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Enterprise Application Solution: A Component Based Approach

, 18 Mar 2006
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Enterprise application solution concentrates on the overall business process to speed up the tasks of the corresponding business organization. Well engineered enterprise component can be developed by software manufacturers to expand the software market.

1. Introduction

The trend of Information Technology has taken a big aspect over the whole world. It has got the trust of various types of users, especially of business organizations by offering the way to optimize the business processes.

To achieve high performance with respect to information technology, it’s obvious that a company should contain a well organized computer based information system, containing an application solution that reflects the business strategies, business processes, business models and core processes derived from these strategies. Since in real business world, business processes and models changes frequently, the computer application solution must be designed in a manner that it can also be changed quickly to meet the current business requirement [6].

Each business organization contains some strategic goals, on which the organizational decisions made by the proper positioned person. To do that certainly s/he should get the correct, appropriate and relevant information at the right time. Besides focusing on core business, the authority desires proper support for customer and partner contact management, monitoring employee’s activities and improving relationship with them. Considering these facts, a computer application solution should offer a great deal of performance and business application integration.
Enterprise Business Application is $200 billion industry and growing. 10,000+ companies are providing solutions that cost $0-$1 million.

2. Enterprise Architecture

2.1 What is Enterprise Architecture?

Enterprise architecture identifies the core components of the organization or a sub-set of it (such as its information systems) [1, 9]. Considering the target as the defined business objective, these components work together. These components contain staff, business processes, technology, information, financial and other resources, etc. If the architecture is engineered enough to ensure the selection of the desired components and to specify how they will operate together smoothly and efficiently, the corresponding enterprise will be benefited [1, 4, 9]. But if the overall architecture is not well engineered enough, the result is likely to be duplication of effort and resources, poor coordination and control, problems with management and business performance, inability to share important resources such as information, and inefficiencies in operation [3, 5].

2.2 Advantages of Enterprise Architecture

Computer based enterprise architecture should be considered as an investment for the future. From the point of view of a paying client of an application solution, initially it may seem costly but considering long term duration, it will provide some real benefits. The facts that are considered as the advantages of enterprise architecture can be described as follows [5-10].

  • It provides efficient, appropriate and timely support for business processes - including achieving fast time to market or operation for new business endeavors.
  • It facilitates the interoperability between separately developed application systems both within and outside the enterprise (e-business, joined-up government).
  • Necessary business process re-engineering becomes easier. 
  • Maximum longevity/reuse of infrastructural components can be ensured
  • It maximizes the opportunities for exploitation of corporate information/data assets (such as for customer relationship management or improved decision-making).
  • Ensuring the survivability of information/data 
  • Ensuring suitable support to users, whether internal or customers, including appropriate availability and ease of use
  • Reduces the cost of execution.

2.3 Real-Time Enterprise Architecture

Although in developed countries, many organizations started to get the benefit of Enterprise Architecture, most company processes today are not integrated, rather run in separate process. Feedback from one process to another is costly. An organization may contain a software system that independently processes whatever has to be concerned with in the corresponding department: purchasing concentrates on purchasing, production on production, and so on.

To survive competitively, it is essential to know one's customers' needs and be able to respond to these quickly. This requires an overall integration of all business processes.

Organizations that can support not just separate business information processing, but that can also achieve consistent business process integration in a flexible way with suppliers, partners and customers, even across whole organization boundaries, can be denoted as real-time enterprises [1-3]. A real-time enterprise can respond to customer needs and market changes effectively and quickly. It concentrates on its core objectives, while extensively integrated, strategic partners focus on selected activities. The high availability and security of the business-critical applications gets considerable attention [1, 4].

2.4 Key Features

Considering Web-based solutions, the key features of modern, enterprise-wide application architecture include [8- 10]:    

  • Dividing the application into several tiers, at least for presentation, business logic and data storage tier (n-tier concept). 
  • Use of Web browsers (for stationary and some special mobile terminals) and WAP micro browsers (for mobile terminals) as a primary user interface with support for the standards HTTP and HTML or WAP and WML, respectively. 
  • Use of de facto and Internet standard based protocols and data formats, such as TCP/IP, FTP, SMTP, SQL, ODBC, LDAP, SSL, etc. 
  • Component technologies such as Microsoft COM+ Services/ .NET Enterprise Services and Enterprise JavaBeans (EJBs) can be used.
  • Dedicated, function-optimized server technologies such as Web Servers, Portal Servers, Contact Servers, Application Servers, Integration Servers, Database Servers and Directory Servers can be used.

3. Component Based Model: A Case Study

We know, “Cost ¥ Software Customization” - that is cost is proportional to customization with respect to software development, which tells that the more you want to customize software according to your company strategy, you have to consider more cost.

The corresponding software manufacturer can further extend the component for the user, who is able to provide more money and wants to customize software according to exactly, fit his/her whole business process.

By surveying several corporate computer users, according to their requirements, here are some key facts that should reside in a real-time enterprise application solution component.
A typical enterprise organization consists of the following major section: 

  • Human Resource Management (HRM)
  • Supply Chain Management (SCM)
  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
  • Accounts

These four facts are briefly described below:

3.1 Human Resource Management (HRM)

In any organization or company, a number of people are involved to achieve the desired goal or target of the organization. In an enterprise company, there are more than hundred to thousand peoples are employed. So from this view, we can say Human Resource Management (HRM) is a very important part of the organization that is concerned with the working people in that organization. So Human Resource is one of the driving forces for product as well as service oriented organizations.

The main objective of HRM department is to make a good balancing way to distribute all employees in the company in such a way that the right person is in the right position.
Since in future, a company may need more employees or to change its employees depends on the requirement or situation, the HRM procedure is an ongoing procedure that always tries to fulfill the requirement of human resource in the enterprise organization.

