Successful CRM and ERP Integration: Your Project Plan
When companies strive to digitally transform their core business processes, they frequently rely upon ERP (enterprise resource planning) or CRM (customer relationship management) platforms to streamline workflows, get more visibility into business operations, and improve customer experience. Usually, enterprises start their digital transformation journey with one of these solutions and then upgrade it with the features of another. That’s where CRM and ERP integration comes in handy.
In this article, we’ll dive into the features of CRM and ERP applications. You will also go over how this solution will benefit the business. You’ll get insights on how to successfully integrate these pieces of software into a centralized, user-friendly, and functional app.
CRM vs ERP in Detail
Even though ERP and CRM platforms serve as an essential business repository and enable tech-driven solutions for streamlining workflow, their capabilities are different. So, let’s get straight into and explore the ERP CRM meaning below.
What Is CRM?
CRM software is a technology meant to manage the company’s relationships and interactions with prospects and existing customers. It is frequently used to share information between sales, customer support, and marketing departments.
What Does CRM Do?
The main point of the CRM system is to create a centralized repository of all customer data and simplify the tracking of customer interactions through various channels. Thanks to CRM, organizations can get more insights into their customers to make more informed decisions about their purchasing behavior.
Main Market Players
The CRM market is rapidly growing, and it is estimated at $43.7 billion in 2020. Almost 91% of companies with more than 10 employees rely on CRMs to automate engagement with their customers. This means that the CRM market size is constantly growing, and there are numerous business application solutions for CRM to meet the market demand. However, some options have proved to be more effective than others, so here is a list of apps that have become the leaders in the market.
According to Statista research, Salesforce is the leading vendor of CRM solutions with a market share of 19.5% in 2020. The instruments offered by the pioneering platform help businesses convert leads into subscribers and close more deals without additional resources.
Pricing: starts at $25 user/month
HubSpot is a cloud-based CRM platform that provides tools for sales leaders, marketers, customer service teams, operation managers, and business owners. Thanks to this easy-to-use platform, you can easily automate routine processes and have a clearer view of the sales pipeline.
Pricing: starts at $45 user/month + a free plan available
Thanks to Nimble CRM, you can easily integrate contacts into segments, perform bulk actions, assign follow-up tasks, and perform other activities that nurture new leads and keep track of existing customers. You can integrate it into your email, social media, and website for more convenient use.
Pricing: starts at $19 user/month
Freshdesk is an omnichannel service that allows you to simplify agents’ experience and put leads back in control by delivering the assistance they expect through the channel of their choice. The app provides your team with a help desk, messaging, contact center, and customer success solutions through a Freshdesk Omnichannel Suite that includes everything your managers require for meaningful communication with customers.
Pricing: starts at $15 user/month + a free plan available
Zoho cloud-based CRM empowers sales teams and support agents with effective instruments that enable them to close leads faster and easier. This is a powerful app suite applicable for businesses of all spheres and sizes.
Pricing: starts at $23.18 user/month
What Is ERP?
ERP is a type of software used by organizations to streamline day-to-day business activities like procurement, supply chain operations, accounting, risk management and compliance, and even human resources management. Thus, it helps integrate different facets of business and gives a full vision of critical processes within a single platform.
What Does ERP Do?
ERP ties in a myriad of business operations across different departments and allow for a smooth flow between them. It gathers the company’s transactional data and other information from various sources into one hub, eliminating data duplication while ensuring its integrity.
Main Market Players
In the “Magic Quadrant for Cloud ERP for Product-Centric Enterprises” report, Gartner defines 10 leading vendors into four categories: leaders, challengers, niche players, and visionaries. We suggest looking at ERP system examples based on this framework.
Oracle Fusion is a cutting-edge cloud-based ERP suite that empowers teams with advanced capabilities for comprehensive business tasks. It uses AI for automating manual operations, in-depth analytics on market shifts, and automatic updates to stay abreast of current affairs.
Pricing: starts at $90 per month
Microsoft Dynamic 365 Finance and Supply Chain Management
These are two solutions for mid-to-large-sized enterprises, namely in retail and manufacturing. They can be easily synced with other Microsoft or third-party apps and managed from a single platform.
