Transforming your business to digital relies on two foundations: enterprise resource planning (ERP) and customer relationship management (CRM) software. Integrating your ERP and CRM improves your customer journey, makes sense of your data, and boosts your business growth. Configuring the two systems to coordinate logistics, data assessment, customer interactions, and other core business functions is a complex process.
Selecting the right solution for your business is essential. For example, a native cloud-based integrated solution rather than a legacy system sets you up for future success. However, your business might have good reasons to rely on your legacy system. Let’s take a closer look at ERP-CRM integration, the benefits of integration, and best practices for integration.
What are ERP and CRM software?
ERP software is a solution to automate and support a range of administrative and operational business processes. An ERP solution streamlines critical functions like:
- inventory control
This helps businesses to improve productivity, efficiency, and profitability. Some examples of ERP system providers include:
ERP software centralizes and optimizes back-office operations. An ERP can help organizations identify inefficiencies in logistics, manufacturing, processes, and accounting. An ERP creates and manages business data. For this reason, all business data needs to be available to the program for analysis. However, because of legacy systems and siloed information storage, much incoming data is created and managed by a wholly separate system. Most often this includes manual spreadsheets (like Excel) or a CRM system.
CRM software is used to manage client relationships, address pain points, and convert leads to orders all by empowering sales and service teams. The system provides immediate access to available-to-promise data, margin implications, quotes and orders, and delivery expectations. All this information makes it easier for organizations to provide accurate information that helps to secure sales. Examples of CRM systems include:
- Microsoft Dynamics
A CRM solution gives businesses a strategic advantage to boost sales and improve the customer experience. This helps to secure loyalty by leveraging customer data to deliver the solutions customers want. CRM functionality ranges from sales and marketing to customer service and eCommerce. A CRM system manages any customer-facing sales and business exchanges.
CRM ERP Integration Data Points
A CRM ERP integration coordinates common data points to improve organizational visibility for all departments. Common ERP and CRM data integration points include:
- Customer data
- Client and account information
- Sales orders and purchase histories
- Payment information
- Product information
- Pricing and discounts
When integrated, CRM and ERP use the same data to create a cohesive and informative narrative. The best way to access this information is by using a common data platform for one data model across the organization.
The Benefits of ERP-CRM Integration
By connecting these systems and creating a symbiotic paring you eliminate siloed data and give your organization access to data on the entire value chain. Using this single data model, your business benefits in several ways.
An integrated CRM ERP system centralizes all organizational data on one platform, improving productivity. A separate ERP and CRM system forces a salesperson to manually enter customers and select which data is input into the CRM. That same data is then manually entered into the ERP system. If the ERP and CRM aren’t linked, data must be entered twice. This inefficiency leads to errors, costs time and money, and makes little use of the potential of customer data. Integration removes data errors and barriers to analysis. It optimizes productivity.
Improve the Customer Service Experience
An integrated CRM and ERP system allows sales teams to view all customer data on one platform, rather than searching separate systems. Especially for customer service response teams, this means they can call up all the customer information on one screen. They can follow each step of the customer journey, answer questions fast, and often resolve issues without having to escalate the call. This improves not only the customer experience but reduces costs.
Increase Sales and Upsells
Your CRM is essential for sales teams, and when they have quick access to product data in your ERP system, they can upsell and close sales with ease. Integrating CRM and ERP gives the sales team the information they need to move customers down the funnel. Information such as product availability, delivery times, customer access, and other relevant details support sales teams with closing sales because of data accuracy.
Enhance Organizational Decision-Making
By having organizational data in one centralized system, it is possible to gain insights into business performance. An ERP-CRM system configured with customizable KPI dashboards shows business performance in real-time. This allows organizations to prepare and analyze data more efficiently and with greater accuracy. This allows businesses to make faster and more precise decisions that are data-driven and are, therefore, quantifiable.
Best Practices for ERP-CRM Integration
While integrating ERP-CRM systems is beneficial, not all integrated systems are ideal for business. When choosing ERP-CRM integration, various factors need to be assessed to assure success.
Why Integrating Legacy ERP and CRM Systems is Ill-Advised
A legacy ERP or CRM system stores data within the program, rather than on a cloud. This siloing is often used by manufacturing firms to run core business applications including CRM, product lifecycle management, design and engineering, sales order processing, inventory management, production management, supply chain management, and financial management. Linking these disparate legacy systems would require building an interface to link the data between each program. The upkeep requires that anytime an application is updated, the whole system must also be updated. While this is possible and many businesses do this, it is time intensive and costly, requiring an IT team to maintain the system 24/7. Legacy systems are more expensive than the cloud, which is faster, more efficient, and a better choice for most businesses.
One of the ongoing issues with legacy ERP and CRM solutions is limited visibility. If they do not share a common data model or are upgraded to be compatible, the same data needs to be entered into each system and then compared by the system to extract data and provide answers.
Disadvantages of Legacy CRM and ERP Systems
- Missed orders and opportunities: Legacy systems are often slow. Due to the often inaccurate data caused by double-loading, opportunities can be overlooked, slowing growth and even causing businesses to stagnate.
- Inability to scale: Outdated systems are often difficult to manage, require ongoing maintenance, and often don’t have compatible upgrades as a business grows.
- Lack of insight: Without cross-organizational visibility, it’s hard to identify inefficiencies.
These are a few of the reasons why online businesses in particular, and other organizations, are choosing to integrate systems using cloud architecture. The speed, flexibility, and storage options support fast-growing businesses.
Why Choose a Native, Cloud-Based ERP-CRM Integration Solution
Native software is written for a platform. Salesforce CRM is the best-known CRM and is compatible with almost any type of software, such as SAP ERP, which can be written natively on the platform, eliminating integration. All solutions native to the platform share the data model and other critical software components, like user interface and business process workflows.
Native applications are faster, more intuitive, and more secure than legacy or integrated solutions. Another advantage is the ability to install user access and security that compartmentalizes users, protecting sensitive business data, but allowing departments to use the data and information they need without unnecessary restrictions.
The Benefits of Native ERP and CRM Software
- Cloud-based: As a subscription model, you can manage predictable cash flows. Scalability is easy and efficient with little or no downtime for upgrades.
- Data integration: Complete visibility of real-time data allows businesses to adapt faster and make accurate decisions.
- Common Data Model: Streamlining order processing, improving data accuracy and a clearer view of customer behaviors are a few of the benefits of having a common data model.
- Scalability: A native, cloud-based solution means you can configure solutions offline until they are ready to be deployed without causing downtime.
- Accessibility: All business information can be accessed at any time, on any device, from any location on a secure service.
- Security: Native cloud solutions are protected with improved security solutions that include encryption and server storage.
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