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3 Key Reasons to Integrate CRM and ERP

Today's post is written by Matt Baker, Practice Director at Sonoma Partners.

Businesses often choose to employ multiple systems to ensure that processes run as efficiently as possible. More times than not, these systems include a Customer Relationship Management solution (CRM) and an Enterprise Resource Planning solution (ERP). Your ERP system provides your key stakeholders with much needed internal information, while your CRM system creates the entry point for customer engagement.

Without a clear CRM and ERP integration strategy, your organization may not be realizing it's full potential in the marketplace.  

In our experience, we've seen 85% of our net new implementations begin with some type of integration between CRM and ERP, and close to 100% of our implementations have some sort of long-term integration plan. 

There are three key reasons for integrating CRM and ERP:

  1. Efficiency: Resulting in reduced process steps
  2. Usability: True 360-degree view of the customer in one solution
  3. Data Quality: Clean accurate data and reduced errors when inputting data

In order to successfully integrate your CRM solution with your ERP solution, you need to be able to identify a clear ERP integration strategy. Here are a few questions you need to ask yourself as you start to build this strategy:

Is integration needed?

Most companies do not start with a clean slate when implementing CRM as there is usually a significant legacy factor. The majority of organizations have pieced their business applications together over time and through acquisitions. This usually yields a business application portfolio that does not support the business goals, requirements, or processes. An integration strategy is crucial, as the ERP solution is the backbone of a business's operations and the primary system-of-record.

How will this benefit the end user?

In order for these types of integrations to work, everyone involved has to recognize a measurable benefit. If it currently takes a sales rep 5 emails and 4 phone calls to get an order status; you can reduce that activity time to under a minute by implementing a CRM system. That improved efficiency is an example of a big win.

How does this affect control of data?

Most financial teams cringe at the idea of their ERP financial data being displayed in CRM. They worry about how the data might be manipulated or changed. Remember that ERP is the system-of-record for this type of information, and fears can be eliminated by doing a one-way sync into CRM.

How do you assign process ownership?

You don't want to put everything in both systems; you want to use each system for what it is best suited for. For example, Product Information should be mastered within ERP. Contact information should be mastered within CRM.

The above questions are just a few of those you will need to examine as you define your ERP to CRM Integration Strategy.  These questions will continue to evolve as your business changes. Contact Sonoma Partners today to find out more information on how we can help you successfully integrate your ERP and CRM solutions. 

How to get executives to pay attention to CRM

 

Topics: CRM for Manufacturing

Just Say No to Homegrown CRM Systems

When we sit down to meet with prospects in the manufacturing and distribution verticals, we frequently encounter organizations looking to move off their existing homegrown CRM system. What these individuals are looking for is a consolidated system that can scale with their growing business and be easily managed by several members of their team. These seem like simple enough requests (they are when using Microsoft Dynamics CRM or Salesforce), but can be a nightmare to tackle in a homegrown CRM system.

Why do homegrown CRM systems even exist? 

Homegrown CRM systems are largely created as a result of the IT team raising their hand and volunteering their services to "quickly spin up a CRM". We've seen homegrown systems that are 20 years old and for the most part, are thrown together versions of Outlook. Oftentimes, the original architect behind the homegrown CRM system is no longer at the company; leaving present employees with nothing but duct tape, spit, and prayers to change or update the system. 

If you're ready to migrate off of your homegrown CRM system but don't know which platform to choose (we know this can be a confusing process), let us help you work through a CRM vendor selection

If you’re a manufacturer or distributor looking to become more efficient, but are still running a homegrown CRM…keep reading.

A formal CRM system will pay for itself.

If you think purchasing a formal CRM system and engaging with an implementation partner comes with a big price tag, just wait until you see the bill after years of trying to make your homegrown system scale.

Homegrown CRM systems do not scale, and the more you try to make them, the more money it’s going to cost you.

In our experience, we’ve discovered that manufacturing and distribution companies can recoup the cost of a formal CRM system and contract with an implementation partner in 3-4 new hires. We estimate that every time a manufacturer or distributor puts a new sales rep in the field, they spend about $50k-$60k to get them ramped up and running. An investment in an established CRM platform will save you time and money and pay for itself in a handful of hires.

Support is good. You want support.

