How To Integrate ERP Systems & Solutions
Integrating an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system into your business operations can be a daunting task. It requires careful planning, research and implementation to ensure the new ERP system works in harmony with existing systems and processes.
To help you navigate this process, our experts have put together this guide on how to integrate ERP systems and solutions. In it, we’ll cover what ERP system integration is, the different stages of the ERP integration process and some key strategies for successful integration.
By following these steps carefully you can take advantage of all that an ERP has to offer – improved efficiency, enhanced customer service capabilities and better data analysis – helping you stay ahead of the competition.
What is Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)?
Enterprise resource planning (ERP) is an integrated suite of applications designed to provide organisations with a centralised view of their core business processes.
ERP systems enable companies to streamline and automate processes such as accounting, customer relationship management (CRM), inventory management, human resources, supply chain management and project management.
ERP systems can improve visibility across the entire enterprise, ensuring accurate data by eliminating manual data entry, reducing the risk of errors, and saving time and money. They also enable businesses to access data in real-time and make decisions quickly.
What is ERP Integration?
ERP integration is the process of connecting and synchronising your ERP system with your other business applications. This might include eCommerce ERP integration (front-end) and CRM integration (see image below), along with other third-party systems. For manufacturing ERP it might mean integration even to machines on the shopfloor.
Integrating an ERP system into an organisation’s existing infrastructure is may or may not be a small task. There are a lot of devils in the details. It requires careful planning, implementation, and testing to ensure that all the pieces fit together correctly.
ERP integration can go a long way to eliminating the need to manually enter data and information into multiple systems, and preparing the wider organisation for growth with its new software. This helps to speed up an organisation’s business processes and significantly reduce data errors. To make the most out of your systems, you need to ensure that everything is integrated correctly.
Modern cloud systems typically have an “API” which is a programmatic interface to the system (as opposed to the User Interface to the system). Typically the API will support all of the normal business processes similarly to the UI, for instance creating a sales order. If a certain system does not have an API there can be ways to achieve and integration but cost and complexity of the project can be higher.
Key benefits of ERP integration
With an ERP system integration, businesses can get the software up and running quickly, reducing the time and cost of implementation. It also allows businesses to focus on other aspects of their business as they are not encumbered with constantly having to maintain (or repair) a complex system.
By effectively integrating your ERP system from the get-go, your organisation can achieve a number of great benefits, faster. These benefits include:
- Improved visibility across the entire organisation
- Ability to track and analyse data in real-time
- Automation and streamlining of processes for better efficiency
- Reduced costs of manual data entry
- Reduction in errors associated with manual data entry
- Improved customer service through enhanced access to customer data
- Increased control over your business intelligence and operations.
The ERP Software Integration Process
The process for integrating an ERP system can vary depending on the size and scope of the project. Generally, however, it includes:
- Assessing the current IT infrastructure and determining which systems need to be integrated
- Designing the data flows
- Prototyping the process
- Designing an architecture for the integration
- Selecting a vendor or partner that can help with the implementation
- Developing, testing and deploying the software solution
- Maintaining, monitoring and optimising the system to ensure its performance.
When designing a system, a simple, even one page, diagram goes a long way. Have one system on one side and the other on the other and draw lines between them, where each line is a movement of data.
For prototyping, try to manually execute the data flows that were drawn in the design. For instance “CRM has a new contact -> enter it to Manu Online”. Check that each system has places for the data that is to be put into it.
For the architecture, there are a number of integration tools that might work for simple jobs. Often these look promising but then you can find that they will do 90% but not 100% of the job. The fallback is to write a new code project to do the job. With the availability of cloud development tools so good, this is often the best option.
At each stage of this process, it’s important to ensure that the new system meets all industry standards and regulations, as well as your company’s security protocols. It is also necessary to have a comprehensive understanding of how the integration will affect existing systems and processes within the organisation.
Integrating ERP systems can be time-consuming and complex, or then not, it all depends on the project. Either way the long-term benefits typically far outweigh the initial costs. With a unified system and streamlined processes, businesses can increase their efficiency, accuracy, and control while reducing errors and saving time and money.
Ultimately, an integrated ERP system will help ensure success for your business in the long run.
