Wed, Jun
4 New Articles

Is ERP in Your Future?

Enterprise Resource Planning / Financial
  • Smaller Small Medium Big Bigger
  • Default Helvetica Segoe Georgia Times

Because I have about 25 years or more until I retire—if I’m ever able to—I give a lot of thought to what I need to do to remain gainfully employable. I love my job with Midrange Computing and have no immediate plans to work anywhere else, but things change and a guy needs to be prepared.

If I were to have to return to full-time work in the information processing industry today, I’d want a job as an IS manager in a manufacturing environment. I’ve worked in other fields—like healthcare and education—but I like manufacturing most. But even more important, I’d want to work in an environment that is implementing or has implemented an enterprise resource planning (ERP) package.

I’m trying to keep up with ERP (as much as a guy can who’s not actively working with ERP software) because I keep hearing about all kinds of wonderful benefits organizations of all types are deriving from it.

For instance, I recently met a consultant who travels around installing SAP’s R3 package. I asked him why SAP has had great success selling R3. His answer: “Because it works.” Unlike the homegrown software I’ve written through the years and the packaged software I’ve had the dubious honor of supporting, SAP R3 puts the people who run the business in control of the software. They no longer have to go to the computer weenies and ask for a report, only to be told it’ll be ready in a matter of months.

That R3 is a roaring success is undeniable. Organizations of all sorts—private businesses and government entities alike—are using R3.

The biggest part of SAP’s sales have been to the big guys, the large organizations with deep pockets, but SAP is not content with dominance of that market. They want the little guys, too. SAP has implemented a program, called ASAP (Accelerated SAP), targeted specifically at smaller businesses. To quote the consultant I met, “SAP implementation partners commit to a fixed bid and implementation time. The company agrees to use SAP R3 as configured. The partner, the client, and SAP team up, and in 10 months, the system is implemented. Then, there’s a series of rollouts, and the whole enterprise is implemented. Business process are changed later. The company gets a fully functional system that they use to run their business, and eventually they change it to compete in the fiercely competitive business environment. SAP R3 is a strategic decision and results in great payoff for the companies that are up for the challenge.”

SAP is not the only ERP vendor targeting the midrange market. Oracle Corporation reported in mid-May that more than 100 midsized organizations had pulled off the

impressive achievement of implementing Oracle applications in less than six months. In fact, one shop claims to have implemented Oracle in 50 days. Oracle calls its marketing program FastForward and offers it to customers in eight flavors. In addition to hardware and software, the customer gets tailored education services, a repository of end-user training, and a year of 24/7 telephone support.

Of course, now everybody and his brother claims his software is an ERP package. Perhaps some of the MRP packages that have been around for years have been sufficiently enhanced that they could now be considered ERP, but I suspect the truth is some of them are the same old stuff with new marketing hype. As Shakespeare wrote, “A skunk by any other name still stinks” (or something like that).

Anyway, what does this mean for me and you? First, it means that what you and I knew years ago—that packages would eventually get so good it would no longer pay to write homegrown software—may finally be reality. I dearly love RPG, and I could stay busy working in RPG shops for a good portion of my remaining career, but I’d really prefer to work in an atmosphere of greater and faster technological growth.

Second, I think it means that platform-specific computing is an endangered species. The R3 server runs on many platforms—S/390, AS/400, UNIX, Windows NT. The presentation layer also offers a wide variety of choices: Web browsers, Java AWT, Macintosh, Windows, OS/2, OSF/Motif. AS/400 professionals look for a new job working on an AS/400. R3 professionals look for a new job working on R3.

Thanks to my consultant acquaintance, I hope to soon be visiting some shops that are running SAP, Oracle, and Baan applications. I’m interested in seeing if these packages really work as well as I’m told they do. I’ll be asking whether the software adapts to the business or the people adapt to the software. I want to know if people who like these packages have tangible proof or just warm and fuzzy feelings that the ERP package is making them more successful.

If you’re interested in keeping up with ERP, start with the Web sites of ERP vendors, such as www.oracle.com and www.sap.com. Let me also recommend that you read Midrange ERP magazine (www.mfg-erp.com), edited by David Turbide. That magazine is written for the smaller businesses, a category into which many AS/400 shops fall. It will also make you aware of many ERP vendors besides the few I’ve mentioned here.

I also ask a favor of you. If you have experience with an ERP package, either currently or sometime in the future, please share your observations with me. My email address is below, or you can write me in care of Midrange Computing.


Ted Holt is IT manager of Manufacturing Systems Development for Day-Brite Capri Omega, a manufacturer of lighting fixtures in Tupelo, Mississippi. He has worked in the information processing industry since 1981 and is the author or co-author of seven books. 

MC Press books written by Ted Holt available now on the MC Press Bookstore.

Complete CL: Fifth Edition Complete CL: Fifth Edition
Become a CL guru and fully leverage the abilities of your system.
List Price $79.95

Now On Sale

Complete CL: Sixth Edition Complete CL: Sixth Edition
Now fully updated! Get the master guide to Control Language programming.
List Price $79.95

Now On Sale

IBM i5/iSeries Primer IBM i5/iSeries Primer
Check out the ultimate resource and “must-have” guide for every professional working with the i5/iSeries.
List Price $99.95

Now On Sale

Qshell for iSeries Qshell for iSeries
Check out this Unix-style shell and utilities command interface for OS/400.
List Price $79.95

Now On Sale



Support MC Press Online

$0.00 Raised:

Book Reviews

Resource Center

  • SB Profound WC 5536 Have you been wondering about Node.js? Our free Node.js Webinar Series takes you from total beginner to creating a fully-functional IBM i Node.js business application. You can find Part 1 here. In Part 2 of our free Node.js Webinar Series, Brian May teaches you the different tooling options available for writing code, debugging, and using Git for version control. Brian will briefly discuss the different tools available, and demonstrate his preferred setup for Node development on IBM i or any platform. Attend this webinar to learn:

  • SB Profound WP 5539More than ever, there is a demand for IT to deliver innovation. Your IBM i has been an essential part of your business operations for years. However, your organization may struggle to maintain the current system and implement new projects. The thousands of customers we've worked with and surveyed state that expectations regarding the digital footprint and vision of the company are not aligned with the current IT environment.

