I’ll never forget a call I was on with a client while at AMR Research discussing how they had created a work-around to get their years-in-the-making ERP system to communicate with their legacy channel management systems. “So did you guys just go for the EAI platform from the ERP vendor?” The phone went quiet and the IT Director said “Well we had them look at it and what we got was a glorified shell script to move files between systems.” In fact the IT Director was now getting pressured to get channel management systems to go real-time as their competitors were able to analyze pricing changes in minutes and it was taking them weeks.
In that short segment of a much longer conversation there’s a lot of truth to ERP integration. Strip away all the acronyms and all that emerges is just hard work that takes many iterations to make work. This picture of a centuries-old stone bridge in Scotland is a great allegory for the majority of ERP integration projects – namely it takes incredible effort to make any project make and keep lasting connections, even if it is between long-standing legacy systems.
Bottom line: There is no such thing as “one size fits all” ERP integration, it takes as much effort to understand how the systems will slot into the processes and strategies they are being used to strengthen.