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ERP integration. It’s an exciting and daunting term, depending on your experience and confidence level with ERP systems. There are significant benefits to integrating your ERP, but perhaps you might be wondering why you’d need to in the first place.

ERPs are designed to manage an organization’s database of information, automate routine tasks, and simplify business processes. The main purpose of your ERP is to optimize operations and eliminate manual processes. ERPs also enable your business to create a single source of truth for data—and connect unrelated APIs to each other for an even larger, more cohesive enterprise system. Or in short: ERP integration. 

Why ERP Integration?

The easiest definition of “ERP integration” is: adding third-party solutions to your existing ERP to build out its functionality through digital connectivity. While your ERP is already a powerful tool in its own right, it still can’t do everything straight out of the box. No matter what industry you’re in, your organization will have specific requirements that can only be accomplished by adding on to existing solutions. 

Sometimes integration occurs to pull in disparate data across systems in order to build your ERP as that single source of truth. Other times, integration occurs because it’s more cost-effective than moving to a new ERP. Either way, without ERP integrations, your choices are to either leave data sitting in silos across your organization (and deal with issues like no visibility, poor productivity, and no single source of truth), or move data manually. 

If neither of those sounds like a great option, then your business is certainly going to need ERP integration. 

The Nuts and Bolts behind ERP Integration

While ERPS do come with some of their own integrations, those included ERP integrations won’t typically provide enough connection for all the systems that you need to include. ERP integration can be done via several different methods, depending on need and function.

Integration Platform as a Service (IPaas)
This cloud-based approach to integration is flexible, cost-effective, and designed expressly to connect ERPs with SaaS systems. Using the cloud lets companies scale as necessary and lets applications sync fastest. 

Point-to-Point Integration
Just as the name implies, point-to-point integration directly connects systems with each other. This is best for simple integrations between two platforms. Due to the nature of business, this method is becoming less and less common. 

Enterprise Service Bus (ESB)
Found in on-premises environments, ESBs deliver data to the bus where it is translated to the necessary format and routed to wherever it needs to go. ESB functions more closely to a communication hub and is ideal for on-premises systems. However, it struggles with cloud-based integrations. 

Best Practices for Successful ERP Integration

No matter which integration method you choose, there are a few best practices when working with ERP integration to ensure the best result. 

First, involve your key stakeholders early and often. Communication and transparency are key. Let them know what this ERP integration will mean for their work, and keep them involved in the decision-making process. 

Second, a clear integration plan is a must. ERP integrations can be challenging due to the need for significant planning and project management. But a good integration strategy can answer why you’re doing what you’re doing, as well as explain the value of the long-term gain. Your ERP integration plan should also include some contingency plans for those inevitable moments when what’s scoped on paper doesn’t necessarily work in practice. 

Next, be sure your data is cleaned up as much as possible before your integration. If your ERP is only as good as the data it includes, then make sure it only includes good data! Audit your data entry, focusing specifically on data integrity and duplication. It’s a time-consuming process, but also one that, once completed, you won’t have to engage in very frequently. 

Finally, keep security top of mind. Third-party platforms involved in your ERP integration must have robust security for both data in motion and data at rest. This is especially important when the data involved is customer data. Be sure all legacy systems are also secured. 

Why We Love NetSuite ERP Integration

The benefits of ERP integration are many:

  • Centralized access to data from multiple sources
  • Automation improves efficiencies and reduces manual intervention
  • Access to accurate, real-time data
  • Improved customer experience

At CloudExtend, we especially believe in ERP integration. In fact, we’ve built our reputation on providing 5-star Excel to NetSuite ERP integration that is designed to extend the value of the investment you’ve made in NetSuite ERP and improve the reporting experience you run in Excel. Our Excel integration connects to NetSuite to streamline processes, reduce manual work, build that single source of truth, and make reporting and decision-making faster and easier.

If your team works in and loves Excel—and many do, considering most professionals report spending as much as 38% of their day working in a spreadsheet—ExtendInsights for NetSuite empowers users with the ability to pull the right data for analysis through saved searches, work with it directly in Excel, and refresh it automatically or on demand. You can even upload data back into NetSuite via an Excel spreadsheet, bypassing the CSV upload process for even more efficiency. 

Home decor brand MacKenzie-Childs knows how much ERP integration between NetSuite and Excel has benefitted them. Liz Rozwood, Chief of Staff, shared, “ExtendInsights makes it so we’re not wasting 20 hours a week copying and pasting, and instead we’ve freed up to 1,000 hours a year for new analysis and driving the business forward.” Read more about MacKenzie-Childs’ experience with ExtendInsights here. 

Ready to try CloudExtend’s NetSuite ERP integrations for yourself? Get started for free and see how powerful integration can be.