Integrating CRM and ERP: Crucial Sync Points

PostedOn: 2016-11-08 12:45:50

When it comes to integrating CRM and ERP enterprise software systems, data sync directions and times are one of the most important factors to plan out before you get started. However, what if you haven’t even figured out precisely where you’re going to be syncing your data? That’s what this post is for. Knowing what sync points and shared fields your business software needs before integration is essential 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, which unavoidably becomes an invitation for dual entries, missed contacts and lost customers. Here are some of the main touch points between CRM and ERP that you should be considering for data when integrating the two platforms. 

Customer Summaries

One of the greatest benefits of integrating CRM and ERP software is the full, detailed picture that the shared data can paint of each of your customers. It should be intuitive, then, 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 to contracts and accounts receivable, both your shop floor and your sales team will advantage from knowing all they can about your customers. For example: with a reliable, unvarying sync between ERP and CRM your software will be able to prevent sales members having to send any new account or customer data to be manually transferred into the ERP. This reduces labor time and risk of human error on your software projects.

Invoice History

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 predictable capacity and preparation production for a new neighborhood or 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, or scheduling maintenance times when you know you won’t be as busy. 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.

Quote Management

Whether you currently quote within CRM or ERP, integrating that process in both of your systems is considered best practice. All of your team members will be 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 customizations or specific part configuration, for example. On the other hand, you might be a much more simplify company when it comes to quoting 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 modeling 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, your integration can truly shine in helping your company excel 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 legislative body. 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 for that reason so that they can keep all of their clients happy and in the know. You can say goodbye to in the making 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, then don’t exceed your limit yourself.

Product Catalog

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 will not only be very useful for your sales reps, it can also help explain and inform of 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 deals faster and ensure that they give their customers the most accurate information in the fastest way possible.

Returns

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 combination monetarily viable, it may be a better idea to save the money on this integration and keep your existing method for return processing.