Clients often ask me questions like “What system integrations should we consider building between our ERP and our VMS?” or “What will our level of effort be to build such-and-such integration?” These are tough to answer for a simple reason: there is no single “right” answer. The truth is that the right answer for your organization may be very different from the right answer for another organization. What makes sense for you might be disastrous for them, and vice versa.
While it’s impossible for me to give a definite answer when someone asks me those questions, I can provide a framework for finding out what the right answer is. That process will involve asking yourself a series of very specific questions that help you decide which integrations are important, which are not necessary, and how to prioritize the ones you decide to move forward with.Completing these steps will result in a suite of integrations that best support the needs of your services procurement program.
Which system integrations should you build and what do I mean by the integration paradox?
A well-rounded suite of integrations between your HRIS and ERP systems and your VMS will help ensure a successful program by allowing you to focus on your strategic goals as well as tactical execution by eliminating resource heavy manual data entry and the inaccuracies and errors that it causes. The paradox is that building out those integrations is costly and time consuming, which may make them impossible to complete if the IT team has other priorities and can’t devote the required resources. As a result, that lack of resources to complete the integrations may prevent you from achieving the goals that led you to implement a VMS in the first place!
So how can you solve this paradox?
- Select a VMS provider that will work with you to build integrations in such a way that client-side investment (in time and resources) is minimized.
- Work with that provider to determine which integrations to pursue first – what are the must haves based on your unique needs and what can be deferred until such time that resources are available?
- Ensure that the VMS has multiple ways (such as easy-to-use file uploads) to get data into the system until the deferred integrations come online and will provide behind the scenes support to you.
In my next post I will touch on proper prioritization as the key to the process because it untangles that paradox into a manageable situation that allows your company to quickly begin getting the benefits of the VMS implementation and then get even more out of that investment over time.