An Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system helps businesses to automate and optimize their operational and financial processes, such as billing, shipping and delivery, inventory management, manufacturing, human resources, customer relationships, and more. But there are, however, some scenarios where ‘one size does not fit all’ – where an existing ERP may not be able to meet an organization’s dynamic business needs. This is when companies begin to wonder if, in fact, their ERP system can be integrated with other software solutions. The short answer is, and without hesitation, yes!
A modern ERP that’s open and flexible, can seamlessly integrate with a wide range of software products and apps to enhance system functionality and the overall user experience. But, without an open system, integrating different ‘bits and pieces of software with an ERP, can be challenging, at best. This is because every software product or app has its own clearly defined set of rules on how it wants to manage and use data, while its #1 objective is to share data across systems to improve efficiency, and business insights. Oh yes, and to create a single source of truth, aka, all your data on a single platform.
Let’s take a closer look at the fundamentals of integrating third-party software, often called complementary products, how it works – and why, in some scenarios, it doesn’t. Here’s what you need to know, with five short questions, duly asked, and answered.
- Can a software of your choice be integrated into an existing ERP?
In most cases, it’s highly likely that you’ll be able to integrate your choice of third-party software into an existing ERP. But… it must be a modern ERP, and an open and flexible system, one that can easily integrate with other software products, and apps. With the help of connectors or customized adapters, such as Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), integration can be fast and easy. However, integration may not be possible if your ERP system is restricted or if there are compatibility issues. You need to consult with your ERP vendor or an ERP integration consultant, who will perform an audit before giving you the green light to integrate your third-party software.
- Why can’t we concurrently run ERP alongside other software products?
Essentially, you can run ERP alongside other software products. For instance, many organizations choose to implement ERP and CRM systems separately and keep all the data separate as well. However, this results in two sets of data that can’t interact with one other. This leads to wasted storage space, duplicate entries, and often, poor insights because system data isn’t shared. Integrating other software products with an ERP creates a unified set of data, up-to-date operational business information that is available and accessible in real-time. In turn, organizations can reap the benefits of enhanced analytics, elimination of duplicate data entry, and improved efficiency and productivity.
- Can individual modules of an ERP system be integrated?
This depends on the vendor and the ERP product. However, in most cases, it can be done. For example, an ERP user may want to integrate their inventory management module with a GPS tool of their choice. In this scenario, access management can help restrict data-sharing to specific ERP modules. Your ERP vendor or integration partner can help arrive at a completely tailored solution, so that only modules you choose are integrated with preferred software tools. For more complex integrations, an ecosystem integration approach may be necessary.
- What are the challenges of ERP integration?
While ERP integration comes with a wide range of benefits, it also poses certain challenges. The more complex an integrated system is, the more comprehensive its management and operational planning have to be. Some integrations may also pose cost-related challenges, while others may present technological obstacles due to the extent of customization. As ERP integrations add an additional layer of complexity, employees may have to be trained before successful implementation.
- What are the benefits of ERP integration?
There are a number of immediate and long-term benefits of ERP integration. For starters, businesses will experience enhanced productivity and efficiency as a result of centralized data, while workflow visualization helps improve communication and prioritizing tasks. More important, integrations help businesses to deliver their very best to their customers, resulting in enhanced sales, and revenue growth. In the long-term, ERP integrations help save costs and reduce expenditure by eliminating manual entries, and human errors. They also help businesses to scale by adding new features to existing IT infrastructure.
ERP integrations are easy to implement and help businesses scale
ERP integrations are a successful and effective way to reduce costs and improve operational efficiency. Businesses can choose the modules they wish to integrate or opt for an ecosystem integration if the requirements are complex. Although there are challenges, such as cost and complexities, the benefits of ERP integration are backed by market-proven and empirical evidence.