Enterprise resource planning (ERP) and warehouse management systems (WMS) are complementary in their purposes and roles, but how do you integrate them effectively? Keep reading to learn some of the backstory and most common integration approaches.
Many pundits have opined that ERP software (i.e., Enterprise Resource Planning, probably a misnomer now but a generation ago, it was considered the leading-edge of business software) software is dead, but if you ask the leaders of thousands of industrial businesses, you might find that the opposite is true. Those leaders recognize that without an ERP of some sort, the entire process of “Order to Cash” and robust financial management activities would be missing from their business. To put it another way, there is no meaningful alternative for industrial concerns of all sizes to run their businesses.
It is no easy feat to build communications standards that mirror business processes when the data elements themselves sometimes do not align easily between two or more computer systems. This is not a new issue, so there are tools and techniques used today by many firms that enhance the communication between disparate software so that the enterprise can thrive.
ERP software aimed to be the singular piece of software that tied an industrial concern’s needs together in a seamless and singular fashion. It was complex and has only grown even more complex through the years. But the ERP boom of the past brought to light gaps in capabilities that many industrial businesses recognized, and they addressed those gaps many times by procuring other additional software solutions.
In industrial settings, inventory is a significant component of the execution of the core business functions and it has a prominent place on the firm’s balance sheet. Knowledge of where that inventory is located at all times, whether it can be sold or consumed in real time, tracing it for knowledge of disposition, and moving it quickly and efficiently all present challenges that ERP software typically cannot address. Enter the rise and expanded utilization of WMS (Warehouse Management Solution) software. Placing the WMS into an environment that already contains an ERP presents the significant challenge to have the two systems complement each other.
But as with any company using two or more major pieces of software to run the enterprise, integration between the disparate pieces of technology is critical to both control of the business processes as well as ultimate consumer and investor satisfaction with the enterprise. Each package needs to be utilized for its strength yet the data between each system should be synchronized effectively to prevent fraud, waste and inefficiencies. As it once was posited by Confucius and paraphrased here, “A man who has one clock always knows what time it is while a man with two clocks never knows what time it is.” How do you make two complex software packages act as one holistic system of record?
It is no easy feat to build those communications standards that mirror business processes when the data elements themselves sometimes do not align easily between two or more computer systems.
This is not a new issue, so there are tools and techniques used today by many firms that enhance the communication between disparate software so that the enterprise can thrive. While the vendors of software recognize the need for integration, usually the WMS is left to adapt to the ERP rather than the opposite approach. So many WMS packages today contain multiple generic interface models that tie to many ERP software packages, and WMS packages contain multiple communication protocols that can adapt to almost every business’ needs.
Sometimes linking the two packages together is the most complex task of any implementation project, even more than the functionality of any software alone is concerned. Utilizing a firm like Accelogix that possesses the requisite technical and business acumen to organize and engineer robust integration with ERP systems is something that every business should consider when undertaking a WMS project. Consider talking to us to help you understand more about this topic.
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