What is ERP Integration? A Comprehensive Guide

1 September, 2022
15 mins
Brett Johnson, AVP, Global Enablement

Table of Content

Key Takeaways
Introduction
Chapter 1: Understanding ERP, ERP Integration & Its Types
Chapter 2: What are the Challenges Faced without ERP Integration?
Chapter 3: Key Benefits of an ERP Integration? 
Chapter 4: Streamlining Accounts Receivable with ERP Integration
Chapter 5: How Can Highradius Help You With Your ERP Integration?

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Key Takeaways

  • Why ERP integration is essential for a business?
  • Benefits of ERP integration
  • What is the future of ERP software?
keytakeway

Introduction

Have you ever tried to assemble IKEA furniture without its manual? Or while blindfolded? No, right? Integrating your ERP into a new automation system can feel the same!

Your ERP system is the financial control center of your organization. It handles everything from customer records to inventory management. But it becomes really powerful when it works smoothly with other important parts of your business. ERP integration makes all your business tasks work together harmoniously. And in a time when data drives decision-making, it becomes important that we leverage technology and streamline the business operations to reduce chances of error and make the system efficient.

In this easy-to-understand guide, we’ll dig deep into ERP integration. We’ll explain what it is, the different types, and why it’s so helpful.

Chapter 1: Understanding ERP, ERP Integration & Its Types

What Is an ERP?

Enterprise Resource Planning or ERP is a business management software that helps companies integrate all key departments such as finance, operations, and HR with a single data repository and automated workflows. 

ERP software collects and records information related to accounting, manufacturing, sales, marketing, etc., and helps track business processes across departments.

Some well-known ERP software solutions include NetSuite, Dynamics 365, and Sage Intacct.

What is an ERP Integration?

ERP integration connects the ERP software with other applications and systems used at your organization. It creates a centralized data access point. It helps to efficiently manage business processes from a single application. 

ERP integration also reduces manual data collection efforts with real-time updates across your organization.

Types of ERP Integration

ERP integration involves connecting different software applications and systems within an organization to facilitate seamless data sharing and process automation. There are several types of ERP integration, each serving specific purposes. 

On a high level the ERP integration can be divided into three main buckets-

  • Vertical integration – It involves the integration of various departments within an organization. It allows for seamless communication and data sharing between different functional areas such as finance, human resources, sales, and manufacturing. By integrating vertically, organizations can streamline processes, eliminate duplicate data entry, and enhance overall efficiency and productivity. 
  • Horizontal integration – It refers to the integration of different systems or applications within a specific department. For example, integrating the sales and marketing systems can provide a holistic view of customer data, improve lead management, and enhance customer relationship management (CRM) capabilities. Similarly, integrating the manufacturing and supply chain systems can optimize inventory management, reduce costs, and improve production planning. 
  • External integration – It involves the integration of the ERP system with external stakeholders such as suppliers, customers, and business partners. This integration allows for real-time data exchange, collaborative decision-making, and enhanced supply chain management. For instance, integrating with suppliers can enable seamless procurement processes, timely inventory updates, and improved supplier relationship management. Integrating with customers can provide better visibility into order status, delivery tracking, and after-sales support.

Within these three buckets, there are other sub-types of ERP integrations. Some of the most common ones are-

  • On-Premises ERP Integration: This type of integration connects various modules and systems within an on-premises ERP solution. It ensures that different departments, such as finance, HR, and manufacturing, can share data and communicate effectively.
  • Cloud ERP Integration: In a cloud ERP integration, organizations connect cloud-based ERP systems with other cloud or on-premises applications. This type of integration is often used to streamline data access and management across a distributed workforce.
  • Legacy System Integration: Legacy system integration involves connecting older, legacy systems with newer ERP solutions. This is common when organizations want to modernize their technology infrastructure without completely replacing their existing systems.
  • Third-Party Application Integration: Many organizations use third-party applications for specialized tasks like CRM, HR management, or e-commerce. Integrating these third-party apps with the ERP system ensures a holistic view of business processes and data.
  • Data Integration: Data integration focuses on sharing data between ERP and other systems. This can include batch data transfers, real-time data synchronization, and data warehousing to support reporting and analytics.
  • API-Based Integration: Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) enable seamless communication between different software applications. ERP systems often provide APIs that developers can use to build custom integrations with other applications.

Each type of ERP integration serves a specific purpose and can be tailored to meet the unique needs of an organization. The choice of integration type depends on factors like the organization’s goals, existing systems, and industry requirements.

There are various challenges that an organization can face without ERP integration, like hindering organizational growth, efficiency, and competitiveness. Let us understand them in detail in the next section.

Chapter 2: What are the Challenges Faced without ERP Integration?

Without ERP integration, businesses face several challenges that can hinder their growth and efficiency. Let us take a look at some of them.

