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ERP and CRM: A Match Made in (Cloud) Heaven

ERP and CRM software are designed to help companies streamline business operations. Both systems provide very different management capabilities and offer lots of advantages to businesses. When integrated, these systems and their unique capabilities can become an even more powerful driver of success within your organization. Before we jump straight into the benefits, let’s take a look at the differences between the two types of software.

ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) Software

No doubt, this is an acronym that everyone reading this article is more than familiar with! ERP software really is the nuts and bolts of any organization as it’s the system responsible for managing every internal component of your company. It offers interconnected management of specific business processes and provides standardized data throughout every department in real-time.

We’re going refer to Microsoft’s powerful cloud-based ERP solution as an example, Dynamics 365 Business Central. This system streamlines workflows, increases control in financial management, order fulfilment, purchasing, project management, warehouse, manufacturing and field service operations. The screenshot below showcases a typical dashboard seen within Business Central. The insights displayed on this dashboard provides visibility into your company’s finances and offers an end-to-end view across your business operations. Whether you want to see the top five customers by sales value or review your G/L accounts, it’s all there for you in a centralized location.

CRM (Customer Relationship Management) Software

A CRM manages everything related to your customers – and suppliers. It records and stores every piece of information regarding interactions and the data is easily standardized and shared throughout your organization.

Let’s look at Microsoft’s CRM software, now officially referred to as Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement (CE). The software provides your company with a wide range of customer relationship management applications including Sales, Marketing Customer Service, Field Service and Project Service Automation. The screenshot below is an example of a specific application taken from within Microsoft CE, Customer Service. This dashboard provides data on the direct interactions between a consumer and the representative at your company. It displays business critical insights such as how many cases have been received, how many of those cases have escalated or been left unresolved.

As you can see Microsoft provides you with a multitude of ways to manage all aspects of your company, so you’re probably thinking what’s the big deal about integrating the two platforms? Well, the answer to that is fairly simple. In today’s world, integrating your ERP and CRM system is one of the best ways a company can synchronize data and manage operations most effectively. Here’s the top five benefits explained…

1. Saves Your Team Time

Save your team hours of data input. Integrating your ERP and CRM system means that you just need to insert data once and the synchronization will take care of the rest for you. It won’t only save you time and money, but it will also avoid human error and eliminate inconsistent data between the two systems. We have worked with many companies that struggle with inaccurate data between ERP and CRM. A prime example of this data is address information that then doesn’t match properly with the other system due to the fact that synchronization isn’t taking place.

2. Improves Your Customer Service

Having access to all data from and about the customer in real – time means your representatives will have the ability to analyze the situation and provide a faster and better response to customer requests.

Picture this scenario – You run a cleaning company that has a number of contracts for all the different office buildings that you provide cleaning services to. All of the contract information on these buildings is stored in your ERP system under individual accounts but your representatives can’t surface it in CRM. As a result, they struggle to provide a good service to your customers because they’re unable to see the contract information that explains exactly what the customer is paying for, and in turn they’re unable to effectively respond to questions or concerns that arise.

The above scenario is one that our very own customer would have walked straight into had they not integrated their ERP and CRM systems. In this particular instance the integration process was very simple for our customer because both their ERP and CRM systems operated on Dynamics 365. Microsoft provides you with everything you need for an integration which means less resource is required. Although not impossible, it’s more difficult to integrate ERP and CRM systems that are hosted by different software providers.

3. Increases Visibility Into Your Customers Journey

Converting leads to customers and managing the process is made so much easier when your ERP and CRM systems are integrated. Synchronization is taken care of once you input a lead into CRM. The systems then guide you through the process to convert the lead into a customer, all the way from prospecting to cashing an invoice.

4. Empowers Your Sales Team

Integrating ERP and CRM systems connects your sales function with finance which can have many benefits. When data is centralized in one place it empowers your sales team with knowledge. Sales representatives can easily review financial information, analyze it and make strategic decisions about their sales trajectory. For example, if they have more information about budgets or the revenue of a company they are likely to build a more accurate quote. Centralization of financial data will serve to improve the overall performance of your sales team.

5. Increases Your Company’s Productivity

If you provide your employees with a 360-degree view on customer and financial data in real-time it will only help increase productivity. The centralization of data through the integration of ERP and CRM opens up far more opportunities for your sales team to close business. It also empowers executives at the top of your organization to analyze the business holistically, making strategic decisions based on real-time accurate data. This makes a considerable impact on business performance and growth.

The top 5 benefits we have spoken about can apply to all types of ERP and CRM software. As a partner of Microsoft, we truly believe that Dynamics 365 offers the strongest ERP and CRM systems on the market. We also believe that when you integrate these two systems together your business opens up to a world of infinite opportunities.

It’s also important to highlight that Dynamics 365 solutions allow you to integrate with the Microsoft Office suite, making your day-to-day life much easier!

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