  • SB HelpSystems ROBOT Generic IBM announced the E1080 servers using the latest Power10 processor in September 2021. The most powerful processor from IBM to date, Power10 is designed to handle the demands of doing business in today’s high-tech atmosphere, including running cloud applications, supporting big data, and managing AI workloads. But what does Power10 mean for your data center? In this recorded webinar, IBMers Dan Sundt and Dylan Boday join IBM Power Champion Tom Huntington for a discussion on why Power10 technology is the right strategic investment if you run IBM i, AIX, or Linux. In this action-packed hour, Tom will share trends from the IBM i and AIX user communities while Dan and Dylan dive into the tech specs for key hardware, including:

  • Magic MarkTRY the one package that solves all your document design and printing challenges on all your platforms. Produce bar code labels, electronic forms, ad hoc reports, and RFID tags – without programming! MarkMagic is the only document design and print solution that combines report writing, WYSIWYG label and forms design, and conditional printing in one integrated product. Make sure your data survives when catastrophe hits. Request your trial now!  Request Now.

  • SB HelpSystems ROBOT GenericForms of ransomware has been around for over 30 years, and with more and more organizations suffering attacks each year, it continues to endure. What has made ransomware such a durable threat and what is the best way to combat it? In order to prevent ransomware, organizations must first understand how it works.

  • SB HelpSystems ROBOT GenericIT security is a top priority for businesses around the world, but most IBM i pros don’t know where to begin—and most cybersecurity experts don’t know IBM i. In this session, Robin Tatam explores the business impact of lax IBM i security, the top vulnerabilities putting IBM i at risk, and the steps you can take to protect your organization. If you’re looking to avoid unexpected downtime or corrupted data, you don’t want to miss this session.

  • SB HelpSystems ROBOT GenericCan you trust all of your users all of the time? A typical end user receives 16 malicious emails each month, but only 17 percent of these phishing campaigns are reported to IT. Once an attack is underway, most organizations won’t discover the breach until six months later. A staggering amount of damage can occur in that time. Despite these risks, 93 percent of organizations are leaving their IBM i systems vulnerable to cybercrime. In this on-demand webinar, IBM i security experts Robin Tatam and Sandi Moore will reveal:

  • FORTRA Disaster protection is vital to every business. Yet, it often consists of patched together procedures that are prone to error. From automatic backups to data encryption to media management, Robot automates the routine (yet often complex) tasks of iSeries backup and recovery, saving you time and money and making the process safer and more reliable. Automate your backups with the Robot Backup and Recovery Solution. Key features include:

  • FORTRAManaging messages on your IBM i can be more than a full-time job if you have to do it manually. Messages need a response and resources must be monitored—often over multiple systems and across platforms. How can you be sure you won’t miss important system events? Automate your message center with the Robot Message Management Solution. Key features include:

  • FORTRAThe thought of printing, distributing, and storing iSeries reports manually may reduce you to tears. Paper and labor costs associated with report generation can spiral out of control. Mountains of paper threaten to swamp your files. Robot automates report bursting, distribution, bundling, and archiving, and offers secure, selective online report viewing. Manage your reports with the Robot Report Management Solution. Key features include:

  • FORTRAFor over 30 years, Robot has been a leader in systems management for IBM i. With batch job creation and scheduling at its core, the Robot Job Scheduling Solution reduces the opportunity for human error and helps you maintain service levels, automating even the biggest, most complex runbooks. Manage your job schedule with the Robot Job Scheduling Solution. Key features include:

  • LANSA Business users want new applications now. Market and regulatory pressures require faster application updates and delivery into production. Your IBM i developers may be approaching retirement, and you see no sure way to fill their positions with experienced developers. In addition, you may be caught between maintaining your existing applications and the uncertainty of moving to something new.

  • LANSAWhen it comes to creating your business applications, there are hundreds of coding platforms and programming languages to choose from. These options range from very complex traditional programming languages to Low-Code platforms where sometimes no traditional coding experience is needed. Download our whitepaper, The Power of Writing Code in a Low-Code Solution, and:

  • LANSASupply Chain is becoming increasingly complex and unpredictable. From raw materials for manufacturing to food supply chains, the journey from source to production to delivery to consumers is marred with inefficiencies, manual processes, shortages, recalls, counterfeits, and scandals. In this webinar, we discuss how:

  • The MC Resource Centers bring you the widest selection of white papers, trial software, and on-demand webcasts for you to choose from. >> Review the list of White Papers, Trial Software or On-Demand Webcast at the MC Press Resource Center. >> Add the items to yru Cart and complet he checkout process and submit

  • Profound Logic Have you been wondering about Node.js? Our free Node.js Webinar Series takes you from total beginner to creating a fully-functional IBM i Node.js business application.

  • SB Profound WC 5536Join us for this hour-long webcast that will explore:

  • Fortra IT managers hoping to find new IBM i talent are discovering that the pool of experienced RPG programmers and operators or administrators with intimate knowledge of the operating system and the applications that run on it is small. This begs the question: How will you manage the platform that supports such a big part of your business? This guide offers strategies and software suggestions to help you plan IT staffing and resources and smooth the transition after your AS/400 talent retires. Read on to learn: