Companies implement different systems to achieve different functions within their business. One of these systems are typically an ERP (or Enterprise Resource Planning) system that will support the general financial function as well as other business processes. But what happens if the company get to a point where they decide to review and consider replacing the system? What if the software is out of date or the business outgrew the specific system – whatever the reason, this happens very often and within all industries.
What is the best way to replace such a system, that is so integrated into the core business, with minimal disruption?
There are numerous ways to plan and execute this big change within the organization. In this paper we will discuss a method that has been implemented with great success. This reference architecture will ensure that:
All data is retained at the lowest level and reporting, as well as data analytics that can be performed on transaction level.
Data take-on within the new system are limited to opening balances and open transaction but business still have access to all historical data.
The ERP can be replaced by more than one system – it often happens that an organization decides to implement different systems to support the Financial and Operational functions within the business. This architecture ensures the seamless integration of ‘Best-of-Breed’ systems.
Master data is shared between systems, keeping all systems up to date and in-sync with the latest updated data record.
Data can be securely consumed by up- or downstream consumers.
Enable Business Intelligence (BI) and Analytics across the solution.
Firstly, we need to sketch a real-life scenario where an organization decided to replace their legacy ERP. The ERP was outdated and nearing out of support. Other driving factors were that it was very costly (both from a licensing as well as maintenance point of view) and new business requirements would have resulted in further customization to the extent where it did not make business sense. After all things were considered, the following was listed as the findings and requirements:
There is not one system that will address all the organization’s specific requirements and, therefore:
Core business functions such as finance will be addressed by the Financial ERP.
All activities and functions related to the Customer will be handled within a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system.
Business functions not addressed and handled by the ERP nor CRM systems, will be managed in ‘best-of-breed’ software specifically designed to handle these processes – this limits customization and risk.
Current operational systems will be integrated, and data will be automatically integrated and shared with minimal physical interaction from business (automated integration).
Multiple businesses within the organization:
The rollout of the new systems will be phased, and businesses will not all be converted at once – each business will be converted and stabilized before the continuation of the conversion process.
The ‘old’ and ‘new’ systems will co-exist for a period until all businesses and processes have been converted and transferred.
The reporting and analytics solution that is integrated and forms part of the new ERP does not address the organization’s requirements:
The solution to be implemented will have to integrate all data within the organization and not be limited to only the ERP data.
Have the capability to also expand to other data sources and include all types of data (examples are structured and un-structured data, streaming and batch loads, internal and external sources to the organization).
Give business reports and well as insights into their data through reports, dashboards as well as self-service analytics.
Be able to, in the future, ‘switch on’ machine learning and advanced analytics capabilities to assist the organization in their data journey.
To address the abovementioned business requirements, TrueNorth Group proposed and successfully implemented our ERP integration data framework and architecture. This architecture implements a data layer to address the requirements and creates:
A central data platform for systems data to be centralized and unified – this enables:
Historical ERP data to be available for reporting as if all history were transferred to the new system or systems.
Only balances and open items to be transferred to the new systems on date of ‘cut-over’.
New system data to be seamlessly integrated on ‘cut-over’ without any disruption to reporting and data consumption.
An integration layer for data to be ‘shared’ between systems:
Data can now be shared between systems and maintained in a system of record (an example is all customer data be maintained in CRM but shared and updated in all systems that require a copy of this data).
Master Data Management to handle all data augmentation (example is classification of data and adding additional information not available from any system).
A robust Modern Data Warehouse that will support:
Transactional data received from all the transactional business systems.
Unstructured data received from external data sources but required for data analytics.
Streaming data from the organization’s IOT devices and report on this in near real-time rather than only during the next batch run.
The Modern Data Warehouse further provides:
A central data warehouse designed for MPP (Massive Parallel Processing) that enables quick and optimized data insertion and extraction (examples are integration reporting and analytics).
A secure business layer where all business rules are applied before giving users and consumers secure access to their data.
Access to data for up- and downstream data consumers to integrate into datapoints within the organization.
Tools for Reporting, Self-Service Business Intelligence and Analytics:
The solution includes printable reports that can be rendered in Word and/or PDF and be run manually or scheduled via email.
Interactive reports and dashboards where users can view and analyze key metrics as well as drill to the lowest level of detail.
Open the data for Power Users to create their own reports through the self-service capabilities of the data environment. More advanced users and data scientist have access to create models and answer business questions by analyzing the data available in the platform.
So, what does this solution look like and what does it entail? The following is a high-level overview of the TrueNorth Group reference architecture for implementation for new ERPs. It is important to note that this only a reference architecture and will be customized and adopted to each customers requirements and environment:
Although this approach is specific to an ERP implementation, the same benefits and opportunities exist, in the following scenarios when implementing a Modern Data Warehouse:
Replacing Line of Business Systems;
Replacing or implementing a new CRM;
Introducing any new system that resulted from a merger or acquisition;
Introducing any new additional system to the environment that business deems fit; and
Building a Business Intelligence system or Data Analytics platform.
Interested? Let us help you build your Modern Data Warehouse. Complete our Expression of Interest form here - https://www.truenorthgroup.co.za/contact-us