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The modern world of market economy requires from companies a broad application of various approaches to ensure their effective performance and the sustainability of a competitive advantage. The categories of tools selected for the research at hand are Enterprise Information Management (EIM) and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP). These instruments of business operations regulation include different products that have their specific options, goals, and functionality. Thus, a broad overview of EIM and ERP objectives and utilization benefits need to be conducted, with three software products from different vendors in this category (Microsoft Dynamics, Odoo, and Oracle) being analyzed and compared, for the relevant conclusions regarding their effectiveness to be made on the basis of the reviewed data.
Enterprise Information Management (EIM) is an integrated discipline and sphere of knowledge that focuses on structuring, analyzing, and managing information in the organization with the help of different software means. The main objectives of using EIM tools include improving the efficiency of the organization, ascertaining the transparency of its functioning, and providing a proper business insight for the whole organization (“Enterprise Information Management (EIM),” n.d.). The main function of EIM is to manage the information of the organization, as it is often considered a valuable asset that should be protected and dealt with carefully to benefit the whole organization. Thus, EIM is used by more and more organizations in the contemporary business world. In essence, it includes a whole set of business disciplines, processes, and practices that are implemented to process all data that is owned and utilized by the enterprise. The use of EIM systems is not always easy for the organization because it requires creating particular organizational policies and the supporting environment to assist in using EIM systems. Nevertheless, if EIM system is implemented efficiently within the organization, it receives different benefits related to the use of information (Jennings, 2007).
EIM systems include a set of components that are implemented within a company. Data governance component is the use of authority by the managers of the organization to supervise and control the whole information management system. The function of data governance is to control all other information management functions. Data stewardship component is used to ensure a high quality of information management in the institution, as well as its format, accuracy, and value criteria. Data stewardship is also employed to determine if the information is properly defined and understood. Information architecture component is applied to identify and master blueprints to integrate data assets of the organization. Master blueprints integrate such data assets as data models or enterprise data flows. Master blueprints define how the information of the enterprise is structured, collected shared among users, and stored for the perspectives of IT and business community. Metadata management is a component of EIM that includes the data context which is used to explain data content within a system. Due to metadata management, other EIM components are combined to measure the quality of information. Thus, metadata connects all other components of EIM. Finally, information security management is a component of EIM that is used to ensure data privacy via particular policies, rules, and procedures in the company (Jennings, 2007).
In order to implement successfully the tools of EIM within the organization, several steps should be followed. In the very beginning, the organization should develop an EIM framework that fits its individual needs, or if possible, customize an existing framework to the particular needs. In order to remake the EIM system, managers should consider such features as the requirements of the organization, level of business support, level of realization, and the level of data management development. Then, it is necessary to investigate the current state of the organization and its culture. It will help to evaluate strong and weak points and to decide how to manage its data. After that, the managers should develop a maturity assessment and roadmap for the organization. With it, it is possible to understand the direction in which EIM will work and the duration of the program. There are several possible stages of EIM maturity in the enterprise, such as not existing, developing, planned, measured, and enhancing. The next step is focusing on key EIM stakeholders. Those people should be involved in strategic discussions concerning EIM system in order to develop a program and to set goals that will bring maximum benefits to all parties involved, as well as contribute to reaching general business goals. After that, the organization should develop awareness of the new EIM system on all levels – from top managers to the bottom line. It is necessary to communicate information regarding new EIM to all employees and to set new objectives that align with the new system. Then, it is necessary to plan all resources that are needed for the system and prepare proper resource management, education, and training to support the EIM system. Finally, to evaluate how efficient the new system is, it is crucial to develop specific standards and measures to evaluate its performance and business value for the organization and/or its components (Faris & Kempe, 2013). If all steps are done properly, the company will implement the efficient EIM system that will have significant benefits for its whole performance.
Together with tools of EIM systems, organizations usually use Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) in a form of different software tools and systems. ERP can be defined as an integrated information system that is grounded on a centralized database of the particular organization that is used to manage resources of this organization and to coordinate their flow between all business units, functions, and processes (Ray, 2011, p.4). ERP systems are utilized by most large companies and many smaller ones. Industry leaders are willingly using such systems because they have significant quantities of resources that cannot be managed manually. The main objective of using ERP systems in organizations is in simplifying resource management and making it electronic, in addition to being more convenient compared to manual resource management. Moreover, employing ERP provides a more integrated and convenient view on the departments and production processes within the organization. For modern business environments that are becoming more and more complicated and competitive, using ERP tools is vital, especially in large companies that are already or are planning to become competitive and occupy leading positions in their markets. Due to wide flexibility of modern ERP systems, they can be adapted to different facilities and needs (Vaman, 2007, p. 3-5).
