Project: Cloud-based Automation of ERP and CRM software for Small Businesses

The goal of Cloud Consulting is to create new technologies which automate the configuration of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software for the benefit of small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). ERP systems are a key instrument to manage, report and control an SMB's business. SMBs that have adopted ERP possess added value and a distinct advantage within their competitive markets. However SMBs face challenge in paying for the consulting required to configure an ERP system._x000D__x000D_Cloud Consulting will use knowledge engineering, machine learning and data mining technologies to automatically generate a basic configuration of an ERP package based on an interactive questionnaire filled out by the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of a small business. Using an ERP system that is available as a Software as a Service (SaaS), this basic configuration could then be refined by human IT consultants on demand over the Internet._x000D__x000D_We have published a paper that approves the applicability of these approaches to automate ERP configuration for SMBs (see Wölfel, K., Smets, J.-P., Strahringer, S.: Automating ERP Package Configuration for Small Businesses. Proc. of IFIP International Conference on Research and Practical Issues of Enterprise Information Systems, Confenis 2010, Aug. 25-27, Natal/Brasil)._x000D__x000D_Cloud Consulting will significantly reduce time and cost of ERP implementation for SMB's. A CEO of a small business will be able to spend just one hour of his time to answer twenty or thirty questions resulting in a made-to-measure ERP to meet most explicit and implicit requirements of his company._x000D__x000D_Cloud Consulting will create the first application of data mining for configuring an ERP. This technological breakthrough was not possible before the advent of Cloud Computing and SaaS. In effect, ERPs were previously implemented by consultants, in most cases on a local server. No company could aggregate enough ERP user cases to consider automating the configuration process. Cloud Consulting will be implemented with TioLive (www.tiolive.com), an open source ERP and CRM Cloud Computing platform created by Nexedi.  Nexedi’s TioLive, with over 10000 subscribers worldwide, provides the platform for the installation of thousands of different companies, enabling the analysis of ERP usage data through a large sample of companies._x000D__x000D_The Cloud Consulting project will be conducted by a team of five European organizations: Telecom Bretagne (France), Technical University of Dresden (Germany), Rapid-I (Germany), BEIA (Romania) and Nexedi (France). Nexedi has initiated the project and found the right Ps to contribute to the success of the project._x000D__x000D_Nexedi and Telecom-Bretagne have mapped out the research landscape of the project based on Nexedi’s experience and the tools it has already developed and implemented, along with the user cases available through TioLive. _x000D__x000D_The Technical University of Dresden will be in charge of modeling an enterprise through a collection of questions, possibly several hundred questions. These questions will be the basis for the development of expert knowledge and machine learning models. They will also be used to collect sample data for the data mining approach._x000D__x000D_Telecom-Bretagne will be in charge of creating knowledge engineering technologies and models based on explicit rules which do not require pre-existing sample data and which can produce a rough configuration. Such models will be used to reduce the number of questions an SMB CEO will need to answer, and to generate default configuration values. Telecom-Bretagne will also use data mining to optimize rules. _x000D__x000D_Rapid-I will be in charge of creating machine learning models based on data mining with sample data which can be used to optimize the models provided by Telecom-Bretagne. Also, some statistical models can be generated to improve the CEOs’ replies by analyzing the evolution of the ERP configuration._x000D__x000D_BEIA will provide a Cloud Consulting implementation case. BEIA has already implemented an ERP based on open source ERP5 which is the same ERP technology as that implemented in the TioLive service. BEIA will share its configuration experience with the SMB community in Romania and carry out a proof-of-concept on the prototype system._x000D__x000D_Nexedi will lead the project by providing the features and constraints posed by the ERP5-based TioLive platform, by defining common data models, by integrating results provided by each party, and by releasing a new version of the TioLive service in which the configuration process is based on knowledge engineering, machine learning and data mining. Through TioLive, Nexedi has extensively studied the critical success factors for the implementation of enterprise resource planning system implementation in small and medium-sized businesses.

Acronym Cloud Consulting (Reference Number: 6021)
Duration 01/02/2011 - 31/01/2014
Project Topic The goal of Cloud Consulting is to create new technologies which automate the configuration of Enterprise Resource Planning and Customer Relationship Management software for the benefit of SMBs. The technologies to be used are Knowledge Engineering, Machine Learning and Data Mining.
Project Results
(after finalisation)
The two CO results of the project, are the correction suggestion system and the Category Configuration Support (CCS) system. The correction suggestion system is a machine-learning-based technology to support the correction of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) by large distributed teams of tutors with different experience levels. The CCS system enables the management of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to create an ERP category configuration on their own. The CCS system is based on a questionnaire which models a small company. The answers by the company manager are then tested for similarity against example data collected during the project to suggest possible configurations. This way the CCS system helps to automate the ERP configuration and lowers the burden of ERP implementation for small companies.
Network Eurostars
Call Eurostars Cut-Off 5

Project partner

Number Name Role Country
5 Rapid I GmbH Partner Germany
5 Nexedi SA Coordinator France
5 Technical University of Dresden Partner Germany
5 Telecom Institut Partner France
5 BEIA consulting international Partner Romania