Tips for Choosing an ERP Integration Tool

Loraine Lawson

I continue to be amazed at the effort enterprise resource planning (ERP) requires for organizations. It's not covered too much in the general trade press, probably because it's more of a discussion for user groups around particular solutions.


That doesn't change the fact that many of you are out there, struggling with ERP integrations, upgrade and other headaches every day. Sadly, you probably can't even complain to your family about the hassles of your job-as my husband and Rashmi Anand, a training manager for Utopia, Inc., can attest-most of us are pretty ignorant about ERP problems. And frankly, we're perfectly happy to remain that way, particularly during dinner.


I can also understand why, then, many organizations opt for a large vendor to support ERP integration. But David Akka, managing director at Magic Software Enterprises UK, contends that that approach is no guarantee that you won't have problems; on the contrary, you might be surprised at how many organizations spend the big bucks only to find the integration inadequate, he writes:

Careful planning and selection of EAI and agile, event-driven BPM platforms can significantly de-risk an ERP integration project and a considered review of the market will likely present alternatives that are a better and more cost effective solution than big-brand' integration products. We're a long way from the days of nobody ever got fired for buying IBM'-but many companies are still picking the big-brands' in an effort to avoid risk; in my opinion, that approach doesn't avoid risk, on the contrary, it can actually make the integration effort more risky.

Now, almost everybody has an angle when they write about IT, and I think it's only fair to point out that Magic does sell iBolt, an enterprise integration platform that can be used with ERP-and more recently, between ERP and SharePoint. But that doesn't mean his point shouldn't be considered.


For instance, he's right to point out that just because you're buying an integration solution from an ERP vendor, it doesn't mean it will be well-integrated. Often, these solutions come out of mergers and acquisitions, and it can take a few years to work out that sort of integration.


His advice is to examine, in-depth, the capabilities of any integration platforms you're considering. In particular, it's important to check whether the platform provides "rich integration between the systems you need to link" or whether it's really providing only basic integration that will fall short, forcing your IT team to write custom integration code anyway. This can particularly be an issue with legacy systems.


Another factor to consider if you want to avoid higher integration costs and custom code: Whether the solution includes "low-level technology adaptors like encryption/decryption, multiple file systems and communications protocols," he writes.


Check out his full post for examples and more tips.

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