Frontlines

ISSUE SUMMARY: MOUNTAINTOP REMOVAL MINING
REVISION DATE: 9/1/02

 1.0  BACKGROUND:

Mountaintop removal coal mining involves – exactly as the name suggests – the physical removal of a mountaintop to mine the coal located underneath. Used by coal mining companies in the Appalachia region of the U.S. (principally West Virginia, along with Kentucky and Virginia), it involves using explosives and “draglines” (large machines that can move more than 100 tons of material at a time) to remove overlying rock and soil, which is then simply pushed down the mountainside into nearby valleys (and associated streams and wetlands) to create so-called “valley fills.”  (It is estimated that valley fills have buried some 1500 miles of streams thus far.)


2.0  A CLOSER LOOK:

  • While the overall concern is, of course, over the destruction of local ecosystems, the legal context of the current fight is over technical language involving the Clean Water Act (CWA). Under the CWA, the Army Corps of Engineers determines what can and cannot be used for “fill” in streams and wetlands. The Corps longstanding definition of “fill” has explicitly prohibited the use of “waste material,” which has traditionally included removed rock and soil from mining operations. However, under political pressure, the Corps has issued permits for mountaintop-mining valley fills in apparent violation of its own rules. Seeking to avoid court challenges to this practice, in May 2002 the Bush Administration – through the Environmental Protection Agency, which oversees implementation of the CWA – removed the provision that explicitly prohibited the use of “waste material” as fill. (This rule change has itself been challenged in court by environmental groups.)
  • The rule change concerning acceptable “fill” materials made by the EPA also affects other mining activities, most notably hardrock mining (see separate Issue Summary on “Mining on Federal Public Lands”).
  • In addition to the effects on ecosystems, concerns over mountaintop removal coal mining include effects on the local population (due to noise and air pollution), increased occurrence and severity of flooding (attributable to the decrease in available streams to carry off water), and the presence of large tailings impoundments (filled with black sludge/slurries generated by coal mining operations).
  • The EPA is currently spearheading development of a Mountaintop Mining Environmental Impact Statement. The initial draft, originally scheduled for release in 12/00, was finally issued in 5/02.
  • Mountaintop mining first started in the early 1970s and has accelerated in the 1990s due to changes in the Clean Air Act that gave utilities major incentives to use low-sulfur coal as found in Appalachia.


3.0  “QUOTABLE QUOTES”:

“It would be unreasonable and in stark variance with policy to allow the nation’s waters to be filled and destroyed solely to dispose of waste.”

—Judge Charles Haden (Southern District of West Virginia) in his 1999 ruling on mountaintop mining

“The individual and cumulative impacts to both aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems caused by mining projects authorized in the Appalachians… are unprecedented.”

—Jeffrey Towner, Field Supervisor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, West Virginia Office

“The Corps says that blowing up forested mountains and dumping massive amounts of waste into streams has only a minimal adverse effect on the environment. I do not want to see what they would consider a major impact..”

—Howard Fox, Earthjustice [Source: Washington Post, 1/15/02]

“It’s the biggest localized environmental disaster in the country.  But it’s ignored because it keeps coal prices low.”

—Joe Lovett, Appalachian Center for the Economy and the Environment [Source: LA Times, 4/14/02]
4.0  RECENT ACTION:

1998: West Virginia’s State Forester, William Maxey, quit in protest over continued mountaintop mining in forests within the state.

10/99: Chief Judge Charles Haden of the Southern District of West Virginia issued a ruling limiting mountaintop mining in the state, citing that state agencies had failed to enforce Clean Water Act laws affecting the practice. (His ruling was subsequently overturned in 4/01 by the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled that the state had constitutional immunity against the original lawsuit; subsequently, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the case in 1/02.)

10/00: A coal waste impoundment breaks in Kentucky, spilling 250 million gallons of sludge.

