Integration brings together separate software components to work as a single system. It enables different applications to share data, which creates efficiencies, leverages specialist capabilities, and delivers better business outcomes.
For example, an accounts payable automation solution can integrate seamlessly with a company’s Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system. This can provide management a more comprehensive view of the business from inflight invoices and pending payments through to sales and distribution.
What does integration achieve?
Integrating systems delivers significant efficiency gains; data does not need to be separately entered or captured in multiple systems, which reduces the potential for errors and speeds up the flow of information. Data can be input and validated once, and then retrieved and used for reporting in different systems. The ability to aggregate data from different sources provides management an overall view of the organisation.
Integration allows firms to leverage and maximise the capabilities of their current IT software while supplementing it with specialist solutions. This assures its long-term utility and saves companies the cost and disruption of rolling out new and improved IT systems every few years.
The use of cloud–based solutions also helps to future-proof an organisation. These applications are cost-effective and low maintenance. They are designed to be flexible, scalable and to integrate into a broader IT ecosystem, working alongside other software components to unlock business value.
Did you know?
According to Grand View Research, a US-based market research and consulting company, the global system integration market is projected to reach US $582.5 billion by 2025 from US $234 billion in 2015.
This is partly driven by the increased use of cloud computing technology. It’s worth noting though that this figure was published in 2019 prior to the pandemic, so the actual value is likely to be significantly higher as more companies have since moved their IT to the cloud.
What are the benefits of integration?
Integration allows for smooth data exchange between systems. This information transfer increases operational efficiency, as well as management’s visibility and control of the business. All documents are kept in one place with a shared URL link to other systems, delivering the following benefits:
- Consistent, up-to-date data
- Reduced operating costs
- Increased productivity
- Improved quality of operations
- Better customer service
- Faster, more informed decision making
- Proactive risk management
- Stronger stakeholder relationships
- Better data intelligence
What are the challenges of integration?
Challenges can arise due to multiple systems having dissimilar data structures, application frameworks, manufacturing specifications, historical ages, and different ways of delivering information.
However, the benefits gained by tackling these challenges far outweigh the negative aspects of maintaining an operating system with applications that cannot communicate. A centralised, interconnected IT network is invaluable as it avoids silos of data and inefficiencies in business processes.
What to look for in software applications
Most companies choose IT systems that can readily integrate business applications from third-party providers. This enables firms to access the specific software solutions that they require. For integration to be effective and deliver clear efficiency gains, applications should offer the following features:
- Configuration – Out-the-box solutions that are configurable to business requirements for quick and successful deployment.
- Integration – Several supported protocols to enable systems with different architectures to sync, allowing the data transfer to happen.
- Automation – Data capture and business process automation to limit manual handling, ensure data accuracy, and increase productivity.
- Data security – Several security layers including granular access controls to ensure data cannot be lost, leaked, compromised or taken hostage in ransomware attacks.
- User interface – Use of web forms to reduce complexity and guide individuals through the workflow, achieving a straightforward, time-efficient and satisfying user experience.
- Web-enablement – Accessibility via any currently supported browser or device (including mobile) with hosting in the cloud or in house.
- Business intelligence – In-built query and reporting tools to enable companies to mine data for analysis, informing decision making.
- Technical support and maintenance – Local support, available when required.
How does RapidAP integrate with ERPs?
RapidAP is a web-based, configurable accounts payable automation solution. It is specifically designed to integrate with and complement the functionality of the ERP or finance system.
With a plug and play architecture, there is less building, system integration testing, user acceptance testing, and support required. Therefore, RapidAP is quick to deploy, robust and cost effective.
RapidAP supports several integration protocols, including connecting to REST and SOAP endpoints, SFTP data exchange, CSV file exports, as well as direct connections to databases using stored procedures. This means integration is usually a straightforward process that can be achieved in days, or merely hours. To decide which approach to take, Efficiency Leaders conducts a thorough scoping exercise for each customer prior to deployment.
The result of this work is a formal Scope and Requirements document, which maps out business requirements, what components the solution needs to offer, and how integration will be achieved. It also provides a price guide, helping to reduce risk for the client.
Integration not only involves establishing the requisite connections between software interfaces, but also ensuring that the structure and data fields in RapidAP matches those in the ERP. This allows the data exchange to happen seamlessly, with any information added or updated in one system automatically carried over to the other.
Testing is an important part of the integration process. At Efficiency Leaders we use actual supplier invoices to validate that the data capture, business process automation and real-time exchange with the ERP works seamlessly to deliver real efficiency gains for clients.
RapidAP has integrated with almost all ERP systems, including TechnologyOne, SAP, JD Edwards, MS Dynamics, Oracle Financials, Baseplan, SunSystems, Civica Authority and many more.