Most manufacturers, even small and medium sized, have multiple systems that are integral to their success. Perhaps they have an ERP system which houses job costing, accounting, inventory and purchasing; there is still probably a separate HR or time clock system, perhaps a design suite, CAD or 3D modeling package and maybe even a CRM system. Or, it could just be that companies have one ERP they use and a bunch of ad-hoc spreadsheets which are used for various purposes. Regardless of the system types or setup, it’s safe to say that almost all companies in this space use more than one “system” to store data, perform functions and run their businesses and really could benefit form business integration software.
Having multiple systems is a necessity as each system has a specific purpose or set of functions which it is really good at. The disadvantage to multiple systems is that data resides in more than one place. Often this is related data or repetitive data. In the case of repetitive data…which is the “master record” or does a master record even exist? When you change something in one place, are you or your employees disciplined enough to remember to change it in all of the other places it exists. If you remember 99 percent of the time that’s not good enough. One incorrect or out of sync record can cause a lack of trust in the entire system.
What Is Business Integration Software?
Integrating, connecting, sync’ing, (whatever you want to call it) your systems (or files) can eliminate the errors caused in this process. So, instead of having to remember to update John Smith’s address in the ERP system, the HR system and in the Payroll system, you can just make the change in one place (the master file/record) and allow the integration program to push all changes to the appropriate places.
Although incorrect or inconsistent data across systems is a huge problem, there’s possibly an even more important reason for integration – efficiency.
Even if you have the most amazing employees who never make mistakes and ALWAYS remember to update data across all systems, this is not a fast or value adding process. By using business integration software and integrating systems, this sync/push/pull of data can happen instantaneously, or in batch at regular intervals. The time savings obviously depend on how much repeat data is being keyed into how many different systems. Or, perhaps it’s not even repeat data..perhaps it’s new data or calculated values that one system performs. If one system spits out one something that is simply re-keyed into another system, even if there are calculations performed in the middle, that is “integratable” and it’s called Integral Software.
There are a bunch of out-of-the box business integration software packages that exist for all types of systems.
Many of these claim to be easy to set up, which I’ve found all depends on how much experience you have using the tool. They all become easy to use after a few months of trial and error. For smaller and less variable integrations, custom business integration software can be a cost effective way to go as well. I’d recommend asking your ERP provider or another professional about existing Business Integration Solutions for your software and also getting options from a software developer who understands your business processes.
So, while I love technology and actually think building business integration software is fun and cool (I know, I’ve got issues), I understand that it MUST make business sense.
It’s important to measure the efficiency to be gained and/or the cost of system inconsistencies to make sure spending money on integrating your systems makes financial sense. If there are 10 simple record updates (each with 3 fields) from one system to another, each month, it probably doesn’t make sense to spend ANY money on building or buying a business integration software to integrate this data, you would never see a return on your investment.