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The Case for a Smarter Approach to ERP Integration

January 2, 2013

We work with manufacturers in a range of industries and find evidence of a common scenario, no matter the size company: the need for data integration.

For the manufacturing enterprise, there are compelling business reasons to improve the level of integration between a company’s ERP system and other mission-critical applications. Whether e-commerce sites, CRM, legacy ERP or other systems, shared data must flow through multiple applications, enterprise-wide.

Data Integration – It’s Business Logical

In our experience, companies achieve the best business outcomes when the ERP data integration process seamlessly handles the unique business logic and business rules that trigger connection points.

For example, a purchase order may need to flow through the general ledger, inventory system, CRM and sales software, plus connect with the end customer’s pricing information for real-time exchanges rates, and finally integrate with global freight application.

Beyond API

Until recently, the available tools to effectively address integration challenges limited most manufacturers.

One approach involved the ERP vendor supporting integration to their solutions with low-level Application Programming Interfaces (API).

With low-level APIs, manufacturers that need data to instantly link between multiple modules and applications enterprise-wide are faced with complex interfaces, programming and custom coding. This effort siphons precious IT resources, forcing a manufacturer’s IT department to develop and maintain custom coding, security patches, database updates and more.

Ready-Made Integration Routines

A more robust integration option eliminates these issues. Web services-based integration simplifies the creation, deployment, and maintenance of critical integrations, making it easier for manufacturers to seamlessly link all the technical components of the enterprise.

In the case of the Plex Manufacturing Cloud, Web service integrations enable applications to interact over the Internet, irrespective of language of the application or operating system. This advanced integration approach delivers powerful technology to connect core business applications including:

  • Shipping integration
  • E-commerce websites
  • Biometric time clocks
  • Freight integration
  • Salesforce sales/CRM integration
  • PLC/machine integration via MACH2
  • Vision System integration
  • SPC data integration
  • Currency conversions
  • Tax integration
  • CAD integration
  • Financial budgeting
  • Legacy ERP systems

The engine behind the approach is a ready-made Web library of open integration points as well as connections to third-party applications and services.

These integrations are available over the Internet, deployed seamlessly within Plex. Manufacturers maintain the advantages of a cloud-based application. Most importantly, manufacturers benefit from reliable integration solutions that are automatically updated, secure and stable, as well as up to date with the latest infrastructure and application version.

Want to learn more about the details of the integration process and their associated business benefits? Contact us to get started.

About the Author

Tom Decoe Vice President of Infrastructure, Plex Systems

Tom Decoe is vice president of infrastructure and is responsible for defining the strategic development of the Plex Manufacturing Cloud as we scale to meet changing customer requirements worldwide. Tom is a graduate of Central Michigan University with a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science and Math.