To streamline the business processes and allow critical business information to be shared throughout the entire organization, most successful businesses rely on top Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software, in order to integrate the myriad of departmental functions into one complete, all-encompassing system.
A well-designed new ERP system can ensure the smooth functioning of business operations as ERP programs are designed to streamline product planning, manufacturing processes, marketing, sales, inventory management, shipping, payments, and more. Since the multitude of advantages can serve a business well, the real challenge is to find an affordable ERP system offering all the functionalities and features required by the business.
ERP Software that is specifically designed for small-to-medium businesses enables businesses to benefit from affordable yet secure accounting ERP systems.
Information about customers and leads is typically handled in the software that comprises a Customer Relationship Management system software, commonly referred to as a CRM. A CRM will store contact information, appointments, a customer's order history, and preferences upsell possibilities and a plethora of other information that is invaluable to anyone involved in the sales process.
Furthermore, a CRM system software enables business in optimizing sales pipeline interactions with their customers and increasing profitability. CRM software solutions also enable organizations to maintain and enhance and enhance relationships with customers, service users, colleagues, and suppliers, by offering support and additional services.
With a trusted CRM system in place, a business can achieve all that from a central location, meaning ease for all. Currently, there is a lot of competition among the available CRM tools, therefore carefully compare CRM software and check out CRM reviews before selecting one.
Sales personnel are always looking for the next tool or system that can assist them in their jobs. There are a number of CRM programs and services that are available from various developers, and every few years, the matrices are tweaked and a "new and improved" version is created. This is where difficulties can arise.
Often, an existing, or "legacy" CRM can be found to be incompatible with a recently-developed ERP, causing a logistical nightmare throughout the organization. Even in the best case, there can often be a level of redundancy between the two systems, and in the worst case, multiple entries of the same information can mean a higher likelihood of human error.
Although many developers of CRM and ERP programs include patches that will seamlessly merge the specific CRM information into the larger whole of the ERP, this is not universal. It is often necessary to use the software or services of a third-party entity to oversee the integration process.
The Importance of CRM-ERP Integration
If the information from the separate databases can be successfully merged, then many common business processes can be automated. This automation will in turn promote increased data accuracy, streamline both the sales and the shipping process, and greatly smooth the path that began at the point-of-sale, came into fruition when the customer took delivery, and continues with after-the-sale support and service.
The Keys to a Successful CRM ERP Integration
Depending upon the particular integrated CRM and ERP programs used, the step-by-step process will differ in each individual case. However, there are a few critical actions that need to occur during any successful and efficient integration in order for a business to maximize the efficacy of that integration.
For example, it is true that both the CRM and the ERP contain contact information, but the particulars of that information and how it is used will vary between the two. The CRM system will contain contact information about the customer that is often different from the billing and shipping data. In some cases, an individual customer's personal contact information may be needed by the sales force, but that information is not appropriate to include on a shipping label or bill of lading.
To alleviate any conflicts or confusion, a successful integration will be flexible enough to account for special instructions and circumstances, the particular details of individual customers, and the need for customizable data fields.
Secondly, it is often beneficial to have product information fully incorporated into the ERP. This means that the processes of the CRM, when fully integrated into the ERP, are able to grant access to products and materials to the sales force. Sales personnel should be able to easily view, and perhaps even order from supply and material bills.
However, one caveat could possibly apply – if the ERP contains robust features and a large number of products, the CRM component needs to have tiered accessibility where specific actions must be taken to view the complete inventory. This step is necessary if sales quoting is to stay within the realm of practicality. Otherwise, both the sales professional and the customer can be overwhelmed by a morass of information and products that may be irrelevant to the particular situation.
Lastly, a successful integration will allow sales representatives to stay up-to-date with the status of an order or an invoice during all stages of the process. The integrated system should create an order or invoice from the time the customer agrees to the purchase, and from there, that order should be able to be easily tracked during each link of the sales, supply, and delivery chain. SAP is a CRM and ERP that is featured well for inventory management and sales, and comes with CRM integrations to streamline your systems.
Using the information created during the CRM component, a salesperson needs to have the ability to check if an order has been received by logistics, filled, or shipped, including such information as tracking numbers and expected delivery date. The ability to access this information allows the sales force to keep anxious customers apprised and satisfied. A happy customer is a repeat customer.
Properly done, the integration of a company's CRM into its ERP goals and processes can help that company greatly improve customer satisfaction while at the same time increasing cost-effectiveness and profitability.