ERP & CRM Integration: Key Business Benefits and How to Get Started

ERP & CRM Integration: Key Business Benefits and How to Get Started

March 22, 2023

If your organization has enterprise resource planning (ERP) and customer relationship management (CRM) systems but they’re not integrated, you are likely running into problems. If you’re the CFO, you don’t have the deep visibility you want into budgeting and forecasting. If you’re the CRO, you may be unable to create the right connections between sales, marketing and customer success. And if you’re the CMO, you have less ability to personalize your marketing campaigns. Integrating your ERP and CRM helps everyone by creating better visibility into the latest data, streamlining key business processes and making better collaboration possible between teams.

To help you achieve this next phase of your digital transformation journey, this article covers the benefits of integrating your ERP and CRM platforms, some business processes that will improve with integration and steps for how to get started.

The Benefits of Integrating Your ERP and CRM Platforms

When you properly connect your ERP and CRM systems, you create meaningful benefits for your teams and your organization:

Gain a 360-degree view of your business

An ERP-CRM integration means you can streamline both solutions to gain a full-picture view of your business. You get a clear perspective on your end-to-end processes and the ability to quickly adjust your operations when issues or opportunities arise. This visibility isn’t possible when you have two systems operating in isolation.

Eliminate information silos

When your ERP and CRM systems are operating separately, they create information silos, making it difficult for your teams to access the most up-to-date information, such as product inventory and price lists. Often, members of your finance, sales or marketing teams must ask each other for certain data because they do not have access or visibility. Integrating the systems eliminates these silos by allowing data to be seen and shared between them, so your teams can leverage what’s available in both platforms.

Create a single source of truth

Once you've eliminated the silos, you provide your organization with a single source of truth. Your integrated ERP-CRM provides a holistic view of your financial and operational data, and you create one reporting location where that crucial data is shared across your teams. With one source, you eliminate the need to repeat data entry into two different systems, reduce blind spots and bring clarity to your teams.

Secure customer loyalty

A trending question for CMOs and CROs is how are we going to create customer loyalty? An integrated ERP-CRM means you have more robust information about a customer’s behavior and a better understanding of customer history. An integrated solution provides you with the full spectrum of data that enables you to take better care of your customers by providing the right follow-up or customized offerings. An integrated ERP-CRM also helps you make it easier for your customers to track their orders and repeat the purchase process. In return, customers are more likely to remain loyal thanks to a supportive and seamless experience with your business.

Accelerate team collaboration

An integrated system boosts team collaboration by helping synchronize sales and finance activities and by tying together the front and back offices to the actual underlying records (such as sales orders and opportunities), so communication has context. Since an integrated system makes it possible for your teams to eliminate tracking of data outside the systems, they’ll spend minimal time with manual processes and more time working together to add value to your business.

How ERP-CRM Integration Can Improve Your Business Processes

Integrating your systems helps your teams work smarter by streamlining critical business processes, including:

Shorter lead-to-cash cycles

Integration breaks down the barriers to enable a fully automated, paperless lead-to-cash process — one that lets you convert CRM quotes into ERP orders with a single click, or automatically trigger invoicing and automate the revenue recognition process. You can then initiate downstream processes and move information seamlessly between the ERP and CRM systems without delays and mistakes. This means that when customers call with billing questions, sales team members can supply answers instantly from within the familiar CRM environment. This smarter process eliminates the silos, barriers, delays and errors and matches the way your organization does business.

Automated revenue recognition

For a growing number of companies, revenue recognition is an important challenge — especially complying with ASC 606/IFRS 15 mandates. It is becoming a critical task to properly recognize revenue at the right time and match it to the right expenses. With an ERP to CRM integration, once your customer pays for services, the accounting team understands when to recognize the revenue because they have full visibility into the sale in the CRM system.

Improved data management

Sales and finance often end up collecting and storing separate data and records on customers, inventory, orders, credit and more. This results in wasted time rekeying data and potential for errors. The integration can be set up to share almost all data between the two solutions, meaning you can decide what is most important to your business goals.

Easier management of complex supply chains and sales forecasts

Many organizations don’t have the right tools and processes in place to aggregate sales forecasts, accurately track the sales pipeline and optimize inventory levels across the supply chain. With an integrated ERP-CRM, you can improve planning and decision-making and better manage your sales cycle in tandem with your client relationships.

How to Get Started

Here are a few steps for getting started with your ERP-CRM integration.

Determine if your ERP and CRM systems meet your unique business requirements

As a first step, you should determine whether your current systems can keep pace with your evolving needs. The systems should be cloud-based and streamline the entire gamut of financial, sales and service processes.

When evaluating your ERP system, consider if it provides the entire procure-to-pay and lead-to-cash processes, revenue recognition and powerful consolidations that support multiple ledgers, locations, entities and currencies. Also, ensure your current ERP system empowers your finance team to work on the most productive tasks for your company rather than spending weeks closing periods or compiling reports.

When looking at your CRM system, see if it provides contact management and sales management — it should allow you to track customer relationships across the entire customer lifecycle, spanning marketing, sales and customer service. Examples of robust ERP solutions include Sage Intacct, Microsoft Dynamics 365 (Business Central or Finance & Supply Chain) and Workday Financials. On the CRM side, two of the most popular solutions today are Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics CE (Dynamics CRM).

Know what data you want to sync

What information is most used between your departments? Identify what data you want your integrated ERP-CRM to share so that you're clear from the get-go — you can make updates as your needs evolve.

Choose an API integration

It's faster and more cost-effective to do an application programming interface (API) integration versus a point-to-point integration. API is the modern approach and is based on a tried-and-true framework that connects to most ERPs and CRMs.

Final Thoughts

Many business leaders view ERP and CRM systems as separate platforms with separate purposes. But these two systems are much more powerful for your business when they are connected.

Fully leveraging your investment by integrating your systems has become a necessity for achieving efficiency and automating processes. With an ERP-CRM integration, you gain the benefits discussed and continue the digital transformation that's necessary for your business to reach new heights.

For help identifying and integrating the optimal ERP and CRM software combination for your organization, contact our business application experts.

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