5/02: A draft Mountaintop Mining Environmental Impact Statement is issued by the EPA

5/01/02: The Charleston Gazette reports that the Bush Administration – led by controversial Deputy Interior Secretary Steven J. Griles, a former mining industry lobbyist – is seeking to centralize and streamline coal mine permitting. In particular, the report cites a 10/01 letter by Griles that calls for the EPA’s draft Mountaintop Mining Environmental Impact Statement to “focus on centralizing and streamlining coal mine permitting.”

5/3/02: The Bush administration approves a change to the Clean Water Act that allows the Army Corps of Engineers to include waste material – including mountaintop mining waste – as acceptable “fill.”

5/8/02: Judge Haden issues a ruling ordering the Army Corps to stop issuing permits for mountaintop mining-associated “valley fills.”

A4 List

Conservation Lists of Note

A.4      25 Conservation Hotspots (focus areas for conservation efforts by Conservation International).

Hotspot Location Threat(s)
1 Tropic Andes South America (Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Argentina) Deforestation; oil exploration; opium poppy cultivation; mining HomesInColo
2 Sundaland Islands (Borneo, Sumatra, Malay Peninsula, Java) Indonesia, Malaysia Deforestation; forest fires; population growth; hunting of tigers and rhinoceroses; loss of habitat for orangutans.
3 Mediterranean Basin
4 Madagascar and Indian Ocean Islands (the Mascarenes, Comoros and Seychelles) Off the southeast coast of Africa Agricultural expansion; deforestation; livestock grazing; hunting; mining; ornamental plant and wildlife collection; exotic species.
5 Indo-Burma
6 Caribbean
7 Atlantic Forest Region (Mata Atl�ntica) South America (Brazil, Paraguay, Argentina) �Slash and burn� agriculture; cattle ranching; urban expansion into forest areas
8 Philippines Philippines Deforestation (by logging, mining, agriculture); high population density and growth rate; coral reef destruction (by cyanide and dynamite fishing); mangrove destruction.
9 Cape Floristic Province
10 Mesoamerica Central America (Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, Belize, Mexico) Deforestation (due to cattle grazing); conversion of native lands to croplands (for coffee, bananas, oil palm); urban population increases; habitat loss (due to oil drilling, logging, road construction)
11 Brazilian Cerrado South America (Brazil, Paraguay) �Slash and burn� agriculture; cattle grazing; charcoal production.
12 Southwest Australia
13 Hengduan Mountains South-Central China Logging; firewood collection; livestock grazing; soil erosion and river silting; plant and animal harvesting; non-native plants and animals; population growth exceeding capacity
14 Polynesia/ Micronesia
15 New Caledonia (barrier reef) East of Australia Nickel mining; deforestation; hunting of endangered species; non-native plants and animals; coral reef destruction; marine species harvesting
16 Choc�-Dari�n-Western Ecuador South America (Panama, Columbia, Ecuador) Land conversion to agriculture; hunting; logging; mangrove use for wood fuel; climate change and UV radiation affects.
17 Guinean Forests West Africa �Slash and burn� agriculture; logging; population growth; mineral mining; wood fuel collection; bushmeat hunting.
18 Western Ghats and Sri Lanka
19 California Floristic Province
20 Succulent Karoo
21 New Zealand
22 Central Chile
23 Caucasus
24 Wallacea (central islands of Indonesia) Indonesia �Slash and burn� agriculture; livestock grazing; population growth; logging; hunting and poaching; forest fires; plantations.
25 Eastern Arc Mountains and Coastal Forests of Tanzania and Kenya

SOURCE: Conservation International

 

Army Corps Live Streaming

ISSUE SUMMARY: ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS AGENCY REFORM
REVISION DATE: 9/1/02

 1.0  BACKGROUND:

The Army Corps of Engineers (ACE or simply “the Corps”) is a unique Federal agency (located within the Department of Defense) having two main areas of responsibility:

  • Military Construction:Designing and managing the construction of military facilities for the Army and Air Force (and providing construction management support to other Defense agencies).
  • Civic (Public) Works:Planning, designing, building and operating water resources-related and other civil/public works projects and facilities (principally for navigation and flood control).

Other key environmentally-related duties of the Corps include:

  • Management/oversight of environmental cleanup activitiesat contaminated military and Dept. of Energy sites/facilities. Professional live streaming for churches.
  • Serving as the lead agency for the wetlands regulatory programestablished under the Clean Water Act, which requires developers and others wanting to fill wetlands to seek a permit from the Corps (see the Issue Summary for “Wetlands” for further program details).

Efforts aimed at reforming the Corps have focused mainly on their Civic Works program, specifically in regards to the construction projects selected by the Corps that appear to possess dubious public benefits – projects which critics and observers say (and some politicians admit) represent classic political “pork barrel” projects. In addition, the Corps has been subject to considerable criticism for its handling of the federal wetlands permitting program, which critics charge has become nothing more than a “rubber-stamp” for developers and others seeking to fill in wetlands.


2.0  FACTS AND FIGURES – U.S. Army Corps of Engineers:

  • Agency Structure/Staffing: Although almost entirely civilian in overall staff (only about 600 of its 35,000 employees– less than 2% – are military), military personnel run the Corps – its overall head (known as the Chief of Engineers) and the heads of the Corps 8 geographically-based Divisions and 41 subordinate Districts are all military. The Civic Works program of the Corps reports – though the Chief of Engineers – to a civilian Assistant Army Secretary (a politically appointed position).
  • Land/Waterways Overseen: 12 million acres of land; 12,000 miles of waterways.
  • Facilities Overseen: 8,500 miles of flood-control levees; 300 deep draft ports; 275 river locks; 75 hydropower plants (producing 1/4 of all the hydropower in the U.S.); and 4,400 recreation sites.
  • Civil Works Budget (FY2000): $4.1 billion, broken down as follows: $1.4 billion for construction projects (34%); $1.8 billion for operations and maintenance of existing facilities (44%);  $0.3 billion for Mississippi River-related flood control (7%); $0.6 billion for miscellaneous other work (15%).
  • Typical Civil Works Projects Undertaken (with more than $100 billion worth undertaken in its history):

o        Navigation Projects (for inland waterways, ports and harbors): River deepening; channel widening; jetty construction; lock expansion; dam operations; dredged material disposal.

o        Flood Control Projects: Dams and related hydropower facilities construction and operation; levee construction; river channelization; large-scale pumping systems; costal protection (projects such as beach stabilization and sand replenishment)

  • Current (FY02) Backlog of Civil Works Projects: 500+ active, congressionally-authorized projects with a total projected federal cost of $44 billion (an additional 800 congressionally-authorized projects are considered inactive)


3.0  A CLOSER LOOK:

While seemingly an obscure federal agency, the Corps’ past and present impact – especially from an environmental perspective – has been quite significant, both as a result of its civil works projects (which has resulted in construction of some $100 billion worth of dams, locks and other water resource-related facilities) as well as its handling of the federal wetlands “dredge and fill” regulatory program. Unfortunately, from an environmental perspective, that impact has been overwhelmingly viewed in negative terms, especially by environmentalists.

What has really gotten the Corps into hot water, however, is its continued penchant for aggressively pushing large and costly construction projects with dubious public benefits (in fact, as early as 1836, the House Ways and Means Committee was complaining about “useless” and “fallacious” Corps projects). The latest flare-up has its roots in a continuing series of investigative reporting by Michael Grunwald of the Washington Post (see The Washington Post’s Corps of Engineers Page for details) – a brief chronological list of highlights:

  • 1/00: A two-part series in thePost (entitled “Corps Taming of Waterways Doesn’t Pay Off”) examines extensive (and expensive) Corps river channeling efforts made along the Missouri River and elsewhere based on lofty barge traffic projections that never materialized.
  • 2/00: APost story reveals that the military commanders of the Corps launched a detailed, behind-the-scenes campaign (called the “Program Growth Initiative”) to boost the agency’s $4 billion civil works budget by more than 50% by 2005, without the knowledge of the civilian Assistant Army Secretary to whom the Corps directly reports to on paper.
  • 9/00: An extensive five-part investigative report into Corps activities is published in thePost, examining both the Corps civil works projects and its wetlands regulatory program. The series finds that the agency is “converting its strong congressional relationships into billions of dollars’ worth of taxpayer-funded water projects, many with significant environmental costs and minimal economic benefits” and points to 6 particularly controversial projects. It also found that the Corps wetlands regulatory program was “mostly just a ‘permitting’ program, approving well over 99% of developers requests to drain, dredge and fill wetlands, consistently finding that even sensitive projects would have negligible impacts.”

Added to this mix was a series of scathing reports from government sources on the economic analyses carried out by the Corps, including:

  • 12/7/00: In response to Corps whistleblower Donald Sweeney’s allegations (made in 2/00), a Pentagon investigation concludes that 3 top officials of the Corps did in fact manipulate an economic study in an effort to justify a $1 billion set of projects. The report goes further, challenging the overall ability of the Corps to conduct honest analyses of projects it hopes to build, noting a “widespread perception of bias among the Corps employees interviewed,” including almost every Corps economist interviewed (indeed, even the agency’s retired chief economist called Corps studies “corrupt”).
  • 3/01/02: A National Academy of Sciences report concludes that the economic study at the heart of Corps whistleblower Donald Sweeney allegations is “sufficiently flawed that it can’t be used at all,” due to inaccurate projections and inappropriate methodologies.
  • 6/11/02: The General Accounting Office issues a report on the Corps Delaware River deepening project – entitled “Comprehensive Reanalysis Needed,” it documents a series of “miscalculations, invalid assumptions and outdated information” in the Corps’ economic justification for the project, including overestimating the project’s economic benefits by some 300%.

From a review of the material cited above, the roots of the problems seen appear to arise out of several factors that have combined to produce what some see as a “rogue agency” in the Corps, namely:

  • Having a mutually-beneficial relationship with Congress:As a construction agency, the Corps wants to build more and Congress is more than eager to please, as local Corps projects offer Congressmen jobs, contracts and other benefits for their constituents and campaign contributors, as well as ribbon-cutting opportunities. Specific projects typically are developed within the Corps at the local District level, often in close consultation with corresponding congressional members. Congress then “authorizes” an extensive list of new Corps projects every two years (although only a portion of these will actually be undertaken, due to budget constraints and/or whether they are determined – by the Corps itself – to be “economically justified,” defined as offering at least as much in economic benefits as in cost).
  • Being effectively outside the control of the executive branch:While reporting on paper to a politically-appointed Assistant Secretary of the Army, the Corps effectively has answered only to Congress, which has, in return, helped to rebuff past reform efforts mounted by previous Presidential Administrations. The only realistic control the President has is in terms of the overall Corps budget; however, final Corps appropriations have historically exceeded that requested by an Administration, having been “beefed up” by Congress. Furthermore, the President lacks effective veto power on specific Corps projects.
  • Maintaining an inherent potential conflict of interest.Corps project evaluations are handled internally, without any routine outside review or approval. Thus, the Corps evaluates projects they have developed to begin with and will get to build – assuming funding is provided – if the evaluation is positive – certainly the appearance of an internal conflict of interest, at the very least.
  • Having a historical reputation for aggressiveness combined with arrogance,typically attributed to the military leadership style and further emboldened by the protection from critics offered by Congress. This has led most observers to doubt that the Corps could ever reform itself on its own. For recent proof, critics cite a 4/02 “stand-down” review by the Corps of some 170 of its projects, citing “serious questions in regard to their accuracy and currency . . . and the rigor of the review process.” After just three weeks, however, the Corps cleared the bulk of them, with only 8 held over for further review as a result of the initial review, with none of those 8 being projects considered particularly controversial by outsiders. Corps critics immediately denounced the well-publicized self-examination as a “farce,” noting that the same Corps officials who oversaw the original analyses were responsible for the reviews, and that several Bush administration officials with Corps responsibilities were never consulted.

