Architecture

ERP123 – A Design Overview

ERP123 is a comprehensive, integrated Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software system that supports and automates the business processes in manufacturing, distribution and service-based environments.

ERP123 is composed of an extensive library of over 600 application libraries. Each of these libraries can be considered an individual module within ERP123. Each module represents a discreet business process within a business. The quantity of modules within ERP123 is a reflection of the widely varied number of methods it provides. For example, there are five different sales order entry modules available, each of which provides functionality for a different business type. What this means is that there is a choice of modules that can be deployed to meet different situational needs. In this way, the modules chosen for a given implementation can be based on the specific needs of each customer.

Application Tools

Built with the industry-leading Sybase application toolkit “PowerBuilder” for use on Windows-based platforms , ERP123is rooted in a mature, reliable foundation that is widely supported internationally. PowerBuilder is recognized as the de facto standard for client/server development. It is licensed to over 400,000 seats worldwide and is relied upon for mission-critical applications throughout the business and software industries. With the most recent releases of PowerBuilder, Sybase has extended its Web-based capabilities and continues to extend its leadership in the field. Sybase databases are commonly known as the fastest databases in the market.
For more information, please see:
http://www.sybase.com/

Databases and Platforms

ERP123 comes complete with the Sybase SQL Anywhere database engine because PowerBuilder applications and Sybase databases are sisters in the Sybase family of products. Under this combination ERP123 provides the industry’s fastest performance.  The low cost and low administrative requirement of Sybase SQL Anywhere best serve most small and mid-sized ERP 123 customers. It is being utilized in applications with as many as 100 concurrent users running on current server technology.  For larger organizations you can upgrade to the industry standard Sybase Adaptive Server if necessary.  These databases are within the core competencies of the IntegrateIT technical support team.  Microsoft Windows 2003 or higher is the recommended server platform.  With some technical support ERP 123 will run in a LINUX environment as long as the server operation system for ERP123 is Windows. Ask us  about your specific network platform.

Workstation Requirements

ERP123 is an extremely powerful application that requires primary control of the desktop environment. We recommend that each workstation using ERP123 should be running Windows 2000 or greater with at least a Pentium 500Mhz processor and 128b RAM or greater. This is the minimum workstation configuration.   In other words, pretty much any decent computer will do the job.  Power users require better computers.

Server Requirements

Specifications for the ERP123 server will depend on the number of users and devices it must support. To get the best performance from ERP123 in any case, we recommend servers with the following characteristics:

  • Multiple CPU capability for expandability
  • Redundant drive support via RAID controllers (hot-swappable is preferable)
  • Redundant power supplies (fail-safe)
  • Additional RAM capacity

In addition a server should always have the following additional equipment

  • An adequate back-up system (for restoring data in emergencies)
  • UPS (uninterrupted power supply) with intelligent shutdown capability in case of power failures

Obtaining reliable equipment is absolutely crucial for any ERP server. Your data is the “gold” in your business system – make sure you protect it accordingly.

The real issue with servers is what they will be used for and the need for expandability to support business growth. You should ensure that you have an adequate assessment of your growth before you decide what type of server you should buy. And also bear in mind that the life you desire out of the server. Typically servers should be upgraded at least every five years in order to maintain a reasonably current technology level.

In environments where data volume is high it may be necessary to split the application into two servers to improve performance. These are typically labeled as follows:

  • Applications server
  • Database server

You may also choose to host other programs (such as an email program like Microsoft Exchange) on your application server. We do not recommend you run any other applications on the server where the database resides. This is because errors or problems with other programs can cause the server operating system stop responding to the needs of the database. For small installations, you can simply run the ERP123applications and the Sybase engine on the same server. Keeping ERP123 working at peak performance is a function of keeping the server environment as stable as possible.