Pricing: depends on the industry
Infor CloudSuites is another cloud-based ERP designed for upper mid-market, large, and global organizations that require a robust solution. It supports a CRM system integration and can be synced with other apps. It’s a multi-tenant cloud enterprise solution created by industry experts, which means that the software doesn’t require customization as it was specially developed to meet the industry standards.
Pricing: depends on the payment option, either one-time or annual licensing
Kinetic is the new name for the well-known Epicor ERP system. It is best suited for manufacturing, automotive, distribution, construction supply markets. It offers solutions for running all business operations, including managing HR, finances, employee experience, business intelligence, risk & compliance, product management, and much more.
Pricing: one-time licensing depending on the number of users
Oracle NetSuite ERP
NetSuite ERP is an all-in-one cloud business management software that automates core business processes and delivers real-time visibility into the operational and financial performance of the organization. It streamlines production, supply chain, accounting, order processing, warehouse operations, and inventory management. Thus, it is particularly useful for retail and product-centric companies aiming to get tighter control over business operations.
Pricing: $99 user/month or $999 for a license.
Additionally, there is one more abbreviation to cover – CMS. As we compare CMS vs ERP, you’ll see that these tools have almost nothing in common. CMS refers to the content management system that simplifies the process of creating, publishing, and managing digital content for delivering a better user experience.
The Difference Between ERP and CRM
As you already know the particularities of ERP and CRM, it’s time to take a closer look at these apps in more detail.
Let’s start with the aspects that unite CRM & ERP tools. The main similarity is that both solutions are repositories that bring together essential data for a more efficient workflow. These are both cloud-based or desktop software that allows easier data distribution and syncing, even for multiple departments. Moreover, they are usually delivered through a SaaS (software as a service) model, which means that the vendor manages the apps and data centers on their site.
Even though companies might use both ERP & CRM systems, you should understand what problems each tool is for. So, let’s break down the difference between ERP and CRM software.
- In a nutshell, CRM focuses on improving the customer experience by providing marketing, support, and sales departments with equipment that automates manual and repetitive tasks. CRM systems store data about prospects and existing customers, providing insights into every individual and their buying preferences, allowing marketers to make more personalized offers and maximize sales. They also contain all client communication history and enable smoother interaction with them through a centralized platform.
CRM tools are relatively affordable, with options for businesses of all sizes. They do not require serious maintenance and require only the initial setup.
- At its core, ERP software handles the business’s ‘behind-the-scenes’ processes like accounting, supply chain, manufacturing, inventory management, human resources, and so on. An ERP app brings information from various departments into one place, making it accessible for everyone. It provides users with in-depth analytics to optimize workflows and minimize costs.
As ERP solutions are usually quite expensive, enterprises are the primary users. Moreover, they are managed by businesses and require regular maintenance. Thus, they involve having an internal IT team or allocating resources toward third-party experts.
To make things clearer for you, we’ve put out a brief chart summarizing different ERP CRM solutions.
|Data repository that streamlines processes|
|APP TYPE||Either cloud-based or desktop apps managed by vendors|
|OBJECT||Customer and sales data||“Back office’ operational data|
|GOAL||Maximize profit||Minimize costs|
|FIELDS||Sales, support, and marketing||Supply chain, financial, manufacturing, inventory, human resources, logistics, warehouse|
|MAINTENANCE||No maintenance is needed or a one-time set-up||Extensive support is required|
|BUSINESS SIZE||Small, medium, and big businesses||Mainly enterprises|
|PRICE||More affordable; payments are carried out mainly on a per-user monthly basis||Expensive solutions targeting enterprises; payments are carried out on either a one-time or annual basis|
Why are CRM and ERP Indivisible?
Traditionally, ERP & CRM still remain as standalone solutions. However, most companies do not limit themselves to ERP vs CRM apps, preferring instead to leverage both.
There are numerous ERP packages in the market that help organizations switch from entry-level accounting tools or spreadsheets to more scalable solutions that foster rapid growth with sophisticated back-end business operations. At the same time, a functional CRM app ensures the organization has the right tools to build relationships with clients by delivering a first-rate customer experience at all levels of interaction with the company.