Do I Need an ERP Integration Platform?
An ERP integration platform is just one ERP integration method you can utilise when implementing your new software system. It is a cost-effective solution for both small and large organisations, allowing you to quickly connect your ERP system with other applications.
An integration platform can help you automate tasks such as data migration, data mapping, synchronisation of data between applications, and API integration. It also provides a centralised view of all your systems and allows you to monitor the performance of your ERP system from one place.
A great ERP system provider may also ensure integration of their software with existing systems and applications, so take this into consideration when choosing your software provider.
If you want to save the time and effort of integrating your ERP system yourself, look for a vendor that provides ERP integration. This will help you get up and running quickly and easily without any technical know-how.
Looking for a manufacturing ERP provider that can fully support you with integration? Manu Online have you covered with the latest in API technologies. Contact us to get started.
How To Integrate ERP Systems
No matter which integration method you choose, the goal is to ensure that all of your systems are connected in a secure and efficient way. Here are some steps you can take to help ensure a successful ERP integration:
- Analyse Your Current Business Processes & Systems – The first step is to analyse your current processes and systems in order to determine which ones need to be integrated with the new system. This will help you identify potential problems or bottlenecks caused by having multiple systems.
- Select a Vendor – Once you’ve analysed your current systems, it’s time to select a vendor that can help with the integration process. Make sure to do your research and find an ERP vendor that has experience in ERP integrations and is willing to offer support for after the project is completed.
- Set Up Your Integration Platform – Now that you’ve chosen your vendor, it’s time to set up your integration platform. This will involve configuring the system and developing a connection process between the existing systems and the new ERP system.
- Test & Deploy Your System – Once the platform is set up, it’s time to test the system before deploying it. This is an important step as it will help ensure that all of your systems integrate smoothly and without any data loss or errors.
- Monitor & Optimise – After deploying the system, you need to monitor its performance and optimise if necessary. This may include updating settings, configuring new rules, or troubleshooting any errors that arise.
With these steps in mind, you can be sure to successfully integrate your ERP system and take advantage of the many benefits it offers.
Top Tips For Successful ERP Integration Projects
Here are a few final expert tips on successful ERP integrations:
Start early with a simple documented design
Everyone will be on the same page, if there is a page! Get a drawing on paper that is logical and shows the data flows between the two systems. Each data flow should correspond to one or more available end points and will later need to be broken down to the field level
Check that each system has a modern API
Legacy systems often lack a proper API even if they call themselves “cloud”. This can make things more difficult but check what tools are available for getting or posting data, such as csv files. Integrations were also done before modern API’s came along.
Use third party tools only if they really work for you
A third party tool might seem tempting. However, until the details are designed and checked, it is not necessarily a viable solution to the problem because of unexpected limitations of the tool.
Prototype and test properly
Without prototyping (before coding) or testing (after coding) it is impossible to see if system connections will or do work.
Connections can stop for various reasons such as a user credential expiring. Hopefully monitoring tools can be built into the design. Also a regular manual check should be made of system operation and security.
Ultimately, the success of your ERP system depends on how well you integrate it to your various other systems.
By following the tips outlined in this guide, you’ll be able to ensure that the implementation process goes as smoothly as possible and that all users are comfortable with the new system -resulting in an efficient organisation and a successful transition into the tech of the future.
Looking for a cutting-edge manufacturing ERP system to integrate into your business?
Manu Online provides powerful and cutting-edge solutions that can be tailored to fit your business needs. With our ERP solutions, your organisation can always work at its best.
Contact us today to get started!
ERP System Integration FAQs
What are the main approaches to ERP integration?
The two main approaches to ERP integration are phased rollouts and full replacements. A phased rollout involves introducing the new system one department at a time, while a full replacement opts for all departments adopting the new system in one go.
How do you integrate multiple ERP systems?
When integrating multiple ERP systems, it’s important to establish a cohesive platform that allows for easy data sharing and communication between the different systems. This could be through using APIs or a specialist integration platform.
What are the types of ERP integration?
The types of ERP integration will depend on the platform you are using and the industry you’re in. Commonly, they include mobile device integration, cloud integration, third-party applications integration, and system consolidation.