Integration Options

The various application modules of ERP123 can meet the requirements for most operations in typical manufacturing, distribution and service environments, without resorting to third-party programs. However, for specialized needs, ERP123 can easily access other ODBC-enabled programs and data sources. ERP123 was designed with integration in mind and is highly suitable for hybrid environments where data uploading and downloading is a necessity to achieve full integration.   Using ODBC technology ERP123 can upload and download data seamlessly from any legacy system.

In this way, ERP123 can work effectively with your choice of task-centric applications including CAD, Payroll, Freight Management and Material Optimizers.

System Configurability

ERP123 contains a wide variety of configuration “flags” that are used to tailor the system to meet the specific needs of each client who uses it. These flags are specifically used to:

  • Define which processes are to be used in the installation
  • Define the detailed behavior of these processes
  • Turn on and off system features
  • Determine which reports are to be used
  • Record specific global application features

Flags also reduce the installation and system configuration processes that are a normal precursor to the implementation process. Flags facilitate:

  • Fast, easy configuration; test systems can be running in 48 hours
  • No “version lock”; one set of code to support and update
  • The vast majority of functionality requirement can be achieved without writing new code

Flags are one of the many innovations of the ERP123 design architecture.

Data Access

In the same way that ERP123 can interact with other application software, it can also communicate with other digital data sources including handheld RF devices. ERP123 modules can receive data from bar-code scanners and there is virtually no configuration required. This capability allows ERP123 to accept data from the shop floor to track tasks and times, shipping room operations such as picking, manifests and packing slips or transact inventory. Specific devices may require user interfaces to be written that suit the specific device.  Conversely, ERP123 can be run on any portable device that runs Windows and provides a reasonable screen resolution.

ERP123is fully web-capable through either VPN or Citrix/Terminal Services applications.  The latter is preferable because session information is retained in the case of dropped Internet connections.

Design Objectives

The design objectives that IntegrateIT originally set for ERP123 were driven by years of experience in manufacturing management.

Configurability

Start with the same programming code for every installation and ensure the program reduces the costs of both implementation and support. This is done through the previously discussed “flags”.

Accessibility

Users should be able to access any data in the system easily without relying on programmers to develop search and reporting routines. ERP123’s“SuperQuery” wizards allow users to retrieve any data in the system by using common keywords

  • Explore, select, display, compare and export any data fields
  • “Click & drop” fields to create preferred views
  • All data is available in real time – “up-to-the-second”
  • Save views into public or private report libraries for recall later

Reporting

The implementation cost of most ERP systems can be broken down into the following three phases:

  • Installation and Configuration
  • Implementation and Training
  • Reporting

By making the core software friendlier and more accessible to users, ERP123 reduces or eliminates the need (and cost) of a separate Reporting phase.

  • No need for external reporting software or programming
  • Preferred data views can be defined during implementation
  • Revise and update views as needed, anytime

For those who are capable of creating their own reports we recommend InfoMaker from the Sybase family of products.  This product is very similar to reporting tools such as Crystal Reports and allows you to construct virtually any report you desire.  InfoMaker can be purchased from Integrate or from a wide variety of sources that sell software.

Personalization

Organizations should not be required to learn new terminology and processes to carry out familiar tasks. Users with different tasks should not be expected to navigate the whole system. ERP123 allows each user to work in “my own” environment. This is done through a combination of system editing and security that is controlled through the system administration functions.  Specifically:

  • All fields, processes and reports can be configured with user’s own terms, labels, units of measurement
  • Each user’s desktop can be set to open with any combination of ERP123 modules displayed together to suit tasks required
  • Extensive Security at both the column and field level, by user or group of users
  • Ability to set up customized menus and screen layouts
  • Ability to set drill-in capabilities for each user

Performance

Today’s business environments demand real-time decision support data.  ERP123 excels in providing continuous access to decision-support information for every user based on real-time data updates.

  • No “batch” processing to delay updating
  • Run MRP in 10 minutes without interrupting other users
  • Minimize network traffic; support business growth and Internet access