Sometimes, it can feel as if your ordering, accounting, and inventory systems barely talk to each other. Even if you have a few pieces of software that are communicating, you may have others that require manual input. In the most simplistic terms, this causes workers to take on the role of “translators.” They spend their time making sure online ordering talks to inventory management and accounting is kept in the mix.
This isn’t just frustrating and repetitive but also inefficient, especially if your company has goals of scaling and finally taking the lead in your field. As a result, many B2B eCommerce organizations are taking the bold (and important) step toward implementing comprehensive ERP integration.
What Is an ERP System and ERP Integrations?
To be sure, ERP systems and integrations can be confusing to understand at first. The term “ERP” stands for Enterprise Resource Planning. Using this definition, let’s consider that your software and systems are your enterprise’s resources. The “planning” in ERP comes in when you determine the wisest, most effective ways to use those resources together.
Keeping this in mind, you can get a better idea of how ERP integration can work, particularly if you sell anything online. ERP integration allows you to combine the efforts of your back office and customer-facing systems. What types of systems could you sync up? Try your customer relationship management systems, eCommerce platforms, project management software, business intelligence software, or any other system you use. By harmonizing so many of your business’s everyday workflows, you can enjoy several key benefits.
What’s to Appreciate About ERP Integration?
The first advantage to ERP integration, of course, is freeing up team members’ time to work on advanced tasks. When your personnel can focus on what they do best, you can boost everyone’s performance. This, in turn, should spill over into higher employee engagement levels. Currently, Gallup estimates that only around 35% of employees fall into the “engaged” category. In other words, having an engaged workforce could help you compete. And ERP integration is all about engagement and freeing up personnel to work on high-level projects.
Another upshot to ERP integration is real-time data synchronization. That is, data that’s inputted into one system self-populates into another effortlessly and without human intervention. At many companies, people have to move data manually. This causes friction points and may even cost the business revenue because it can’t send out invoices promptly.
Finally, ERP integration tears down legacy silos. Make no mistake: Corporate departmental siloing has been shown to damage productivity and stunt growth for a long time. Moving to a more transparent model of communication between all areas of your company removes barriers to success. At the same time, it allows you to spot potential problems faster.
Considerations Before Diving Into ERP Integration
With so many positives, you might wonder why more companies don’t follow-through with ERP integration. Many want to, but haven’t figured out how to make the process work seamlessly for them.
If you’re intrigued by the idea of engaging in this process, keep a few considerations in mind. They’ll assist you in completing ERP integration with the least amount of friction between your teams—and customers.
1. You should have an ERP integration champion at the top.
Barreling ahead with ERP integration won’t work without executive buy-in. You need at least one, if not several, C-suite members on board. Without their thumbs-up, you may have trouble getting all your silos to tumble.
How do you get your CEO, CFO, or CMO to agree to a full-scale ERP integration project? Do your homework and get an airtight, yet flexible, plan in place. Then, bring the plan to them with all the answers to their expected questions. You’ll have a better chance of “selling” ERP integration if you’re a (somewhat) expert yourself.
2. You should figure out a budget for ERP integration.
Whenever you change any kind of system or workflow, you need to spend money upfront. Unless you’re the leader of your company, you probably have to go through a budget approval process. Consequently, develop your ERP integration budget systematically.
You may also want to create charts and graphs showing how the ERP integration will pay for itself. It’s more likely your executive colleagues will agree to give you money if you can prove that it’s a long-term investment. Look into other companies’ case studies to show their savings after moving toward ERP integration.
3. You should have players in mind to head up your proposed ERP integration.
Since you’re the one interested in ERP integration, you’ll likely play a part in the process. Nevertheless, you don’t have to shoulder the responsibility alone. In fact, it’s a good idea for you to amass a cross-departmental ERP integration team.
Ask around to see who’s willing to concentrate on bringing ERP integration to your company. Many times, high performers or rising stars will be game. Why? They’re trying to secure promotions and advance their careers. However, don’t assume that other employees aren’t looking for a challenge.
4. You need to sift through ERP software suggestions.
We’ve saved the most important thing to know for last: Which ERP modular software will you choose? As you might suspect, you have a number of choices. When you’re in investigation mode for the perfect solution for your company’s needs, pay attention to the little benefits. As an example, you’ll want ERP integration software that was built with compliance in mind. Similarly, you’ll want to make sure it can grow with your one-year, three-year, or longer growth plans.
Be certain to consider your customers’ needs, journeys, and experiences before signing with any ERP integration partner. The more holistically you think about your ERP integration needs, the simpler it will be to pinpoint a product.
Getting so many of your business’s online ordering systems in sync can modernize your practices and lead to industry leverage. Just remember that you’ll need to start systematically. Begin with research and slowly map out your plan. It’s worth the effort, especially if your organization has plans of expanding its reach.