Tips for Software Integration Success
Integrating your enterprise resource planning (ERP) and customer relationship management (CRM) software may not seem like an essential item on your business’ to-do list, but the fact of the matter is that in today’s competitive manufacturing and distribution environment, software integration is non-negotiable. By weaving together all of the nuanced back-end processes of an ERP system with the customer-facing data in your CRM, your business gains a 360-degree view of your enterprise.
However we still meet opposition from budget-conscious businesses, who ask, “Why do we need to integrate these two disparate systems anyway? Wouldn’t it just be easier to use these supplemental CRM modules from an ERP provider?” While it may seem convenient to just take on a monolithic system from a single provider, that kind of solution is just not sustainable in the long term. If you want to provide the best foundation for your business, you need to buy from the best vendor for each aspect of your IT environment. Software integration is ultimately a more cost effective way to go, and modern technology makes it easy to execute.
So, now that we are all on the same page about the necessity of CRM and ERP integration, what are some integration best practices? Without a proven strategy, you can't expect to meet project deadlines and expectations. Read on for three critical steps for integration success.
1. Fully Prepare for Go Live
It's easy to be impatient to deploy your system, but a hasty go live is a recipe for disaster. Before you even think about booting up an API platform, make sure that all of your test scripts have been properly run and that you have specifically defined goals and success metrics before you run these tests. Your data needs to be cleaned up and ready to go beforehand, as well. Duplicate or inaccurate data will do no good when it comes to integration crunch time. Assign specific members of your project team to scrub data before transferring information between systems.
However, preparation isn't just for your project team. You also need to make sure that every single employee is doing their part to train and learn about the new integration platform. From hands-on sessions in the office to assignments that will help them learn how specific functions will benefit their daily tasks, proper training is the fast-track to universal user adoption. Thorough preparation for go live paves the way to a stress-free integration and easy change management.
2. Automate Data Transfer
Some employees may believe that all you need for a software integration is a manual, scheduled data and process transfer between ERP and the rest of your business systems. This mindset misses the whole point of integrating your software. For a truly seamless connection that increases productivity and reduces errors, set up your integration platform to automatically transfer the data your users will need the most, when they need it.
There’s really no one-size-fits-all template for your integration maps; you must complete a thorough model of your own business processes and then draw out a detailed picture of what data and processes will be shared which way and when. Figure out how often your data should be transferred to enable users to efficiently execute tasks.
If you're going for a pre-built integration platform, then ensure that the platform actually automates data syncing. A lot of connectors on the market claim to be seamless and require no work on your end but actually require you to import files daily just to transfer information between your CRM and ERP—not so hands-free after all.
3. Think Down the Line
The best way to plan out the future of your software integration is to build a wide-ranging business case. Think about what you want your project to achieve for your business on its go-live date, at the one-month mark, the year-end, etc. Setting specific, achievable and measurable goals will ensure that you can accurately track the success of your project against real numbers and real expectations. Smart planning and goal-setting is also the best way to avoid the much-dreaded scope creep—when top-level expectations for a software integration exceed beyond the actual goals (and budget) of the project. Scope creep results in disappointed employees and major delays.
The best part of ERP and CRM integration, particularly in the cloud, is its scalability. Leverage the flexibility of cloud computing to help you plan out your interconnected business and software strategy for the long term. Do you think you'll need to connect additional systems, such as eCommerce or Marketing Automation software, in a few years? Are you looking to expand your product line or sites? Flexible integration solutions streamline growth and simplify customization and modifications. Considering not only your current pain points but also your future needs helps you select the right integration solution for long-term business success and user adoption, making it one of the most crucial ERP and CRM integration best practices.
Though integrations tend to be easier and less expensive than implementations, they should still be treated with as much care and forethought. After all, integration is one of the most effective methods of maximizing the value of your ERP and CRM systems. By following best practices, you can ensure that your project meets your business goals and powers end-to-end efficiency.
To really make the most of your software investment, team up with Datix's integration experts. We're the only Epicor Gold Partner that is also a certified partner of both Microsoft Dynamics 365 and Salesforce, making us masters in ERP and CRM software. Our pre-built Unity integration solution seamlessly connects Epicor ERP with CRM as well as other front-end systems. The application includes bidirectional transfers of accounts, orders, shipments and more out of the box. Additionally, our consultants can customize your solution to meet your specific requirements. We also provide a rapid installation and ongoing support to help you increase ROI and drive future business success.
To learn more about our one-of-a-kind integration solution, contact Datix today! Plus, don't forget to check out our Unity video demos and download our ERP and CRM integration e-book to learn more about building a connected enterprise.