Three ERP-BPM integration mistakes to avoid

With majority of Indian companies looking at investing in ERP-BPM integration, it’s time we paid attention to a few common mistakes companies tend to make.

In the first part of this article-series on ERP and BPM integration, we discussed the considerations to be made before and during the project implementation. This article highlights the common mistakes Indian companies tend to make during rollout. Avoid these missteps and ensure a smooth and successful ERP integration with BPM.

•     Ignoring the underlying architecture

Know your underlying architecture before you begin the integration. BPM is a fairly new technology in India; if your architecture is outdated, you will have problems integrating it with ERP. In my view, for a BPM system to function effectively, it is imperative to have a service-oriented architecture (SOA) in place. To leverage the benefits of BPM using legacy systems it is best if they are in service-enabled architecture. You can deploy a custom-SOA solution according to your requirements and business needs. This will help you understand your architecture better, thus, facilitating a smooth integration.

The overall IT maturity is important too. Your organization should be able to understand the intricacies of its ERP and BPM solution. If your organization lacks this maturity, you won’t be in a position to support your implementation partner to carry out the project without hindrances.

•    Overlooking the fragmented business processes

The second element you shouldn’t neglect is the way in which your business processes function. Take for example, the loan sanctioning process at a bank. The typical components necessary to score an applicant for loan-eligibility would be documentation about the applicant, his credit history, bank / transaction history, and risk analysis. This scoring algorithm can be complicated and may require use of three or more systems and processes at different locations. The data generated through all these systems have to be integrated well.

In such a fragmented business process, the integration could be a cumbersome project. It’s best if you simplify your current business processes before integrating ERP and BPM.

•    Not paying attention to unique processes and inadequacies of the existing application

The two most important elements to factor in are ERP implementation and customization in your architecture. Many Indian organizations have extensively customized business processes and that leads to integration challenges. For instance, different organizations follow different processes for employee ID generation during recruitment. Some follow a simple process while others complicate it by augmenting it with background checks, CV records, interview records, etc. The ERP-BPM integration, in such a scenario, would mean integrating all the additional layers of customized processes as well. This could sometimes turn into a burdensome exercise since ERP systems do not offer customized solutions. A customized system could thus bring complexity to your integration effort.

Another mistake would be to try and integrate a faulty ERP system with BPM. Carry out a thorough check of your ERP system first. Check for any configuration errors and change your ERP system meticulously. A rough ERP implementation could lead to faulty integration.

A word on available options

Two types of BPM solutions are available in the marketplace today:

• ERP-embedded BPM tool: Several middleware vendors offer BPM along with their ERP systems.

• Third party vendor tools: Vendors offer separate BPM systems that are said to be compatible with most of the branded ERP suites.

Sometimes Indian organizations go in for an ERP-embedded BPM solution from a single vendor as most of the applications and systems running in their environment are from that particular vendor. However, if business processes involve using applications from different vendors, this could lead to compatibility issues later.

In my opinion, a third party BPM tool is better than an ERP-embedded tool as it can be easily integrated with ERP system. During your evaluation process, assess your options for ease of use, flexibility, compatibility, speed, your scalability expectations, and your performance-requirements.

About the Author: Chetan Manjarekar is the vice president and business unit head of strategic offerings group (SOG) at Syntel that focuses on BI/ DW, big data, analytics, mobility, BPM, enterprise integration services, ERP, and enterprise architecture solutions.

Read his full profile here.

- As told to Mitchelle Jansen

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