Because of the immense global demand, the market is now flooded with off-the-shelf enterprise applications, usually in the form of Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions. And while ready-made apps may seem cheaper than bespoke ones, the latter option provides better value in the long run. Proprietary enterprise software is designed to deliver the exact functionalities the company needs, and it doesn’t incur any subscription costs inflating with time and the number of users. There is a caveat, though – customized solutions are only as good as the company that built them. That’s why picking a trusted software partner expert in back-end development services is essential. Rock-solid stability and well-thought-out architecture are vital for the real-life performance of enterprise applications.
To determine and assess the potential new features and design of the planned ERP platform, first, you should focus on the three Ps:
- People – when gathering requirements, always begin by inviting the right people to the process. Every division that will be employing the software on a daily basis must be represented, preferably with both executives and regular staff with hands-on experience.
- Processes – identify use cases and map current processes to pinpoint the areas where improvements are most needed.
- Priorities – you won’t be able to correctly define your requirements without a thorough understanding of the current state of affairs. Measure them against your SMART business goals to determine the potential functionalities that will make the expected difference.
Once all the considerations above are taken into account, you can start creating a detailed list of functional and design requirements for your enterprise software.
Essentially, every growth-oriented commercial enterprise needs help from ERP solutions these days. With that in mind, please note that the following list of business functions is by no means exhaustive and may differ from case to case. Enterprise applications support almost all types of company operations:
- Finance and Accounting – managing accounting, compliance, budgeting, and reporting systems.
- Human Resources – handling employees’ sensitive data, recruitment, onboarding processes, taxes, benefits, payrolls, productivity reports, and absence tracking.
- Customer Relationship Management (CRM) – tracking contacts and communication with clients, managing leads, automating marketing campaigns, and generating sales quotes and reports.
- Manufacturing and Distribution – monitoring production output and quality, scheduling distribution, and warehouse management.
- Supply Chain Management (SCM) – demand forecasting, managing purchase, work, and transfer orders, handling shipping and warranty.
- Materials Management – automating Material Resource Planning processes, e.g., procurement, inventory, and logistics management.
- Business Intelligence and Reporting – providing cross-functional, analytical tools for data-driven decision-making.
Discovering software requirements for enterprise software is a crucial part of the process. Any mistakes or omissions made at this stage may have a long-lasting effect on the software’s capability to improve the flow of your company’s operations.
Once your requirements are defined, it’s time to consider the detailed design of new, enhanced workflows, application architecture, and user interfaces. The involvement of staff members is vital at this stage, as they will bring a practical understanding of existing workflows and a ton of ideas for improvements. Performing a gap analysis will allow the team to identify unique quirks and intricacies of your business processes, which your software partner’s developers can use to develop specific, customized solutions.
Choosing an appropriate architecture for ERP software is a critical decision that can impact the system’s effectiveness, scalability, and maintenance. Several factors should be considered when choosing the right architecture for your ERP software:
- Scalability: an ERP system should be designed to handle an increasing amount of data and users as the business grows.
- Flexibility: the enterprise software has to be flexible enough to accommodate changes in business processes and workflows.
- Performance: High performance and responsiveness are essential, even under heavy loads.
- Security: given the often-sensitive nature of stored data, the platform should be designed with security in mind, including measures to prevent unauthorized access, data breaches, and cyber-attacks.
- Integration: An ERP system should be able to integrate with other systems, desktop applications, and web services the business uses.
There are three architecture types most commonly considered for enterprise application development:
- Three-Tier Architecture: This architecture separates the ERP software into three layers – presentation, application, and data storage. This scalable and flexible architecture makes it a popular choice for large-scale ERP implementations.
- Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA): SOA is a modular architecture that allows for reusing services and components across different systems and applications. This flexible, scalable, and cost-effective architecture makes it a popular choice for modern ERP implementations.
