What is ERP (enterprise resource planning)? And what is an ERP system?

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ERP stands for enterprise resource planning and helps companies simplify their business processes. We will explain exactly what ERP means, what an ERP system can do, and how you can benefit from ERP software in your company.

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What does ERP mean?

ERP (short for enterprise resource planning) is, in simplified terms, the strategic planning and control of resources in a company. The most important resources a company has include capital, means of production and employees.

What exactly is an ERP system?

An ERP system is primarily a piece of software that is intended to map all areas and processes of a company. The system serves as a central database, in which all information that is relevant for the company is stored and maintained across departments, and, possibly, even across sites. An ERP system is, thereby, intended to provide a good overview of the entire company.

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ERP systems are usually modular in design, so that as many divisions as possible in the company can be covered – for example, from commodities management to human resources to accounting.

The biggest advantages of an ERP system:

  • It allows a comprehensive overview of the company.
  • Data only needs to be entered once and is available to all users – across sites and departments.
  • It simplifies, or even automates, repetitive workflows.
  • Reliable data management.

Objectives of an ERP system

Since, with ERP software, all areas of activity, data and processes can be mapped under one roof, you get a really good overview of the company.

The most important objectives at a glance:

  • Business processes can be optimised and simplified.
  • More efficient use of resources and, thus, cost savings.
  • Greater transparency and flexibility within the company to react to changes (e.g., in the market).
  • Improved competitiveness through optimisation and cost reduction.

What can an ERP system do?

There are many ERP systems available, and they differ in their scope of functions. Which ERP system is ultimately the right one for your company depends on your individual requirements. Typical ERP features include the following, in particular:

Typical features of an ERP system:

Many ERP systems are also designed in such a way that modules can be added as required.

While you can, of course, also use individual pieces of software for all these functions, you would thereby lose the very advantages that an ERP system offers: an overview of the entire company and a database in which all information can be centrally maintained and managed.

ERP functions using bexio as an example

bexio is a comprehensive web-based business software program that offers the most important ERP functions for SMEs in one system:

Quotes, invoices, and orders

In bexio, you can create quotes, invoices, and orders. Of course, the order processing is linked to all of bexio's other features. This means that, for example, contact data can be inserted into the document with one click, as can products and services that are stored in product management. More about our invoicing software.

Warehouse management

In bexio, orders and invoices are linked to warehouse management, which allows inventory to be moved automatically once an order has been received. This means that your stock is always up to date, and you will always maintain an overview of things. With our partner integrations, your e-commerce platform can also be easily integrated with bexio.

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Warehouse management in bexio.

Time tracking and projects

Especially handy for service providers! If you create an order, you can directly create a project from it and assign it to an employee. The employee can record the hours spent on the project in bexio, or using the bexioGo mobile app. Once the project has been completed, the invoice can then be created directly from the recorded times and sent to the customer. More about time tracking and project management.


Accounting in bexio is linked to all relevant areas of the software, which makes it possible to simplify or automate numerous work steps. For example, invoices created in bexio (accounts receivable) are simply posted automatically. More about accounting software.

Pay slips can be generated for all employees in one click. Thanks to the e-banking interface, the payment of wages can also be initiated directly. More about payroll accounting.


CRM (short for customer relationship management) in bexio is linked to all features and areas of the software, making it possible to simplify or even automate many work processes. In the detailed view for a contact, as well as the address data, you can see everything important at a glance: relevant documents, like quotes, orders or invoices, projects and recorded times, notes and more. More about CRM software.

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bexio CRM

Expandable through integrations

bexio works with over 60 partners, who can be integrated into the system. If, for example, your company is growing and you should need more features in the future, bexio can be flexibly expanded like this. So, if, for example, you want to automatically synchronise contacts between your newsletter software and Swiss Newsletter, you can easily do this thanks to our integration. View all Integrations.

Who will benefit from an ERP system?

This depends on the individual requirements of the company. In principle, ERP systems are not only intended for large companies, but can also be useful for smaller companies.

While large corporations in Switzerland have long relied on ERP systems, so far, only one in five SMEs have used an ERP system, even though ERP software now also exists that is specifically tailored to the needs of SMEs.

Companies that sell products, in particular, can benefit from an ERP system at a much earlier stage than service providers. This is because efficient processes, like for order management and warehouse management, for example, are essential and also necessary for the company to be profitable.

At the point when processes become more complex, for example, when manually transferring data from the storage software to the accounting software becomes very time-consuming, then it definitely makes sense to use an ERP system. Importing/exporting Excel files from one piece of software to another becomes redundant, which simplifies data reconciliation and makes it more reliable. Ideally, this work step can even be (largely) automated.

Frequently asked questions about ERP

What is the difference between ERP and CRM?

Both ERP (enterprise resource planning) and CRM (customer relationship management) are aimed at simplifying business processes. However, a CRM system focuses predominantly on customer data and is primarily used by sales, customer support and marketing teams. An ERP system, on the other hand, focuses on financial metrics and on managing and optimising internal resources to reduce costs. In reality, however, the features overlap in many pieces of software – bexio, for example, offers the functionalities of both CRM software and ERP software.

Is an ERP system worthwhile for my company?

That depends on the individual requirements of your company. However, when you get to the point when you're using lots of individual software programs and notice that data reconciliation is becoming complicated or very time-consuming, then using an ERP system certainly makes sense, if not even sooner. When planned with foresight, however, even a startup can benefit from an ERP system: processes can be optimally built from the ground up, thereby allowing the foundation for efficient growth to be laid. In principle, production companies usually benefit from an ERP system at a much earlier stage than service providers.

What ERP features do I need in my company?

Every company has individual needs. It's best to first perform an analysis of the current situation in your company: What requirements do you currently have that the system would have to cover? It is particularly annoying if the new system cannot meet existing requirements. If you are in the production industry, for example, you will be sure to need ERP software that at least offers merchandise management, order management and accounting. You can then decide whether there are other features that you would like to use in the future. Check whether the ERP system of your choice offers this feature, or whether it can be extended by means of an integration.

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