Bolt-on is an artificially intelligent, comprehensive execution system providing very specific functionality or technology to complement ERP systems. Bolt-ons employ client-specific business rules to meet unique needs. There are many useful applications of this type. The usual means of connection to other organizations with ERP systems is through software components.
Most software has historically been delivered as inflexible code focusing on its originally intended application. A much easier approach is the idea of components where separate, encapsulated software code is written that is easier to manage, upgrade and connect to host systems. Open systems can easily accept modifications, additions or linkages to external software. Components make open systems possible.
Since the underlying philosophy in early ERP systems was internal integration, there was initially little apparent value in developing open systems. However, the ERP user market soon identified the benefits of best-of-breed selection of modules, sometimes across vendors. Vendors then realized the need to offer applications components. The focus shifted from internal design coherence to the ability to communicate with external software. Service-based architectures were created enabling business transactions and data transfer from outside the core applications.
Some examples where bolt-on software is used are product data management, product life cycle management, customer relations, e-procurement, order tracking, warehouse management, data mining systems, etc.