The amount of value you are able to extract from your ERP system relies in large parts on your post-implementation development plans, and how your business envisions the system operating moving forward.
As part of your ERP implementation process, your business should be working with the implementation team to develop a plan of how the system is going be developed moving forward, setting out a clear path which includes review stages, as well as a timeline for the work to be done.
For many businesses, one of the first items on their development wish-list is integrating the new ERP software with their Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system, with the connection providing a number of time-saving and data-related benefits.
One single point of data entry and storage
As with the majority of system integration projects, the most obvious benefit comes in the shape of reducing the amount of data entry points, as well as the number of systems users have to access on a regular basis.
An ERP and CRM system integration negates the need for your staff to enter duplicate data in two systems, saving them valuable time each and every day. The chance of human error is also reduced with the integration reducing the amount of manual-typing staff are expected to do.
With many industries now saturated with suppliers, and customer service often being the difference between retaining/attracting customers or losing them to your rivals, arming your staff with the knowledge that they can rely on one system to be their go-to place for customer data, should not only improve customer service times, but also improve the level of service, with all the customer data you have available at the click of a button. When you consider this as a benefit, the investment that your business would have to make in the integration project would be paid back multiple times.
The complete customer lifecycle
As touched upon above, consumers and businesses are increasingly choosing their suppliers by the level of customer service, with a number of businesses fighting for the same customers within one particular industry/niche.
As well as a CRM and ERP system integration helping your staff when it comes the speed and accuracy of their customer service responses, having one system that can be relied upon to provide you with a complete view of a customer lifecycle, should greatly benefit your sales and marketing efforts.
With CRM systems traditionally tracking individuals up to the point when they become a customer, and ERP software handling data past this, combing them is a powerful tool, with it allowing for complete data visibility and collection.
This ability to track customers from their first contact with your business to hopefully multiple purchases, allows your sales and marketing team to track changes in customer habits, values and preferences, therefore arming them with the ability to adjust their message to them accordingly. This makes for a more personalised and relevant customer experience. Such examples of this could be moving a customer to a different marketing automation funnel based on their value and/or product choice or making arrangements for a catch-up.
Seamless information sharing
The effect integrating your ERP system with your CRM has on multiple departments is an important one to consider, especially when considering the impact, it can have on communication between departments.
As well as the individual benefits to each department, whether it be customer service or sales and marketing, which we have touched upon above, the benefit that an integration can have on a relationship between departments can also be profound, with the sharing of data becoming more automatic and organic.
While the majority, if not all businesses strive to make sure their departments communicate better, more often then not this places some manual responsibility on the shoulders of staff within the relevant department. This can inevitably lead to a breakdown in communication should some members of staff not fulfil their part of the process.
By integrating your ERP system with your CRM, your business is removing some of the reliance on staff manually sharing data, with the system acting as a central storage point for all data from any department. This can then be viewed by any departments you wish, a feature that your system admin would control via their permissions.
Less software training
As touched upon at the very start, the most obvious and immediate benefit of integrating your ERP system with your CRM is that it takes away one more system that your users have to utilise on a regular basis.
While this is extremely beneficial for data storage and access purposes, it can also make a substantial difference to business when it comes to system training for their users, a traditionally costly and time-consuming task to fulfil.
Not only does it save businesses considerable money and time with new starters, but it will also prove to be cost-effective going forward, with there being less need for refresher sessions when systems are inevitably developed and updated.