Basic features of HRM are as:

  • Recruitment and Selection
  • Training and Development Skills
  • Performance appraisal
  • Maintenance and Motivation

3.2 Supply Chain Management (SCM)

Supply Chain Management is the process which keeps track of the products that are imported, the supply of the product that are produced by the current company. The SCM section will provide the facility that keeps track of information of the product supply, keep track of current status of goods, etc.

3.3 Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

For a business organization, customers play a very important role. So, the goal of a CRM strategy is to create a long term, profitable relationships with the customer. This can be achieved when companies understand who their customers are, what their needs in different segments are and economical means to meet the needs of each segment. CRM includes a series of business functions that contribute to the successful management of the customer and company relationships. The basic functionality provided by the CRM section is let the employees see the behavior of the customer and organize their time better, identify opportunity and turn them into close deals, account history is used to check out previously purchased products, to check how the customers satisfy with the level of service or the quality of products, to analyze and making perfect decision.

3.4 Accounting

Generally each company contains account section, which summarizes the financial data about the business and organizes this information into useful form. The facts that are relevant to an account section are making Balance Sheet, Income Statement, Share Statement, Yearly profit or loss, etc. by dealing with paying salary to all employee, rent charge, production cost, total amount of money by selling goods or service, total due in the market, equipment cost and wages, paying taxes, advertisement cost, purchase discount, purchase return, investment, inventory, account payable & receivable, net income, net loss and other relevant tasks.

4. Utilizing Best Practices

Business organizations can be benefited from low cost pre-built solutions that are based on industries best practices. A best practice is a business process with demonstrated ability to achieve superior results. For example, sales forecasting is a business, while triangulated sales forecasting is best practice business process. Best practices can be derived only from successful, extensive experience in selling, marketing and service. Usually to use such systems requires just business skills and management of such systems is also simple. Mainly users adopt their business and learn to do the business that every one agrees.  Organization achieves maximum business impact from ERP/CRM implementation by applying best practices to their business process. Since the internet thing is emerging, one can participate just by utilizing ERP/CRM.  A new genre of business consultant will emerge by learning and utilizing industries best practices.

5. Conclusion

In several cases, the customized software that was built to meet the requirements of business organizations, by software manufacturers, contains several bugs and some sort of inefficiency to process and provide information. The cause that lies beneath this problem is lack of proper awareness of well engineered software application solution that contains proven design methodologies and architecture. Developing a well engineered real-time enterprise application solution component is a challenging task. The best approach for such activity will be to participate in a mature open source project. There are several open source projects available that use different programming platforms like PHP, Java or .NET. Some of the tools are even free. Universities could take the lead for such research and development activities. Industries participation will definitely strengthen our commitment to IT development and establishing high tech call centers even in remote places in our country.

References

[1] Armour, F.J., Kaisler, S.H., Enterprise Architecture: Agile Transition and Implementation. IT Pro, November/December 2001, pp. 30-37.

[2] Armour, F.J., Kaisler, S.H., Liu, S.Y., A Big Picture. Look at Enterprise Architectures. IT Pro, January/February 1999, pp. 35-42.

[3] Bernus, P., Mertins, K., Schmidt, G. (Eds.), Handbook on Architectures of Information Systems, Springer, Berlin, 1998.

[4] Bernus, P., Nemes, L., Williams, T.J., Architectures for Enterprise Integration, Chapman&Hall, London, 1996.

[5] Garlan, D., Software architecture: a roadmap. Proc. Conf. On The Future of Software Engineering, Limerick, Ireland, 2000, pp. 91-101.

[6] Nuseibeh, B., Easterbrook, S., Requirements engineering: a roadmap. Proc. Conf. On The Future of Software Engineering, Limerick, Ireland, 2000, pp. 35-41.

[7] Shaw, M, Garlan, D., Software Architecture: Perspectives on an Emerging Discipline, Prentice-Hall, New Jersey, 1996.

[8] http://www.bredemeyer.com/EnterpriseArchitecture/EAlinks.htm

[9] http://www.ogc.gov.uk

[10] http://www.eacommunity.com/

History

  • 18th March, 2006: Initial post

License

This article, along with any associated source code and files, is licensed under The Code Project Open License (CPOL)

About the Author

Mohammad Ashraful Alam
Chief Technology Officer
Bangladesh Bangladesh
Mohammad Ashraful Alam is a Software Engineer, who is dedicated to Microsoft .NET based development. This Bangladeshi national is involved with project management and development of several US based software projects from his country. Already he has managed and developed 15 software projects, which are being used by several users of different countries, such as USA, Canada, Australia, and Bangladesh. While developing and managing a team, he contains and maintains a set of well defined engineering practices developed by him and other online developer community. Beside software development, he has also written several technical articles and research papers published by IEEE Computer Society and many other worlds recognized publishers.
 
Before becoming engaged with software development, he was involved with Bengali literature and several Bengali news papers as freelance journalist and published around 150 articles, essays and short stories.
 
Due to his willingness to give effort to improve and share better software development practices, Ashraf has awarded as “Most Valuable Professional” (MVP) in ASP.NET category by Microsoft for multiple times, since 2007.
 
When not engaged with technical stuffs, he likes to pass time with his friends, and family members, listens music or watches TV.
 
Check his portfolio at: http://www.ashraful.net/.
 
Check his blog: http://blog.ashraful.net/.
 
Catch him thru mail: admin [attt] ashraful [dotttt] net (anti-spam text).

Comments and Discussions

 
Generalnice read PinmemberDonsw20-Feb-09 9:03 
GeneralOpenSource CRM & ERP : http://www.codeplex.com/workflowmagic Pinmemberworkf16-Oct-08 4:31 

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