In light of these events, proposed reform efforts offered span a wide range. The Clinton Administration attempted a series of basic management reforms in 3/00 under which:

  • The Corps would be formally held accountable to the administration’s appointees in the Pentagon.
  • Military commanders would be compelled to share information with their civilian bosses.
  • The Corps would be barred from lobbying Congress without administration approval.
  • The appointed Assistant Army Secretary for Civil Works would have the final say on Corps decisions.

(One week after announcing the reforms, however, they were withdrawn in the face of intense Congressional opposition.)

Other current suggestions within Congress include:

  • Requiring outside, independent reviews of Corps’ technical studies.
  • Opening up public access to the Corps’ project analyses.
  • Raising the required economic benefit-to-cost threshold on projects from its current 1-1 ratio to some higher level in an attempt to screen out marginal projects.
  • Establishing a de-authorization procedure to formally eliminate inactive or undesirable projects.
  • Establishing economic development and environmental protection/restoration as co-equal goals for Corps projects.
  • Privatizing some of the Corps functions.
  • Transferring the agency to the Interior Department (i.e., out of military hands).

(The latter two proposals, while highly unlikely to be approved, come from Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle [D-SD].)

Finally, public interest groups have their own opinions on reforming the Corps – see “Key Reports” below.

In addition to the above specific concerns, questions have arisen in regards to the Corps basic mission and focus, specifically regarding the Corps:

  • Existing project backlog– both of “active” projects (with an associated ultimate federal cost of $44 billion) and of deferred maintenance of existing structures (estimated at around $2 billion). (Regarding the construction backlog, the Bush Administration has proposed that the Corps not start new projects and instead concentrate its resources only on existing projects identified as “high priority.” Environmentalists and fiscal conservatives, on the other hand, are focused on terminating specific projects they have identified as the most wasteful and/or environmentally damaging.)
  • Expanded mission basebeyond traditional navigation and flood control projects into both environmental restoration projects (most notably the controversial Corps-led Florida Everglades Restoration project) and a range of other new public projects (including building schools, jails and water and wastewater treatment plants). (The Bush Administration believes that while environmental restoration is an appropriate additional work area for the Corps, the other new types of public projects being pursued by the Corps is not. Environmentalists, on the other hand, worry about Corps efforts on environmental restoration projects, given its previous track record and general militaristic – “conquering Nature” – mentality.)

A final area of concern for environmentalists – though not likely part of any enacted reform effort – revolves around the Corps continuing to be the lead agency for federal wetlands regulation. As noted in the Washington Postpiece entitled “Reluctant Regulators,” the Corps is the nation’s unlikeliest regulatory agency – particularly for wetlands – given that it is, after all, a construction agency that has altered more wetlands through its projects than any other developer in history. And given the Corps previously noted documented history of virtually rubber-stamping all permit applications, environmentalists would like to seek substantial reforms instituted in the program, including potentially moving primary responsibility for wetlands regulation to another agency, targeting the more naturally-suited Environmental Protection Agency, which already plays a secondary role in administering the program (see the “Wetlands” Issue Summary for more details).

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Executive Support Systems

Information is a valuable element in the business world. The information helps to know the situation of the company and to analyze the strategies that are put in march for its correct operation.

Companies need to be updated and released data related to the operation and performance of the business, such as inventory, sales or accounting organization. However, they also need to obtain other data related to consumers, such as their consumption habits, the needs and tastes of their target market or what types of strategies are the most accepted by this group.

