You probably wouldn’t hire a team of a dozen employees who all speak different languages with no overlapping vernacular. Sure, they might be able to work together eventually, but the struggle, significant delays and communication mistakes would be highly prohibitive.
Such a hiring choice is so limiting, in fact, that it sounds completely ridiculous. And yet this is exactly what so many small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) choose to do every single day. Except they’re not attempting to mesh non-communicating people; they’re trying to force non-communicating computer systems to talk to each other in different languages.
Without systems that are compatible with each other, attempting to get work done without struggle, delays and mistakes is a nightmare. Cloud ERP solutions in particular require the ability to freely communicate with all business systems.
Here are five advantages of integrating cloud ERP with CRM, e-commerce, payroll and other programs.
- Efficiency: Integrating your line-of-business systems allows for more efficient and accurate data transfer from one platform to the other.
- Accessibility: Anchoring into your core ERP platform and back-office accounting solution makes your data more accessible, safe and accurate. This also enables users to access the data they need when they need it, which in most cases is in real time, or very close to it.
- Visibility: Having systems that share data and process intelligent reports provides immediate visibility into performance and allows companies to respond to changes in the business. This means you’re able to identify and solve problems right away.
- No redundancy and fewer mistakes: For years, businesses have run their systems in silos, which create data entry redundancy. Without these limitations, the need for multiple data entry or transfer is eliminated, thus eliminating mistakes and improving accuracy. Auditing is much easier and more effective as well.
- Better, faster support: When systems are integrated and supported by the same vendor, companies don’t have to go to multiple support desks or contact several different people to correct problems or ask questions.
As you see, integration is critical. So why isn’t everyone doing it? Here’s why: Just like no one intends to hire several non-communicating employees, most business owners don’t intend to build their companies on non-communicating systems. They buy systems one at a time, often without considering the future benefits of integration.
After your company’s systems are established, integrating the systems with cloud ERP requires a bit of work. Here are several factors to consider when preparing for any integration.
- Map out any processes and workflow you want the integration to follow, such as data transfer.
- When you’re meeting with a cloud vendor to decide which of your current systems should be retired or replaced, you need to ask yourself several questions. What are your business processes? What workflows or processes need to be set up or built into the integration? Which people in your company are going to be impacted by the integration? Do they have a role in the project?
- It is a good idea to make sure you set up the integration in a test environment first. During this run-through of common procedures, test everything before moving to a live environment.
- Determine if you need a unilateral data flow (one system always pushing data to the other) or bilateral (both systems pushing data to each other). Does your data flow need to move in real time? Or is it better for the flow to take place at the end of each day or fiscal period?
- Know where your data is located and understand how you access it.
- Start the integration with ERP and then move to CRM. These two systems are almost one and the same. Next, work on integrating third-party, industry or niche solutions.
Integration between business processes is the key to having quality communication and information distribution. This increases productivity, speed and performance. The primary objective of a cloud ERP system is to integrate information and processes from all parts of a company, and produce easy access and structured workflow.
Looking for more information to help improve your business's cloud ERP solution? Click below to visit the SMB Suite Blog Archive.