Leveraging Legacy ERPs – Integrations, DataSyncs and Migrations

by Mark Benvegnu
Leveraging Legacy ERPs – Integrations, DataSyncs and Migrations

Many companies depend on a legacy ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) application to run their business. Designed to unify business operations across departments and functions, ERPs have made a dramatic impact on the way most businesses operate.  

ERPs enable connections between manufacturing and accounting, or sales and logistics for example. And in many cases, they have boosted organizational efficiency while enabling new functionalities and capabilities. Perhaps most importantly, they consolidate data from all business units and processes into a single database.

The Downsides of ERPs

Conversely, ERPs are proprietary and carry all the negative baggage that implies. They are expensive and ERP vendors extract ongoing fees and charges from their customers. They are “one-size-fits-all” and not tailored to meet specific customer needs – businesses often have to adapt to their ERP rather than the other way around.

And the term “legacy” isn’t intended to be complimentary. While ERPs are typically built using the latest technology at the time, that time could be long ago and it shows.

Additionally, legacy ERPs represent significant capital investments, so doing a “rip and replace” may simply cost too much. And ERP contracts can be hard to shake.

Data — ERP’s Secret Sauce

On the positive side, ERPs are often the data keepers for the companies that use them.

A legacy ERP may hold virtually all of a company’s data in a single database. Instead of departmental data silos, data from across the company is stored and updated in one secure repository.

And because complete and current data is so critical to business operations and competitiveness, ERP data is a vital strategic asset. Leveraging that data by distributing and repurposing it using integrations, data syncs, data migrations and more can deliver significant competitive advantage.

Leveraging ERPs – The Best of Both Worlds

Despite the downsides of ERPs, getting rid of one can be difficult if not impossible. Virtually all of a company’s operations may run through their ERP – changing it out would be like replacing a car engine while speeding down the highway. 

Given the fact that many ERPs aren’t going anywhere soon, leveraging and extending them may be the best solution. Used correctly, ERP data can power complementary applications and systems that deliver new functionalities not possible by ERP alone.

The key to successfully leveraging a legacy is implementing the right custom development techniques and data integration technologies to transfer data to where it can do the most good.

Done right, legacy ERPs can be effectively leveraged as central data control centers and provide a cornerstone for a digital transformation.

Tactics and Tools: Integrations, Data Syncs, ETLs, Migrations

We’ve listed and briefly described below some common tactics for leveraging ERPs below. These building blocks can be implemented and/or combined by an expert custom software developer to design an architecture tailored to a particular business and their ERP.

  • Integrations – Using APIs, SDKs (Software Development Kit) and other tools, integrations can leverage ERP data and extend its functionality. These integrations are often bi-directional, allowing for a 2-way data exchange that both pulls from and pushes to the ERP repository.
  • Data Syncs – Data syncs synchronize data between the ERP and other systems and apps so that all data is identical and current. It’s an important function to eliminate inaccurate or duplicate data.
  • ETLs – ETL, which stands for extract, transform and load is an integration process that can combine data from multiple sources into a single, consistent data store.  It can be loaded into a data warehouse or other target system for analytics and other uses. 
  • Data Migrations – Just as it sounds, a data migration takes data from a data repository like an ERP database and moves it to another location. A good example is data mining, where aggregated and analyzed or to identify hidden trends, patterns and relationships buried within ERP data.
  • Middleware – Middleware is the common name for custom software that sits between an operating system or ERP and other applications. It can initiate and automate services and functions independent of the ERP itself without disrupting its processes.
  • Packaged Applications like Accounting and eCommerce – CRM, eCommerce, accounting and other packaged applications can be securely connected to an ERP via APIs or SDKs to exchange and update data offline or in real time. 
  • Custom mobile, web, and desktop applications – Much like packaged apps, custom mobile, web or desktop applications can be integrated with an ERP to leverage its data and functionality.

Representative Examples

Pell Software has designed and developed many projects for companies to help them leverage and extend their legacy apps.  Here are a few examples:

QuickBooks to Edge ERP/CRM Data Integration

Technologies Used: Middleware, API Integration, Data Sync A custom integration between an ERP and QuickBooks accounting software. Using custom middleware, users are able to sync invoice, customer and item data between systems. Two legacy applications were connected with automated data transfers.

Legacy Application/Desktop Data Migration

Technologies Used: Custom App, APIs, Real-time dashboard An automated data migration between a legacy application and a custom desktop app. Manual sorting and transfer of data was eliminated and a real-time dashboard enabled data transfer monitoring and resolution of data discrepancies.

Accounting/Specialty ERP Data Sync

Technologies Used: API Integration, Multi-App Data Sync This data sync automatically synchronizes data between QuickBooks Desktop and a specialized ERP.  Data types synced include timesheets, employee data, project info and payroll items.

In Summary

Legacy ERPs bring real benefits to the companies that use them, but have their downsides as well. And as the business environment evolves and companies embark on new initiatives such as digital transformation, their limitations are showing as well.  

ERPs are often so ingrained within businesses that it would be virtually impossible to eliminate them. So, leveraging and extending your ERP with integrations and complementary systems and applications is often the best way to get the new capabilities your business needs for a competitive edge.

Pell Software can help you get the most out of your legacy ERP

Pell Software is a premier custom software developer with vast expertise in leveraging and extending ERP applications to provide new functionality and business advantage. We’ve helped clients leverage a range of ERPs including Netsuite, Acumatica, Sage Intacct and Sage 100 and more. We are experts in APIs and the other state-of-the-art tools needed to get the job done and are experienced system architects that design and deliver a solution to meet or even exceed your objectives.

We’ve worked with companies of all sizes and types, ranging from small businesses to startups to national companies in a wide range of industries. So we know how to get the most of ERPs and their stored data to help you take back control and ensure your focus is on meeting your business objectives while driving growth and increasing profitability.

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