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ERP and e-Commerce System Integration: Business Challenges

Bill Onion
June 27, 2011 | 1:40 PM

Overview

If you’re already utilizing an ERP, implementing and integrating an e-Commerce system will undoubtedly drive positive change within your organization. In order to avoid frustration and chaos, discuss topics with all of your team members. There are many critical topics to be discussed, including: Who has the ultimate authority for the project? Who is entitled to the sales commission generated by the site? And, who owns the underlying data? Discussing these topics and formulating a detailed plan is critical to the success of your e-Commerce business.

Who has the Ultimate Authority?

The discussion that is of the utmost importance should be focused on determining who has the ultimate authority for the project and the site once it’s launched. This point-person should assume responsibility for making all of the final decisions for the e-Commerce site. Part of this discussion is to whom or to which department should this person report? You may want to consider the marketing, sales, accounting or IT teams. It is essential to your project’s success that the decision maker be named before any other issues can be addressed.

Who is Entitled to the Sales Commission?

As your organization migrates to an e-Commerce site, so will your customers, and subsequently you will see an increase in revenue from this newly-tapped sales channel. Inversely, the sales team may see a decrease in their sales revenue. If the sales team paid on a commission structure, you’ll want to establish guidelines on who will benefit from the e-Commerce site, and how. Otherwise, the sales team may view the e-Commerce site as competition, rather than a compliment to their efforts.

Who Owns the Data?

When changes need to be made to the item master for the ERP team, it’s critical that these changes are evaluated in order to gauge their impact on the e-Commerce system. Because there are many staff members who may be responsible for item master data maintenance, including but not limited to the operations and/or distribution teams, a plan should be developed to ensure there will be no impediments within the process. With a set of standard operating procedures written in a manner that every staff member will understand, each department will then recognize how important its role is in facilitating the change. This will allow for seamless updating across your ERP and e-Commerce systems.

Summary

Addressing potential business concerns prior to implementing an e-Commerce site will ensure positive results. If you consider who has authority, who is entitled to sales commission and how data should be managed in regards to any subsequent changes, you will avoid a few of the common pitfalls I’ve seen within e-Commerce projects. Stay Tuned! In my next post I will discuss the technical challenges of integrating an e-commerce site with an ERP.

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Tips for Integrating An eCommerce System With An ERP

 

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