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24/02/2012

Lean integration technologies

In IT projects where a business application must be integrated with the ERP system, the cost of creating the data interchange routines can be very high, sometimes as expensive as the business applications that must be added. Reasons for this are related to the fact that the company that wants to connect the applications can work only with the manufacturer of two systems, especially if the integration technologies used by these are not accessible to the IT department of the company (because the source code of the applications is needed or because legacy technologies must be used). These types of problems are faced also when we want to introduce a planning system in a company and limit the diffusion of these systems only to big companies. All this is much true for older APS systems, which usually feature less recent integration technologies. One of the most flexible and innovative approach to this problem is that used by <a href="http://sikuli.org/" target="_blank">Sikuli</a>, a tool developed by MIT (and used by leading company, as the website states) which has reached production grade status. It is an application that can be programmed not writing code but describing the operations to be accomplished by the images of the button to be clicked, the text control to be filled and so on. By the point of view of the processes where APS systems are involved, this tool enables the transfer of data towards the ERP database emulating a user who interacts with his ERP user interface. It is a tool that can be used both for data entry (we used it to upload item master records on the ERP) and for routinely transfer production orders or purchase requests. This means that the company that wants to export data from APS to ERP is able to create the interchange procedures on her own and quickly, reducing the project's costs. Further, from some systems (also from <a href="http://www.paneido.com/init/default/solutions" target="_blank">Cowry</a>) it is possible to launch Sikuli directly, giving to it the order list or other data as input. Systems' integration accomplished this way it's easier to do and to be tested and can reduce costs and lead time of the project's integration phase.