An interface between your business system and that of another company (for example a manufacturer or supplier) can be compared to a bridge. The data remains stored in two places but is automatically exchanged based on the design of the bridge. This provides a few important benefits.
When do you use interfaces? And why?
Interfaces are mainly used for processes that occur frequently and/or take a lot of time. Two examples:
- Ordering parts from your supplier: many equipment dealers place multiple orders every day for spare parts from one or a few suppliers. If you have a supplier with a complete range, fast delivery and competitive prices, you will return here often. With an interface you can turn all these time-consuming manual actions into fast automated actions.
- Ordering a new machine from the manufacturer: this often takes a lot of time. You have to choose the right configuration, the right tires, the right color, the right options and so on. And you need to enter that information in the system/portal of the manufacturer and then also in your own system. An interface makes it faster and you only have to do it once.
It saves actions
Using an interface saves you a lot of actions. A good example is the price & availability check interface. You want to order a part, but do not know what the current price is and whether it can be delivered on time. With a price & availability check interface you immediately have the answer. You don't have to call the supplier or wait for a response to an email, but you know immediately what the part will cost and when it will arrive. And thus, whether you are going to place the order.
"Automated processes reduce the number of errors compared to manual processes."
It prevents mistakes
Automated processes reduce the number of errors compared to manual processes. In the example of the machine that you order from the manufacturer, you must enter the data twice if there is no interface. You can make a mistake in that process. As a result, you order the wrong machine or enter the information incorrectly in your own system. A small mistake can immediately have major consequences. You can avoid these errors with a (well-designed) interface.
It speeds up processes
Interfaces make processes faster. In addition to the time savings this provides, this offers many more benefits. You can act much faster, serve the customer much quicker and it is of course very pleasant to be able to carry out a process quickly.
Do you consider the development of an interface between your business system and that of a third party? Then write up a business case of it in which you estimate the costs and list the benefits. Then you can see how quickly you can earn back the interface and therefore whether you should make this investment or not.