Enterprise resource planning, or ERP for short, is a comprehensive software platform used to help a business run more efficiently and effectively, by automating core processes.

An ERP system can take orders from customers, manage financial records, update inventory after each sale, and anticipate labor needs based on the level of orders received. In addition to managing processes, ERP systems also gather, store, and analyze data from internal functions, such as marketing, manufacturing, accounting, facilities, and research and development.

ERP systems integrate, or connect, many different modules that make up the system. At the center of the system is a giant shared database that all departments in the company can access and use. That database can provide information about: