How did ERP get so screwed up?

ERP has deep roots.

The original acronym was MRP, Material Requirements Planning, a perfect candidate for business software. It answered the question, “If I need to deliver 9 helicopters on these 9 dates, then what components will I need on which dates?” Believe it or not, this was all hand calculated at one time. 

MRP was very complex and difficult to implement because it required absolute precision and discipline, rare back then and still rare today. If your base data (inventory balances, lead times, quantities per, etc.) were the least bit off, the resulting automated explosions would be way off. So an industry of software vendors and consultants was born to attack all of these issues. 

The problem with MRP was that it didn’t work well at all for products with few components but complex processes, (think chemicals, energy, distilleries, food processors, etc.) So CRP, Capacity Requirements Planning was born to plan and manage factories with high capital expenditure requirements. (It doesn’t matter if we have exactly the components we need if we have nowhere to work on them.) 

Before you know it, “everyone” wanted in on the act of expensive software and consulting, even in disciplines that didn’t require them (why should SAP make all the profits). So along came accounting, sales, HR, and everyone else, and now we’re stuck with ERP, a cow that’s ripe to be milked for a long time.