Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) are two software systems that businesses use to streamline processes and boost profits. Although they serve different functions, integrating them provides a complete business management solution. While it’s ideal to stagger ERP and CRM projects, many businesses face the challenge of needing updates for both systems simultaneously. Unfortunately, some make the mistake of waiting until ERP implementation is complete before planning for CRM. In this article, we’ll explore 7 benefits of planning ERP and CRM projects in parallel.
1. Faster Time-to-Value
When businesses implement modern ERP and CRM systems, they often discover new opportunities for operational efficiency, improved customer experience, and more. That’s good news. The bad news is that these and other delays can cause these projects to take months or years longer than anticipated. Delays in ERP can result in the front-end of your business – those that are generating marketing leads, building pipeline, closing deals, and keeping customers happy – without a modern solution for years. A parallel plan can bridge the time-to-benefit gap, enabling businesses to modernize their people, processes, and technology rapidly.
2. Business Transformation: Prioritizing the Customer Experience
In the quest for business transformation, leaders must consider whether to prioritize the back-end (accounting, finance, invoicing, supply chain, operations) or the front-end (customers, prospects, sales, marketing, service). Those that start with the back-end consistently make decision about automating front-end processes using their back-end technology – which consistently results in inefficiencies, steep learning curves, and poor customer experiences. In today’s fast-changing business landscape, businesses that prioritize the customer experience and align better to meet their demands are the ones that thrive, adding customers, improving margins, and growing despite disruptive technologies.
3. Improved Data Integration
When businesses plan their ERP and CRM projects in parallel, they can design systems that work together seamlessly. For example, businesses can integrate their sales and inventory data from their CRM with their ERP’s manufacturing and supply chain data. This integration can lead to improved data accuracy, reduced duplication of effort, and faster decision-making.
4. Better Alignment of Business Processes
Planning ERP and CRM projects in parallel also allows businesses to align their business processes more effectively. Important areas of overlap – such as quotes, orders and sales forecasting – should be carefully evaluated to ensure the appropriate solution is designated as the system of record (SOR) for each process and the related data. In general, customer-facing processes should be managed within the CRM system and back-office processes should be managed within the ERP system. When businesses design their ERP and CRM systems together, they can ensure that their processes complement each other rather than conflict. This alignment can lead to increased productivity, fewer errors, and greater efficiency.
5. Increased Flexibility
When businesses wait until their ERP system is complete before planning CRM, they may find it difficult to adapt to changing business needs. In contrast, planning ERP and CRM projects in parallel can allow businesses to be more flexible and responsive to changes. For example, if a business decides to enter a new market or launch a new product line, they can modify their ERP and CRM systems together to support these changes.
6. Reduced Implementation Time and Costs
Planning ERP and CRM projects in parallel can also reduce implementation time and costs. When businesses design their ERP and CRM systems together, they can identify areas of overlap and reduce duplication of effort. Oftentimes businesses finish one project only to discover that much of the functionality needs to be replicated within the other solution. Parallel planning can save time and resources during the implementation process, resulting in faster time-to-market and lower costs.
7. Improved User Adoption
Finally, planning ERP and CRM projects in parallel can improve user adoption of these systems. When businesses design their ERP and CRM systems together, they can create a user-friendly interface that supports their employees’ needs. This can increase user adoption and ensure that employees get the most out of these systems.
Planning ERP and CRM projects in parallel offers many benefits to businesses. From improved data integration and better alignment of business processes to increased flexibility, reduced implementation time and costs, and improved user adoption, businesses can achieve significant advantages by designing their ERP and CRM systems together. Don’t let one get ahead of the other – plan in parallel. And, keep in mind, that parallel planning does not mean parallel integration – a well thought-out roadmap will integrate not just technology, but project plans.