Choosing a new enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution for your business is a multistep process. We're publishing a blog series to help you ask the right questions as you move through the evaluation stage, to help you find the solution that's right for you.   

So far, we've looked at the importance of choosing a solution that is built around your needs versus a solution you will need to model your business around, and the advantages offered by flexible ERP deployment options: on-premises, public and private cloud, and hybrid. If you missed it, you can read last week's post here, and catch up on the broader discussion on Twitter at #ERPONYOURTERMS. This week's question focuses on another important topic during your evaluation process: application integration.  

How does the solution support integration with other line-of-business applications?

Like many businesses, you may need to integrate your new ERP solution with other line-of-business software that you rely on-your payroll processing or ecommerce system, for example, or your customer relationship management (CRM) solution. As you weigh your ERP options, be sure you understand how much IT work and cost will be required to get your other mission-critical systems to work properly with your new ERP solution. The right choice will be flexible and easy to integrate with other applications or data sources.

Some ERP vendors may suggest that the way to reduce integration complexity and cost is to simplify the processes you want to integrate. Be careful here. Simplification might help to a point, but at the end of the day, your business processes need to fit your real business needs, not a simplified version of them. And you could end up incurring IT costs later anyway, if you decide you really need the integration capability you sacrificed initially.

Here's another thing to think about: even though the right ERP solution for you will be flexible and easy to integrate with your other line-of-business applications, you may still want or need technical support at some point, as you connect your data and other applications. Be sure that the ERP vendors or their implementation partners you're considering can help bring your systems together for end-to-end business process improvement. Do they offer resources near you? Do their support people understand and care about your business?

Why Microsoft Dynamics ERP?

With Microsoft Dynamics ERP, you don't have to choose between a robust ERP solution and low deployment and integration costs. You can have the best of both. You can easily connect and integrate with external data sources and applications, even if they're not built on Microsoft platforms, by using Web Services and the Microsoft .NET Framework. In addition, all Microsoft Dynamics ERP solutions in the United States currently offer a managed service option. In this approach, partners and customers can integrate their Microsoft Dynamics ERP solutions with third-party applications in the hosted environment.

 It's very likely that your business and your employees already work with other Microsoft software-Microsoft Office, for example, or Microsoft Dynamics CRM or Microsoft SharePoint. Microsoft Dynamics ERP solutions work like and with these products (more on this next week) and provide an even greater level of interoperability to add even more value for you and your ERP users. And a global network of local Microsoft partners with deep technical and business expertise is there to help make the power of Microsoft technology work for you and your business.

What kinds of experiences are our customers having? Read how three customers have integrated their Microsoft Dynamics ERP solutions with other vital line-of-business applications to help them turn their business vision into reality.

Central YMCA of London Improves Accounting Efficiency by 90 Percent

Consulting4IT: Technology Service Provider Rapidly Rebuilds and Optimizes Business Infrastructure

Dr. Miracle's: Personal-Care Products Manufacturer and Distributor Enhances Operations with Microsoft Dynamics ERP

Join us again next week, when we'll explore another key question you need to answer as you continue the process of choosing the right ERP solution for your business: Will the ERP solution help us maximize our investments in the Microsoft technology platform and Microsoft Office productivity tools?

And until then ...

Calculate your potential annual savings using Microsoft Dynamics ERP.

Or learn more about Microsoft Dynamics ERP Solutions for Small and Midsize Businesses.

 Jen Dorsey