Another reason you should just say ‘no’ to homegrown CRM systems is because they don’t come with support. Since they belong to you, exist on-prem, and can only be updated by existing employees, you have no one to turn to when things go wrong or need to be updated.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Salesforce release regular updates 2-3 times a year… and you don’t have to do a thing.

With all these regular updates come add-ons and free stuff; like authentication, mobile access, reporting, dashboards, automation, page reports, workflows, notifications, and the list goes on and on. You would have to spend millions of dollars to integrate these products with a homegrown CRM system, or you could have them out of the box with your purchase. It’s up to you.

Homegrown systems aren’t user-friendly.

In other words, a lot of homegrown CRM systems are ugly. If you’re trying to get your people to use your CRM (and hello, that’s the whole point) good luck getting your team to regularly use a system that’s as painful to look at as it is to use. 

Let’s work together. We’re here to help you successfully implement a CRM system that can scale with your business, provide real value to your employees, and replace your existing homegrown system, once and for all. 

Topics: CRM Best Practices CRM for Manufacturing

How Changing Nothing Can Change Everything: M.Holland & Mobility

"We can do this in a better way."

That's the conclusion that M. Holland came to when they recognized the need for a CRM solution. They pinpointed deficiencies in their business processes and looked to CRM to take them from -1 to 0. But what started as a CRM implementation project evolved into so much more the moment they realized that by changing nothing, they could change everything. They didn't need to invent new processes or technologies. They needed to alter the delivery of the information they already had and make the functions they always had to do more accessible. To get from 0 to 1, and a place where they had a competitive advantage, they needed a mobile application.

Take it to the field

In the early stages of their CRM project, M. Holland team members took our UX architects into the field to collect essential observational data. They went on ride alongs to watch how people actually did their jobs, instead of listening to them explain how they thought they did their jobs. We found that what was supposedly being met on paper wasn't being met within the context of modern mobility. And with that, the conversation headed in a new direction - towards the creation of a mobile app.

No wheel to reinvent

The mobile app discussion was far from revolutionary. Mobilizing your business doesn't require you to make big changes in relation to what you do or how you do it; it requires you to change how the information and processes you have are communicated and accessed. Once in the field, M. Holland recognized that their people were trapped in the paradigm of their every day. Their sales force was frustrated with their existing tools and felt stuck. Getting information from various locations and drives in their laptop was a painful task. What their team needed was a fresh perspective.

IT to the rescue

It took a technology person to uncover that fresh perspective. Through the participation of junior-level UX activities, M. Holland's IT team was able to understand the tactical flow of events that the field team completed in the real world. Understanding the back and forth of activities and data in a dynamic way allowed them to see things differently, and beg the question: what if we did all of the things we're doing but in a mobile-centric way?

Enter Sonoma Partners

M. Holland’s IT team laid the framework that allowed our UX team to create the mobile solution that they were looking for. Take a tour of two of the app screens below:

Account – Canadian + Ship To
Account - Canadian + Ship To
Take a look at the landing page for an account in the phone app. We put the absolute key information, specifically information that a user might need on their phone, on the surface as soon as an account is located. 

Here you can see the account name and number along with the ship-to details. This is useful for the common case of speaking with M. Holland Customer Service on the phone. If a shipment is delayed, a rep will need this info and it’s important that it’s easily accessible.

The Alerts + Tasks section clearly shows any outstanding work items related to this account. The contacts section allows the rep to tap in and see all contacts at this account. Since we know a rep typically deals with one primary point of contact at a given account, we created a special display of that person’s info on the front page. We then give one-tap access to the rep so they can quickly email or call that individual.

Task List
Task List
Breaking the task list into “Needs my attention” and “Awaiting others” is a relatively simple concept from a CRM customization perspective. But in a mobile app, it is a very big deal. This function allows the app to replace excessive amounts of emails back and forth between sales reps and product folks. With one tap they can answer two questions:

-      What do I need to work on?

-      What’s the status of XYZ I fired off?

Finding the answer to both of these questions used to require annoying searches through an overfilled inbox. With the app, problem solved.

The result

A solution that has:

  • Improved customer experience, leading to more opportunities and growth
  • Pushed the technology team to be engaged in the business
  • Increased credibility of the organization in the eyes of their customers
  • Capitalized on the momentum of mobility to better serve their field team

Neil Goodrich, CIO of M. Holland Company will be presenting How Changing Nothing Can Change Everything on Tuesday, May 12, 2015 at 3:30 pm at appsworld North America 2015. Come learn more about how M.Holland achieved their mobility goals and how the IT team played a central role in creating that vision.

