Successful integration of your CRM system and ERP system
Integrate your erp and crm system
ERP data on customer transactions is vital to front end users to communicate effectively and proactive with their customers and to build strong relationships. Duplicate or incorrect information in several systems should be avoided at all cost. To this end, integration of the CRM system front to the back office ERP system is essential. This article provides an approach and ideas that may be helpful for integrating ERP and CRM in your company.
For successful customer relationship management, direct and timely access to customer data is key. A one-view-to-the-customer must be able to front end employees with a minimum of mouse-clicks.
The CRM system should be able to provide the following information:
- General information
- Contact persons, roles, personal information, preferences, interests, communication channels, etc.
- Basic installation / configuration
- Relationship history with the customer
- Relationship with the customer's environment
- Open, won and lost sales opportunities
- Delivered bids
- Ongoing and completed contracts
- Open and paid invoices
- Selling expenses
- Customer profitability
- Contact history, planned and completed (like appointments, emails, phone calls, letters, marketing activities, service visits, campaign responses, etc.)
- Target groups / distribution lists
- Related marketing campaigns
- Service history
ERP and CRM: what information should be interfaced
What information is already present in the ERP database and should be stored in the CRM database using an interface? Which system should be leading in maintaining basic contact information? These basic questions will need to be answered before any interface is to be designed. In effect data may be transferred either unidirectional or bidirectional. In the case of unidirectional exchange, usually the master role is assumed by the system which is used to mutate data. The other system primarily is used for presentation of the data. In case of bi-directional interfaces, the solution is much more complicated with possible conflicts, or simultaneous mutations in the same rows or attributes.
Traditionally, all data of potential customers is managed in CRM tools. If relations within the CRM database become customers, contact details become relevant for the ERP system as well. They can be imported from the CRM application or entered manually by ERP users.
It has to be defined, where the incision is made in the data exchange process between CRM and ERP. This is usually the case at the moment an order is granted. The ERP software usually assumes the master role for key debtor administration data . To share customer data between the ERP and CRM, customer-based information such as product catalog, price and discount lists will be maintained within the ERP system and will be made available for the CRM solution. User rights are also a notable aspect of the integration process. Access to ERP transactional data in many cases needs to be restricted, to individual employees and roles. Depending on the need for real time information in each receiver system it’s recommended to chose either a online or a periodic batch transaction(for example every hour or every night) interface.
Modern ERP and CRM architectures are multi-layered and relatively open to connections with peripheral systems. Ideally standardized connectors of ERP systems to CRM systems and / or vice versa, will be offered by the relevant manufacturer or integrator. Important for the realization of interfaces is the consideration of updates from the ERP system and CRM system. In case of an update of either system the interface should not have to be redesigned all over again. These interfaces do not operate on the data layer level but on the business layer level, which is often accessible via Web services. This will assist developers with the validation process of data entry.
In many cases the one-way exchange of data, such as CSV files, is sufficient. Almost all ERP and CRM systems, including old, will be able to read and generate such files.
Direct access to customer information through customer support and other front end users is now possible and urgently needed. Without an ERP-CRM interface this would not be feasible