In the absence of an ERP system, a large manufacturer may find itself with many software applications that do not talk to each other and do not effectively interface. Tasks that need to interface with one another may involve:
* design engineering (how to best make the product)
* order tracking from acceptance through fulfillment
* the revenue cycle from invoice through cash receipt
* managing interdependencies of complex Bill of Materials
* tracking the 3-way match between Purchase orders (what was ordered), Inventory receipts (what arrived), and Costing (what the vendor invoiced)
* the Accounting for all of these tasks, tracking the Revenue, Cost and Profit on a granular level.
Change how a product is made, in the engineering details, and that is how it will now be made. Effective dates can be used to control when the switch over will occur from an old version to the next one, both the date that some ingredients go into effect, and date that some are discontinued. Part of the change can include labeling to identify version numbers.
Some security features are included within an ERP system to protect against both outsider crime, such as industrial espionage, and insider crime, such as embezzlement. A data tampering scenario might involve a disgruntled employee intentionally modifying prices to below the breakeven point in order to attempt to take down the company, or other sabotage. ERP systems typically provide functionality for implementing internal controls to prevent actions of this kind. ERP vendors are also moving toward better integration with other kinds of information security tools.
Problems with ERP systems are mainly due to inadequate investment in ongoing training for involved personnel, including those implementing and testing changes, as well as a lack of corporate policy protecting the integrity of the data in the ERP systems and how it is used.