6 Business Software Acronyms and What They Mean

In the modern business world there is a bevy of software available that ultimately aim to help your organisation minimise costs, improve sales and increase profits. However, associated with these pieces of software are a range of often-confusing acronyms — BI, ERP, ECM, SCM, BPM, CRM. What on earth does it all mean? To make matters worse, much of the information online relating to these relatively new concepts falls into the category of benefit-driven sales copy, so even a trusty Google search is probably only going to compound your confusion instead of alleviating it. From business intelligence to enterprise content management, this article will help you wade through the swamp.

1. BI (Business Intelligence)

Business intelligence is an overarching term for the processes and techniques associated with analysis of data in electronic form. It encompasses the entire analytical process, from accumulation of data through to evaluation and, eventually, display, and presents information on a range of key points of interest, from company performance to the performance of competitors and the overall market. Essentially, the goal of BI is to inform strategic decisions in relation to overall objectives.

2. BP (Business Process Management)

As its name would suggest, business process management is all about managing and continually optimising all processes relating to the way a business functions. For this reason, the term “process optimisation” is often used interchangeably with BPM. The overall goal of BPM is to make organisations more efficient than previously with more effective workflows and higher levels of productivity.

3. ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning)

A system of coordinating both internal and external information across an entire organisation. It aims to control the flow of information between all functions of a business — including finances and accounting, sales and service, supply chain management, customer relationship management and more — as well as managing any connections with external stakeholders. Most ERP systems involve a centralised database that acts as an information repository that can be accessed, with varying degrees of security clearance, across the organisation.

4. CRM (Customer Relationship Management)

Smaller in scope than ERP, CRM focuses exclusively on the processes that a businesses might use to coordinate communication with current and potential customers and clients. It acts as a database for customer information, and allows that information to be accessed across the organisation. The overall aim is to improve customer service, undertake targeted marketing and increase overall sales.

5. SCM (Supply Chain Management)

Once again smaller in scope than ERP, SCM refers to the strategic management of supplier choice and logistics. It helps coordinate communication with the supplier to make the entire process of supply chain management, from resource procurement through to end-product sale, much more efficient and effective, minimising costs and helping eliminate stock-outs and other supply chain related problems.

6. ECM (Enterprise Content Management)

Refers to the methods, strategies and tools that an enterprise uses in order to capture, manage, store and deliver information relating to business processes. It eliminates the need for paper documents, instead moving all of this information into a centralised electronic database. ECM systems might include online induction, learning management systems, company intranets and extranets, enterprise search and more.

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