System integration can boost ROI

By Henning Lund - May 18, 2022

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There are many reasons why a company may decide to integrate their systems. Data integration benefits can be multiple and plentiful. For example companies that have integrated their CRM (customer relationship management) system with their ERP (Enterprise resource planning) solution can experience gains such as:

  • Getting a 360 degree view of their customers, allowing them to build lasting relationships and providing top class customer service.
  • Gaining efficiency by giving instant access to business critical information.
  • Getting rid of time-consuming and error-prone manual routines.
  • Securing a much higher user adoption. Because when systems are integrated, users will always find the data they need to perform their daily tasks.

These are the most common benefits of a CRM-ERP integration and many organizations experience additional gains.

Getting the most value out of your ERP and CRM systems

Today, big data is the rule rather than the exception. Even small to medium-sized companies can easily collect huge amounts of customer data from various sources. 

Many companies have invested heavily in IT systems that can help them gather and use data. It is common to see companies with systems ranging from back office systems to CRM systems, SCM (supply chain management) solutions, e-commerce or business intelligence and artificial intelligence solutions. 

Collecting data is not an issue any longer. Data storage is solved with the use of data lakes or data warehouses. Accessing the data that was collected in order to make sense of it has become the real challenge. 

Collecting data has little interest if the company cannot make use of this data. This is all the more important as the costs of investing in business supporting IT solutions can be quite overwhelming. 

For most companies, IT solutions can be a heavy initial investment - one that has to give results as fast as possible. This is when IT executives and other top management members start looking into the Return on Investment (or ROI) of their IT implementation projects. 

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What is ROI in an IT system implementation project?

In general terms, ROI (or Return on Investment) is the ratio between the net profit of the investment and the cost to implement it. When it comes to ROI measurement, there can be different ROI metrics

As a rule of thumb, the idea is to evaluate whether the benefits of a project or investment justify or even outweigh the costs implied. It is not always as easy to calculate as it may sound. 

First because there might be many side-effects or “soft” benefits that cannot always be quantified. Qualitative benefits can be difficult to quantify. They are not always as tangible or visible for all stakeholders.

Less tangible benefits may be difficult to incorporate into an ROI calculation. It is however crucial to include them to have a true picture of the results. 

But this is also because you will have to define the time frame within which you wish to see the return on your investment. This is often why organizations start looking into annual ROI or annualized ROI

When you have embarked on a CRM and/or an ERP implementation project, you need to have focus on specific KPIs (Key Performance Indicators). These will help you measure the progress of your project and calculate its ROI. 

Costs of data integration implementation projects

In such IT implementation projects, you will have to consider: 

  • Implementation costs
  • Licensing fees
  • Hardware investment if applicable
  • Consulting costs
  • Maintenance and support cost

While licensing and hardware costs can be predictable, the uncertainty often lies in implementation and consulting costs. Support should be an expenditure you can control as many providers offer good support plans. 

Maintenance can be a dangerous unknown, especially if you have not chosen solutions that can support your needs and growth ambitions in the future. 

System integration to increase solutions’ ROI

As the saying goes, “United we stand, divided we fall”. Likewise, companies usually benefit more from an integrated CRM-ERP solution than two stand-alone ERP and CRM systems.

This rule actually applies to any other systems you decide to integrate in order to streamline and optimize your business processes.

When two systems are complementary in a business process, you usually benefit greatly in integrating them. Data integration tools such as RapidiOnline or the Rapidi Data Integration Platform can help you bridge your systems. 

Only with integrated systems will you reach a unified view of your customer data and more generally of your business. The benefits of data integration are plentiful, and the data integration process does not need to be complex or cumbersome. 

Nowadays, there are even very cost-effective cloud-based solutions that allow real time, automated and secure data integration. Integration solutions can run as a service, and implementation time can be surprisingly short; making it both possible and affordable to move forward with an integration. 

Think about it this way: if you are not integrating such two systems, you are unlikely to reap the full benefits. Only with integrated systems will you reach the optimal return on your investment.

Define and weigh data integration goals

How to calculate the ROI of a data integration project?

There are many ways to calculate the ROI of an IT implementation project. However, there is not one true and unique method to do so. The ROI calculation method needs to be tailored to the specific needs, wishes, requirements and above all goals of the company. 

A first step is always to specify the results you wish to achieve. Is the project meant to for example: 

  • Reduce costs by reducing the need for staffing
  • Increase productivity by allowing people to always find the data they need in the systems
  • Prepare for further growth with a system that can scale and help you streamline processes to perfection

Your ROI calculator does not necessarily require rocket science. Rapidi has developed a simple ROI calculation tool that can help companies predict how much they can gain from an ERP - CRM integration project.

System integration success story

Nothing says it better than a real life example. For decades, Berling Media, a publishing company based in Stockholm, Sweden had experienced the many disruptions of their industry. 

Berling Media has taken several actions along the years to keep up to date with the new digital era and the demands of the modern reader. One of these customer needs was the adoption of a print-on-demand strategy. Their print on demand business was made possible by a solution called Publit. Publit allowed their customers to order books via their webshop. 

When an order was created on their webshop, it was then transferred to Publit that would then print the books and send them to the customers. This is a lean and clever way to handle book printing. No money spent on printing books that will never be sold, no expensive storage.

To make the solution complete, Berling Media was only missing an integration that would automatically report back to their ERP System (Microsoft Dynamics AX) and invoice the customer. 

Berling Media was no newcomer to system integration. Among others, they had already used the RapidiOnline solution to integrate their CRM (Salesforce) and their ERP (Microsoft Dynamics AX) solutions. 

Using RapidiOnline, They integrated Publit with Microsoft Dynamics AX and today, Berling Media has eliminated all the manual, time-consuming and error-prone keying of the order from Publit into Microsoft Dynamics AX.

About the author

Henning Lund

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With over 25 years’ experience in strategically propelling businesses forward, Henning is considered a business development entrepreneur with a passion for transforming businesses, sales and marketing operations through out-of-the-box thinking, concepts building and process automation to improve overall performance and scalability.
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