Integrating CRM and ERP: Crucial Sync Points
In our infographic published last week, Enterprise Integration: 8 Crucial Considerations, we noted that data sync directions and times were one of the most important factors to plan out before integrating CRM and ERP. However, what if you haven’t even figured out exactly where you’re going to be syncing your data? That’s what this post is for. Knowing what sync points your business needs before an integration is integral to the success of a project. Whether it’s customer order history or hours billable for your field service workers, well-synced ERP and CRM data helps your team avoid manual entry and transfer of data: an invitation for dual entries, missed contacts and lost customers.
Read on for some of the main touch points you should be considering for data synch when integrating CRM and ERP software.
One of the greatest benefits of integrating CRM and ERP software is the full, detailed picture it paints of each of your customers. It’s obvious to then infer that customer and account information should be one of the key, two-way sync points between your enterprise systems. From basic ID information to shipment history, contracts and accounts receivable, both your shop floor and your sales team will benefit from knowing all they can about your customers. With a reliable, constant sync between ERP and CRM, you prevent sales members having to email new account data to be manually transferred into the ERP, reducing time and risk on your software projects.
By keeping an accurate record of invoice history from your CRM within ERP, you will have a valuable pool of data to predict future demand and track sales trends through the year. Imagine how crucial this information could be when planning capacity and scheduling for a new quarter or a new year. You can plan for an increase (or decrease) in your output with actionable data, ramping up for busy periods by bringing on new team members or scheduling more hours for production. This means that your inventory is always as lean and efficient as possible, and that not only do you know all you can about customers, you also have an even better knowledge of your own business.
Whether you currently quote within CRM or ERP, integrating that process in both of your systems is a good idea; all of your team members will able to access quote information and plan around expected demand and supply. Think about your quoting process and all of the factors that must funnel into it. For manufacturers, the process may have many levels and different parts that add a unique complexity to the quote process in your business. On the other hand, you might be a much more simplified company when it comes to quote management—your success lies in carefully evaluating your business processes and modeling your software integration to support them. How high is your sales volume? Do you need special customizations within your CRM to support a specific function of your quoting? Make sure you fully consider all of your business processes and needs before integrating CRM and ERP. It is much more efficient (and economical) for you to invest a significant amount of time into process modelling before an integration, not putting out the fires that result from poor integration after go-live.
Field Service Work
Field service work can be an incredibly helpful touch point when integrating CRM and ERP. By tying support cases opened in CRM with billable hours for field work in ERP, or checking on replacement parts that field service workers may need that can then be quoted through inventory, this is an area where integration can truly shine in helping your company exceed at customer service. Not only will integrating your CRM and ERP help you on the customer service front, it is bound to help increase the productivity of your field service representatives. If they have access to both CRM and ERP data they know when parts critical to their cases will be in stock or sent out, and be able to schedule visits accordingly so that can keep all of their clients happy with their work (no more waiting around weeks just for one part to become available).
Of course, this is only a consideration to make if you are running a business that relies on support or installation work in the field. As we like to say here, it is all about building the right tool for the right job—if you don’t need to invest the money to accommodate for field service work, don’t do it.
Although you may not consider integrating a product catalog into your CRM crucial, it is often a good idea to keep a full list of all of your product and pricing information inside your customer management system. The information is not only invaluable for your sales reps, it can also distill different pricing structures you may have within your business for different customers. Orders from certain clients can be priced accurately within ERP on-the-spot, allowing your sales team to close sales faster and ensure that they give their customers the most accurate information.
If your business handles a lot of returns, this might be also a crucial sync point you need to build into your integration; as returns will have a significant effect on inventory and planning for production. However, if you are not heavily reliant on returns for customer satisfaction, or simply do not deal with enough requests to make this integration financially viable, it may be a better idea to save the money on this integration and keep your existing method for return processing.
If you haven’t selected one (or both) of your ERP and CRM systems beforehand, you should strongly consider keeping integration in mind as you’re shopping. How high is integrating CRM and ERP on your priority list? Will the two systems you are looking at play nice with each other—or are they notorious for causing problems when they are connected? You must then look at all the sync points you will need for integration and make a careful strategy map that takes all of your business processes and needs into account. Then you can truly be assured of integration success!
For help with your next enterprise software integration project (whether it’s in the cloud or on-premise), or advice on how to select ERP and CRM systems with integration in mind, contact one of our experts at Datix today!