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IT Challenge: ERP integration in multi-ERP environments

In this IT Challenge, we'll explore options for ERP integration in organizations that have multiple ERP systems in place.

The IT Challenge of the Month for July 2011 is:

My company is planning to integrate some new software purchases – PLM and MES suites – with our existing ERP. However, the fact that we currently have multiple ERP systems deployed across the company is posing a logistical challenge. What steps should manufacturers that have more than one ERP system take to integrate them with new software?

Do you have a solution to this challenge? Have you encountered a similar issue at your business? If so, please contact the editors and share your suggestions or experiences. 

IT Challenge respondents will receive a free copy of a new book from SAP Press.

And be sure to check back here all this month -- we'll be posting solutions from experts and readers as we receive them.

From ERP industry expert Steve Phillips:

This is one of many problems associated with supporting multiple ERP systems. In a perfect world, implementing a single but flexible ERP package that can handle the needs of all sites in one database is the right answer.  There are some good ERP packages that address multi-site “mix mode” manufacturing.

Most third-party bolt-on packages have standard integration programs to import and export data. Unfortunately, the problem is that each ERP system will require one or more interfaces into the standard integration points provided. When dealing with multiple ERP systems, there is no way around it -- more time and money is necessary to develop and support these interfaces.

However, to help reduce ERP integration complexity and effort, there might be opportunities to develop some level of commonality in the interface designs, depending on the technologies involved. This may reduce the number of interfaces or avoid rework later. This approach requires a holistic view of all site requirements relating to the third-party package (including data mapping to each ERP system) before interface development begins.   

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