What Is ERP Integration? Discover the Top Tools, Benefits and Methods

ERP integration

Enterprise resource planning, or ERP, provides businesses with a single source of truth for their supply chain management and other data flows necessary for accurate project management. Every department, from the back office to human resources to the sales forecasting team, can improve their business functions with the help of ERP solutions. However, business processes need to work together with ERP integration methods that provide an integration strategy for new and legacy systems.

Enterprise resource planning, or ERP, provides businesses with a single source of truth for their supply chain management and other data flows necessary for accurate project management. Every department, from the back office to human resources to the sales forecasting team, can improve their business functions with the help of ERP solutions. However, business processes need to work together with ERP integration methods that provide an integration strategy for new and legacy systems.

Though the integration process can be complicated, it is necessary for automation and daily business needs. This article will uncover the benefits of ERP integration and how it can help your business intelligence and customer data come together for accurate decision-making and optimized software integration.

What Is an ERP Integration?

An ERP system is software that handles business functions like billing, transactions, accounting, supply chain management, purchasing, inventory management, production scheduling, payments, and much more. An ERP integration is the process of connecting an ERP system to the other existing systems and platforms in a company’s tech stack.

An ERP integration allows a company to combine, read, and analyze data between systems, allowing them to work together and improve overall business processes, performance and functionality. An integration will map fields from different software together, allowing the software to work as one and provide a single database.

Top Manufacturing ERPs

While there are many manufacturing ERP options available, some are better options because they can integrate with OEE and machine monitoring solutions.

Epicor

Epicor is an ERP system that offers both cloud and on-premise solutions for manufacturing companies, wholesale distributors, the lumber industry and the automotive industry. They have solutions for manufacturers enabled by the Internet of Things (IoT) and sensors that monitor the shop floor.

Infor

Infor is a global ERP system utilized by industries like fashion, food and beverage, aerospace, automotive, and manufacturing. Manufacturers use tools like artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning for ERO, CRM, and human capital management (HCM) systems, and Infor is scalable for massive growth.

Oracle

Netsuite by Oracle is a major player in the ERP market and has customers in almost every industry. Manufacturers use it to help plan for growth and scale their businesses to move them to the next level.

Microsoft Dynamics 365

Microsoft Dynamics 365 is an ERP-CRM hybrid platform that handles all business functions like finances, manufacturing, supply chain management, and human resources. It works best for mid-market and enterprise-level companies and is a popular choice for manufacturers.

SAP

SAP ERP is a popular option for small- and medium-sized manufacturing businesses. Some of the best tools offered by SAP assist with finance, digital supply chain, customer experience, HR and people management, business technology and CRM.

SYSPRO

SYSPRO is a cloud ERP solution geared toward the distribution and manufacturing industries. It offers a wide range of functions that these industries in particular need to operate their business practices at the optimal level.

Key Benefits of ERP Integration for Manufacturers

Using an ERP and integrating it into the rest of the business is necessary to remain competitive, ensure that your business can scale for growth and handle the supply chain's ups and downs effectively. The key benefits that ERP integration brings to your company are well worth the efforts of setting up an integration process.

Creates More Efficient Workflows

ERP integrations can help streamline certain manufacturing processes like machine monitoring workflows, OEE tracking and manufacturing capacity planning. ERP integrations can combine the data from multiple systems and create a single source of truth. For example, if you want to track your OEE, you can use an ERP integration to monitor your planned production time and your ideal cycle times.

Enables Access to Real-Time Data

One of the major benefits of ERP integration is the ability to access real-time data and machine floor information within your ERP. It's important to have real-time data, as it allows you to:

  • Make the most informed decisions possible.
  • Notice issues and mistakes while they are happening rather than after the fact.
  • Eliminate delays between when data is collected and when it's distributed to team members.

For instance, if there is a machine error, the ERP integration can notify you of the issue before you need to recall an entire day's worth of product, saving you time, money and labor hours.

Reduces Manual Data Entry

Without an ERP system or integrated software solution, you likely have to rely on manual data entry for most business practices. This can lead to many human error issues, like incorrect data input, incomplete forms or records, or other data entry mistakes. An ERP system will automatically take care of those data entry needs and drastically reduce errors. For example, if a machine operator incorrectly logs a machine issue, it can go unnoticed until it causes a shutdown.

Unlocks On-Time Deliveries

One of the major factors in manufacturing success is having a clear view of the supply chain and your incoming deliveries from supplies and outgoing deliveries to customers. With the help of ERP integrations, you can track your production targets and your employee performance in key roles like shipping and delivery. For example, your ERP can put together a clear picture of how your supply chain operates and allow you to unlock data insights you wouldn’t have otherwise about the delivery cycles.

Makes Better Use of the Value Chain

Another benefit of ERP integration is the ability to see data throughout the value chain in your organization. This allows you to use your value chain better and get more strength out of your processes. When you get a complete view of customer data and can forecast demand, you are better prepared to adjust to changes in the marketplace and communicate across your value chain more effectively.

