Today’s technology gives companies an advantage they have never had.
With the ability to streamline processes and access data in real-time, companies can stay on top of their competition. In addition, today’s data analysis technology allows companies to forsee future events and plan accordingly. These tools, which include both enterprise resource planning (ERP) software and customer relationship management (CRM) software, give companies the power to control their success in today’s market. While similar at first glance, ERP and CRM platforms are distinctively different. Understanding each platform is critical to your system’s success.
What is ERP software?
First and foremost, ERP software is designed to make a company’s processes more effective and efficient. By better managing all the key functions of a company – accounting, warehouse, stock and supply chain – ERP software allows the company to focus on what really matters: the data.
With integrated ERP software, employees can update the platform with important information available in real-time to all departments within the company. This integrated technology gives companies a heads-up when problems occur. If there is a problem in the supply chain, the ERP software will capture the issue and make it available to all areas affected, such as the warehouse. ERP not only provides all departments with updated information, it also gives companies a clear and accurate picture of their standings at any given moment.
What is CRM software?
CRM software fulfils the customer side of the system. Customer relationship management systems focus on just that: customers. This software manages customer information and captures all relevant details for the company. This information is used across the board, from sales reps to managers to accounting personnel. A quality CRM system should capture every interaction the company has with the customer. By properly managing customer information, companies can build their customer relationships to increase customer loyalty and ultimately, revenue.
Not all CRMs are the same, however. Nearly all CRM programs consist of different modules – such as marketing, sales and service – all used by different departments of an organisation.
ERP and CRM integration
ERP and CRM systems both manage important information for your company. While both software systems manage different information, their integration is critical. The benefits of ERP and CRM integration are many, including ensuring an optimal return on your investment in both platforms. The information captured by both platforms helps employees make better decisions. For example, a sales rep could not make an effective sale without leveraging both ERP and CRM. Without CRM, the rep may miss out on information crucial to that client’s sale. Without ERP, the sale has the possibility of not being communicated to accounting, production, and/or warehouse departments, creating a mess that could result in unmet client expectations.
Ultimately, integration between ERP and CRM ensures that your customers’ expectations – and your company goals – are met. This integration guarantees that all departments in your company are working together. The sales rep can communicate with the accounting, supply and warehouse departments before making the sale. If there are any problems, the sales rep will be notified ahead of time. This gives sales reps the ability to close deals with all necessary information and maintain a good name for your company. Without ERP and CRM integration, your company stands the risk of being lost in communication.
Streamline business processes
If you’re looking to streamline business processes and boost productivity, consider integrating your ERP system and CRM software system. Doing so will help remove data silos in your organisation and optimise operations to enhance efficiency.
Let’s take a look at the three benefits of merging your ERP and CRM software.
A 360-degree view of your customer
Exactly how well does your business know its customers? One of the biggest advantages of CRM and ERP integration is that it provides a complete view of your customers. From sales and support to finance and accounting; these systems provide complete visibility on your customer’s buying habits, order history and general needs.
Not only does this provide you with a better insight into your customer base, it can help you build lasting relationships and determine where their is potential for future growth. Consistent data gives you better analytics and reporting, so you can track changes in your customers preferences, profitability, and loyalty.
When your sales team are in the middle of a crucial touchpoint throughout a customer’s journey, having on-the-go access to all customer inventory and orders alongside product and pricing information will assist in closing deals more efficiently – they must have up-to-date data during the interaction, not afterwards.
ERP systems such as Pegasus and Sage enables a sales team to view a customer’s credit limit, current balance, a list of outstanding invoices and previous orders placed; meaning they will have the full history of the customer’s purchasing patterns.
With effective integration, employees from various departments will also find it easier to collaborate, for streamlined information keeps everyone in your business on the same page.
Managers can keep a track of all the critical business operations in real time, which will aid them to make more informed business decisions.
Faster access to crucial information
Without a fully integrated system, employees run the risk of becoming less efficient, meaning your customers will pay the price.
For example – when a customer contacts you requesting an order status update, your customer service staff should not have to trawl through different systems to access that information or inquire with other employees, for this could result in a negative customer experience and therefore a loss in business.
A fully integrated CRM and ERP solution will provide employees with access to important information in real-time. With the push of a button, they can retrieve information on stock levels, customer financials, order history, returns, payments, pricing and more.
Eliminate tedious data entry and duplication
Although both ERP and CRM systems hold account and contact information, it is done for different purposes – CRM is focused on support/sales and prospects; whereas ERP is focused on stock, warehouse, shipping and billing, etc.
The ERP and CRM integration removes the tedious necessity of duplicating data entry by providing identical rules for each system. For instance, any alterations made in the ERP database will reflect in the CRM system and vice versa. The same principle also applies for the addition or removal of custom fields, new entries or changes to the database.
Improved order, stock and quote management
Once a CRM proposal has generated into an order in the ERP software, having to switch systems and re-enter the data multiple times is neither time-sensitive nor practical.
With ERP and CRM integration, businesses can turn proposal generation (created in the CRM) into actual orders (executed and tracked at the ERP level) using just one system; reducing time consumption for data management and increasing company efficiency. Furthermore, a sales team would have enhanced visibility regarding order status updates for customers and easy access to make necessary changes if needed.
Also, while quoting for a prospect/customer in CRM, a sales representative can quote the most accurate pricing by using the integrated ERP solution to retrieve the updated pricing information. Any promotional or discount pricing will be available in the CRM as well.
Reduced IT and training overheads
Statistics indicate that businesses spend a yearly average of £1028 on training per employee and 31.5 hours a year training employees – that’s a substantial amount of expenditure and lost time.
With a single, unified platform for both CRM and ERP, there is no need of maintaining two separate systems resulting in reduced IT costs. Likewise, if the integration is carried out effectively, the amount of support and training goes down, for training sessions would only be required for the combined system instead of the individual systems.
Staff might be sceptical to embrace more than one piece of software; especially if it requires extensive training. Learning to use both ERP and CRM at the same time can be a challenge, resulting in poor adoption rates post-implementation.
The combination of these two programs makes it easier for employees to gather and analyse data – they can familiarise themselves with a singular piece of software and spend time learning all of its features.
So, what next?
To see how you can truly benefit from CRM and ERP integration, we can help. Give us a call on 0191 500 8150, or contact us here and we can come and see what your current business processes are, and how we can deliver a solution to streamline your business.
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