Having an integrated system like SYSPRO to improve business management is a major reason why organizations adopt an ERP. But as someone with many years in ERP, and SYSPRO specifically, I know that the issue of integration never goes away. Increasingly, business-to-business integration is becoming a requirement – from customers wanting an online ordering process, to suppliers wanting to update inventory status and pricing on your system. SYSPRO offers some solutions for developers to build integrations, like E.Net and Document Flow Manager, but as integrations are added the problem of ‘integration spaghetti ‘ arises, and the cost and complexity of maintaining integrations increases.
Connecting information between applications that store data in a variety of formats is tricky. Some companies address the issue using manual methods, others use legacy integration tools like an ESB (Enterprise Service Bus), but both approaches are limited, expensive, and are not always scalable. Getting benefit by linking the applications requires integration to connect them in an intelligent way.
You might argue that integration shouldn’t be a challenge because there are standards, but in reality as Gartner recently pointed out, where standards should apply everyone seems to use a unique variation of a standard. So you end up having to do your own semantic reconciliation – recognizing when two objects are the same despite having been described differently. The question then is how does a business cope with integrating its systems with other companies’ systems?
There are three approaches.
- Build your own. Hand coding your integrations may look cheap, but as the number and variation of integrations grow you need more developers, and the maintenance headaches eat up time and money.
- Outsource to a service provider. This obviously removes the technical constraints from your organization, nevertheless as we pointed out in a previous post, these service providers use an architecture that is slow and costly to change. In a time when organizations must adapt quickly to change, business users expect IT to be fast with integration work.
- Take a strategic view and implement a modern cloud-based integration infrastructure that can efficiently and quickly handle the integration needs of on-premise, cloud, on-premise to cloud, hybrid cloud, and mobile.
SYSPRO users in Africa and the USA have made use of the Flowgear integration platform to provide an integration capability that:
- fits reasonably in the budget
- is quick to set up and change
- is not heavy on IT resources
As Mark Gawronsky, Applications Manager of Coricraft explained, “you could initially start in one area without incurring high costs, and expand it later.” Using Flowgear, Coricraft has been able to improve efficiency of inventory-related activities and streamline operations between systems.
For another customer, Upat, the process of capturing and updating data on imported stock used to take over a week. By implementing a workflow on the Flowgear integration platform, the time to update data from a container delivery into SYSPRO has dropped to less than two hours. “In the type of sales environment we operate in, the quicker a product is available on SYSPRO, the quicker it can be sold,” said Wayne Weber, Operations Manager.
Flowgear’s SYSPRO connectors means users don’t have to develop integrations – all you do is plug in a DropPoint and you can connect SYSPRO processes to hundreds of other applications. There are also some standard integrations that SYSPRO users can start with immediately.
Overcoming business-to-business integration challenges allows organizations to get an edge over competitors as they can spend less time on the challenges of integration and more time and energy on optimizing processes and driving new business. SYSPRO customers have used Flowgear’s cloud-based integration platform to set up automated integration flows that have reduced data update times from days to hours or minutes, while ensuring data accuracy and integrity. In doing so the companies were able to save on hiring additional staff and to deploy existing staff to more valuable and useful tasks.