How does ERP fit with e-commerce?
ERP vendors were not prepared for the onslaught of e-commerce.
ERP is complex and not intended for public consumption. It assumes
that the only people handling order information will be your
employees, who are highly trained and comfortable with the tech
jargon embedded in the software. But now customers and suppliers
are demanding access to the same information your employees
get through the ERP system things such as order status, inventory
levels and invoice reconciliation except they want to get all
this information simply, without all the ERP software jargon,
through your website.
E-commerce means IT departments need to build two new channels
of access into ERP systems one for customers (otherwise known
as business-to-consumer) and one for suppliers and partners
(business-to-business). These two audiences want two different
types of information from your ERP system. Consumers want order
status and billing information, and suppliers and partners want
just about everything else.BR>
Traditional ERP vendors are having a hard time building the links between the Web and their software, though they certainly all realize that they must do it and have been working hard for years to develop it. The bottom line, however, is that companies with e-commerce ambitions face a lot of hard integration work to make their ERP systems available over the Web. For those companies that were smart or lucky enough to have bought their ERP systems from a vendor experienced in developing e-commerce wares, adding easily integrated applications from that same vendor can be a money-saving option. For those companies whose ERP systems came from vendors that are less experienced with e-commerce development, the best and possibly only option might be to have a combination of internal staff and consultants hack
through a custom integration.
But no matter what the details are, solving the difficult problem of integrating ERP and e-commerce requires careful planning, which is key to getting integration off on the right track.