ERP and CRM Integration Best Practices
Integrating your ERP and CRM enterprise software systems may not seem like an essential item on your business’ to-do list, but the fact of the matter is that in today’s ever more competitive world of business technology, software integration is now a non-negotiable. By weaving together all of the particular processes of an enterprise resource planning system with all of the customer-facing data and processes contained within your CRM, ERP and CRM integration gives your business the unprecedented power of a 360-degree view of your clients.
A common question that we often come across when expounding on the benefits of both ERP and CRM: “Why do we need to integrate these two disparate systems anyway? Wouldn’t it just be easier to use these supplemental CRM modules from an ERP provider?”. While it may seem convenient to just take on a monolithic system from a single provider, that kind of solution is just not sustainable in the long-term. If you want to provide the best foundation for your business you need to buy from the best vendor for each aspect of your enterprise system. With software platform integration as flexible, cost-effective and easy-to-implement, there’s no longer any good reason to get sub par software for the sake of convenience.
See our take on the best of breed software debate here
So, now that we are all on the same page about the necessity of CRM and ERP integration (and finding the best applications for your business within both,) what are some of the most foundational ERP and CRM Integration best practices? Your integration project is going to be just as critical as the implementation of the very enterprise systems you are connecting, after all. In order to meet deadlines and expectations for your project, it’s key that you follow some basic ERP and CRM integration best practices. Read on for the breakdown, and begin building your own integration strategy today.
Get Your Homework Done
It should go without saying, but you’d be surprised at how many businesses simply assume that everything that have they developed and customized within their systems will work for go-live day. Those kind of assumptions can result in crippling failures and gaps in your integration platform before your employees ever really get to use it. Before you even think about booting up an integration platform, make sure that all of your test scripts have been properly run, and that you have specifically defined goals and success metrics before you run any tests. Your data needs to be cleaned up and ready to go beforehand, as well. Duplicate, or just plain poor, data will do nothing good for you when it comes to integration crunch time. Have specific members of your project team assigned to the task and making sure your information and data has been vetted properly before you mix it with that of another system’s.
However, homework shouldn’t just be for your project team either; you also need to make sure that every single employee is doing their part to train within and learn about the new integration platform. From hands-on learning within the office to assignments that will help them see the benefit of the project to their own functions, proper training is the fast-track to universal user adoption and just one of the crucial CRM and ERP integration best practices you need to follow on the road to success!
Automate Your Integration Thoroughly
Some employees may believe that all you need for true ERP integration is a manual, scheduled data and process transfer between ERP and the rest of your business systems. This mindset misses the true point of seamless (and automated) enterprise integration entirely. Set up your integration platform to automatically sync the data your business will need the most throughout your organization. There’s really no concrete template for your integration map here; you must complete a thorough model of your own business processes and then drawing out a detailed picture of what data and processes will be shared which way, and when. Take the time out now to automate all of these sync points so that you can rest easy with the knowledge that all of your staff will have the data they need, on hand, to truly focus on and excel at their job functions.
Read our article on the most crucial CRM and ERP data sync points here!
Think Down the Line
The best way to plan out the future of your software integration is to build a wide-ranging business case. Think about what you want your project to achieve for your business on its go-live date, the one-month mark, the year-end etc. Setting specific, achievable and measurable goals will ensure that you can accurately track the success of your project against real numbers and real expectations. Smart planning and goal-setting is also the best way to avoid the much-dreaded scope creep—when top-level expectations for a software integration exceed beyond the actual goals (and budget) of the project. Scope creep will only result in disappointed in your ERP and CRM integration and the perceived failure of the endeavor.
The best part of ERP and CRM integration, particularly in the cloud (IPaaS), is just how scalable the practice is. Leverage this flexibility to help you plan out your interconnected business and software strategy for the long-term. When it comes to web-based integration platforms, enterprise integration can go far beyond just ERP and CRM. E-commerce software for an online store, logistics and financials software or specialized human resources planning systems can all be integrated together through the cloud. Thinking ahead of time about the necessary space and considerations you need to make for further integrations will only save you a headache (and more costs and delays) further down the road. An extensive, specific and long-range use case goes a long way to company-wide user adoption and is one of the most crucial ERP and CRM integration best practices.
The cold, hard truth is that you just can’t remain competitive as a modern business if you don’t integrate your enterprise software systems. By connecting ERP and CRM, you can reinforce the strength of your back office with data from your operational and customer-facing programs and vice versa. Your ERP and CRM integration project should thus be treated with as much care and forethought as your implementation processes. Whether it’s knowing when to take the reins or when to let the software do the work for you, it’s impossible to overstate the importance of smart strategy and knowledge of your unique business processes when it comes to the success of your software project. Following our ERP and CRM integration best practices will help ensure your project doesn’t falter right out of the gate and that you can begin collecting all of the data you need to win as soon as the project’s go-live date.
For advice on your next software integration project, or to go through a demo of our own web-based integration platform for ERP and CRM, contact an expert at Datix today.