Your ERP is the secret sauce in your business’s recipe for success. An enterprise resource planning system acts as a hub for other software systems and applications. ERP integration creates a source of truth, allowing many business applications to work harmoniously.
An integrated enterprise allows information to flow smoothly across departments, eliminating manual tasks and reducing errors. The benefits of ERP integration include accurate data, fast processes, and data-driven decision-making. In other words, your ERP becomes a source of insight instead of frustration.
Brushing up on ERP integrations is a quick way to better your business processes.
What is an ERP Integration?
Simply put, ERP integration means connecting your enterprise resource system with other business applications. Really, if you’re not integrating your ERP, why use it in the first place?
This is your central hub, which connects to various business functions. Enterprise app integration examples include finance, human resources, inventory, sales, and customer relationship management (CRM). A linked ecosystem is almost always more efficient than a collection of disparate systems.
Connect Your Enterprise Apps
Integrated enterprise applications yield more accurate and actionable data. Depending on the kind of visibility you want, you have all of the following options at your disposal.
Data synchronization between the ERP system and other applications must occur in real-time or on a scheduled basis to ensure that all systems have consistent and up-to-date data.
APIs are tools that help different software systems communicate with each other by establishing rules and protocols for exchanging data. By allowing seamless integration between the ERP system and other applications, APIs make it easier for these systems to work together.
Middleware is software that acts as a bridge between different applications, facilitating data exchange and communication. It enables the ERP system to interact with other software systems by translating and transmitting data between them.
Benefits of an ERP
There are several benefits to ERP integration. First, it streamlines processes by eliminating manual data entry and reducing duplicate efforts. This automation leads to improved efficiency and reduced errors.
Second, integration enhances data accuracy by allowing information to be entered and updated in one system and automatically shared with others. This ensures consistency and reliability of data throughout the organization through centralization of processes.
Moreover, ERP integration enables better decision-making by providing a holistic view of business operations and allowing real-time access to valuable analytics and data, which also allows for quick and efficient insights. Integration also eliminates time-consuming manual tasks and reduces administrative overhead, streamlining business processes and saving both time and money. It also provides scalability and flexibility, enabling organizations to add or replace software applications as needed without disrupting the entire system.
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Types of ERP Integrations
There are several different kinds of ERP system integrations, each serving its own unique purpose or departmental need. Some of the most common types of ERP system integrations include:
By optimizing communication, customer relationship management (CRM) tools can improve a business’s customer service and satisfaction, providing valuable consumer insights that give organizations a competitive advantage within their industry. Using CRM data insights, management can more easily personalize the customer experience, helping to increase overall user satisfaction rates. Additionally, ERP integrations can further enhance a CRM platform by connecting user demand metrics to marketing and sales functions, allowing easy access to valuable data insights, like conversion rates and lead times.
- Human Resources
As one of the most demanding departments as far as software goes, HR must have a smooth workflow to handle such data-hungry processes as employee management, talent recruitment, onboarding, training, payroll, and documentation. Additionally, the ability to share and transfer information must also be easily accessible for any HR integration.
- Business Intelligence
Software that collects data and provides analysis and insights is often called Business Intelligence (BI) software. Most BI software is implemented in order to provide actionable information to improve business systems and processes. By integrating existing BI software into an ERP system, its insights become infinitely more valuable, allowing new opportunities to develop as it discovers new business insights.
In the realm of inventory management, it’s vital to steer clear of stockouts and backorders, which can lead to additional inventory expenses, such as the cost of expedited shipping. E-commerce integrations keep a robust inventory management system afloat, ensuring all stockouts and backorders are prevented and that no potential sales are lost due to inventory maintenance issues.
- Project Management
ERP platforms offer project management software integrating data from various systems for specific projects. This allows companies to handle financial and production projects using a single database, simplifying progress tracking and ensuring timely completion. This feature can also help businesses save time, effort, and money when managing enterprise projects.
How to Integrate an ERP with Your Existing Software
Many ERPs come with stock integrations. Businesses with complex or unique data often push the limits of those integrations. By the time you start thinking about specialized workflows or functionality, you’re almost always talking about custom ERP development.
Prior to ERP integration, most businesses opt to combine a mix of pre-existing legacy systems with modern SaaS (software as a service) systems to optimize their flow of information. This is often a result of disparate departments choosing to control their own specific demands and needs by signing up for various applications over time to achieve their specific goals. This may be ideal in the short term, but it can prove problematic as a business scales and suddenly needs the option to integrate with an ERP. Suddenly adopting an entirely new system may prove costly and time-consuming and be met by an unappreciative workforce.
Methods for ERP Integration
Thus, businesses may choose one of several different strategies when opting to adopt an ERP. These ERP integration strategies include:
Point-to-point integrations are used to align two specific pieces of software together. While this method may be the easiest option, it’s often an insufficient solution for modern organizations that typically require several different types of software connections for dozens of other software programs. As the number of software platforms increases, the number of connections needed also increases, creating a mess for IT employees to maintain. Ergo, this solution is not always the most practical for larger organizations with a plethora of software systems.