 

Get a working custom mobile app for your CRM system

 

Topics: CRM for Manufacturing Enterprise Mobility

5 Benefits of Integrating CRM and ERP Systems for Manufacturing Firms

CRM-Manuf-email-banner

Whether you're operating in wholesale and distribution, life sciences, or industrial manufacturing; you're well aware that today's global economy and technology explosion have created a hyper-competitive operating environment for manufacturing firms.  In order to help your company improve the efficiency of your business processes so you can compete, you've implemented an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) tool. Whether it's JD Edwards, SAP or Oracle that you're using, your ERP system allows you to get a real-time view of your entire enterprise. But what about a real-time view of your customer? Have you invested in a CRM system that gives you a comprehensive understanding of who your customer is and what they're purchasing? There are two very important sides of the profitability coin: the business and the buyer; the tools your company uses should address both. When properly integrated, manufacturing firms can experience major benefits from the marriage of CRM and ERP.

1. Consolidated Sales Processe
s

One specific challenge that manufacturing firms face is supporting two modes of selling: a direct sales team and a distribution channel. Not only are you focused on appealing to your distributors so they push your product, you're managing your direct sales team and their relationships with your clients. So what happens when your direct sales team goes head-to-head with your distributor on the same project? Are you even aware of the overlap before it's too late? A well-implemented CRM system is flexible enough to support the two different modes of selling and get your teams the information they need to ensure you aren't engaging yourself in a bidding war.

2. Increased Visibility and Improved Forecasting

In our experience, we've found that a majority of sellers don't have access to their ERP systems. This is a problem! If you don't have a CRM system and you're storing valuable client and product information that your sales force needs, you have a problem. Because of this lack of access and information, any hope for accurate forecasting goes out the window. When integrated, ERP and CRM systems can give your team real-time visibility into the business data so they can properly sell and have compelling conversations with customers.

3. Cleaner Quote to Cash Process

This is a conversation we have with almost every one of our manufacturing clients. The concept of having to create accurate quotes off of complicated product configurations is an extremely difficult task. But with increased visibility comes an improved quote to cash process (hallelujah!) We know that the product configurations that you create can be very complex because you build to order. Every choice impacts the next and without a deep understanding of the product configuration at the beginning of the project you’re setting yourself up to fail. Unfortunately, we've found that the beginning of the sales process hasn’t paid enough attention to product configurations and how this impacts the entirety of the project’s lifecycle. When CRM and ERP systems are integrated, your sales team can access the information they need at the beginning to accurately quote and deliver.

4. Mobility

Now that you’ve addressed the two modes of selling, determined who is responsible for the sale, and integrated your CRM and ERP systems properly, your team is ready to hit the ground running. Or are they? Your field team is on the road having dynamic conversations with customers and they must be able to update content at the point of interaction, not at the end of the day. You have to have a mobility strategy that allows you to update pipeline and quote information on the fly. Mobile CRM applications allow you to capture and document this information, ultimately helping you to engage and make better decisions for your customers based off of order information, historical purchases, and current production schedules; all accessible with just a swipe and a tap.

5. The Distributor Portal

A trend that we are currently seeing in manufacturing is an increased focus on keeping existing customers, rather than winning new business. This means that once you’ve made the sale, you have to pivot your attention to keeping the conversation going. Manufacturers, repeat after me: cross-selling is your friend. And how can your team cross-sell more effectively? Through portals updated with information from both ERP and CRM systems. Portals allow you to see where in the manufacturing process an order is, check the status and delivery of past orders, and see the account in real-time. All of this information gives you valuable insight that can help you make the next sale while keeping your existing customers in the know.

CRM is no replacement for ERP and ERP is no replacement for CRM, but the integration between these two systems is essential to increasing collaboration between departments. If you're considering integrating a CRM tool with your existing ERP system, remember this: the key is to create two systems that are tightly integrated and designed in a way that creates a customer-centric environment.

Want to learn more about CRM and ERP integrations for manufacturing? We can get you get actionable data into the right people's hands at the right time to keep your sales and production cycles moving forward.

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Topics: CRM for Manufacturing