Many manufacturers we team with look for tightly integrated ERP and CRM (Customer Relationship Management) systems.
ERP project teams often have a goal of accurately and easily tracking the information that the sales force needs related to orders in the pipeline, and linking it with operations/production data needed to meet the demands of channel partners and end customers. Selecting or upgrading an ERP system can be an appropriate time to integrate with a CRM system.
Why Integrated ERP and CRM?
Integrated ERP and CRM lets a manufacturer gain complete visibility from prospect to opportunity to close to invoice to paid. Typical factors causing a manufacturer to look for ERP and CRM integration include the need to better anticipate customer demand, manage the supply chain, maintain the right levels of on-hand inventory and safety stock, manage lead times with manufacturing partners as well as other factors.
It’s a common scenario for data such as current open sales orders, sales and credit history, Return Goods Authorizations and other order information to be tracked in multiple systems. That means the data is not easily available to those that need it most, requiring rekeying, standalone spreadsheets, or manual handling.
Fully integrated ERP with CRM provides an organizational-wide view of profitability in one central location, without additional data entry or the chance of errors that come with manual handling.
The ERP and CRM Landscape
Many manufacturing and distribution ERP vendors are providing at least basic, and in some cases very advanced, CRM functionality embedded in their solutions.
The list of integrated CRM/ERP solutions includes almost all of the larger ERP vendors including SAP, Oracle, Microsoft Dynamics, Infor, Epicor, and IFS.
We note three vendors seeing a great amount of interest as “best of breed” solutions. These include Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics, and Sage.
CRM solutions are often available on multiple mobile platforms, more so than ERP solutions. This provides for easy access to key information by those in the field.
During an ERP selection project, looking for an ERP vendor that offers tight integration between ERP & CRM allows for critical information to be readily available in one spot without having to rekey anything or rely on standalone spreadsheets. This includes contact/account integration, product integration, order and quote management, and a fully integrated means to seamlessly link product, order and invoice.
Improved Visibility for Improved Performance
When a manufacturer improves the integration between ERP and CRM, they gain a 360-degree view of customer demand, buying trends, lead times and other key areas.
When structured effectively, this level of visibility can drive more effective business processes for sustained business performance improvements.