Since FiduciaSoft has extensive experience with ERP, we often receive requests for integration. We have a lot of experience and we decided to write an article on this topic to reveal all the questions. An ERP integration can be beneficial for your business if you would like to have real-time reporting, boost productivity, reduce operational costs, and improve business insights. In this article, we will explain the main types of integrations, provide the ERP integration Guide, and show examples of successful integrations.
Integration ERP as part of business development
Every business is always developing, and integration contributes to its progress. It helps automate routine and main business processes, speed up data exchange and improve data analysis. Integration solves problems such as double data entry, excessive internal communications, connects and synchronizes your software to other systems like eCommerce applications.
ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) allows using a set of integrated programs to create a single information environment to automate all areas of the enterprise from business process planning to control over their implementation and further analysis of the results.
The main purpose of ERP integration is the unity of the information space and synchronization of accurate and useful data in the correct format. Like any other process, the integration can have its benefits as well as drawbacks.
Benefits of ERP integrations
Effective implementation of ERP integration can be beneficial in the following ways:
- Improved legacy systems. If a business has a trustful legacy system, it can process it by integrating and updating it. It will reduce the costs for the license and implementation of the new system.
- Real-time data accuracy. One of the advantages of ERP integration is the provision of real-time business data updates, as well as the elimination of unforeseen errors when manually entering data between functions. This type of integration will help employees to transfer information between departments much easier and more accurately.
- Better mobility. A fully-integrated ERP provides employees access to data as quickly as possible preventing them from being stuck in the legacy system.
- Adding new integrations is easier. Choosing the best integration option, the companies can include any tools and features they need for their business purposes.
- Improved decision-making. ERP integration makes it possible to transfer real-time data from their systems in one main location. It also leads to the efficiency of time spent.
- Avoiding manual entry. Manual entry leads to more errors that can be avoided by automated and efficient ERP integrations. Manual data entry is also a reason for more errors.
- Elimination of information imbalance: a single base of ERP-system, which covers the entire flow of information from different structures of the organization, eliminates the possibility of information incompatibility of the system, which significantly improves the quality of information and provides benefits in decision-making.
- Increased customer satisfaction. By integrating an ERP platform, companies can offer their customers more profitable options. Sales staff can also instantly access customer information, which helps to effectively close the transactions.
- Reduced training of employees. The employees use less software as many processes are automated that respectively reduces the number of training.
Drawbacks of ERP integrations
The disadvantages of ERP integrations partially caused by their advantages:
- A single database and a single system generate a great number of connections, which leads to the complexity of the system, lots of requirements for hardware. Therefore, organizing the work of the ERP-system requires powerful equipment that entails the appropriate costs and enough time.
- A complete ERP system integration is quite expensive. The cost of such integration consists of many components, like the cost of software and hardware, planning, implementation, testing stage and team, the cost of service.
- The level of compatibility of integration with business processes. Systems with a small amount of customization may not respond to actual business processes. For systems that include many features, there is a problem of modernization and changing processes.
- When implemented, the ERP system replaces the existing disparate management information systems. The data stored in these systems cannot always be easily integrated into the ERP system database. Data transfer may be difficult.
Types of ERP integrations, their advantages and disadvantages
There are different ERP integration options that usually depend on businesses’ needs and resources. Based on the purpose, main problems to solve, and the platforms for the ERP integration process, we can highlight the following types of ERP integrations.
Сloud and Server Integration
When installing a software package or individual ERP modules on a local server of a company, you should always remember that its computing capabilities are limited.
The choice of the technical parameters greatly depends on the business perspectives. Whether you need a sufficient number of processor cores, network interfaces, enough RAM and disk memory, or your company needs a replacement of the equipment, this will define the general costs.
If you choose a cloud solution, the choice of the equipment will depend on the components that together are combined into a single system. The benefits of choosing a cloud infrastructure for ERP integration over local hosting are:
- You do not need to buy expensive server equipment, communication networks, include them in fixed assets, calculate depreciation, pay support system administrators;
- Improved information security parameters through the use of hardware and software cryptographic protection, secure data transmission channels, configured backup service and storage of backup copies in remote storages of data centers;
- Quick software update and system modernization;
- Flexibility and scalability while making changes.
Point-to-point integrations happen when you need to integrate one piece of software into another. For the companies that have only two pieces of software that need to be integrated this type of integration is effective, but it doesn’t work so well for big businesses.
The main principle of point-to-point integration is the creation of a common system that supports all applications, is consistent, and interconnects all modules. The software needs to be connected to every other system using its data, that’s why companies have to implement different software options applying this kind of integrations for every operation and data. This can be problematic for big companies.
Enterprise Service Bus (ESB)
Enterprise Service Bus (ESB) is a middleware tool that helps to distribute work of the application’s components by “communication bus”. A business can use an ESB along with ERP and other software the business requires. The ESB not only makes it easier for applications to process service, but it also helps to transfer data and push notifications.
