When you’re replacing enterprise systems…
Remember the alphabet: “EDI” comes before “ERP”
Many organizations facing enterprise-wide systems upgrades link the EDI and ERP systems selection processes, even though this approach may end up taking more calendar time and exposing the organization to greater risk. My colleague Jim O’Leary has reminded me that some organizations value the “interface compatibility” resulting from a tandem decision, and his point is valid. However, there may be other benefits to implementing EDI first, benefits that may be much greater than that of interface compatibility (which is often an ERP system issue). Continue reading
Many enterprise integration solutions meet the mark at implementation time, and even adequately provide the tools needed to monitor and maintain the day to day activities. But, what happens when unexpected changes occur at the document level? Sometimes the metadata that defines a document’s structure and content changes. This can happen for a number of reasons including different trading partner specifications, application interface upgrades and back-end system replacements. More often than not, the changes are minimal and localized to the existing document. The syntax remains the same, but there may be additions or deletions to the existing structure, such as the addition of a content model to an XML document. There may be changes to individual elements, such as the data types, lengths, etc. In such cases, the map may need to be updated, but can usually be handled rather quickly with minimal effort.
Once in a while, the structure of the document will change. Again, the syntax stays the same, but an entire section may be relocated creating a different hierarchical structure, such as completely relocating an XML content model to a different section of the document. This type of change can be a bit more complicated to address. Most of the time, the maps associated to the altered structure are also broken and have to be corrected. There is generally more effort required to address this type of change than the former. And occasionally, the entire document syntax changes, such as a conversion from a flat file interface to an XML interface. In this case, a great deal of effort is required to address it because the associated maps have to be completely reworked and in some cases recreated. The impact of this change can be felt in many areas of the implementation and can impact business operations. Continue reading
The types of databases employed can often determine whether a secondary database is necessary. This secondary database is typically referred to as a staging or intermediate database, because it resides outside the base application.
Should the company “Enterprise Resource Planning” (“ERP”) application support all required business transactions – both inbound and outbound with customers – then the need to have an intermediate database is lessened. However, the company ERP might provide support for “core” business transactions but might be limited for “extended” business transactions. This creates a business problem – where to store the extended business transaction data. Continue reading
Data Integration is defined as, “the combining of fragmented data residing in different sources and locations which are aligned to support business goals”. There are many reasons to bring data of different types (flat file, DB2, or even spreadsheets), possibly residing on different servers, to one main location to be integrated together. If you do Electronic Data Interchange (EDI), translating data between an EDI fixed format and application variable format files, then you have already been doing a piece of the data integration puzzle. Continue reading
Recently, I was having dinner with some old friends and the conversation centered on our respective fields that we work in. When the conversation turned to me, I chatted up how I worked in commercial software, particularly the Integration space. I received some curious looks, like my friends were trying to get a grasp on what I was talking about. Then it hit me….What does Integration mean to someone unfamiliar with the discipline? Why does it matter? What are the benefits, and the risks? How much of a problem is this? So, I decided to write a blog, from my perspective, on why Integration is important.
First, let’s think about the meta-types of challenges that businesses face today. Two flavors emerge quickly; problems of the moment (tactical) and visions of where they want to go (strategic). Continue reading