For this type of information, companies benefit from business information systems l. Thanks to these software resources companies receive, in an automated way, relevant information that helps them to make decisions, while improving the competitive advantage of the organization.

This technological tool is responsible for capturing data, processing it and transmitting this information to the members of the company. However, for the information system to be effective, you must provide information relevant to the company, in addition to adapt to the specific characteristics and needs of the organization.

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Types of Information Systems

Today, a great variety of systems exist, each of them designed with a specific purpose. Some of the most outstanding are:

Transaction Processing Systems (TPS). Popularly known by its acronym, the Transaction Processing System (TPS), records and processes all information related to commercial transactions and business operations. This information is subsequently used by decision support systems.

Administrative information systems (MIS). The Management Information System (MIS) is responsible for providing relevant to the management of the company, on the general situation of the organization information.

Executive Support Systems (EIS). This tool is designed to extract key information to achieve the strategic objectives of the company.

Systems to support decision making (DSS). The Decision Support Systems (DSS) is a tool to aid decision making. It is based on the combination and analysis of data that provide relevant information to help solve specific problems.

Systems for group decision making (GDSS). Unlike the DSS, the Group Decision Support Systems allow information sharing among team members so they can work together and make joint decisions.

Expert decision support systems (EDSS). These systems are based on knowledge of specific areas and act as expert consultants.

In addition to these resources, you can also find others who gather information to improve corporate strategies, manage and learn business accounting and finance, improve staff management or improve customer relationships.

It is increasingly common creating integrated systems, information known as ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning), which collect, analyze and transmit information relating to different fields. This software integrates production processes, sales, logistics, project management or company accounting, in order to improve business management, reduce time and costs and enhance the competitiveness of the organization.

What is Business software

Summary: What is and what is an ERP? Business software.
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WHAT IS AN ERP?

ERP stands for “Enterprise Resource Planning”. So in the first place we can say that ERP are an acronym, but what is behind those acronyms? What is an ERP? In short, an ERP is an information management system for a company.

erp

An ERP is a unique management and data system, where all the information of a company converges and is used to make decisions. To say this is to refer to something very broad and without clearly defined limits: for that is an ERP, something that can be so variable in size and functionality as variables can be the size and purpose of the millions of companies that operate in different countries.

Another simple definition of what an ERP is is: “An ERP is a computer system that facilitates the management of a company in all its areas (human resources, purchases, sales, etc.).”

The origin of the ERP can be attributed to the needs of planning and management of war resources that generates a great military event: the Second World War. Armies require great logistics: planning and controlling where personnel, materials, stocks, etc. are destined. With this initial “military” approach, information systems evolved to support all types of companies in their day-to-day management needs.

WHAT IS AN ERP FOR?

The basic utility of software of these characteristics, is to help manage companies of any type, automating all their processes. It also helps control what an organization has (stock and inventory) or does (workflow).

A company with an ERP may be at an advantage over another that does not have such a system. Why? Because thanks to an ERP the company automates its management: it has greater control of what it does and a cost saving (efficiency and effectiveness). This makes companies more competitive: it costs less to fill out a form on the screen and press accept (which will automatically reach the entire company) than filling out a paper form, sending it by courier, and arriving at its destination. In addition an ERP integrates all the activities of all the departments of a company in a single application, allowing to modify data, to make consultations and to generate reports quickly.

There are basically two types of ERP, the generalists and the specialized ones. General ERPs, also called horizontal ERP, serve any business. Specialized ERPs, also called sectoral or vertical, try to provide solutions to specific sectors such as health, distribution, audio-visual media or construction to indicate several examples.

MODULARIZATION IN ERP

The nature of a business management system is modular (divided into separate parts), as it attempts to organize and structure all departments of a company. Just as a company is organized into departments, ERPs are organized into modules (roughly corresponding to company departments). The fundamental modules are:

– Finance: keeps information from the treasury of the company, financing (loans), investment, accounting, etc.

