I hate being the witness of a good investment not being fruitful. Throughout my career in the ERP world, I have seen many companies take the big step and heavily invest in new ERP and CRM systems – some simultaneously, some step wise. The benefits of each system separately are undeniable, and can by themselves make a huge difference in a company’s operations. In many projects, integrating the two systems is part of the initial vision.
However, many organizations refrain from performing the integration. Why? Often because the initial investment in the two systems has been bigger than planned and has utilized a great deal of the resources, time, and budget – sometimes more than originally allocated. So, the integration of the two systems might be set aside for a shorter or longer period. But is it wise? Combined together however, these two systems can help companies take an exponential leap.
The benefits of ERP and CRM integration are numerous
From a conceptual point-of-view, integration makes a lot of sense: ERP systems provide much-needed internal information that can be shared with new stakeholders. CRM systems provide the entry point for stakeholders to engage with an organization. You can't really have one without the other and be successful in the marketplace.
From an operational point of view, you can achieve much greater benefits by integrating the two systems. I’ll give you my top 4 reasons:
This is the only way to get a 360 degree view of your customers. From prospect, to sales and support, to finance and accounting, together these systems provide complete visibility into your customers’ needs, buying habits, order history, preferences, account standing, etc. you get better insight into your customer base, and you can use it to build lasting relationships with customers and determine where there is potential for future growth.
You gain tremendously in efficiency because you have instant access to important information. Always having access to business-critical information in real-time (whichever system you are working in) means that you are able to quickly and accurately respond to your customers’ and other stakeholders’ questions and requests (for example about inventory levels, shipments, customer financials, order history, returns, payments, pricing, etc.) without having to search answers in multiple systems. You avoid wasting your time finding information and you improve customer experience.
You get rid of manual routines that are time-consuming and prone to human error. You eliminate redundant data entry and have a chance to streamline processes and automate workflows, enabling you to increase response time and giving you more time to spend on the most revenue-generating activities
You get the most out of your investment because you secure a higher user adoption. Before your systems where in place people had their own way to deal with their daily tasks. If your CRM and ERP systems are harder and more cumbersome to use, they will reject them and go back to their old solutions. By securing that the two systems are well integrated, you make sure that your user will not have to find or go back to alternative ways to find data to perform their daily tasks.
To sum it up, it is quite simple: Do you want to get the most out of your ERP and CRM systems? Integrate them. Nowadays, there are even very cost-effective cloud-based solutions that allow fast, automated and secure data integration. Integration solutions run as a service, and implementation time is in the large majority of the cases cases limited to 3-10 man days; making it both possible and affordable to move forward with an integration. In reality, I think that there is a much bigger risk in NOT integrating the two systems as you will fail to reap the full benefits of your investment.
About the author
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.