How an Automated Accounts Payable Solution Can Make ERP Integration a Non-Issue
There are ways for your ERP and your automated AP solution to exchange data seamlessly, without the need for full integration. When companies start to consider implementing a third-party AP automation solution, they want one that integrates with their ERP system. But what if a solution works with your ERP system rather than fully integrating with it? Which serves your AP needs better? People traditionally think that when it comes to integration, you need to find a company that’s ERP-certified for your specific system so it can read the tables inside your ERP.
What most companies don’t realize is: there is an integration process required to read tables that requires significant involvement from IT. And there can be a lengthy implementation process, so we’re talking about a significant outlay of time and money. In addition, you need to open a portal on your network so the AP automation system can read the tables in your ERP system for that specific AP solution. This can cause a red flag to pop up from a security perspective, due to the opening of network ports to outside solutions.
If you’ve decided that this is still the way you want to go, consider this: upgrading your ERP will necessitate major changes in the AP solution and integration – and that means additional time and expense. Or even more of an issue…what if you totally change your ERP, say, from SAP to Oracle? This can happen during a merger or consolidation, or it can be due to a change precipitated by any number of executive decisions. The result is, if your AP automation solution provider is ERP certified and only reads the tables in a specific system, you essentially have to start from scratch…and potentially find a new provider. That’s definitely not an expense most companies want to absorb. So what’s the alternative?
If you’re reluctant to give a third party direct access to your ERP system; if you anticipate ongoing upgrades; or if you’re just looking for a simplified implementation, without losing the benefits of AP automation, then you might want to look for a solution provider that’s essentially ERP-agnostic; one that gives you all of the services and functions your department needs through simple integration done through file sharing – and not reading tables directly in your ERP system. Working with the provider, you can establish a frequency and format that work for you, then share the files through a secure file transfer protocol, or sFTP, process. With this approach, your solution provider never touches your ERP.
This may sound like a multi-step process but, in reality, it happens automatically with simple export files and scripts to automatically export and import the files. And, when it comes time to upgrade your ERP, a simple modification of the AP automation solution means no disruption in your invoice approval process –and only requires minor changes to the files being shared between the two solutions. A solution that utilizes file sharing requires minimal investment and, just as important, minimal involvement with your IT department. You’ll get all of the efficiency, accuracy, controlled cost, and visibility into data that you would from a solution that reads the tables in your ERP.
It will take less time to implement, require little time from your IT resources, cost less to comply with ERP upgrades and keep a third party-provider from having direct access to your ERP system. Simply put, there is less risk due to the inevitable changes that face your company in the future.
Get all the benefits you need from your AP automation solution without the need for full ERP integration.