In the MTV TV show, Pimp My Ride, a car in very poor condition is restored and customising it. Each car is a custom “pimp”, tailored to the personalities and interests of the owners.
In the ERP world, many companies take whatever their ERP system gives them, but this might not cover some important line of business functionality they require. The good news is that ERP systems have been adding a component called Service Oriented Architecture (SOA). Here’s one definition:
A Service-oriented Architecture defines how two or more entities interact in such a way as to enable one entity to perform a unit of work on behalf of another entity. The unit of work is referred to as a service, and the service interactions are defined using a well-defined description language. Each interaction is self-contained and loosely coupled, so that each interaction remains independent of any other interaction.
and Wikipedia’s definition: “a computer systems architectural style for creating and using business processes, packaged as services.”
SYSPRO was one of the early adopters of Microsoft’s .Net Framework, and this has enabled the company I work at to develop customer- and industry-specific line of business applications, using the SYSPRO ERP as the basic information foundation. Effectively, we are able to ‘pimp’ a company’s ERP to give specific functionality that a general ERP cannot do.
The way SYSPRO’s SOA works is via its e.Net architecture. This comprises quite a number of business objects which provide a structured way of directly accessing the business functionality of SYSPRO while retaining the software’s integrity, business rules and security.
Getting value out of SOA requires good business understanding and programming skills by the consulting organisation, but also a vision and understanding by the business having the SOA implementation.
Companies like ours have the vision of what we can do with SOA, but without a similar vision by business leaders, the promise and benefits of SOA is not going to get realised. The problem seems that many business people (and CIOs) haven’t yet ‘got to grips’ with the opportunity that SOA offers. I wonder if there’s a TV network interested in doing a “Pimp My ERP” show?