Why open development platform is important?

Nowadays, ERP systems that support business management and operational activities are very complex. Even a small company requires the automated processing of large data files. Business processes are also becoming more and more complicated.

To fulfil all of the requirements of a small company, an advanced ERP system may use even as many as 700 tables and 1,000 window views. That is why; the era of closed applications with limited functionality and complicated versions is sinking into oblivion.

Software providers are not able to pay the maintenance costs of specific functional versions that have been implemented at their customers’ and are based on traditional technology. In the case of such versions, the application is compiled using common low-level languages. Therefore, all leading ERP systems are equipped with their own specialised development platforms.

It is clear that a modern ERP system has to be a platform system. There are several factors that determine the requirement of providing a specialised development environment within an ERP system:

  1. The scale and complexity of required functional business logics. There are no two identical implementation projects, even if such projects are delivered in companies operating in similar industries. The modification of hundreds of functional details is practically impossible during the implementation process. In such a case, the number of application parameters increases and the code has to be reengineered, which requires a lot of effort. Therefore, the platform should provide functionality in the form of objects that are stored in a data base and can be compiled separately when they are retrieved. For each project, it is necessary to enter specific and precise descriptions of all events. Such an approach ensures not only the possibility to customise the application, but also to control and maintain its functional areas.
  2. The flexibility and fast pace of modifications in selected areas, without unnecessary compilation of the application. In order to respond to external factors effectively, each business organisation requires tools for the instant modification of its business processes. For better flexibility, a well-structured ERP system should use its own programming language, and consequently its own complier.
  3. The application language of an efficient ERP system is a multi-level language with simple syntax, which enables implementation consultants to customise the system.
  4. Using a platform it is necessary to integrate multiple applications, data sources, data files etc. The platform should be comprised of general standards of currently available data and communication interfaces, as well as technological solutions such as XML, TCP/IP, COM+, database connections, etc.
  5. The development platform should support the methodology of the ERP system implementation. There are numerous prerequisites of successful implementation process meaning a project completed within agreed deadlines and customer satisfaction. All these prerequisites including standardised requirement notations, pre-implementation analysis, specific object versions, change management, documentation, request management and maintenance activities, can be supported by the native development environment of ERP software.

Factors that reduce time-consumption of creating, developing and implementing an ERP application:

  • Specialised development tools (the system should be based on its own development environment – a platform that is designed for one type of the application, an application capable of processing all of the company’s logistics)
  • The simplicity of the tool (modifications can be entered by implementing consultants)
  • Versatility and integrity (complete development environment – one tool for implementing a consultant and one for a developer)
  • Flexibility (a platform with its own 4GL and complier)
  • Openness and integration (the platform open to standards)
  • A practical approach (a platform that incorporates tools that support the implementation process)

A specialised tool ensures time and cost savings. Using common languages such as '.net' for the development of an ERP application is an obvious mistake. For example, the .net language can be used to write a game or multimedia application, which is a redundant feature for ERP software.

It is considered that ERP applications are designed to process relation data using simple, intuitive user graphical interfaces. As far as the variety of software engineering is concerned, such applications comprise approximately 10 percent of software programs. Therefore, specialised development environments are created without any redundant components, so called “heavy tails”, including excessive tools for common usages.

The possibility to develop system functionality as the company grows is another important aspect. Using the “out-of-the box” software would make system development impossible. When purchasing an ERP system, users should be aware that their functional needs are dynamic, and not all of system requirements can be defined. Thus, a modern ERP system is a dynamic product that is enhanced as the company grows.

In other words, a modern ERP system has to be a specialised production plant that generates business functionality. Unfortunately, the majority of Polish system providers do not provide their own development platforms. Based on the above assumptions, most of local solutions sold as ERP systems can be considered relicts of the past when they are compared to foreign platform-based systems.

The Gardens GAM platform is a unique solution on the Polish market as it fulfils the previously defined constructional assumptions. Presently, it is the only environment designed for ERP application development that can be compared to such platforms as C/AL, Morphix AX incorporated in MS Dynamix or the ABAP platform within the SAP system. Due to modern solutions, Gardens is a system that can become an application standard for medium-sized companies with simultaneous access of up to 1,000 users.

It can be assumed that due to a reasonable price policy and huge potential of system functionalities, the system is likely to become a leader on the Polish ERP software market, even before the euro zone entry. When this goal is accomplished, the company plans to increase Gardens’ share in the European ERP software market.

The Gardens system contains many additional components that give support at the implementation process. Additionally, the platform is to provide methodological support which is a pioneering approach. As constructors of the GAM platform believe, specialised environments for business software development are a new challenge for modern information technology that provides immense capabilities.