As you see, both ERP and CRM systems streamline various business processes. However, using CRM or ERP apps separately can cause more problems than they solve.
Gartner points out that companies actually put workers at a higher risk of work overload and more distractions with these tools. This abundance of apps leaves staff members feeling more stressed and overwhelmed. Switching between CRM and ERP might negatively affect employees’ ability to concentrate and even lead to digital burnout.
Moreover, with the lack of connection between integration of ERP, SCM, and CRM applications, data continuity and integrity become more vulnerable. There might be a lack of clarity between the departments, and f data duplication might occur.
So, can CRM be integrated with ERP? Absolutely! It is a necessity for enterprises that already use one of the apps and would like to enhance its functionality with the features of another. The use of the integrated ERP software for customer relationship management will provide a single source of direction for employees, thus decreasing distractions and stress.
Benefits of ERP and CRM Integration
Before showing the perks of integrating CRM and ERP, let us explain what it means in layman’s terms.
ERP and CRM integration refers to and syncing your ERP and CRM software solutions to provide automated and consistent data sharing and a centralized source of information that any employee can access. Check how the integration of CRM and ERP features can simplify the workflows in the organization below.
CRM + ERP FEATURE
HOW IT WORKS
|Lead contacts + Accounting data||The support team or sales reps will get more insights about every leader in the database by gaining access to invoices, shipping info, and payments.|
|Quote + Order management||Even though quotes and orders are managed in the ERP system, integrating this information into the CRM is highly beneficial to sales or support representatives.|
|Order history||The ERP system handles order history, but syncing it with CRM will give sales reps more data about the purchasing behavior of every lead.|
|Prices + Inventory||Inventory and listing prices frequently reside in ERP, but support agents and sales managers will need this data in the CRM system for a smoother sales process.|
For example, if you are using the Salesforce CRM system, implementing a Salesforce ERP integration will benefit the organization in numerous ways. It will take the interaction between the front and back offices to a new level, enabling faster data sharing. With deep expertise in Salesforce and ERP integration, Ergonized will ensure your ERP and CRM systems are flawlessly synced, and your employees have the resources necessary for success
As we’ve covered how the app integration works, let’s go through the ERP CRM integration benefits for business opportunities.
A Clearer Picture of Your Customers
Once you invest in CRM to ERP integration, you’ll unlock key information about potential and existing customers. What’s more, the data will be aggregated into one hub, so employees will be equipped with the information needed to build relationships with customers. For instance, marketers can learn about customer habits, preferences, and order history, so they can create tailored promotions and raise their close rate
Customer Service of a Brand New Level
It comes as no surprise that companies operate in a customer-oriented environment. The integration of CRM and ERP will allow your organization to streamline business processes throughout various departments, resulting in faster order processing. On top of that, sales and support reps will have the essential information at hand to request data from other departments. This will significantly decrease response time, meaning customers will get answers to their questions as soon as they need them.
Elimination of Duplicated Information
When ERP and CRM systems are not synced, there is a considerable likelihood of customer data duplication. This means that employees are wasting their time and effort performing the same or nearly the same tasks. Moreover, there might be issues with updating the information. Your workers might end up having different or insufficient information in one of the apps, creating a lot of confusion and more time wasted. A CRM ERP integration will ensure you have a centralized repository that eliminates any chances of duplication or inaccurate data.
The coordination of work between various departments can be tough, especially when they use multiple apps like ERP and CRM, but the exchange of information is critical for delivering a quality customer experience. In this case, bringing CRM and ERP platforms together can be the best solution. The data will be stored in one hub, and the workers from various departments will have quick, equal access.
More Reliable Sales Forecasting
When sales reps are equipped with the essential financial information from an ERP system like the order history, shipping, or payments, they can make more knowledgeable decisions about upcoming sales. By carefully analyzing the financial data and matching it with the customer profiles gathered in an integrated ERP CRM platform, the sales managers can work out informed strategies for upselling or increasing sales during the off-peak season. It is also beneficial for the manufacturing department because they will be able to predict customer demand better and adjust the manufacturing output accordingly.
