7 Benefits of an Integrated ERP & CRM System for SMBs
It’s been a while since businesses started using standalone ERP and CRM systems. The shift towards cloud made the transition better. However, businesses still lacked agility and they have been anticipating the integration of two mega systems i.e. ERP and CRM. ERP and CRM are two worlds in themselves. Merging the two worlds does wonders by removing data silos, optimizing operations and enhancing efficiency.
ERP is a comprehensive system that manages HR, accounting, inventory, purchase etc. On the other, CRM is responsible for sales pipeline management, tracking customer details, managing customer interactions to ensure customer retention. The fusion of two mega systems enables SMBs to improve critical components like supply chain, finance, project management and human resource.
The following article will share the top seven benefits to expect from ERP and CRM integration.
1. Avoid Data Duplicity
When ERP and CRM are integrated, they grab data from a common database. Though data source and data used is common, it serves a different purpose for both the systems. In ERP, contact information is primarily used for billing and shipping purpose while in CRM, it is focused on prospects and sales/ support.
With integration, changes and addition to database need to be done only once and it can be used by both the systems. Therefore, it avoids overlapping of data and avoids duplicate data generation. The same phenomenon applies to addition or removal of custom fields. It saves a lot of man-hours wasted in multiple data entry besides maintaining a cleaner database.
2. Improve Workforce Productivity
With fully integrated ERP and CRM systems, employees have real-time access to critical information floating across the organization. Employees don’t waste time inquiring each other about product status or any other corresponding query. At a single click, they can retrieve inventory levels, shipment status, customer financials, order history, goods return, payment, and pricing.
Integration of products across the systems automatically increases the productivity of sales force. The sales team can take a better call while generating orders by looking at bills of raw material. This minimizes interaction of sales team with inventory and purchase team and saves a considerable amount of time.
Similarly, as soon as the sale is closed in CRM, the order can be instantly generated in ERP. Therefore, one action on sales force team side involuntarily triggers a chain of necessary actions to fulfill the order thereby saving a lot of time in manual updates.
3. Reduced IT Support and Training Cost
ERP and CRM integration makes these systems function as a single unit. Consequently, no further interfaces and integration is required. The need for specialized IT staff for both systems separately minimizes. One IT person instead of two will be able to handle the integrated system to do the corresponding job.
Likewise, the administrative expense on HR for training the employees reduces. An integrated system requires less training and support. The staff need not be trained separately on two systems. Training updates and training courses cost less as well.
4. Order Tracking and Forecasting
Most of the time salesmen are not connected with ERP systems. However, with the integration of CRM and ERP, sales team has better visibility into order status. It enables them to quickly track or make changes to the order. Apart from that, sales team gets complete access to real-time data across different nodal points. This helps them to formulate realistic sales forecast.
5. Holistic view of Customer
CRM helps you to understand your customers better. However, with ERP and CRM integration, you move a step ahead by knowing your customers even better. Starting from sales, support, to finance and accounting, you get complete visibility into customer’s needs, their buying habits, order history, and preferences.
6. Easy access through Mobile App
Integrated ERP and CRM solutions are available as an application. Field teams like marketing and sales can access the app through their mobile devices and stay up-to-date. With app, they have real-time access to data helping them during customer interaction.
They can view changes occurring in orders, products, inventory, or any other field. This enables them to make better decisions based on product availability, order status, order history, order trends. Moreover, the software and app can be easily updated without any hindrance to configuration or data accessibility.
7. Higher Profit Margins
ERP and CRM integration helps your organization to become more automated. There is better synchronization among different departments. Information flows smoothly across the organization and there is no confusion owing to miscommunication or delay in passing on information.
Everyone performs their part of the job and updates the system without disturbing the other. There is literally no data exchange but ubiquitous access by authorized personnel. Managers get a bird’s eye view of all processes and data points. Therefore, with increased productivity and improved sales, profit margins will multiply.
Watch out: Integrated ERP and CRM Solution should be from the same Vendor
That the integration of ERP and CRM is inevitable is clear. However, one must keep in mind that the process of integration between the two systems gets complicated owing to different architectures and lack of standards for exchanging data. It is not that the integration of systems belonging to different vendors is impossible. It is just that this option turns out costly and complicated.
Nonetheless, even if you manage to integrate the two systems belonging to two different vendors, the probability of risk in future is high. Individual system upgrades may again hinder interoperability between the two systems. To avoid this costly blunder, it is always safer to invest in a single integrated ERP and CRM solution offered by a single vendor. Integrated systems offer you flexibility, scalability and ability to customize based on your requirements.
Beat the Competition with Integration
Investment in integrated ERP and CRM system is bound to reward your business. Besides streamlining your business processes, you can maximize on existing and upcoming opportunities. You will be equipped to deliver value-added services. Integration ensures that data sharing is made easier, there is real-time access to critical information and both customer-facing and vendor-facing orders are managed swiftly.
Moreover, with rising IT costs and hiring difficulties, integrating ERP and CRM is becoming more of a necessity than just a productivity enhancing technique. It saves time, reduces the need to hire, and improves communication across platforms and departments. In the near future, we expect to see more companies adopting integration as a way to bring their disparate applications and databases together, just like integrating ERP and CRM has started to become mainstream now.
Now, you can easily integrate your ERP with CRM and automate your business process!
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