Integrating your website and ERP can be a lot of work and often involves a lot of moving pieces, on the client side and the web development team. Like most complicated processes (such as building a home), the success of the project comes down to how well the project was planned at the very beginning. Did the developers ask the right questions upfront or are they now, halfway through the project, asking questions that are obvious to everyone that they should have asked before? Typically ERPs are integrated with eCommerce websites and it takes a lot of experience to pull off the integration successfully. No matter ERP software you're using, (SAP, NetSuite, Microsoft Dynamics, Sage, Oracle, etc.) the way you need to think about data moving in a two-way process is very similar.
When you have data in an ERP system, typically you'll be looking to push data from the ERP to your website and also send data back from your ERP to the website. Determining the exact data points you want to send in both directions at the beginning of the project will not only make the project run much smoother but will also allow you to receive an accurate price quote from your web development company. If an agency is guessing assumptions can pop up midway through the project and that's not fun for either party.
Examples of basic data fields that are transfered in a two-way ERP website integration:
|Data Point||ERP to Website||Website to ERP|
|Product Data (descriptions, pricing)|
|Product Stock Levels|
|Order Updates (status, shipping tracking)|
|Offline Invoice Information|
The above is merely an example to get you thinking about your business data and processes. Apply these to your scenarios and develop a chart like the above for your agency or work with them to put it together based on their expertise.
Certain data points will require not only the transfer of data but logic and business rules behind how the data is processed. For example, what happens if someone places an order on your website and they already have an account in your ERP? Do you want the website to handle fixing this problem or does your ERP recognize the issue and solve it? Before you begin to throw data from once place to the next think through all of the potential problems and business rules that you may need to have in place. An agency experienced with these integrations will be able to point out the typical pitfalls.
Now that you know what data you'll be working with the next step is determining from a technology standpoint how the data will be transfered. ERPs can often send and accept data in multiple ways, whether that be an API, web service, XML file or flat file transfer. The best way to determine the technology to use is to get on a call between your website development agency and the ERP company. A lot can be determined with the right people on the phone asking the right questions!
If you're looking to send or display real-time data direct from your ERP on demand, consider your internal internet connection and if it will be able to handle the bandwidth. Most ERPs send data using a push / pull method, meaning only pushing or pulling data when new data is available, but in certain situations clients do want to provide data in real-time. If a lot of data is being requested you'll need to work with your internal IT department to be sure your ERP can keep up or work with your web development company on work around ideas.
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