Enterprise Service Bus (ESB)
An alternative option is the Enterprise Service Bus (ESB), a software architecture installed on-premises. It allows multiple applications to exchange data and communicate with each other. The data is transmitted in a specific format (usually XML), and adapters act as a bridge between the bus and other software (like the ERP) by translating their data to and from XML or other languages.
ESBs, while a great choice for vertically scaling companies, do not do well for businesses that intend to scale horizontally, making them an unsuitable choice for companies looking for third-party or SaaS integration solutions. On the whole, ESBs aren’t ideal for businesses looking to simplify their data flow, as they often add an additional layer of complexity to a system.
Integration Platform as a Service (iPaaS)
Cloud-based integration is made easier and faster with iPaaS platforms compared to ESBs. These platforms provide many advantages, such as connecting ERP systems to SaaS products, being flexible and cost-effective, and requiring little to no coding knowledge. They are also ideal for modern businesses as they don’t require any on-premises hardware. In general, IPaaS is an excellent solution for companies seeking a first-time ERP integration solution.
Preparing Your Business for an ERP Integration
Integrating an ERP system with existing software requires careful planning and implementation. Here are some general steps to guide the integration process:
- Assess Your Integration Requirements
It’s essential to first identify the specific software systems that need to be integrated with the ERP system and to determine the scope, data flow, and desired outcomes of the integration.
- Choose an Integration Approach
Next, it’s time to select the most suitable integration approach based on the systems involved, such as iPaaS, ESB, point-to-point, or custom development.
- Evaluate Compatibility
A skilled software design team can verify the compatibility of your chosen ERP system and your existing software system regarding data formats, protocols, security requirements, and system capabilities. They can also help you to determine if any modifications or updates are needed to ensure optimal integration.
- Plan Your Data Mapping
Next, the design team will help you define how data will be mapped and transferred between systems and identify the necessary data fields, transformations, and any data validation or cleansing processes required for accurate integration.
- Develop an Integration Solution and Test/Validate
Depending on the chosen approach, the team will then develop an integration solution using APIs, middleware platforms, custom code, or integration tools. They will also thoroughly test the integration solution to ensure proper data flow, functionality, and error handling and to validate the accuracy and consistency of data transferred between systems.
- Provide Training and Support
The design team will train relevant staff members on using the integrated system and provide ongoing support to address any questions or challenges they may encounter, including regular maintenance and updates to ensure optimal performance.
ERP Integration Examples
There are several ERP integration software tools available in the market that can facilitate the integration of ERP systems with other software applications. Here are some examples:
- Oracle Integration Cloud: Oracle Integration Cloud provides a comprehensive set of integration tools and services, allowing for the integration of ERP systems with other cloud and on-premises applications, databases, and services.
- MuleSoft Anypoint Platform: MuleSoft provides a comprehensive integration platform that integrates ERP systems with a wide range of applications, systems, and data sources using APIs, connectors, and data transformation tools.
- IBM Integration Bus: IBM Integration Bus, formerly known as IBM WebSphere Message Broker, is an integration platform that supports the integration of ERP systems with diverse applications and technologies through various protocols and data formats.
- Shopify + NetSuite: This integration allows businesses to synchronize order data, inventory, and customer information between Shopify’s eCommerce platform and NetSuite’s robust ERP system.
- WooCommerce + Microsoft Dynamics 365: Integrating WooCommerce, a popular WordPress plugin for eCommerce, with Microsoft Dynamics 365 ERP empowers businesses to streamline sales, inventory management, and customer data.
- Workday + Oracle HCM: Integrating Workday, a popular cloud-based HR system, with Oracle HCM (Human Capital Management) ERP permits businesses to streamline HR processes, including employee data management, payroll, benefits, and talent management.
- Salesforce + SAP ERP: This integration connects Salesforce, a leading CRM platform, with SAP ERP, providing businesses with a seamless flow of customer data, order management, and sales information between the CRM and ERP systems.
- Asana + NetSuite ERP: Integrating Asana, a project management platform, with NetSuite ERP enables organizations to align project tasks, track project progress, and manage resource allocation. This integration helps streamline project execution and improves collaboration between project teams and finance departments.
- Domo + Infor ERP: Integrating Domo, a cloud-based BI platform, with Infor ERP systems allows organizations to connect, transform, and visualize ERP data for better decision-making. Users can create real-time dashboards, collaborate on insights, and gain a comprehensive view of their Infor ERP data.
ERP integration is a crucial process that connects different software systems within an organization, facilitating seamless data flow and improving overall business operations. It eliminates manual tasks, reduces errors, and provides real-time insights, leading to better decision-making and increased efficiency.
And while there are various methods of ERP integration, each strategy has its own advantages and considerations, depending on the organization’s needs and existing software infrastructure.
Overall, ERP integration is a strategic investment that brings cohesion to a company’s software ecosystem, improves operational efficiency, and empowers businesses to make data-driven decisions for sustained growth and success.
Designli offers free consultations to businesses interested in ERP integration. If you want to discuss next steps for an enterprise app, we invite you to choose a time to chat.
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