Talk to any integration expert and they’ll tell you: integration boosts productivity, collaboration, and analytical insights. However, integrating every field of data between a CRM and ERP is not a recommended best practice. Instead of creating more data transparency and simplifying data access, integrating too much information can create clutter and make it harder to spot important patterns. So, it’s vital to decide upfront which fields you want to integrate and why. In this post, we’ll highlight the most common integration use cases for ERP and CRM connections.
Use Case #1: ERP Customers with CRM Accounts / Company and ERP Contacts with CRM Contacts
Most CRM data is related to either a company (Account) or a customer (Contact), depending on if you’re B2B or B2C. Some B2B organizations choose not to sync contacts between the ERP and CRM but will still sync ERP customers with CRM accounts.
Why is that?
In B2B, a contact must be related to its account or company. Different departments reach out to different contacts within that account. For example, your billing department would work with billing contacts, and your sales department would work with sales contacts. In a B2B setting, the sales contact may not have much overlap with the account contacts, so depending on the business process, there are three options: 1.) Syncing contacts between ERP and CRM; 2.) only pushing ERP contacts to CRM; or 3.) migrating contacts during setup and then not syncing contacts after that.
In B2C, you’re communicating directly with the consumer, not a company. This is why more B2C organizations find value in syncing contacts between the ERP and CRM.
When it comes to ERP customers and CRM accounts however, both B2B and B2C can benefit from syncing the information. Objects like opportunities, quotes, sales order, and invoices all require an association with either a company name (aka account) or a contact record (aka customer). So, before you can do any meaningful integration, you must sync your accounts and customers.
The question of whether that information will be synced one-way or two-way depends on who owns the master data. In many cases for B2B companies, the CRM data is created from the ERP data at the account level, because that is considered the most accurate. But, CRM data is promoted to the ERP when a prospective company becomes a customer. Normally, once that customer is created in the ERP, no more changes are promoted, because the ERP is usually more accurate.
Use Case #2: ERP Products to CRM Products
You can’t build quotes in your CRM without product information, which is why pushing this data makes sense. Product data is almost always pushed one way from ERP to CRM. Most product information is updated daily, if not multiple times a day. If the product information includes inventory, then the integration will usually be real-time. What’s nice about sending item information from your ERP to your CRM’s products is that the information will always be up-to-date with the current inventory levels monitored through your ERP. If inventory information is integrated, you’ll have accurate insights into what is and is not in stock.
Use case #3: ERP Pricebook to CRM Pricebook
Companies who use contract pricing or special customer pricing cannot just sync products to create a quote. They must promote special customer pricing called a price book or catalog pricing. This is usually accomplished by having a standard product table and a special replacement product table for a subset of products.
The combination of the standard product tables and catalog product tables becomes a price book. The price book is almost always pushed from ERP to CRM.
Use Case #4: ERP Quotes / Order with CRM Quotes
Accurate quotes require more than just up-to-date product information. Access to quotes from either system allows sales reps to get the job done without jumping between solutions or questioning whether the financials are accurate.
The direction of the integration is solely dependent on where the quoting takes place. If the quoting happens in the CRM, then quotes are usually only pushed to the ERP after the quote is sold. Under this use case, a quote in the CRM could become a quote in ERP if it needs approval, otherwise the CRM quote would be moved to an ERP sales order or invoice.
When quoting is complex, many companies create them in ERP and move them to CRM quotes as information. It is rare that a quote will be synced in both directions.
Use Case #5: ERP Sales Order to CRM Sales Order
There are several use cases for pushing sales order data from the ERP to the CRM. For instance, the ability to report on the sold items can inform predictive analytics that reveal new upsell opportunities.
Sales order information also reveals product, payment and sales histories that highlight where the account stands with your company. What products do they own? Are they late on a payment?
If there are changes to an order status such as shipping delays, they are pushed to the CRM so sales and operations can work with the customer on delivery.
Use Case #6: ERP Sales History to CRM Sales History
Sales histories from the ERP to the CRM are shared in the form of invoice headers, invoice lines items (assets), and invoice details. Sales histories are useful for predictive analytics, marketing upsell and cross-sell, and most other customer interactions. You may also want to consider passing credit memos, account credit holds, and accounts receivable (30, 60, or 90 day) from the ERP to the CRM to make sure you have the complete 360 degree customer view. Once this information is accessible in the CRM via related tables, it can be reported on and summarized on a sales history dashboard for easy reference.
Use Case #7: ERP Payments to CRM Invoice
A helpful tool for creating a streamlined quote-to-cash process is to transfer payments from the ERP to the CRM. This way, the reps working within the CRM can understand broader patterns with their customers, like consistently overdue invoices. These payment insights can act as negotiating factors for new deals with those existing customers
For help connecting your CRM and ERP, please contact our team. We’ll evaluate your processes and offer our best advice on the fields and functions to optimize your integration.