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Streamlined processes, improved productivity, and scaling up of your business—these are some of the compelling reasons to integrate your enterprise resource planning (ERP) and customer relationship management (CRM) software systems. But let’s delve deeper and look in detail at 6 key benefits of this integration.
One daunting challenge for any manufacturer is managing the different channels of sales, namely, direct sales and distributor sales. Not only are you trying hard to build a strong and successful relationship with your distributors so that they push your products, but you also are supporting your own sales teams to sell. So what happens when your sales team and your distributor have a face off for the same project? Sometimes the manufacturers are not even aware of this overlap, or they get to know when it’s too late. A well implemented and integrated CRM and ERP system is smart enough to tell you in advance if such a scenario is likely to arise.
In any business, knowing your customers is crucial. One of the most important advantages of the integration of ERP and CRM is an in-depth view of your customer. From lead to prospect, from sales and to after sales support, from finance to accounting, together these systems provide complete visibility into your customers’ needs, habits, buying patterns, order and transaction history, preferences, etc. This visibility is helpful as a lot of insights can be culled. Also, you can use this data to forge long lasting relationships with your customer, and accordingly, make more effective pitches in the future.
Availability of real time data can boost productivity and save time. Let’s look at an example for this. When a customer calls the call center and asks for some information, if the required data is not available at the click of a button, the employee may have to access more than one data systems, thus wasting precious time at both ends. No employee should ever have to juggle data and important information; they should always be accessible to him. This is possible with an integrated ERP and CRM system. The employee will thus be able to answer queries promptly and accurately.
Forecasting becomes a nightmare because no one version of the truth exists. There could be duplicate entries and/or single entries. Since there’s no single data warehouse, it becomes difficult to get unique transaction codes. So what happens is employees will spend extra time to make sense of the data. All this can be avoided by integration of the two main systems, ERP and CRM – where customer data and company data coexist – a one solid database exists. Some good examples of software that successfully do this are SAP and Salesforce. In fact, the software can be customized to your industry and size of business.
Workflow management capabilities of today’s ERP and CRM software systems allow you to organize and automate business steps and process, which were previously done manually and much more slowly than what’s possible today. CRM systems have robust workflow tools that facilitate automation and implementation of best practices for marketing, sales and services. ERP systems offer similar workflow tools, but for back-office functions.
When the CRM and ERP systems are automated, but only individually, addressing end-to-end business processes may get complicated. For instance, if a sales person raises a quote for a product that is out-of-stock, and coverts the quote into a customer order, the error may get detected only at a later stage, say, at shipping. The order will have to go back to the salesperson for correction and then be reprocessed by the finance department.
This in return causes delay in delivery to the customer and increases administrative costs to the company. For this very reason, combining tools from both ends of the business becomes important.
In most organizations, the calendar capabilities are usually provided by the CRM application. Now imagine, if these functions can somehow be linked with the ERP applications, which will enable an overall view of the entire company. Integrating the CRM and ERP applications, as done by SAP, Salesforce or the like, can enable sharing calendar information to quickly and easily schedule group meetings or giving the company an overview of individuals’ tasks. This integrated task management functionality allows organizations and individuals to automate monitoring tasks, review where they are in the completion of tasks, clearly demarcate responsibilities and prioritize tasks in order to improve accountability.
As we have seen, integration of these two powerful tools can open a window of opportunities. Does your company use this integration to drive productivity and improve business process? Do comment below.