The Imperative for a Business Process Integration Solution

The modern business is made up of countless applications, from countless vendors. Getting them to integrate properly and share data is crucial, but easier said than done.

Tony Beeston
Tony Beeston, January 3, 2018 1:15 pm
Blog > Business Process Integration | Data Automation > The Imperative for a Business Process Integration Solution

The modern business strives to do more with less. It seeks to become an efficient, well-oiled machine: properly secured, with internal systems fully integrated and minimum manual processes. In order to achieve this utopian vision, organizations turned to business process integration (BPI) software. The modern business relies upon numerous systems from various vendors to function. On paper, BPI eliminates data barriers between these diverse systems, connecting the systems from a data perspective, thus creating more efficient processes and controls that are useful to the business, its customers and partners.

Originally, BPI software was beyond the reach of everyday business, as it was extremely cost prohibitive both in terms of purchase and implementation. Not too long ago, it was reserved almost exclusively for large, enterprise-scale operations. Only major organizations could afford its cost of entry – which is at odds with the aims of BPI. These days, BPI tools are essential to a company of any size, as they efficiently connect systems and information; they facilitate collaboration – a key tenet of the digital age.

The problem is, that in any modern business, there are myriad systems at work concurrently. The business processes at the heart of any organization cross these systems, whereas to truly gain efficiency these business processes need to be defined and driven centrally.

In a typical enterprise, every department will consist of several teams, and each team will have its preferred toolset. Even today, finding a BPI solution which can natively connect all these disparate applications out-of-the-box is a real challenge. Sure, there are work arounds that can ensure any solution integrates with your other tools, such as API coding, scripting and the like. But your BPI software must be affordable too, and not just in terms of budget. If you’re investing in a tool to bring your software suite together, you don’t want to dedicate countless man hours of your technicians’ time ensuring the platform has been integrated successfully.

Frankly, any solution which doesn’t natively integrate with your existing systems is no solution at all, and isn’t worth your time.

Sharing Data

A valuable BPI solution integrates in such a way that existing systems can share information seamlessly. In terms of data sharing, it supports:

  • Events occurring in one system which will trigger a process in another – if for instance a purchase request is approved in a workflow, an efficient BPI tool should start a purchase request in your ERP solution
  • Pull requests mean your BPI solution will be able to draw in data from a third-party system into your business processes for internal use and analysis
  • Push requests allow your data to be sent to a third-party system once your data has reached a particular step, such as management approval for example

It is this concept of data integration which forms the basis of a successful BPI tool. By ensuring cross-system interoperability, you introduce the transparency and traction required for true end-to-end process visibility.

Although BPI’s holy grail is a truly all-inclusive solution, which integrates with every available system, out of the box -  frankly, this isn’t feasible. The sheer velocity of new applications and solutions means that BPI vendors cannot provide out of the box integrations fast enough. Therefore, it becomes critical that your chosen solution allows you to define these connections yourself through a public, community led marketplace of plugins.

When looking to implement BPI solutions, you should question everything of your vendor. Which major software suites are supported as standard? Which does the vendor provide plugins for? What are their plans for supporting a lesser-known platform? How do I determine actual business outcome? How can I see where I am in a business process and when I will finish?

You should never compromise when looking to integrate a BPI tool. It should be a high priority ticket item in your software pipeline. Ensure you spend the time researching so you don’t end up with a solution which only partially integrates with your existing tool stack. Only once you’ve considered all of the above and answered these pertinent questions can you make a truly informed choice.

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Tony Beeston

Tony Beeston

Tony Beeston is Product Marketing Manager at Automic Software, and has over 30 years’ industry experience. For the last 15 of these he has been delivering solutions for running end-to-end business processes across ERP systems to companies worldwide.