- Cloud-Based Architecture: Cloud-based ERP systems are hosted in the cloud, allowing for easy scalability, flexibility, and cost-effectiveness. This architecture suits businesses with remote employees, multiple locations, or limited IT resources.
Java is, and has always been, the most popular programming language for developing apps catering to various enterprise needs. Let’s check the main reasons businesses use Java as a base for enterprise applications.
Java is a platform-independent programming language, meaning that ERP software developed using Java can run on any operating system without requiring modifications.
Java applications are designed to be scalable; they can handle increasing amounts of data and users as the business grows. This makes Java an ideal choice for developing large-scale applications.
Built-in security features such as class loaders, bytecode verification, and a security manager make Java ideal for developing ERP software that handles sensitive business data.
An extensive collection of Java frameworks and open-source libraries makes developing ERP software much more straightforward. Java libraries provide pre-written code that helps developers with common tasks such as database connectivity, user interface design, and security.
Java has a high level of backward compatibility, which means that ERP software developed using earlier versions of Java can run on newer versions without requiring modifications, ensuring that the software can run on a wide range of hardware and software environments.
Java-based applications effectively reduce memory consumption and can easily run multiple operations and handle concurrent users. Not many other languages can compete with Java when high performance and responsiveness are at stake.
Java is known for its robustness and reliability. The language has built-in memory management, exception handling, and automatic garbage collection, making it less prone to crashes and errors.
Java ecosystem offers various tools and frameworks for developing enterprise software. The following list is just a sample selection of Java frameworks and tools commonly used for building ERP software:
- Apache OFBiz: An open-source enterprise automation software for Java offering a suite of ERP applications such as accounting, CRM, manufacturing, and supply chain management.
- Spring Framework: A widely used open-source framework for developing enterprise applications in Java.
- Hibernate: An object-relational mapping framework that simplifies the process of mapping Java objects to relational database tables.
- Apache Struts: A framework for developing web applications in Java, containing features such as request handling, form validation, and internationalization.
- Eclipse IDE: An integrated development environment (IDE) that provides various tools for developing Java applications.
The process of building and deploying an enterprise-focused web application with Java encompasses the following steps:
- Setting up the development environment
- Creating the software
- Integrating the ERP app with databases and other systems
Let’s look at each of these stages separately.
Java developers can use tools like Eclipse, NetBeans, or IntelliJ IDEA to build enterprise solutions. These tools provide them with an integrated development environment (IDE) for easy source code writing, debugging, and testing. Additionally, frameworks such as Spring and Hibernate can be utilized to speed up development and provide a structure for the application.
Once all the software requirements are adequately defined, developers can start creating the enterprise application using frameworks such as Spring and Java Server Faces (JSF). These frameworks provide a solid foundation for building robust and secure modules, components, and services that make up the enterprise application.
Integrating ERP software with databases and other systems is crucial for the success of enterprise application development. Java provides diverse libraries and frameworks that can be used for integration purposes. For instance, Java Database Connectivity (JDBC) can be used to connect the application with databases such as Oracle, MySQL, and SQL Server. Additionally, Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) and application servers can be utilized for integrating with third-party systems, such as payment integration platforms, banking information systems, and mobile applications.
Developing robust, scalable, and secure ERP software with Java can be challenging. That’s why, at the end of this post, we want to share some of the best tips and practices for enterprise software developers aiming to achieve the best result possible:
- Use object-oriented design to create a modular and scalable architecture.
- Follow the MVC architecture pattern for maintainability and extensibility.
- Leverage open-source frameworks to speed up development and reduce errors.
- Implement robust security measures to protect sensitive data.
- Optimize performance by minimizing database queries, caching frequently accessed data, and using appropriate indexing techniques.
- Document the software’s architecture, design, and implementation to ensure maintainability and sustainability.
Following these best practices, you can develop reliable enterprise software with Java that meets user requirements and helps businesses achieve their goals. Alternatively, you can partner with a trusted software development company like Scalo and let them build the ERP software tailored to all your enterprise needs.