A new ERP system will make integration easy
If you have a well established business which has been operating for a few years, you might well come to the point when you need to replace your current system for a new ERP system, something which can offer more functionality or can cope with more transactions automatically.
When you come to this replacement point, there are some choices available to you: replace with a more modern accountancy system (one that is limited and restricted to only the accountancy function) or choose something that expands their capability further and involves other parts of the business. This would mean investing in a fully fledged Enterprise Resource Package which would add operational and customer service functionality too (it is possible to get fully comprehensive systems which can add HR and other functions too).
If you are in the business of selling directly – through an e-commerce site, for example – then there will be the possibility of making significant efficiency gains through integrating the e-commerce platform and Enterprise Resource Planning systems together. The benefit is via quicker, more accurate transactions, information sharing (allowing process optimisation) and fewer mistakes which require reworking. Additionally, you then allow yourself the opportunity to automate even more finance function processes, such as purchase to pay.
This same efficiency gain can be made by integrating other systems too – CRM, sales and, to an extent, HR systems (but that is a bit more of a stretch).
Level of activity
Most entry-level systems can tolerate up to a certain level of activity only. But, beyond that, the system finds it increasingly difficult to cope and the user experience starts to deteriorate quickly. For example, applications are served much more slowly. With older systems, there is less capacity to easily integrate other systems. The fact is that you’ve outgrown the platform and you need something with improved performance. Something that will cope with a heavier workload.
A better system delivers more
Modern Enterprise Resource Planning systems – and this is especially true of the SaaS / cloud based systems – now contain a greater capacity to integrate with other systems via their APIs. This allows information to be transferred from system to system with accuracy and speed and without manual intervention.
The true benefit of this is that businesses can build an ecosystem of system and plug-in apps. Previously, such an integrated system approach could only be achieved with the help of expensive programmers and an individually tailored system (which you couldn’t then upgrade). This has led to an upsurge in productivity previously unachievable at reasonable expense.
Additionally, there is mobile. This just wasn’t on the radar even a small number of years ago and, if you don’t have a recently written system, then it is likely that mobile will be a clunky add-on (if it exists at all) rather than integrated functionality. Browsing on smart phones and tablets has taken off rapidly and new technology now delivers web responsive sites which change their shape automatically to match the size of the device being used.
Why integrate inbound marketing and ecommerce?
Although it might not seem obvious initially, but the integration of Enterprise Resource Planning and sales / marketing systems can bring significant benefits.
From a marketing perspective it allows the best customers (customers that spend most and frequently) to be identified and for specific propositions to be designed for them. From a sales perspective, it allows the best customers to be given superior service. But it also allows for customer groups with high potential to be identified and nurtured too. All in all, it leads to better customer service, better operations, better sales, better marketing and better finance.
More dynamic trading while managing risk
Once you have integrated your Enterprise Resource Planning and sales systems together, it is possible to trade much more dynamically. And by that we mean that it is possible to tie the price of goods for sale with stock levels. As consumers we are used to seeing flash sales where companies reduce over-stocking by quick, time-limited price reductions.But what if you could target these sales more accurately at the best customers (most revenue) or by customers that you want to encourage to purchase more frequently? So, you have the opportunity of increasing the customer satisfaction of better customer segments and reduce stock levels. It would be a win-win and is possible if you integrate your online store, for example.