Can you talk about ERP without using acronyms? Of course not – but it’s not a trick question. As one of our most common and cherished acronyms, “ERP” itself could almost have invented the TLA (the three letter acronym for three letter acronym).

Of course, it’s not that simple – ERP acronyms aren’t always three letters; and sometimes, the same letters may have different meanings to people from different industries. How confusing is that if you’re new to ERP or manufacturing?

The thing is, the humble TLA — and other ERP acronyms — represent a common language. Used appropriately, these expressions allow us to communicate ERP functions and benefits quickly and effectively.

Test your ability to “speak ERP” — how many of the terms on the list below can you translate?

  1. API
  2. ATP
  3. BI
  4. CIM
  5. CRM
  6. CRP
  7. EAM
  8. EDI
  9. MRP
  10. ROI
  11. SaaS
  12. SCM
  13. SOP
  14. S&OP
  15. TMS
  16. UI

How many did you know immediately, without thinking? 14 or more? WOW! You must be an APICS founding member! 12 or more? Very good, you have definitely been around the block in the ERP world and know your stuff. 8 or less? You’ll need our handy Strategic ERP Acronym Translator below:

API: Application Programming Interface – A protocol intended to be used as an interface by software components to communicate with each other.

ATP: Available To Promise – The uncommitted portion of inventory or planned production available to be promised to new orders. ATP calculations can be used to verify whether an order can be filled within a specific time frame given other demands and currently scheduled supply orders. For example, during order entry, this lets you determine whether inventory will be available to meet a customer’s needs before you commit to a promise date.

BI: Business Intelligence – Software applications and technologies used to analyze an organization’s raw data and transform it into meaningful and useful information for business purposes. BI as a discipline is made up of several related activities, including data mining, online analytical processing, querying and reporting. Companies use BI to improve decision making, cut costs and identify new business opportunities.

CIM: Computer-integrated manufacturing – The manufacturing approach of using computers to control the entire production process.

CRM: Customer Relationship Management – A widely implemented strategy for cultivating and managing your interactions with customers and leads. Provides a fully functional sales and marketing automation toolset designed to improve sales and marketing productivity, including communications and scheduling tools, pipeline and forecast management and customer service.

CRP: Capacity Requirement Planning – Ensures that the resources, both equipment and personnel, are available to execute the plan. Together, an achievable high level production plan is achieved maximizing efficiency, and driving scheduling, procurement and execution.

EAM: Enterprise Asset Management – An integrated plant operation solution that enables companies to operate plants more smoothly by keeping equipment running at the lowest cost. EAM manages planned and unplanned equipment maintenance, including calibrations, manages procurement of MRO inventory and manages capital asset project costs.

EDI: Electronic Data Interchange – The direct transfer of data from one computer to another without the use of paper. EDI provides a streamlined method for managing communications between trading partners, including an end-to-end integration broker for B2B communications.

MRP: Material Requirements Planning (MRP) – Addresses the need to ensure that materials are available to produce items at the correct time to meet customer delivery needs.

ROI: Return on Investment – A performance measure used to evaluate the efficiency of an investment; calculated by dividing the benefit (return) of an investment by the cost of the investment; the result is expressed as a percentage or a ratio. Calculating the expenditure for an ERP project is fairly straightforward — determining the gain is more difficult, because so many key benefits of a successful ERP project are intangible and unquantifiable. Tangible ERP ROI benefits include reduced costs and increased throughput; intangible benefits include things like regulatory compliance (invisible if you get it right, costly if you don’t), accuracy and process improvement.

SaaS: Software as a Service – Delivering software over the Internet or “Cloud computing”; often associated with a “Pay as you go service”.

SCM: Supply Chain Management – Integrates supply and demand management within and across companies. It includes important variables such as the planning and management of all activities involved in sourcing and procurement, conversion and all logistics management activities. SCM can also include coordination and collaboration with channel partners, which can be suppliers, intermediaries, third party service providers and customers.

SOP: Sales Order Processing – In ERP, SOP does not mean standard operating procedure. The process where customer orders are received, checked for creditworthiness then for product availability; and arranging for delivery to customers is done; finally billing and maintaining records of amounts due from customers is carried out.

S&OP: Sales and Operations Planning – A decision-making process that realigns the tactical plans for all business functions in all geographies to support the company’s strategies, business goals, and targets. A process led by senior management that evaluates and revises time-phased projections for demand, supply, product and portfolio changes, strategic projects, and the resulting financial plans.

TMS: Transportation Management System – Provides a complete set of tools to optimize shipments by air, sea, parcel, truckload or less than truckload; provides international documentation and assists in compliance with denied party regulations.

UI: User interface – The parts of a computer and its software that the user can see, hear, touch, or talk to; the set of all the things that allow user and computer to communicate with each other. Like any good communication channel, a user interface is a two-way street. The best user interfaces are the ones users don’t have to pay much attention to. When an interface is easy to use, users can spend their time doing work instead of looking for the right button or key. It’s almost transparent–users can see right through the interface to their own work.