The amount of value you are able to extract from your ERP system relies in large parts on your post-implementation development plans, and how your business envisages the software operating moving forward.

As part of the ERP implementation process, your business should be working on a plan of how the system is going be developed moving forward, setting out a clear path which includes review stages, as well as a timeline of dates for when the work should be completed.

For many businesses, one of the first items on their development wish-list is integrating their ERP software with their Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system, with the connection providing a number of time-saving and data-related benefits that we have outlined below:

One single point of data entry and storage

As with the majority of system integration projects, the most obvious benefit comes in the shape of reducing the amount of data entry points, as well as the number of systems that staff have to access on a regular basis.

An ERP and CRM system integration negates the need for your staff to enter duplicate data in two systems, saving them valuable time each and every day. The chance of human error is also reduced with the integration reducing the amount of manual-typing staff are expected to do.

With many industries now saturated with suppliers, and customer service often being the difference between retaining/attracting customers or losing them to your rivals, arming your staff with the knowledge that they can rely on one system to be their go-to place for customer data, should not only improve customer service times, but also improve the level of service, with all the customer data you have available in one system.

When you consider this as a benefit, the investment that your business would have to make in the integration project would be paid back multiple times.

The complete customer lifecycle

As touched upon above, consumers and businesses are increasingly choosing their suppliers by the level of customer service, with a number of businesses fighting for the same customers within one particular industry/niche.

As well as a CRM and ERP system integration helping your staff when it comes the speed and quality of their customer service responses, having one system that can be relied upon to provide you with a complete view of a customer's lifecycle, should greatly benefit your sales and marketing efforts.

This ability to track customers from their first contact with your business to hopefully multiple purchases, allows your sales and marketing team to track changes in customer habits, values and preferences, giving them ability to spot areas of opportunity.

Seamless information sharing

The effect that integrating your ERP system with your CRM can have on multiple departments is an important one to consider, especially when considering the impact it can have on communication between departments.

As well as the individual benefits to each department, which we have touched upon above, the benefit that an integration can have on a relationship between departments can also be profound, with the sharing of data becoming more organic.

While the majority, if not all businesses strive to make sure their departments communicate better, more often than not this places some manual responsibility on the shoulders of staff within the relevant department. This can inevitably lead to a breakdown in communication should some members of staff not fulfil their part of the process.

By integrating your ERP system with your CRM, your business is removing some of the reliance on staff manually sharing data, with the system acting as a central storage point for all the data from any department. This can then be viewed by any departments you wish, a feature that your system admin would control via the permissions.

Less software training

As touched upon at the very start, the most obvious and immediate benefit of integrating your ERP system with your CRM is that it takes away one more system that your staff have to utilise on a regular basis.

While this is extremely beneficial for data storage and access purposes, it can also make a substantial difference when it comes to system training for users, a traditionally costly and time-consuming task.

Not only will it save your business considerable money and time with new starters, but it will also prove to be cost-effective going forward, with there being less need for refresher sessions when systems are inevitably developed and updated.

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