– Shopping: maintains information and procurement management (procurement) of the company, suppliers, etc.

– Sales: maintains information and sales management. Sales data, shipped items, sales prices, etc.

– Logistics: stores information and warehouse management, inventory, transportation, etc.

– Human resources: maintains information and personnel management, payroll, job categories, overtime, taxes, etc.

– CRM (Customerrelationship Management System or customer relationship management) is a subsystem that maintains information and management of customer relationships (data, contracts, etc.).

Depending on the size and type of company can be added different modules, such as: project management, marketing, production and manufacturing, document management, business intelligence and many more.

HOW TO SELECT AN ERP COMPANIES

Not all companies have an ERP, but we can say that all medium and large companies have an ERP (or something similar to an ERP). A company is faced with a first initial dilemma: to develop an ERP of its own (entailing significant software development and maintenance costs) or to use an existing one in the market (it saves costs, but will it fully adapt to the reality and philosophy of the company? ).

The trend in recent years seems to favor the use of existing ERPs in the marketplace, perhaps with additional modules developed specifically for the company, or tailored to fit specific needs. However, there are still many companies that use their own ERPs.

Once the ERP is chosen (either its own development, or among those existing in the market), a next step no less difficult is to implement the ERP within the company. An ERP has a way of working and an organization of data to which the employees and managers of the company will have to adapt.

It is estimated that 10% of the implementation projects of an ERP do not come to fruition due to difficulties in being adapted by the employees, to be poorly designed, to present failures, etc. A big failure was the multinational “Nike”, which not only spent tens of millions of dollars developing an ERP, but its implementation was a disaster with dire economic consequences, until it was abandoned and abandoned.

In order to choose an ERP a company must take into account several factors, such as the degree of specialization (it is not the same as a pharmaceutical laboratory that a supermarket chain for example), size (it is not the same to have 50 employees that 50,000), the ERP scalability (will it fit the company’s growth forecast?), Security (it is not the same as a nuclear power plant management company or a vegetable bottler) and other factors.

PROGRAMMING LANGUAGES IN ERP

There are some market ERPs for which there is little information about the language in which they are developed because they are marketed as a “black box”. The term black box is often used to refer to something that is known what it does, but not how it does it internally. These systems are installed, initialized and can be used (enter invoices, make accounting notes, extract status reports, etc.).

In this sense, if you want a special report or different from the ones that the product carries, you would have to ask the implantation company to add the required functionality. This is usually managed through a maintenance contract that is usually included in the ERP implementation project itself.

It is also very common for one or several people in the company to be trained in the tool and able to provide technical support to the other members of the company. This usually happens in medium or large companies, where there is a small or large computer department.

If the company is a company whose business processes are very changing or vary a lot in the short and medium term, it is important that the chosen ERP have ways to adapt the established circuits in an easy way. In the market there are some ERPs “open source” (open source, anyone with knowledge can modify the software). These ERPs are in theory free, and we say in theory because what is really free are the software licenses, the implementation of the same, ie the consulting services are not free. So having the software for free may not be useful if we do not know how to deploy it, configure it and make it work.

Another mode of access to ERPs is what is called payment for use, ie, you get an ERP that is accessed via the web and paid by time used or by number of users. This is a recommendable way for small or medium sized companies, for the cost savings in terms of maintenance and hardware, as the company can forget about these factors. As an inconvenience, the company’s data is ultimately stored by a third party when in the cloud, which can have security risks. However, companies offering services via the web maintain backups and access to data with securization and encryption, which in general makes these systems qualify as secure.

The programming language is fundamental if you choose at the end the option of developing an own ERP and from scratch. In this case one of the first questions to ask is: Do I need to be web or not? If we need to access the data remotely from multiple points the answer is that we need web technology.

The most used programming languages are ABAP (SAP proprietary language), Java and .NET languages like C #, in addition to the web development languages when it comes to web applications.