ABAP or EnterpriseOne, respectively. So, this position requires a strong background in tech and computer science.
3rd Party Consultants
Within the world of ERP software and systems, a huge pool of third party consultants thrives.
Some of these consultants are functional, meaning they focus on the business’s unique characteristics and look for ways to tailor an ERP system to that business. They might specialize in retail marketing or manufacturing, as examples.
Other consultants are on the technical side. They consult on the software itself, helping to make changes in the actual system code. They might tailor user interfaces or report functionality to serve the business better.
Human resource executives often need a basic understanding of ERP systems. They’ll likely have to use one to record employee hours, benefits, wages, and so forth.
A human resources executive may also play a role in launching new ERP systems. That’s because implementing a new ERP typically means changing or updating internal processes. That, in turn, means job descriptions change, new positions might arise, and other positions may be phased out.
You might wonder what is ERP experience in accounting? Well, ERP systems always include an accounting module, so it’s common for ERP experience to be required.
Depending on the business, a company may seek out an accountant familiar with a specific ERP provider. Seeing a job posting for an accountant that says something like “SAP experience required” isn’t unheard of.
That’s because an accountant’s job revolves around tracking and record-keeping, which are core components of ERP software. For an ERP system to have value in planning and reviewing company goals, proper inputs are vital and those come in large part from the accounting team.
Most executive positions will need ERP user experience. CEO’s, CFO’s, and CIO’s all need a functional understanding of what an ERP system does and why it’s important so that they can lead the organization in using it.
Even mid-level managers and frontline employees will likely have to input items in the ERP system. So, having a leader who understands the system and promotes its acceptance is vital.
Sales and marketing execs typically need ERP software experience as well, but only in specific ways. Job listings in this area typically say “CRM experience preferred” rather than requiring full ERP experience.
Stand Out With ERP Experience
If you’ve worked with an ERP system in any capacity, it’s important to talk about it to potential employers.
Many upper-level executives know the value of a functioning ERP system and seek out employees who can encourage furthered or continued functionality.
Because here’s the thing: most ERP systems fail.
They’re expensive to implement, employees push back against changes to familiar processes, and the software ends up underutilized.
So, showing you know how to work with ERP software, even if it’s only within the specific capacity of your profession, will help you stand out from the crowd.
ERP Certification and Training Programs
At this point, you might be wondering how to get ERP experience. It’s no surprise that several ERP certification and training programs are readily available online.
The biggest and most popular programs are created by and specific to one of the tier one ERP providers like SAP, Microsoft, or Oracle.
If you already have an ERP certification, it’s a great idea to list it on your resume, and you might want to read through the “pros” below. That way, you can sell a potential employer on why your certification makes you a better hire, even if the employer uses a different ERP provider.
But, if you don’t have a certification under your belt, you shouldn’t necessarily run out and get one. Read the “cons” below, and then decide your best route forward.
ERP Certification Pros
- A certification course will expose you to all the features and functions of a specific ERP software, even those you wouldn’t typically use. From an employer’s perspective, this can make you more valuable as you may more easily transition to other roles within the company.
- An ERP certification implies that you’ve attained a high level of knowledge about the software. Potential employers love this because it shows you’re committed to continued education in your field.
- Understanding ERP software allows you to see the company’s bigger picture. You have a better understanding of how different departments interact and feed into each other. This makes you a better employee overall.
ERP Certification Cons
- ERP certifications expire quickly, usually within a year or two. So, the information you learn may not be relevant for very long.
- ERP certifications are specific to the provider. If you’re certified in Oracle’s ERP software, it won’t help you with SAP or Microsoft. That’s why going for certification when you’re looking for a job doesn’t always make sense. You would hate to pay for an SAP certification only to find your dream employer needs you to learn Microsoft.
ERP Experience and Your Resume
Whether you decide to get certified in a specific ERP software or not, it’s important to list any ERP experience on your resume when looking for a job.
How to mention ERP experience in a resume, though, depends on what kind of job you’re seeking.
Positions Revolving Around ERP Software
If you’re seeking a job that revolves around ERP system management or implementation, such as an ERP project manager position, you’ll need to know all the ends and outs of ERP software.
Mentioning which platforms you’re fluent in (like Oracle or Microsoft) is crucial and should probably be near the top of the page. You’ll also want to list your relevant college degree near the top, typically in something like IT management or another tech-related field.
You’ll want to note that you’re literate in coding, assuming you are, of course. And, be sure to point out that you work well in a team.
Getting an ERP system to function smoothly requires cooperation from all areas of a business, so these positions always require team players.
ERP Experience in Other Positions
If you’re looking for a job in your chosen field, be it Sales or Human Resources, that requires or recommends ERP experience, you might structure your resume differently.
The main focus of your resume should be your core competency as a professional.
What to Say About ERP?
If you’re an accountant, your resume should focus on your accounting experience first and foremost. If you’re in marketing, it should focus on your marketing skills, and so on.
However, under skills and qualifications or another appropriate heading somewhere lower on the page, you should absolutely mention that you have ERP project experience.
Preferably, you’ll say what software, specifically, you’ve used in past positions, be it Netsuite, Microsoft, SAP, or some other provider.
Even if you aren’t sure of the provider, listing that you have ERP work experience lets an employer know you understand how to use a basic integrative system.
It says you won’t be the office odd-duck that insists on keeping their own records in a coffee-stained notepad; that you won’t rebel against what can seem like tedious record-keeping because you understand the ERP system’s larger purpose.
That, in itself, makes you a team player and an asset to the company.