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ERP systems have several main functions, and these are their benefits. The first function of ERP systems is to improve flexibility of organizations and their processes. Due to ERP systems, any responsible manager or another empowered employee can access the required data on resources and plan how to use them. Thus, any need in information or resources can be immediately satisfied. Thus, organizations become more flexible and can faster adapt to the current changes in the market or economy. The second function of ERP systems is improving the overall quality. Due to the proper management of resources, organizations can allocate and use resources and their combinations that provide higher quality of products and processes more efficiently. Owing to ERP, some issues in business processes can be identified and eliminated, which improves quality as well. The third function of ERP is to save the resources and to allocate them in the most optimal way. With ERP, organizations can identify areas in which resources are not allocated efficiently or wasted. If such areas are improved, an organization can become more efficient in its operations (Sudalaimuthu & Raj, 2009, p. 368). Thus, all functions of ERP systems are in fact their benefits for the organization.
In order to conduct EIM and ERP tasks within the organizations, different software tools have to be developed. Organizations can select different tools based on their individual needs, as well as benefits of a particular tool. Three popular software instruments from different vendors will be studied and compared between each other. These tools are Microsoft Dynamics, Odoo and Oracle. Microsoft Dynamics will be used as a basic software tool, and its main features and functions will be compared with those of Odoo and Oracle.
Odoo and Microsoft Dynamics are among the most popular ERP software tools in the business world, with Microsoft Dynamics having more than 1 million and Odoo more than 2 million users. Unlike Microsoft Dynamics, Odoo is able to operate online and this software is open. As for different features that can be useful for customers, unlike Microsoft Dynamics, Odoo has options for electronic signature and online payments. Moreover, Odoo has upselling, cross selling, and subscription management functions that are not provided by Microsoft Dynamics. Odoo is also a better tool for sales because it offers functions to track the point of sales and e-commerce (“Odoo vs MS Dynamics NAV,” 2017). Odoo is more expensive than Microsoft Dynamics; however, it also provides free options for using. In addition, Odoo is more convenient for integration with other systems. In particular, it can be integrated with Ebay, DHL, Ups, and Ogone.
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Conversely, Microsoft Dynamics supports more languages in comparison with Odoo: in addition to English, it is available in Spanish, Dutch, Portuguese, and some other languages that are not sustained by Odoo. Unlike Microsoft Dynamics, Odoo is convenient not only for all types of businesses, but also for freelancers. In terms of operating systems, Microsoft Dynamics is compatible with more OS, such as Linux or Windows Mobile that are not supported by Odoo. In comparison with Odoo, Microsoft Dynamics has more features and functions, such as working with projects and service calls (“Compare Microsoft Dynamics AX vs. Odoo,” 2017).
In comparison with Oracle, Microsoft Dynamics has higher pricing, as Oracle is priced by quote of use. In terms of different features that are offered in each system, Microsoft Dynamics provides a wider variety of options in comparison with Oracle. In particular, Microsoft Dynamics avails options to view key performance indicators and data cubes. Unlike Oracle, Microsoft Dynamics can be integrated with other products offered by Microsoft, such as other Dynamics tools and Microsoft Project. For Oracle, integrations are also available but their choice is more limited. Moreover, Microsoft Dynamics offers service subscription options, repair management and automation for sales force and marketing. Both software tools are available for different operating systems. However, Microsoft Dynamics is available for more OS options, such as Windows Mobile, for which Oracle is not provided. Either software tool can also be easily adapted and used for different types and sizes of businesses. Microsoft Dynamics is more flexible in terms of languages, and it is available in a larger amount of them in comparison with Oracle too. Besides, Microsoft Dynamics offers a wide variety of plans that are not available for Oracle (“Microsoft Dynamics AX vs. Oracle iStore,” 2017).
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In conclusion, Enterprise Information Management & Enterprise Resource Planning tools are widely used by many contemporary organizations. Due to such tools, firms can automate management of their information and resources. Thus, management becomes faster and more accurate, and organizations can keep their information private, as well as cut costs and allocate resources in an optimal way. There are different EIM and ERP software systems, such as Microsoft Dynamics, Odoo and Oracle. All of them provide various options and have their benefits and drawbacks.