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Location, Location, Location: Terminology Confusion in ERP Projects

Have you ever experienced the clash of terminology that results when supply chains are brought together, due to acquisition or merger? The typical scenario: different groups using multiple terms to describe where product is manufactured at and shipped from; folks use terms like "location", "plant", and "site" interchangeably, and confusion can result - are we talking about SAP configuration? Wide-area network architecture? Rollout plans?

To communicate effectively, it helps to clarify things. Here is a starter list of terms from projects I've been involved with. Care to add / edit the list?

Generic Terms

A building is what it sounds like - four walls and a roof.
A facility could refer to one or more buildings.
A campus is a generic term for a group of buildings.

Specific Terms - ERP

In SAP, a Plant is a place where materials are produced, or goods and services are provided. A Plant is made up of one or more buildings.
In some Warehouse Management Systems (WMS), a Warehouse refers to a single building. In SAP, a Warehouse is a collection of Storage Areas ; a building can contain multiple storage areas, and a warehouse can span multiple buildings.

Specific Terms - WAN

A Site typically designates a point-of-presence to the Wide Area Network (WAN) - a cluster of WAN devices that connects one or more buildings to the network.


A Chinese proverb states , "Wisdom begins with calling things by their right names." When bringing companies and cultures together, project managers need to pay special attention to the words; we must be very precise with our language, so everyone understands that we are all talking about the same thing.