Does your business process sales directly from customers? Perhaps you are a retailer, a hospitality or leisure business, a visitor attraction? Sooner or later, you’ll be looking at integrating your point-of-sale (POS) and ERP systems.
That is, you’ll be seeking to join together a front-end system that manages your customer transactions, and a back-end system that manages core operational processes such as inventory, accounting, sales, and logistics.
Fail to do this and you risk a raft of process problems, including lapses in inventory tracking and reordering, duplications between both systems, wasting time and resource and increasing the likelihood of errors, and failing to keep customer information up-to-date in both systems.
However, such a project is not necessarily straightforward. To get it right, it is wise to take a careful and strategic approach. Here are the four stages you should follow.
The foundations: the right technology
Any integration between ERP and POS systems will only be as good as the systems themselves. Ultimately, you need to ensure that both your ERP and POS systems are flexible and customisable enough to offer all the functionality that your business needs today and into the future. An open API between both systems will enable you to streamline the exchange of data between multiple different business systems. In an ideal world, at the outset of any system selection, you’d choose a solution that is integrated out of the box, like, for instance, Odoo.
The planning: goals and strategies
Next, you need to define what you actually want to accomplish by integrating your POS and ERP systems. Are you hoping to drive process efficiencies, saving on resources? Do you want to implement an omnichannel approach to sales? Are you hoping to generate new business intelligence and data analytics?
It is important to set out clear goals for the implementation from the start, since these will help you to identify the different retail systems you need to integrate, and the information those solutions will need to share with one another. Setting out clear goals will also enable you to define what a successful project will actually look like so that your evaluation and analysis processes are useful.
The integration: clear management
Integrations of POS and ERP systems are substantial projects unless you’ve selected an off the shelf unified solution.
A single senior stakeholder within your organisation needs to take ultimate responsibility for the project – they need substantive project management experience and good relationships with teams from across your business, from C-level down to individuals within your stores.
If you don’t have someone within the organisation who can take on this role effectively, then you need to look externally. The entire integration is likely to collapse if you are relying on inexperienced or disparate individuals, rather than setting clear strategic management. As part of the management process, this individual should, of course, set clear timescales and budgets.
Then they can look at the actual processes of data syncing which comprise the core integration project. These include:
Sales transactions from the POST solution synced into the accounts receivable module in the ERP solution
Product and pricing information from the ERP inventory module synced across all POS locations
Customer information and item inventory automatically synced across both systems, wherever it is entered
Test, evaluate and launch!
Once the integration has completed, it is vital that you don’t neglect the test and evaluation procedures that establish whether all data has been properly synced. Errors here will make the integration more troublesome than doing nothing at all – it is important to iron them out through comprehensive testing procedures before you finally go live.