Jun 18 2021

MRP or ERP? | Orderly Supply Chain Management Solutions

Written by Orderly Marketing
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Welcome to the world of the ERP, MRP, MRPII, ARP… This can get very confusing very quickly – but we’re here to help. Traditionally, an ERP system is comprised of weighty applications, such as a CRM (Customer Relationship Management), WMS (Warehouse Management System), fully integrated data collection and management, including manufacturing applications, finance and more. An MRP is typically armed with stock management, lightweight supply chain management functionality, forecasting tools, project and job costings, and WOs (Work Orders), etc. An MRP can be a ‘stand-alone’ software module or solution but is typically an integral part of an ERP solution.

ERPs are often suggested as the one-stop shops for resource planning within a business’s everyday operations. But can (and should) one tool offer all the features you’d possibly need for survival in the business world?

And, even if one system could do it all, do you need it all? Do you want to be tied to one provider providing an okay job of a range of solutions spread across all sectors (a “jack of all trades but master of none”), or do you see competitive advantages from specialising and investing in one area?

Considering MRPs

An MRP can be defined as a planning and control system for inventory, production, and scheduling for purchasing raw materials. It is typically a “push system,” requiring product forecasting and the raw material quantities needed for manufacturing.

There are two main types of inventory demand: independent and dependent demand. Independent demand inventory is the manufacturing of a whole, complete product, as is contrasted with dependent demand inventory – the individual materials and components.

An MRP uses information received either directly from customers or from your sales forecast, calculating the material required based on the dependencies of other materials. It helps you get the materials when required, at the lowest possible cost. MRPs are typically enhanced with additional functionality to deal with forecasting and lead-times – coining the terms MRP II and APS, respectively.

MRP traditionally employs a phased order system to synchronize a smooth manufacturing stream for the product and its raw materials.

One key trouble with traditional MRPs can be around data integrity – if your MRP is not integrated with any other central databases and correctly normalised, data can become out of sync leading to large problems. Some potential fixes include barcode scanning, real-time reporting, accurate shipping labels and utilisation of advance shipping notifications (ASNs).

Is one solution better than the other for some types of businesses compared with others? How would an ERP and MRP stack up within the food and beverage sectors of the hospitality industry?

Sales versus Service

Selling a service is different to selling a product, and sometimes, you have to sell both simultaneously.

Within the food and beverage industry, what software fits best with your operations management and supply chain? To be able to find out if anything is fit for purpose, you must first define the purpose. If you purchase even a designer dress/suit ‘off the rack’, it is still unlikely to fit your body perfectly. This is the same for an ‘out-of-the-box’ software solution. It needs tailoring.

Necessity and Roadmaps

The question of the ‘must-haves’ versus the ‘should-haves/could-haves’ is important too. At what point in your road maps will your could-haves become must-haves? Can your intended solution support this?

Categories and capabilities

Consider the following first:

  • Integration with existing technology landscape
  • Modularity – your business may not need every module, so why pay for it? It pays to be selective.
  • Phase-ability – why not scale your software needs with your scaling business needs?

Then consider how you want some of the major functions to work:

  • Managing BoMs (Bill of Materials)
  • Purchase / Order management
    • Including ordering type, e.g. Just-in-time (JIT)
  • Platform data management
  • Material status calculations
  • Delivery planning and management
  • Inventory management
    • Inventory conversions
  • System interfaces
    • UI/UX specialised for audience
      • E.g. the concept of ‘cooking’ products can be very different in a specialised, large scale manufacturing site than a QSR kitchen
  • System outputs
    • Material plans
    • Work orders
    • Integrations
    • Dashboards and reports
      • How do you get the right data to the right stakeholders at the right time?

Do these categories and capabilities resonate with you, or are you looking for more? How about:

  • Calculating what-if scenarios
  • Managing demand for skilled resource


Orderly’s supply chain management solutions can be used closely with an ERP or standalone covering the main functions of an MRP. We customise our tried and tested standard tech stack to provide fast value to your existing IT landscape. We can even provide tracking for your produce right through the supply chain, using RFID and barcode scanning. Orderly is perfectly designed to integrate the services you need with your existing IT system and is the market’s trusted and definitive food and beverage supply chain solution – utilised in organisations such as Starbucks and Morrisons. Interested? Learn more.