  • Data Silos: Without a centralized system, data is scattered across different departments and systems, making it difficult to access and analyze. This lack of visibility can result in delays in decision-making and can hinder the ability to respond quickly to customer demands. 
  • Manual Data Entry & Inefficient Processes: Another challenge is the lack of process automation. ERP integration allows for the automation of various business processes, such as order processing, inventory management, and financial reporting. Without this integration, businesses are forced to rely on manual processes, which are time-consuming, prone to errors, and can result in inefficiencies. 

    Furthermore, without ERP integration, businesses may struggle with data inconsistency and duplication. Different departments may have their own databases and systems, leading to duplicate data and inconsistencies. This can lead to confusion, inaccurate reporting, and a lack of trust in the data. 

  • Limited Visibility & Scalability: As the business grows, managing multiple systems and processes becomes increasingly complex and difficult to maintain. This can result in a lack of standardization and control over business operations, hindering growth and making it harder to adapt to changing market conditions.

In short , without ERP integration, businesses face challenges in terms of data visibility, process automation, data consistency, and scalability. It is crucial for businesses to invest in ERP integration to overcome these challenges and achieve operational excellence.

Chapter 3: Key Benefits of an ERP Integration? 

There are several benefits of ERP integration when it comes to managing business processes between teams. Here are some reasons why ERP integration is important for your company.

  • Streamlined Business Processes: ERP integration allows organizations to consolidate and automate their business processes across different departments. This streamlining leads to greater operational efficiency and reduced manual data entry, resulting in time and cost savings. 

    For example, ERP integration with AR software helps your team members send invoices quickly and collect payments faster. ERP also ensures consistency in workflows, especially for recurring tasks.

  • Real-time Data Access: With integrated systems, employees can access real-time data from various functional areas, such as finance, inventory, and sales. This ensures that decision-makers have up-to-date information to make informed choices.
  • Improved Data Accuracy: Integration eliminates the need for redundant data entry and reduces the risk of errors. Data consistency across systems ensures that information is accurate and reliable, which is crucial for financial reporting and compliance.
  • Enhanced Reporting and Analytics: Integrated ERP systems offer robust reporting and analytics capabilities. Organizations can generate customized reports, analyze data trends, and gain insights into their operations, helping them make data-driven decisions.
  • Better Customer Experience: ERP integration enables organizations to access comprehensive customer information collected from multiple locations via a centralized repository. This enables sales and marketing teams to have a unified and up-to-date view of customer data, enabling them to offer tailor-made solutions to customers and resolve disputes faster.

ERP integration with customer-facing tools further helps to enhance customer service and customer experience. For example, a sales portal integrated with the ERP software enables customers to view the pricing and engineering of the product. It will also allow them to enter the sales details directly into the self-service portal and access past invoices whenever they want. This improves the overall experience for the customer, resulting in higher retention rates and net promoter scores (NPS).

Chapter 4: Streamlining Accounts Receivable with ERP Integration

As mentioned above, ERP integrationallows for seamless communication and data sharing between different functional areas such as finance. So let us now understand the process of ERP integration in accounts receivables.

ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) integration in Accounts Receivable (AR) as a function involves connecting and aligning your AR processes with your organization’s ERP system. 

Integrating AR as a function within your ERP system means connecting the Accounts Receivable processes with the broader ERP framework. This integration has several key aspects:

  • Data Sharing: AR data, including customer information, invoices, payment receipts, and transaction history, is shared seamlessly with other modules of the ERP, such as General Ledger, Sales, and Inventory.
  • Automation: AR processes are automated within the ERP, reducing manual data entry and the risk of errors. For example, when an invoice is generated, it can automatically update the relevant financial records and inventory levels.
  • Real-time Insights: The integration allows for real-time visibility into AR metrics and financial performance. CFOs and financial managers can access up-to-date information on outstanding payments, aging reports, and cash flow forecasts.
  • Improved Decision-making: With integrated data, organizations can make informed decisions related to credit management, customer relationships, and resource allocation. For instance, assessing the creditworthiness of a customer can be based on historical transaction data.
  • Streamlined Processes: Integration streamlines the AR processes from invoice creation to payment collection. This leads to quicker invoice processing, reduced Days Sales Outstanding (DSO), and improved customer satisfaction.

Let us understand this with an example.

Scenario: Imagine you work for a medium-sized manufacturing company called “ABC Manufacturing.” ABC Manufacturing uses an ERP system to manage various aspects of its business, including inventory, production, and financials. The company manufactures and sells electronic devices to retailers and wholesalers.

