George Anderson, Communications Manager, Corevist
Though Magento 2 launched in November 2015, many B2B merchants are still using Magento 1 as their ERP-integrated eCommerce solution. The upgrade process isn’t exactly 1-click-and-done, so the wait is understandable. However, Magento 2 presents a definite improvement over Magento 1, particularly in the areas of user experience and business functionality. For those companies that are prepared to move to M2, the question arises: How should we approach this upgrade?
At Corevist, we provide SAP B2B eCommerce solutions by integrating Magento to SAP. We’ve seen the M1 – M2 upgrade process a few times, and we’ve developed a set of recommendations that we make to clients who are considering this change.
1. Revisit your eCommerce integration architecture and highlight friction points
If you’re moving from M1 to M2, you have the opportunity to rebuild with what you need, and only what you need. Don’t carry your past decisions into the future UNLESS they’re still working for you. Inspect them. Ask yourself some questions. What could you improve about the integration as you move to Magento 2? What has caused friction? Have you had issues with, let’s say, out-of-sync information between your ERP system and your website? That could affect things like pricing, availability, and credit limits on accounts.
That’s the first step—identify where the friction has occurred on M1. Find things that are out of sync. Make it a priority to find better solutions for these problems in your M2 integration.
2. If you’re using batch updates, do a gut-check for efficiency
Are your nightly batch windows taking longer and longer? Sure, “batch bloat” means more revenue. But it also means more complexity and more cost. It can spell death for the poorly-architected ERP integration.
If your batch process is getting unwieldy, it may be time to find a more effective synchronization method. Real-time synchronization via web services can eliminate your batch headaches—or you can use it in combination with batch for a solution that fits your business needs.
Either way, if batch synch is holding you down, your M1 – M2 migration is the perfect time to address the issue and build a solution that can scale up with your business.
3. How many dashboards do you have to check when an order goes wrong?
If your order troubleshooting process requires its own troubleshooting, you may be looking at a system that can’t pay for its own complexity. Is it hard for your CSRs to resolve order problems when a customer calls? Are you 100% certain that if you look one place, that one dashboard will show you the truth about the order? Or do you have to look at more than one dashboard to get all the facts?
Again, this is a question of scale. For small companies with lower order volume, checking a few dashboards is no big deal. But this system won’t scale up. If you’re moving to M2, it’s worth looking at a solution that will place accurate, real-time order data in all relevant dashboards.
4. Is coordination between business teams a little lacking?
Have you had a problem coordinating the teams required to execute business rule updates, like promotions? If your ERP team has to build their version of a promotion and your eCommerce team has to rebuild the promotion on your eCommerce platform, you’re looking at unnecessary duplication of work.
At Corevist, we recommend a different approach. We put the ERP (SAP) first as the system of record. We lay Magento “over top” of SAP as a web-access window. We don’t rebuild business rules in Magento; rather, we carry SAP rules through to Magento. It’s more efficient, and it’s cheaper.
5. Have you ever had to change your data extract methods?
If your ERP-eCommerce integration was poorly designed, you may find yourself having to change your extract methods. You may also find that you have to change your target systems that are receiving the data extract. This can happen when your underlying ERP data changed and you weren’t informed of it.
Again, this is a symptom of outgrowing your current synchronization method. Real-time web synchronization (alone or in combination with batch) can alleviate these problems, and it’s worth exploring those possibilities as you draft a plan for moving to M2.
6. Ask your eCommerce vendor about real-time ERP API access
Once you’ve considered these factors, the next question to ask yourself is, how can you go about minimizing the need to integrate across the two platforms? Go back to the eCommerce vendor and ask them, “Are there more ways you can access our ERP data in real time, to reduce the amount of synchronization required across the platforms?”
You should do a deep audit of the ERP system to exploit as much of its real-time access capabilities as possible. This is especially true in the post-customer-services realm (for example, our eTrack for SAP module). You can make life easier for customers who are looking for invoices and other documents. Rather than moving everything onto the Magento platform, is there an opportunity to use only Magento’s page-building functionality to access the ERP vendor’s API? That way, rather than move the data, you can access it in real time.
As you’re crafting a plan to move from M1 to M2, take this opportunity to reflect. Don’t just believe that you should repeat your original eCommerce implementation decisions. Your business has likely changed since then, and today’s technology is capable of so much more. Talk to your eCommerce vendor, and work with a trusted advisor who knows your ERP system inside and out. The results will be more efficient, and easier on both customers and your staff.