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CRM, HR, and ERP applications share an organization’s critical data, including customers, items, pricing, and employees. Integrating these applications will result in seamless processes and improved visibility. Whether it is opportunities converting to orders, onboarding new employees, or customers logging service tickets, integrated applications will provide significant tangible business benefits.
Businesses large and small need to integrate applications to maximize the return on their investment in those applications. Specific to CRM and ERP applications, there are multiple dimensions to this integration.
For example, CRM and ERP applications use customer data such as name, addresses (bill/ship-to), contact name(s), numbers, emails, etc. Integrating this data across applications will eliminate the need to enter it manually multiple times and improve data quality.
The prevalence of web-based applications and pre-built integration solutions has simplified integration initiatives. However, as the number of applications a business uses continues to increase, so have shared data elements.
Organizations are moving towards narrowly focused best-of-breed solutions to run their businesses across all domains from HR to Finance to Sales and Marketing. This trend is increasing the need for integrating those applications from both a data and process perspective. Security of this data is a crucial consideration when sharing it across multiple applications.
There are a variety of methods and tools available to integrate applications. Our experience proves that one size does fit all. Considerations when choosing the approach include the number of data elements and processes, volume of data, batch vs. real-time requirements, and the underlying technology of the applications themselves.
Our recommendation is to avoid “boiling-the-ocean” attempting to integrate all applications in a single initiative. It is best to identify high-impact integration areas and tackle those first. This iterative approach will lead to tangible benefits more quickly. This approach and the data management aspects discussed above will start to build a data culture in the organization. Integration initiatives often raise the awareness of the importance of data management and the erosion of business value due to a lack of data management.
A key consideration of integrating this data is who will own it once the applications are integrated. Finance is often responsible for the entry and update of customer information for ordering and billing purposes in ERP applications.
Sales and Marketing are often responsible for this in CRM applications. These functions must work together to develop and implement a data management process after integrating the applications. The same holds true for other shared data such as items, pricing, etc.
Some organizations will assign a data steward or representative from each department to manage data integration as the application landscape, and business processes evolve.
Prisio specializes in guiding its customers through developing and implementing data management processes leveraging best practices. Prisio also has deep expertise in selecting the approach and technologies best suited to your integration needs. For additional information on data management, see this article on Data Management Considerations in a Hybrid Application Environment.