The main advantages of modern ESB solutions include:
- wide range of connectors and scalability of the solution
- flexible data routing
- an easier way to change components or add additional ones
- guaranteed delivery of information messages
- organization of a secure transmission channel
- centralized management
- the load-balancing function which enables to create of multiple copies of a component for better performance
- ability to monitor and diagnose transmission status
- the ability to integrate with a third-party message queue
There is no one accepted standard for behavior that can cause a problem. Sometimes a change in one application needs to be reported to other applications. For example, if a consumer changes their address in one application, the other applications with their own database need to be notified so that they can correct their entries. But generally, the ESB makes it easy for both the consumer and the provider to integrate a service by managing all the complex interactions between them.
Integration via the API platform
This method of integration is perfect for the company using popular products with API. ERP API integration with eCommerce platforms provides better access to all the necessary data from online markets. The ERP systems usually are in charge of multiple operations that help retailers to automate their business processes. For this, they need to be able to work with various types of data and implement them using their systems.
We can highlight some of the most popular platforms for integrations:
- Corezoid – A new, original, multipurpose cloud platform for developing, maintaining, managing, executing, monitoring, and optimizing software for automated processes.
- Zapier – A cloud-based integration platform to help connect all your web applications and systems to one another. It has a free version and allows integrations with the most popular Western services.
- MuleSoft – Helps businesses to connect to the world’s applications, data, and devices both on-premises and in the cloud with an API-led approach. By transferring data across the enterprise with application networks, companies can deliver new revenue channels, improve efficiency, and establish individualized customer experiences.
- Cloras stands for Cloud Rapid Automation System and provides a reliable solution to all kinds of digital commerce integrations. The platform connects, transfers all data flow between two or more data points for ERP, CRM, E-commerce, etc.
ERP Integration Strategy
Before starting an ERP integration, a company should understand the whole picture, prepare and choose the right strategy. Depending on the ERP integrations type your company chooses, you have to keep in mind the maintenance of the integration. If you decide, you need a point-point integration, there probably will be no need to change the whole system but it will be enough to add some components. Here you will need to calculate all the costs for the system updates. All these factors have to be taken into consideration while choosing the right ERP integration strategy.
How to start the ERP integration process?
Implementing ERP systems integration is a complex process that requires careful planning and strategy. Integration of client and server systems, as well as processes into a single platform takes from six months to two years. The length and cost of the process are influenced by a number of factors, such as the size of the organization, the complexity of the current environment, the number of users, and the migration of data from legacy systems.
While changes and adaptations are unavoidable, it is important for a successful implementation to plan an ERP project before integration.
ERP Integration Guide
- Determine which existing data needs to be integrated into the new system, then analyze it and remove useless information. If possible, search for source documents to verify the accuracy and completeness of the data. The importance of data research at this stage is difficult to overestimate because the usefulness of an ERP system directly depends on the data system. If the data is full of inaccuracies, the integration can be ineffective. Once the data has been validated, create a data integration scheme that collects data and then segments them into logical tables to accelerate the transition to the new system. You can use such online services as draw.io, miro.com.
- Determine the best integration methods that will suit your business purposes. Here you can contact a consultant. If your budget allows you, remember that the additional cost of hiring experts pays off by simplifying and accelerating the integration process.
- Find an integration contractor. Engaging a solution provider early in your ERP implementation will increase your chances of success and will allow you to avoid common pitfalls. Solution providers manage the purchase, deployment, and initial setup of ERP solutions. The best way to do that is by hiring someone who already has knowledge and skills. That’s why companies look for an experienced team to deal with aligning ERP with their business.
- Determine the order of integrations, appoint a responsible person, and train the employees. Incorporate checklists and white papers into routine operating procedures — accessible to the entire organization and regularly updated.
- Start the integration process. After the implementation, evaluate the results of the ERP integration according to the goals set by the project team during the planning phase. Is the new system integration helping to achieve them? Are manual processes successfully automated?
Examples of ERP integrations and cases
Since 2015, FiduciaSoft has been providing customization, integration, and solution development services for Acumatica ERP. We have a successful experience in customizing and developing solutions for small and medium-sized businesses, as well as for large enterprises. In this section, we will share with you some of our ERP integration case studies.
ERP integration with eCommerce CRM Magento, etc.
- Popular Nordic Shirt Store in RFID implementation
- Project on .Net: CMS with PIM with ERP integration
- Plugin development for integration of Acumatica ERP and Walmart
ERP integration with WMS, SCM, etc.
- Development of cloud-based WMS system for ERP
- RFID plugin within WMS implementation for customers in the US
- Acumatica ERP extension and integration with DHL delivery
ERP integration with HR and other software
- Development of HR Extension on Acumatica ERP
- Seamless API integration for a healthcare client
- GPS tracking for Telecom Company
We demonstrate our competence in delivering customized and high-quality ERP software, including Acumatica, Sage 100, Sage 300, Sage 500, MS Dynamics AX, and MS Dynamics 365. You can read more about our experience of customizations for ERP in the cases section on our website. And if you have similar projects, let’s discuss them and find the best solutions for your dream project!