The Cloud: How it is paying off
With the on-going success of cloud-based systems, it is no surprise that businesses are continuing to look ‘to the skies’ for ways to increase productivity, improve sales, and optimise performance. Building on the success of cloud applications, an increasing amount of businesses are choosing to merge their CRM and ERP applications, a trend that speaks to the many benefits the integration has been shown to bring to business.
With ERP increasingly moving to the cloud, it seems a natural next step to consider combining the two systems. However, as with any such project, it’s imperative to have all of the information before you begin. Although there are many benefits for integrating CRM and ERP applications, there are several aspects that will require thorough planning in order to avoid pitfalls.
Gain a Better View of your Customers.
The Cloud CRM and ERP integration will allow you to gain a full view of your customers, ultimately leading to a better service for customers and therefore the potential for better sales. Combining the data from CRM, including sales, support and marketing information, with ERP data, such as financial and accounts data, you are gaining a unique insight into a customer’s spending profile. This insight can be used to improve on customer relationships and enhance engagement. It could potentially provide staff with the ability to anticipate future sales and create opportunities for cross-selling.
Speed of Information
The customer relationship is further more improved upon due to the increased speed an integration of systems will bring, as sales teams have instant access to a customer’s past spending information. Staff will also be able to provide a better, quicker service due to the ease of working with all information being available on one system, rather than needing to use several systems to access customer information.
Costs and Considerations
One aspect that needs careful consideration before beginning to integrate CRM and ERP, is security. Customer data stored in your ERP applications may be protected under compliance regulations, and it’s vital to ensure that the access settings in your CRM system will enable the data to continue to be stored correctly upon the merging of the two systems.
Another risk factor is the quality of the data being integrated. Merging bad data with another application could result in disruptive behaviour by systems, and it is therefore recommended that data is closely checked before proceeding.
Of course, the overall process of an integration varies from company to company, and therefore so does the cost. There are template packages and tools offered that can save time and effort, but as each business operates differently, they may still require further customization. If using a packaged integrating system, it is wise to factor in unforeseen costs such as customizations.
Just as CRM systems using the cloud have become almost the standard in business procedures, so it seems likely that CRM and ERP integration will follow suit.
There are some areas that must be carefully planned and executed before beginning the project. Overall, however, the ease of access to customer information for staff in all departments -particularly sales and finance- are proving to be very beneficial to business.