Dennis D. McDonald ( consults from Alexandria Virginia. His services include writing & research, proposal development, and project management.

An ERP and Manufacturing Software Timeline

By Dennis D. McDonald, Ph.D.

The folks at Software Advice recently sent me a link to their ERP and manufacturing timeline that I thought was interesting and worth passing along. 

According to Software Advice’s Houston Neal, the timeline currently includes 17 events “… that have shaped the enterprise software industry over the last 50 years.”

Key events on the timeline include client server computing (late 1980’s) and cloud computing (2009). Looking though the timeline events, I wonder what the relationship is between the growth of the ERP industry and the growing maturity of database management practices and architecture during the same period.

Re-usability of data to support multiple applications and processes has always been a major feature of enterprise systems. There was a time when it was not unusual, for example, for different factories within the same company to have incompatible data management designs and practices that had to be laboriously standardized before it was possible to take advantage of integrated management systems. (I have managed such data conversion efforts for companies such as energy utilties and auto and appliance manufacturers — and have the scars to prove it.)

The costs of such data conversion and standardization projects were a tough pill to swallow back thenbut eventually the popularity of ERP and related systems won out.

I wonder if, ten or twenty years from now, the spread of social media and collaboration technologies that we are seeing now in some enterprises will be viewed as being as much of a game-changer as ERP systems have been? What do you think?

Copyright (c) 2009 by Dennis D. McDonald. For a discussion of how views about software project costs have changed over the years, see The Justification of Enterprise Web 2.0 Project Expenditures.

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