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3 Tips for Integrating an eCommerce System with an ERP

Bill Onion
April 4, 2012 | 2:30 PM

Overview

Connecting an eCommerce system to a large and stable ERP, such as JD Edwards, allows for a seamless movement of data. However, the integration effort can be one of the most difficult parts of any implementation initiative. It has been my experience that these projects require a robust and well planned strategy that covers data flow, business logic and an integration methodology.

Data – “There can be only One Source of the Truth”

The first item that should be addressed in an e-Commerce integration project is to determine where each data element should be stored, and which system “owns” the data. You should consider specific items such as Customer Master data, Item/Catalog data and Customer Order Information. After you can decide on where each item should reside, or if it should be shared, create a data map so that ownership is clearly defined. A great mantra to keep in mind is: “There can only be one source of the truth”, which will help you to establish whether the e-Commerce or ERP system should own the data.

Put the Logic Where it Belongs

After it’s determined whether the e-Commerce or ERP system owns which pieces of data, consider the business logic required to process an e-Commerce order. e-Commerce systems typically include functionality that is duplicated in the ERP, such as item pricing, taxing and order processing. In considering these redundancies, you should look to keep a business function within the system that is best suited for processing that function. A great example is tax calculations. In most instances, you can keep the tax calculation function of the ERP, as this is where all order processing occurs. However, if orders entered into the ERP are not taxed and the orders in the e-Commerce system are taxed, then it make more sense to have the e-Commerce system house the tax calculation logic.

Use the Best Integration Methodology for the Job at Hand

Finally, you should look at integration methodologies. There are a host of options from which to choose, including a simple FTP process, an MQ Series, Web Services and a host other options. It’s often more beneficial to use an integration methodology that is already being used. This allows for a consistency across all projects. I believe that this allows the development team to better understand and support new integration points. Also, consider how close the data needs to be to real-time, as the closer it is to real-time, the more labor-intensive and costly the integration project becomes. I also like to keep things as simple and straightforward as possible. Over-complicating the integration simply makes everything that much harder, from programming it in the beginning to supporting it after go-live. If you’re keeping everything as simple as possible, it’s usually a good indication that you’ve chosen the best integration method.

Summary

Integrating a B2B e-Commerce site to an ERP, such as JD Edwards, has many moving parts. In executing any integration, planning, organizing, and documenting a strategy allows for a much smoother project. So measure twice, cut once, and keep things simple. Cheers! Bill

 

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