Many small and midsize enterprises around the world use one of the Sage accounting or ERP systems to manage the business and provide the central ‘version of truth’ of reporting and auditing. But almost as many also rely on other software for important line-of-business functions – customer service, quote and order processing, e-commerce – and increasingly they need to handle electronic orders from customers. When there is just one third-party system to integrate, the solution seems straightforward – either re-capture the data manually, or write your own integration. But what happens when the data volumes increase, or the number of integrations grows, then those initial solutions quickly become major problems.
How does a business cope with integrating its Sage software with other internal systems and with external parties? They need to have assurance that a number of key requirements can be satisfied.
Requirements for integration
- The connections and the data exchange operate at a high level of security.
- The right types of connections are used to accommodate the volumes of data and interaction between the systems.
- The correct data transformation occurs as data goes from one system to another.
- There is orchestration of data flows, getting the right data to the right system at the right time.
Some companies address the issue with a technology called Enterprise Service Bus (ESB), but this is legacy software that creates tight interaction of different applications, requires IT resources to maintain, can be expensive and not always scalable. In the modern world, more loosely coupled integrations are required. Adopting a cloud-based solution offers the flexibility that businesses now need, and allows them to start their integration project small with an acceptable cost, and grow as needed.
A number of Sage software users are making use of the Flowgear integration platform to enable integrations that:
- fit reasonably into the budget,
- are quick to set up and change,
- are not heavy on IT resources.
“We wanted to keep using Pastel but needed to avoid duplication problems with our customised in-house system,” said Paul O’Brien of Blind Designs, a leading manufacturer and distributor of window blinds. Flowgear’s integration platform ensures that customer, invoice, and credit note data is automatically updated into Sage Pastel.
Wilhelm Viljoen, COO of educational book publisher, Credo Books, needed to have the company’s core transaction processes integrated. This meant integrating their e-commerce site with Sage Evolution. “We wanted to automate as much of the customer transaction as we could,” said Viljoen. Credo Books used the Flowgear platform to get order information from the e-commerce system into their inventory system, and then into Sage Evolution for financial management.
Leading toys and hobby products supplier, Jeffrey Stein Sales, was looking for a solution to provide inventory data to their online retail customers in real time, and to capture supplier invoices and process customer purchase orders quicker. The company uses the Flowgear platform to automate these integrations with Sage Evolution. “The Flowgear platform processes invoices from international suppliers, and automatically generates corresponding sales orders in Evolution. “Some of the invoices can have as many as 500 line items, so automating that integration has been great,” said Clint Du Plessis, systems manager.
What have been the benefits of using Flowgear for these companies?
“Automating our integrations with the Flowgear platform saves us hundreds of hours of work, as much a few months a year in man hours,” commented du Plessis. “There is greater accuracy, and staff can now focus their time and efforts on customer service rather than data capturing.”
“Using Flowgear we have reduced data errors significantly, and have tighter financial management than we could when we did things manually,” said Blind Design’s O’Brien, “and it means we didn’t have to hire more staff just to input and check data.”
“With Flowgear it was very easy to get things done,” said Willem Victor, technical consultant for Credo Books. “Automating transactions using Flowgear has benefited us by ensuring greater accuracy and integrity of data, and allowing our staff to focus on more value-added aspects of the business.”