Tutorial at Fourth IEEE International Baltic Workshop on Databases and Information Systems, 1 May 2000, Vilnius (Lithuania).

Understanding the Enterprise Information System Technology of BaanERP

Gerd Wagner (Eindhoven University of Technology, NL)

Download the tutorial notes.


Enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems are generic and comprehensive business software systems based on a distributed computing platform including one or more database management systems. They combine a global enterprise information system covering large parts of the information needs of an enterprise with a large number of application programs implementing all kinds of business processes that are vital for the operation of an enterprise. These systems help organizations to deal with basic business functions such as inventory/purchase/sales/distribution management, financial accounting and controlling, and human resources management, as well as with advanced business functions such as project management, production planning, supply chain management, and sales force automation.

First generation ERP systems now run the complete back office functions of the worlds largest corporations. The ERP market rose at 50% per year to $8.6 billion in 1998 with 22,000 installations of the market leader, SAP R/3.  The benefits of a properly implemented ERP system can be significant. Inventory costs can be reduced (on the average) by 25 to 30%; raw material costs can be reduced by about 15% on average. It is estimated that businesses around the world are now spending $10 billion per year on ERP systems, and will be over $50 billion per year by 2003.

Typically, ERP systems provide multi-instance database management as well as configuration and version (or 'customization') management for the underlying database schema, the user interface, and the numerous application programs associated with them. The sheer size and the tremendous complexity of these systems make them difficult to deploy and maintain. Despite the worldwide success of  systems like SAP R/3 and Baan IV, the underlying architectures, data models, transaction mechanisms and programming techniques are to a large degree unknown to computer scientists.

The goal of this tutorial is to present the information technology of Baan IV, as a representative of the ERP system paradigm, from a computer science (rather than from a business management) perspective, relating it to established database and distributed systems concepts and techniques. A critical assessment of Baan IV will point out some of its merits and weaknesses. The tutorial will help attendees to understand the potential of  ERP system technology in general, and of Baan IV ERP system technology in particular, and how it relates to their own research and development work

Intended Audience

Researchers and practitioners who want to learn about the concepts and techniques of ERP systems from an information technology point of view.


A.  A Quick Tour of Baan IV

  1. General software architecture
  2. Multi-instance database management
  3. Configuration and version management
  4. User and client management
  5. Overview of the application data model
  6. Overview of the Baan IV data dictionary
  7. Customization of GUI components
  8. Programming with Baan 4GL

B. Business Process Modeling with Baan Dynamic Enterprise Modeler

  1. The repository
    1. Business functions
    2. Business processes
    3. States and Activities
    4. Roles
    5. Organization models
  2. Reference models
  3. Project models

C.  Critical Assessment

  1. Comparison with SAP R/3
  2. Baan IV and SQL
  3. Object-Orientation in ERP systems

About the instructor

Dr. Gerd Wagner is currently a research scientist in the computer science department at the Free University of Berlin. He received an MSc in mathematics and a PhD in philosophy from the Free University of Berlin, and a German Habilitation degree in computer science from the University of Leipzig. He was visiting researcher at the Institute de Recherche en Informatique de Toulouse in 1994 and at Universidade Nova de Lisboa in 1995. His research interests are focused on the foundations of information and knowledge systems and of multiagent systems. Dr. Wagner is the guest editor of a 1997 special issue of the Journal of Applied Nonclassical Logic on "Handling Inconsistency in Knowledge Systems", and the author of the book "Foundations of Knowledge Systems with Applications to Databases and Agents" (Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1998). In 1999, he initiated and co-organized the first International Workshop on Agent-Oriented Information Systems (http://www.AOIS.org). In recent years, Dr. Wagner has also worked with the enterprise resource planning system Baan IV. He has been involved in several Baan IV customization projects, and has taught "Baan IV Tools" to programmers and consultants.