4 approaches to integrate and extend your core IT systems

Methods for maximising the performance of your existing software infrastructure.

Introduction

Below is an example of 4 approaches to enhance your current ERP/legacy software environment, helping you to reduce operational inefficiencies, support innovation and scale your business.

#1 Custom Add-ons
Pros
  • Rich & customised user interfaces
  • Additional functionality
  • Functionality builds upon existing databases
Cons
  • May produce multiple users interfaces
Scenario

“Our sales teams are exporting pricing data from our legacy systems and generating their own bespoke proposals. Senior management has no visibility of the value or structure of pending opportunities, and operations are complaining that proposals are deviating from the products and services we offer.”

Description

Integrating a bespoke plug-in with your existing core system can provide a tool for simplifying processes, automating workflows and increasing usability. By implementing integrated add-ons, you can benefit from innovative tools and technologies across web & mobile platforms without having to reengineer you core business systems.

#2 Customer & Business Portals
Pros
  • Single point of entry, no duplicate entry
  • Web & mobile user interfaces
  • Aggregated workflows
Cons
  • Authentication services required to support single sign-on
Scenario

“At the moment customers email us spreadsheets of orders, if the customer is new we then create them in our CRM package to get a customer reference, then add the order to our work scheduling system, then add the order to our finance system. I have a separate user account for each system.”

Description

Integrated web & mobile applications can be developed to support workflows across multiple existing systems, increasing productivity (by providing users with a central system) and reducing risk (due to duplicate data entry across different systems). You can also, where interfaces are available, support cross-platform transactions. From a security perspective, relationships between user roles across systems will need to be considered. Also, where internal systems are being opened up to customers or suppliers planning around hosting and security will be required.

#3 Data Warehousing & Business Intelligence
Pros
  • No changes to processes & user interfaces
  • Automated data mapping & transformation
  • Aggregated reporting & decision making
Cons
  • No enhancement to product functionality
Scenario

“Our site engineers use a stand-alone application on their laptops, our finance system is hosted on an internal server and our HR system is in the cloud.”

Description

Aggregating data across multiple systems can provide businesses with the ability to make informed decisions based on consolidated, real-time information captured from multiple disparate systems. Data can also be stored and modelled over time to measure the impact of decisions.

#4 Incremental Transition
Pros
  • Iterative & incremental upgrade path
  • Use new technology to refine workflows & processes
  • Staged data migration
Cons
  • Difficult with complex, overlapping legacy system
Scenario

"We need to upgrade our current Access Database. It doesn’t meet the current business needs and performance is terrible. However, the system has 10 years of undocumented tweaks and changes made by multiple developers that may or may not still be relevant to the business.”

Description

With some systems the only option is to refactor or rebuild the existing application; reducing the system into modular components helps reduce the complexity of the task. It also enables both functions and data to be migrated over time, meaning the dependency on the business to remodel, refine and validate the processes and workflows required can be spread over time, reducing risk. The business can start to realise the benefits of any new software whilst also maintaining core legacy systems until an appropriate time to fully transition.

Would you like to discuss this further?