Solution to One of Business’s Most Common Complaints: CRM and ERP Compatibility

Business Intelligence, CRM, ERP February 3, 2017

Copyright: stnazkul / 123RF Stock Photo

One of the most common complaints we hear at RTS Labs from our clients (maybe you’ve had this issue yourself?) is that their business software doesn’t work together. Doesn’t matter if it’s back office programs (like for accounting and supply chain management) or client-facing systems (such as CRM and sales tracking software). When you can’t coordinate easily between different areas of your own company, it wastes precious time and resources, every day.

And a really common area where this frustrating lack of compatibility happens is between customer relationship management (CRM) systems and enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems.

CRM systems are usually going to be your sales programs, where your account managers and salespeople track, follow-up on, and close leads. ERP usually refers to back office operations, from orders, invoicing, and supply chain management to accounting and payroll. If you have one integrated system for all or most of your back office processes, that’s ERP.

But what happens when your CRM and ERP – two of your biggest functional areas – aren’t compatible?

If your ERP and CRM systems don’t work together, you’re automatically at a disadvantage. Not only will people in your company not have the information they need to do their jobs to the best of their abilities – they may be wasting a lot of company time trying to get that information.

Too many mid-size, large, and growing companies face this problem. They have multiple software systems that each play to specific strengths – but they aren’t necessarily strong together.

One fix to this problem is to use manual data entry – a tedious expense – to input data sets from each system into the other system..

However, a simpler, more time efficient solution is to use a system that will connect your ERP and your CRM.

Enter Salesforce. Most people know that Salesforce can be a powerful CRM and business intelligence tool. But, business intelligence isn’t the only thing Salesforce can do. It can also connect with your back office software or ERP. And that could make things run a lot more smoothly throughout your entire company.

Why does it matter?

Why do you need your CRM information to be compatible with your ERP systems? Because the two drive each other.

Without sales information and customers, you don’t have anything to do on the back end. If the back end processes aren’t working smoothly, orders don’t get filled and you can’t track who has paid you (a critical piece of creating and sustaining cash flow, yes?).

On the surface, it would seem like ERP is more dependent on information from your CRM. When orders entered into your CRM then seamlessly feed into your invoicing and supply chain management processes, it makes it a lot easier to fulfill those orders – and keep customers happy.

But sometimes, it works both ways. If your salespeople, account managers, IT and other client-facing employees need information from your ERP in order to do their jobs, they should be able to look up information without bothering your back office. Because then you’re taking up the time of multiple departments. Maybe they need to know who has paid their bills before they can provide more services or products. Perhaps they want to reach out to an important client to let them know when to expect their order. They may even want to set up automated order confirmation and tracking emails for their customers.

Either way, these are the kinds of business tasks that Salesforce was designed to do. What the teams at RTS Labs frequently help clients with is customizing Salesforce to sync up with their ERP system. This kind of CRM and ERP compatibility helps everyone work between departments more efficiently. Less time and effort get wasted, too.

Salesforce for CRM

You may already be familiar with Salesforce as an extremely powerful suite of business tools for CRM. With Salesforce CRM, you can monitor and manage your entire sales cycle, from when leads first come in to ordering to support tickets. Salesforce also has great analytics capabilities that feed into its channel marketing features.

Everything within Salesforce is completely customizable – including an option for white labeling. This way you can customize your CRM with your own branding and even give it a new name.

Connect Salesforce to your ERP

If you have in-house IT people or programmers, or perhaps a resident Salesforce expert, it shouldn’t be too hard to connect your Salesforce CRM to your ERP. Salesforce is designed to be customized fairly easily.

However, to get the most out of Salesforce, it’s good to map out what you ultimately need it to do with your ERP:

  • What do the different teams need from each other? Get together with any stakeholders (especially the people who are doing the actual work every day) to make a list of must-haves and nice-to-haves.
  • Map out your ideal workflow. Where do orders go once they’re placed? How do you track analytics at the end of the sales cycle?
  • Look at what processes you have now. Which ones are compatible? Where do you need more compatibility?
  • Once you’ve mapped out what you have now and where you ideally want to go, then you can start to customize Salesforce to sync it with your ERP.

Ultimately – using Salesforce with your ERP could eliminate most of the need (if not all of the need) for manual data entry between your systems.

Be more productive

With Salesforce as your CRM and a customized process that connects your ERP data to it, you can now go to Salesforce as a sales rep to see everything that’s relevant to you – including whether or not your client has paid their bill, whether you have the inventory to fulfill a client’s order, and when your client can expect delivery.

This is just one of many reasons why we and so many of our clients love Salesforce. There’s so much you can do with it to automate processes and make your business run more smoothly.

If your front-of-house doesn’t know what the back-of-house is doing – and vice versa – you’re going to end up with wasted productivity and probably some disgruntled employees who are tired of getting requests for information.

But Salesforce can help everyone be more productive – and it can help keep the peace, too.

If you need help with part of the process of syncing your Salesforce CRM with your ERP or the whole process, feel free to reach out to us for a free initial consultation. Salesforce is one of our favorite things to work on, and we have a lot of experience with it. We’d love to share some of our lessons learned with you.