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Business Transformation

How does merging multiple best-in-class applications strengthen your international ERP solution?

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

In the age of Digital Transformation, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, more and more companies are realizing the benefits of ERP integration. Merging multiple best-in-class applications to build or strengthen a custom ERP solution automates processes, increases productivity and can help boost revenue.

What are the benefits of an ERP solution?

Enterprise Resource Planning software is a tool commonly used by businesses of all types and sizes to streamline and automate processes such as accounting, manufacturing, distribution and human resources. One of the main benefits of ERP is that it acts as a real-time, centralized data hub for a variety of operations, making it easier to share data insights and analytics across departments. ERP also automates processes that would ordinarily need to be done by hand, such as a sales order that automatically gets sent to the warehouse for picking and distribution, and to accounting for invoicing.

ERP Integration, moreover, takes all the benefits of an ERP solution to the next level, by connecting your ERP software to your other company systems, ensuring information is always up-to-date and accurate, making workflows smoother and productivity higher. Today, businesses can even integrate their systems with those of their vendors to create a unique and customized integrated solution. The benefits of this are clear; think how time consuming it is to take the data generated by your ERP system and enter it manually into another system. Integration streamlines this process, and others, and greatly reduces the risk of human error.

Centralized data and automized processes

Let’s take a closer look at the benefits of ERP Integration. For many businesses, centralized data is the most obvious gain. Never underestimate the value of having all of your business data in one central location. Think of the time saved, the facilitation of business processes and the increased efficiency an ERP integration can enable.

ERP integration also helps companies to automate processes and visualize workflow. With automation, for example, you can streamline your operations across departments, reducing manual input and time spent completing tasks.  A customized integrated solution can also boost visualization into tasks, workflows and workloads giving your team better insight. Better insight means better decisions.

It goes without saying that the increased automation that comes from ERP integration greatly reduces the risk of human error that can come from manual data entry. Typos when entering financial data, incorrect email addresses and BOM mistakes can have a significant impact on your business. This automation, in turn, frees your employees from time-consuming manual data entry, enabling them to focus on the tasks that require human input.

One size does not fit all

The types of ERP integration, and the benefits they facilitate are wide-ranging. But what’s the right solution for your business? You may, for example, need to link your ERP and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solutions to improve customer service and communications. Or maybe you want to streamline your sales and marketing process by creating a critical link between demand (CRM) and supply (ERP). Likewise, integration to your eCommerce and Business Intelligence (BI) solutions can give you a hitherto unmatched level of insight, efficiency and decision-making power.  And don’t forget that ERP integration is not limited to the front office. The volume of back-office tasks related to Human Resources and Project Management can be greatly reduced when merged with ERP.

Point-to-point, custom or ESB?

Once you’ve decided on the right type of ERP Integration for your business, what’s the best way to go about implementation? There are a number of different methods of implementing ERP integrations, and the right choice for you is dependent on a number of factors, such as, what ERP and analytics systems you are currently using, your budget and whether your software is onsite or in the cloud.

Companies today usually choose one of three routes: Point-to-point, Custom or ESB. Point-to-point is likely the most challenging route to take and involves individually connecting the ERP software to each system running in your business. While potentially time-consuming and increasingly complicated as more systems are added, many companies still choose this route because of the reasonably low-entry barrier.  Others choose to build their own custom application to integrate their various systems. Like point-to-point, custom applications risk becoming cumbersome and complicated as your business grows and you add more tools to your software portfolio. The final route is the leading-edge Enterprise Service Bus (ESB) approach; a ‘communication bus’, connecting applications and serving as a centralized hub were all systems can communicate. This is a more straightforward process and eliminates the challenges that can arise if more tools or systems are added.

ERP Integration is no walk in the park

Whichever route you choose, without the right partner, ERP Integration is no walk in the park, especially if your company is global or international. Reports show that 60% of ERP integrations fail in some way. To avoid such failure, it’s crucial to keep in mind the potential challenges and pitfalls. Having the right strategy and defining your needs, for example, can greatly mitigate the risk of failure. So too is understanding that integration often requires upkeep and maintenance as elements are added and removed to your system (especially if you’ve taken the point-to-point route), a factor that often adds cost. Moreover, legacy applications that don’t support integration can also prove to be a hefty roadblock. Last, but by no means least, when it comes to international or global companies, the importance of local representation for implementation, maintenance and support is often underestimated and can potentially make or break your project.

The benefits, however, far outweigh the potential challenges

The benefits, however, far outweigh the potential challenges, and solutions are in high demand. What’s key is finding an ERP integration expert that can ease your pain. With the right implementation strategy, that’s aligned with your business strategy, your ERP integration – local or global – can be painless. And that’s what you get with Pipol. With over 160 offices in more than 85 countries, our solutions, services and organization are geared specifically for international implementations and client support. Contact us today to hear how we can help transform your business with ERP Integration.

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