  1. Order Processing: When a customer places an order for ABC Manufacturing’s products, the ERP system generates a sales order in real-time. This sales order includes details like product quantities, prices, and delivery dates.
  2. Invoice Generation: Once the products are shipped to the customer, the ERP system automatically generates an invoice based on the sales order. The invoice includes the customer’s billing information, a breakdown of items ordered, prices, and the total amount due.
  3. Data Synchronization: The ERP system integrates Accounts Receivable (AR) functionality by synchronizing the invoice data with the financial module. This means that as soon as the invoice is generated, the financial records are updated accordingly.
  4. Payment Tracking: When the customer receives the invoice, they can make a payment using various methods, such as electronic funds transfer or credit card. When the payment is received and processed, the ERP system records the payment in the ledger.
  5. Real-time Updates: The ERP system provides real-time updates on the status of customer payments. The AR team can quickly access information about which invoices are paid, partially paid, or unpaid, along with the payment dates.
  6. Credit Management: The ERP system also assists in credit management. It can assess a customer’s credit limit based on their payment history and current outstanding balances. If a customer exceeds their credit limit, the system can automatically trigger alerts for review.
  7. Aging Reports: The AR function within the ERP system generates aging reports, which categorize outstanding invoices by their age (e.g., 30 days, 60 days, 90 days). This helps the AR team prioritize collection efforts.
  8. Financial Reporting: At the end of the month or quarter, the ERP system provides comprehensive financial reports, including cash flow statements, income statements, and balance sheets. These reports are accurate and up-to-date because the AR data is integrated with the financial module.
  9. Customer Self-Service Portal: ERP system also offers a customer self-service portal. Customers can log in to view their outstanding invoices, and payment history, and make payments online, enhancing their experience.

Read Now: How to Boost your ERP’s Agility with Accounts Receivable Automation

In short, the seamless integration of Accounts Receivable within the ERP system allows ABC Manufacturing to manage its cash flow efficiently, reduce manual data entry errors, provide better customer service, and make informed decisions regarding credit management and resource allocation. 

It ensures that the financial and operational aspects of the business are closely aligned, leading to smoother and more effective business operations.

Chapter 5: How Can Highradius Help You With Your ERP Integration?

Now that we know ERP integration is important for an organization’s growth, the next step is to select think about the right vendor for the integration.

Selecting The Right Vendor

Selecting the right vendor for your ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) integration is a critical decision for any organization. The choice of vendor can significantly impact the success of your integration project and the long-term efficiency of your business operations. Here’s how to choose the right vendor

Here’s why choosing the right vendor is of utmost importance:

  • Alignment with Business Goals: Choose a vendor that aligns with your organization’s strategic objectives. Their integration solution should support your business’s long-term vision and provide a clear path to achieving your goals.
  • Communication and Transparency: Opt for a vendor with strong communication practices. They should maintain open channels, provide regular progress updates, and address concerns promptly.
  • Customization and Scalability: Choose a vendor whose solution is not only scalable to accommodate your organization’s growth but also capable of tailoring the integration to meet your unique needs. It should seamlessly handle increased data volumes, additional users, and evolving business processes, minimizing disruptions.
  • Data Security and Compliance: ERP systems often contain sensitive financial and operational data. A trustworthy vendor will prioritize data security and compliance with industry regulations, protecting your organization from data breaches and legal issues.
  • Support and Training: A good vendor should offer comprehensive support and training for your team. They should be accessible for troubleshooting, updates, and additional training as needed, ensuring that your staff can use the integration effectively.

Selecting the right vendor for your ERP integration is a critical decision that can impact your organization’s efficiency, data security, and overall success. Thoroughly evaluate potential vendors based on their expertise, experience, reliability, and alignment with your business goals to make an informed choice.

Why HighRadius Is The Right Vendor For Your ERP Integration?

We are a leading provider of integrated receivables, record-to-report, and treasury solutions that help companies optimize their accounts receivables, accounting, and treasury operations respectively. When it comes to ERP integration, we offer a range of features and benefits to streamline and enhance the finance functions.

We are an ERP agnostic software that easily integrates with all major ERPs, like SAP, Microsoft Dynamics 365, Oracle, and NetSuite, and can be easily scaled to meet the needs of growing organizations, making it a flexible and adaptable solution.

Watch Video: Wesco’s Story: Driving A/R Transforming Across 30 Business Units

HighRadius Changing The Game For Your IT Team

  • Centralized Data Repository:We provide all the information in one place which helps you access real-time data when required and eliminates the chance of redundant or missing information.
  • Limited Intervention From Your IT Team: We handle most of the IT-related efforts during implementation. All we need from the IT team is to configure programs to generate and transmit the open AR, master data, and bank payment files.
  • Easy & Secure Connectivity: We use SFTP and API-based integrations to ensure secure transmission of data and are SOC I, SOC II, ISO27001, and GDPR compliant.
  • Rapid Implementation, Faster Value Realization: We use an implementation methodology that ensures that deployment is quick and the clients realize the value and start seeing measurable business results within 3 months.
  • 24/7 Support Provided Across Time Zones: Customers can submit support tickets through an online portal – 7 days a week / 24 hours a day. We also offer a user-friendly support portal for logging issues, questions, and requests, and the ability to track all support communications in one place.

We have a preBuilt HEX (HighRadius Extractor) plug-in for ERPs to completely automate the extraction of the required information, enabling easy data flow exchange.

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In conclusion, HighRadius offers a comprehensive solution for ERP integration, enabling businesses to optimize their AR operations. By automating processes, leveraging AI, and providing valuable insights, HighRadius empowers businesses to enhance their efficiency, reduce costs, and improve cash flow management. 

If you want to learn more about how HighRadius can help your business achieve these benefits, talk to our experts today.

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