Key Steps for Integrating ERP with CRM
As you see, there are numerous merits of CRM and ERP system integration. But there are cases when the decision to bring two pieces of software together is more rewarding for the company:
- The use of CRM and ERP from different developers;
- One of the apps (ERP or CRM) was installed earlier than another;
- The current ERP system with CRM features does not cover your requirements.
Even though syncing CRM and ERP sounds appealing, a few roadblocks might stand in the way of successful implementation. If you do not have an experienced IT team, it will be next-to-impossible to sync two different app ecosystems and make them exchange data. Information standardization and consistency throughout all business processes is another issue that might also stand in your way.
But the good news is that there are well-established approaches that help CRM and ERP integration. Below we will share the general guidelines to help you configure your CRM and ERP integration.
Define The Right Integration Approach
There are numerous methods of delivering CRM and ERP integrated solutions, but we’ll enumerate the basic two.
Approaches to ERP & CRM Integration:
- API integration;
- Customization with ready-to-use modules.API integration works for companies that currently use CRM and ERP as two separate programs (including from the same and different developers). It’s much easier to integrate apps from one vendor as they already have some integration patterns. Things are going to be more complicated when you want to synchronize products from various developers. That will require bridging two APIs, so it’s better to outsource the CRM ERP integration service from the professional team.
If you already use an ERP system, you can upgrade it with a compatible CRM solution for an additional cost. It makes the integration much easier, but make sure it contains essential entities for your business.
Make Certain the Entities Support the Same Format
When you decide to sync CRM and ERP, you might face the issue of entity compatibility, just as clothing sizes can be specified in inches and centimeters.
So, prepare the list of information that is subject to exchange between the two systems and make sure they share the same format.
Define Flows, Integration Pipes, and Modifiers
Create scripts for the interaction between CRM and ERP systems that define when and how the information should be transferred. Consider how CRUD operations would be performed as well.
Additionally, spot data points in both systems that look similar and configure connections between them. Set more detailed instructions on how the data fields from ERP and CRM should interact.
How to Organize Flawless Integration
We won’t be detailing the technical side of how to integrate CRM and ERP. It is better to entrust this process to a dedicated team that knows all the ins and outs of integration. Meanwhile, we can help you with the less technical aspects of organizing operations..
Foster a Change-Welcoming Spirit in Your Organization
No one likes change in well-established processes, even when it’s for the best. That is why you should show employees that integration of ERP and CRM systems won’t cause much disruption or affect their normal work.
Make sure you are backed by leaders (not necessarily upper management) who will help carry out your digital transformation. They should be able to boost team engagement, layout clear instructions, and assure the end product will be delivered.
Put Customers and Business Values First
An ERP and CRM integration that is not value-driven is just a waste of the company’s resources. Make certain this idea is deeply rooted in your mind: every app integration feature should add value to your organization. And that doesn’t only mean bringing in more revenue. Every aspect of future software integration should make the lives of your customers and employees easier. The core idea of app syncing should be about taking the customer experience to a new level while simplifying business operations for your workers and boosting their productivity.
Know The Capabilities of Your Current ERP and CRM Systems
Before you take the route of integrating the apps you already use, it would be helpful to learn what business operations each of them handles. Most likely, the workers have issues with using two standalone software, so we recommend you ask them about the challenges they face juggling ERP and CRM.
Cooperate with the CRM ERP Integration Partner
Integrating CRM and ERP systems is no cakewalk. It is a complex and time-consuming process that requires specific expertise and skills. If you don’t have an internal IT team intent on carrying out successful app integrations, you should consider working with an external partner.
If you are looking for a dedicated IT service provider to carry out ERP and Salesforce integration, Ergonized is at your disposal. We will sync Salesforce as well as other CRMs with any ERP platform to make certain your business has all the digital resources needed to thrive.
To sum it up, the integration of CRM and ERP will bring massive value to your business. This IT solution will streamline your back-office operations, so your employees can deliver exceptional customer service.
If you need help with picking the right CRM or ERP solution and would like to get tips on their successful integration, you are always welcome to reach out to our experts. Our vast experience in syncing ERP and CRM apps gives us a comprehensive understanding of the capabilities of these systems and how to overcome the challenges of their integration.