A Greater Return of Investment (ROI)

A final benefit of an ERP integration is a greater return of investment (ROI). While integration can slow down implementation time, a better, integrated system allows you to take control of your business practices and ensure that your entire organization is functioning optimally. When you have an ERP integration, you can increase your productivity, track your downtime and increase profitability quickly.

Integrate your ERP system with Amper to unlock its full potential. Book your demo today.

Common ERP Integration Challenges

Even though there are many benefits of an ERP integration, there may be a few hurdles. Here are a few issues you will likely have to contend with as you move on with your ERP integration process.

Delayed Integrations or Lack of Expertise

One of the biggest challenges that occur during an ERP integration is the delays that can happen during the process. An ERP integration is a large, complex project. It can take months to complete, and during that time your employees won’t be experts on how to use the system. It can take a significant portion of resources to complete an ERP integration and train your team to use it accurately.

Solution

To avoid major delays, it’s important to have a plan put together that clearly lays out all the steps of the process. You can also hire an integration company to help you work through all the complexities of the integration process to avoid pitfalls, get your new system up and running and your team properly trained—quickly.

Data Silos Limiting the Value of the System

A data silo is a data collection controlled and managed by a single department or branch of a business. It doesn’t connect to other areas of the business, and can cause many problems between teams as different groups operate with different data and information. In short, a data silo limits real-time, accurate data and creates an isolated data repository that the entire business can’t access. A great example is when your sales and marketing teams don’t share lead information, so the same target can be approached by the same company twice without anyone knowing.

When you have data silos, you can’t get the most out of your ERP systems. Some departments don’t like sharing data across the entire organization, but data must flow between branches and departments to gain real, valuable insights into your business practices.

Solution

To reduce inefficiency, redundancy and inaccuracy in your data, you need to eliminate data silos. Approach your department leaders and explain how important it is that they share information. Make sure that your ERP integration will eliminate these data silos and instead create a flow of information and a single source of truth that your entire organization can access.

What Are the 3 Approaches to ERP Integration?

When it comes to types of ERP integrations, there are three main approaches a business can implement. Let’s explore each of the options in more detail now.

1) Point-to-Point Integration

A point-to-point integration is a direct integration that connects one piece of software with another. It can be an effective integration method when you are only connecting two pieces of software with related fields, but it can be too simplistic for most modern organizations. As you scale, the number of necessary integrations and connections grows exponentially. Therefore, you may want to consider other options if your business is larger or if you have many pieces of technology and software solutions that need to come together during your integration process.

When To Use This Approach

If you are a small manufacturing business or are only trying to connect two software pieces, then a point-to-point integration may be the best and simplest approach. Just be aware that maintaining a point-to-point integration over time can strain your IT department, so think about how big you plan on scaling before moving forward with a point-to-point approach.

2) Enterprise Service Bus (ESB)

Another common ERP integration approach is an ESB, or an enterprise service bus. This on-premises solution allows your different software applications to communicate with each other and share data back and forth between platforms. An adapter tool called a bus will take data onboard and move it to a different software solution. Often, data will be in an XML format, or a metalanguage for file storing and transmitting. This data will then be moved to the right location on another platform and translated into the format that the new platform requires.

When To Use This Approach

If you are a complex business looking to connect to on-premises software solutions, then ESB is probably the best option for your business. As an on-premises solution, ESBs are ideal for vertical scaling and integrations that only need to remain on location. However, if you are looking to integrate with software as a service (SaaS) solutions or other third-party software, it will require more cloud capability than an ESB can provide. 3) Integration PaaS

Integration PaaS, or iPaaS, is a cloud-based approach to ERP integration. This is a great choice for large, enterprise-level businesses that have many third-party software solutions and are spread across large geographical regions. There are many benefits to using an integration PaaS approach: it doesn't require coding, the integration is designed to connect with platforms like SaaS and it tends to be incredibly flexible for customization needs and unique business processes.

When To Use This Approach

Integration PaaS is the best approach for businesses that want to use an off-premises and cloud solution for their ERP integration. It is often the go-to option for modern organizations, as no on-premises equipment is needed and it is automatically prepared to scale as your business grows. For customers of Amper and other third-party software solutions, this is the best option to allow multiple software options to connect to your ERP during the integration.

While each approach has benefits and drawbacks, integration PaaS is the best approach for connecting to platforms like Amper. An ERP integration with Amper and other tools already in your tech stack can eliminate some of the issues you find in an integration process.

Amper’s API Simplifies ERP Integration With Epicor, Infor, Oracle and More

An ERP system is necessary to help you streamline your business and improve the customer experience. It helps you eliminate human error from data entry and create data flow between customer relationship management (CRM) and other on-premises legacy systems. With the right integration platform, you can bring your business intelligence together and overcome integration challenges.

At Amper, we provide APIs that help simplify the integration process with systems like Epicor, Infor, Oracle and more. We offer integration solutions for whatever ERP vendors you choose and help you with data integration and the specific connectors between systems. To learn more about Amper and how to optimize your production processes, book a demo with one of our expert team members.


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