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5 Main Steps to Prepare for ERP Integration

Integrating software with your ERP can have a lot of moving parts — but there are some tricks that you can use to make it simple for yourself.

Upgrading your ERP with software integrations can be a daunting task for any company. There are technical pitfalls to be avoided, change management to be considered and a whole lot of data that you need to have at the ready. 

This is even true for upgrading your ERP to be able to manage your ordering processes. Having everything aligned beforehand can help your company smoothly make the transition into a more automated and streamlined system.

While it may seem like a lot of moving parts at first glance, if you use these tricks you’ll be able to simplify the process for your company and make sure that your order management integration process is a resounding success. 

1. Establish what data will be integrated.

From the beginning it’s vital that you establish which data you’ll be passing between systems, and how often. You need to have clear and well defined data integration points for the process to go smoothly. 

This doesn’t have to happen all at once.  Some companies choose to only integrate orders to start, others look for seamless communication between their ERP and connected channels. 

In our experience, the most important data integration points you want to use to line up ordering data with your ERP system are:

  1. Product catalogs
  2. Inventory
  3. Customers
  4. Pricing and pricing levels
  5. Orders
  6. Order status changes. 

2. Align your SKUs

For an order management system to be well integrated into your ERP, you need to have your SKUs ready for mapping. Your ERP system will end up being configured with your specific product SKUs so it’s vital to make sure that your integration provider can map your SKUs to their software’s SKU system.

In addition to mapping SKUs or UPCs between systems, there can be the additional complexity of your wholesale buyer SKUs which are often different from your SKUs.  A robust system will be able to cross reference buyer SKUs to your internal SKUs.

Not every ERP order management supplier is equipped to do this, and it can actively hurt your business. There’s nothing worse than a customer ordering a product from you online, only to find out that you have no availability because your integration didn’t actually sync.

3. Map over your existing customer accounts

While you might be looking to switch your ordering process to occur completely online — that’s usually not the case for a lot of businesses. Many have legacy accounts full of “old school” customers who prefer the direct and manual approach.

For these cases you need to make sure that your records align with your online order records. This means having a common point of information that brings together your customers’ online and offline activity. Typically this would be a customer ID, along with other information such as an email address.

This brings us to the wider point of discussion of the previous topics. The most important thing you can have is clean and organized data. 

It brings consistency, accuracy and clarity to any and all processes that you can make. When integrating your ERP with an order management system, unclear data can derail the project or reduce the effectiveness of your project.

4. Do your data integration due diligence

The first time you integrate data will be the most time consuming and important of your potentially many integrations. It’s critical that you sit down with your integration solution vendor and have a clear understanding of the process and expectations behind your integration.

This means making sure that your SKUs are aligned properly between your ERP system and online ordering solution, reviewing your data, and ensuring that you’re comfortable with the steps that your solution vendor is taking.

Ideally for this step, you want to work with a vendor who is working on your integration in a consultative manner.  Understanding your business workflows is critical to ensuring the best outcome and performance of an integrated environment. Every company’s needs are different for an integration, and each data stack has its own quirks. Flexible and configurable software solutions are the best option to align with your business.

5. Ask questions, a lot of questions.

Talk to your integration provider and ask them questions about what’s happening, how it will affect your business and what you can be expecting throughout the process until you’re sick of reading your own emails or hearing your own voice. 

ERP integrations are hard work, and if they’re not done right, or fit your actual business requirements, you could end up spending a lot of money and effort for no value. The best way to prevent this is by making sure that you understand what’s happening at every step of the way, and that you have full clarity on the process.

For example, when working with OrderEase, part of our process is to establish routine weekly updates so you can develop plans for updating your data and getting the most out of your solution.

If you want to learn more about ERP integration and how it can affect your business, click here. 

Alternatively, if you want to talk to us about how to centralize your sales channels and wholesale ordering to communicate into your ERP, accounting, and shipping software, reach out to us to have one of our knowledgeable account executives learn more about your business and discover if we’re the right solution provider for you. Book a discovery call here.

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