When productivity issues arise, most companies will deploy costly solutions, like hiring more staff or developing overly complex workflows, without realizing what the real problem truly is. But most likely, if your company is hiring more people or rolling out elaborate processes in an effort to speed up work—especially work that spans across several separate departments—you’re really just treating the symptoms of a larger problem. The real issue? A disjointed cross-enterprise workflow system. The solution? Utilizing both an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system and solutions that integrate seamlessly with that ERP.
This article will explain the basics of ERP and then dive further into ERP integration, the methods by which to achieve ERP integration, as well as the benefits of choosing this solution. We’ll also discuss the various types of integrations and what your business needs to keep in mind to ensure your other software solutions integrate smoothly with your ERP.
What Is ERP?ERP, or enterprise resource planning, is a software used to unify and manage all major departments (like human resources, accounts payable, sales, and more) and daily processes within an organization. Some examples of ERP software include Microsoft Dynamics, Oracle eBusiness Suite, Infor Lawson, and AWS. Many organizations already have ERP software in place, though their ERP integrations may be lacking.
What Is ERP Integration?
ERP integration is the method by which a company ensures its ERP solution can communicate and work with the other programs and software systems it uses. Having good ERP integrations bridges all data and functions occurring across every department, creating better visibility and connectedness for the entire company.
ERP Integration Methods
There are various ERP integration methods to consider based on the needs of your organization. Here are the most popular types of ERP integrations:
This is a one-off connection between the ERP and a single software. It’s a popular option for small companies that don’t have a robust system of software within their organization. However, the majority of mid-size and large organizations require more than one software connection, so point-to-point integration isn’t an efficient option.
ENTERPRISE SERVICE BUS (ESB)
ESB allows for multiple software systems to connect. On a basic level, it creates rules by which software can flow into the ERP, standardizing data formats and putting everything in one place. This type of ERP integration is much more robust than point-to-point integration and can be an effective method for connecting various software containing various types of code.
INTEGRATION PLATFORM AS A SERVICE (iPaaS)
iPaaS is a cloud-based service that has the ability to integrate many different software with an ERP. This type of integration is efficient and flexible. Once the service is in place, companies can easily integrate additional software in the future.
Types of ERP Integrations
Just as there are many different methods for implementing an ERP integration, there are also many different areas of a business that you can apply that integration to. Let’s delve into the different business use cases for ERP integration.
Customer communications management (CCM) is one of the most important areas that proper ERP integration can support. CCM involves keeping track of and handling all of the documents that customers will need in order to have a successful relationship with your company. So it’s critical to ensure that your ERP can integrate smoothly with the tools used to handle CCM processes. When done correctly, documents involved in your CCM operations should be accessible to everyone who needs them, across all departments.
Another area that many companies use an ERP integration for is business intelligence. The tools that support business intelligence operations gather and analyze data and often generate dashboard reports to help make better business decisions.
Imagine a product development team having access not only to customer data and contact information, but also to the analytics behind their purchase decisions. Being able to combine those two valuable software solutions opens up a whole new world of opportunity for company growth.
When day-to-day operations are running smoothly, productivity increases, and the entire company benefits. Human resources software—like applicant tracking systems, payroll management tools, and HR document management systems—are meant to streamline people operations and minimize time spent onboarding and nurturing employees. As such, it’s important that that software easily connects with your ERP tool.
Project management software systems keep employee tasks organized, regardless of department. These tools offer the ability to assign priority levels and estimate time-to-complete in order to map out project timelines and provide a bird’s eye view to both employees and managers.
That’s why it’s important to find a project management tool that smoothly integrates with your ERP software in order to centralize functionality for all. When employees are given all of the information and priority levels needed to complete projects well and on time, productivity improves and everyone is happy.
What Are the Benefits of ERP Integration?
It’s clear that ERP integration with other valuable software can be a gamechanger for all businesses. It removes barriers between various software systems. But let’s talk about some of the other major benefits of ERP integration:
Slack’s The State of Work report found that 4% of workers reported spending 30 minutes or more switching between apps each day. What’s worse: That toggling adds up to more than 130 hours of time lost each year. As mentioned above, with software that integrates with your existing ERP, employees no longer need to jump from platform to platform in order to find the information they’re looking for.
EFFICIENCY VIA AUTOMATION
Automation always leads to greater efficiency. ERP integration eliminates the need to sign in to every application and search for data—a feature that’s wildly helpful for running operations in any department, including accounts payable. In fact, one 2019 report found that within accounts payable departments that implemented automation, full time employees were able to process twice as many invoices compared to their less efficient counterparts. That’s basically like getting two employees for the price of one!
One study found that manual data entry leads to error rates between one and four percent. The benefits of ERP integration is that it greatly reduces the need for manual data entry, and therefore has the potential to reduce common data entry errors.
BETTER CUSTOMER EXPERIENCES
When a company can determine the needs and pain points of customers more clearly, they can improve their customers’ experiences. This benefit comes from the integration of systems employed for use cases like CCM and business intelligence software into an ERP. It’s all about better visibility across your business to ensure everyone has the information they need to provide a good customer experience.
Determining What You Need Before an Integration
Before you begin integrating software with an ERP system, you’ll need to make some important determinations. Ask the following questions to help clarify next steps when selecting a tool or platform that will integrate with your ERP system:
What operations will be integrated? Which ones will need to be handled independently?
This answer will depend both on your company’s needs and the types of software currently in place. Furthermore, identify which operations of the solution you’re considering would be the most beneficial if integrated with your ERP.
Does the vendor you’d be working with have experience in your industry?
The vendor you choose needs to be familiar with your industry and its needs. For example, if your business is in the healthcare sector, don’t hire a vendor whose solution doesn’t speak to the pain points that are prominent in that industry. Also ask yourself, what industry-specific needs are most important and need to integrate with our ERP?
What does training look like?
Whatever software you’re using should have training on how it integrates with an ERP solution and vice versa. All companies deal with employee turnover (though hopefully yours is minimal!), so it’s crucial to make sure knowledge of how your solutions speak to each other doesn’t leave the company completely when an employee moves on. You might also want to ask, what types of training sessions are available? Live sessions with Q&As or previously recorded general training sessions?
What does ongoing support look like?
While the goal for ERP integration is to be smooth and easy to work with going forward, the need for ongoing support is realistic. How easy will it be to get support when necessary? Will I have access to a dedicated account manager?
MHC and ERP Integrations
It takes hard work, intelligence, robust software, and a bit of luck to successfully maintain and scale a business. Fortunately, one of the ways you can stack the proverbial deck is by ensuring that you utilize systems that automate menial tasks and connect with others.
Having software that integrates seamlessly with your existing ERP is integral to succeeding at the pace of modern businesses. But not all platforms have the ERP integration capabilities that will meet your business needs across departments, including accounts payable, accounts receivable, HR, and more.
That’s where MHC comes in. Our solutions are designed to smoothly integrate with major ERP solutions from Oracle, Infor, and more, making critical data easily accessible for customer communications, document creation, invoice processing, and more. Learn how our platform can help streamline and centralize your business’s efforts today.