ERP API integration: definition, examples, tools, and more
Enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems are the financial backbone for countless organizations; it’s where organizations manage invoicing, procurement, supply chain operations, analytics, and much more.
Given the critical use cases they support, they more than likely collect and store data that can be invaluable to your product.
This begs the question: What are some ways to integrate ERP systems with your product?
We’ll tackle this question, but before we do, let’s define ERP integrations within the context of using application programming interfaces (APIs).
What is API ERP integration?
It’s the process of connecting your product with clients’ ERP systems via APIs. Once connected, clients can sync data between their ERP systems and your product in, or near, real-time.
Related: How to build REST API integrations
Examples of ERP API integration
Here are some common ERP API integrations:
Note: For every example, we’ll assume your product belongs to a different software category.
Sync invoices between your CRM and clients’ ERP systems
Your clients may, unfortunately, fail to meet deadlines for paying off invoices. Whenever that’s the case, the assigned customer success manager (CSM) needs to be notified on time in order to respond promptly and successfully.
To help ensure CSMs stay up to date on late payments, you can integrate ERP systems with your CRM and sync accounts and their associated invoices. You can even go a step further by using webhooks to sync the data in real-time as well as build an automation within your CRM where once an invoice is late, a task gets created for the assigned CSM to follow-up.
Include expenses in your business intelligence platform
As your clients’ employees submit and get reimbursed for expenses at scale, the analysts at these organizations may want to take a closer look at the data to uncover issues and potential cost-saving solutions.
With this in mind, they can integrate your business intelligence (BI) product with their ERP systems and then build a data flow where expenses (and their associated fields) are periodically synced (e.g. every 5 minutes) with your platform.
Add key documents to your file storage solution
Your clients’ ERP systems are likely to host a variety of important documents, from purchase orders to balance sheets. To provide a backup for these documents, allow more users to access them (outside of those who have access to your ERP system), and make them easier to find, your clients can add them to your file storage solution.
To facilitate this use case, clients can simply integrate their ERP systems with your file storage platform, sync the applications in real-time via webhooks (to ensure newly-created or updated files are accounted for quickly), and build workflows in your product where, depending on the nature of the file, it gets added to a specific folder.
Related: Examples of CRM API integration
Benefits of ERP API integration
With these use cases in mind, here are a few of the top benefits of ERP API integration:
Improves your customer experience
Allowing clients to sync data and documents from their ERP system to your product naturally allows clients to realize more value from your solution—whether that’s performing more in-depth analysis, engaging with accounts more effectively, retrieving and using key documents faster, and so on.
These improved customer experiences are likely to translate to higher product usage, which, in turn, should lead to improved customer retention and additional expansion opportunities.
Provides you with a competitive advantage
Implementing product integrations with ERP systems can help your organization stand out in the market—especially when you integrate with more ERP systems and allow clients to sync a broader range of objects and fields than your rivals.
Enables you to expand into new markets and move upmarket
Organizations across regions, industries, and sizes tend to rely on a specific set of ERP systems. For instance, enterprise organizations often rely on NetSuite while a small business may use a tool like Freshbooks.
By offering integrations with the ERP systems your target accounts use, you can gain traction with them more easily and increase your total addressable market (TAM).
Challenges of ERP API integration
While ERP API integrations are clearly worth implementing, they present challenges that you’ll need to overcome.
Difficult to Scale
Each ERP system offers a unique set of APIs that your team will need to study, build to, and maintain.
This may not present much of an issue if your team only needs to integrate with one or two ERP systems; however, the reality is that there are likely several integrations your clients and prospects need. In addition, building and maintaining each integration can take your developers countless time, pushing them away from initiatives related to your core product.
Related: A guide to lead APIs
Hard to troubleshoot integration issues
Integration issues can happen for any number of reasons—whether it’s an API outage, a bad API key, missing permissions, etc.
Forcing your engineers to pinpoint any integration issue, determine the appropriate solution, and then relay all this information back to clients can cause headaches and take hours out of their day.
ERP API integration tools
At this point, you might be wondering which integration approaches let you realize the benefits of ERP integration while avoiding its drawbacks.
To answer this question comprehensively, let’s dive into the most common ways to build ERP integrations:
This approach is simply when your developers build and maintain all of the integrations themselves.
It inherently offers certain benefits, such as not having to rely on 3rd-parties to manage the integrations. It can also prove sufficient if you only need to build a few ERP integrations that are relatively shallow in scope.
However, for all the reasons mentioned earlier, this approach likely can’t scale effectively, and it’ll drown your engineers in work that they likely won’t enjoy and won’t be particularly well-suited to perform.
An embedded integration platform as a service allows you and/or your clients to build and deploy integrations through its workflow builder.
While its pre-built connectors allow for accelerated integration development, the platform itself still requires technical expertise to use. In addition, it only allows you to build one integration at a time, which doesn’t lend itself well to scaling.
A unified API solution neatly addresses the issue of scalability by letting you access multiple ERP integrations through a single API build.
However, not all unified API solutions are the same. They often offer vastly different integration management capabilities, integrations, common models, security controls, and more.
Merge, the leading unified API platform, stands out in the unified API space for each dimension referenced above.
It offers more than a dozen ERP integrations (and quickly growing), a robust set of integrations management features, comprehensive common models—along with the ability to pull in custom objects and fields via features like Field Mapping—, SOC 2 Type II, ISO 27001, and HIPAA certifications, and much more.
Learn more about Merge and see the platform in action by scheduling a demo with one of our integration experts.