From CRM to ERP
Pipeline and Forecast data are the most common and most important data from CRM into an ERP system. Business process determines the complexity of the integration.
Examples of complex integration requirements can be found with just in time manufacturers (e.g., Dell). These organizations will integrate forecast data into their supply chain for competitive advantage. More common CRM to ERP integration is less complex. Generally and regardless of complexity, this integration occurs on set schedules (e.g., Weekly) as part of the sales process. True real-time capabilities are not required or necessary. Real-time availability by a vendor (product, SaaS, or ISP) will be of more concern.
Some Sales organizations have a culture of frequently adjusting pipeline and forecast requirements. This is often seen with changes in Sales and Executive management. Ideally, the change in business process would not impact the data integration; however, the technical configuration may need adjusting as well.
Anyone who knows me professionally, knows that I am a CRM guy. Most of my career has been implementing and making CRM systems usable and actually show real ROI. One of the biggest challenges that CRM systems have is integration with back end systems. In the cloud with hosted CRM, this actually a bigger challenge than it was in the past. To follow are a series of posts of the major challenges any CRM system faces with integration.
Computing is moving to the cloud. The names may change and the technology may be different; however, this idea is not new. See Martin Greenberger’s Essay dated 1964. Recall mainframe timeshares, application service providers, “on demand” or more recently the “as a Service” marketing tags. The current iteration, Cloud Computing (real-time, scalable resources available via the Internet), is a fulfillment of the idea that computing power could be a utility.
The enterprise can take advantage of this trend by understanding their core differentiators and the business processes that affect that differentiation. In short, what makes a company great. Enterprise, computing, in any form, has always been about value to the core competency. In considering cloud technologies for business processes, you must answer the following questions:
1) Is this a core competency? Will the top line suffer if this is not implemented?
2) What skills and infrastructure are required? Just because the process or technology is in the cloud does not mean that you will not need someone who understands it.
3) Viability of provider: Value, Due Diligence and Trust. How do they match up?
Return on investment (ROI) has been and will continue to be a key driver for technology purchases. Lowering IT costs is always a consideration and even more relevant in the current economy. A major consideration for any IT Department will be the core business. Take the often cited clock maker. Building the clock is core. Telling the time is not core. E-mail is critical to any business, but it is not necessarily core. Given the options on the market, a cloud offering might make sense, but make sure you answer those questions.