SalesforceUser Adoption – You can’t spell it without E.R.P (Us__ Ado_tion?)
So now that we have a good understanding of the essentials necessary to ensure your team is set up for success when implementing Salesforce for Manufacturing, I want to discuss how valuable ERP integrations are to CRM success in the Manufacturing space. This is one of my favorite topics, and it’s likely the root of my passion and excitement for this industry. The value to end users, and the Salesforce adoption that ensues, is exciting, and the best part is that it typically costs much less than expected.

To illustrate my point, I’ll steal from Goldilocks on her journey to find the right porridge – we need to find that perfect balance of delivering value and efficiency to End Users, without extensive costs/timelines.

Too Cold: Salesforce without ERP Integration
For many reasons, companies that are new to Salesforce (or CRM) will take the approach of keeping things very simple out of the gates (i.e. no integration, standard functionality) to not confuse or intimidate users – I get it, well-intentioned but how does that story typically end? Mild adoption by a sub-set of users followed by grumblings of “entering data for no reason” as we let the CRM dwindle away after 6-9 months. This is not because of bad intentions or technical capabilities of users – it’s because we really haven’t provided anything of significant value to the them (notably, the poor Sales Team!).

The culprit here is that, as Manufacturers, we typically can’t lean on the generic low hanging fruit for CRM adoption – traditional Lead/Opportunity management is often slightly misaligned with your reality. Either your company…

  1. Deals with high volume sales transactions and creating Opportunities for each of them is inefficient
  2. Sells through Manufacturers’ Rep and Sales doesn’t necessarily own, or know, about every Opportunity unless you helped with a Quote
  3. Client/Distributor Orders are placed through Customer Service and are entered directly into ERP without Sales involvement
  4. I could go on with more examples, but let’s get on with it.

The point here is that standard Opportunity management doesn’t always jive with Manufacturing companies because Sales responsibilities tend to be more about Account Relationship Management than managing individual deal cycles for each sale. The value of CRM to a sales user comes from understanding customer sales behaviors over time – data which comes from our ERP Orders/Invoices.

Want to test this out? Ask a Sales person about how things are going with a top Account this year, and you’ll almost certainly see them shuffle some papers on their desk to grab an Order / Order Summary printout from the ERP. Don’t expect CRM adoption unless you can deliver what they can’t live without!

Too Hot: CRM with extensive Bi-Directional ERP Integration
On the flip side of this, I often encounter the “we need everything possible integrated now” mentality. While I commend organizations that understand the value of the integration, I’ll get right to the point – it doesn’t work that way.

People are good at identifying every possible bi-directional integration they can think of – heck, sometimes they go as far as to build beautiful diagrams – but, if we take everything on upfront, 12 months later you’ll still be left with tweaking an over engineered integration while your users are still operating without a CRM – not to mention that your executives are upset with you about paying subscription license costs without any tangible results.

Now, don’t stop yourself from documenting your list of potential integration desires (you can even build your pretty diagrams), but perhaps use this barometer to prioritize and simplify your true initial needs. For example, it’s critical that my ERP integration to Salesforce:

  • Fosters accountability and process automation
  • Enhances the workday experience for my employees (users)
  • Unlocks capabilities we cannot access (or easily access) today
  • Is delivered in a timely fashion that doesn’t result in sitting on Subscription licenses for extended periods of time without driving value

If you remember one thing from this post, it’s that integration is not an all-or-nothing effort. Maybe we still ask users to do one manual data entry task initially, or we use a workflow notification rather than full integration for some processes – just acknowledge it, articulate why this decision was made (i.e. time to value), and let users know that we expect to solve that inefficiency in the future. Take a deep breath and don’t over complicate it!

Just Right: One-way sync into Salesforce
In most cases, about 90% of the value of the ERP integration to CRM comes from simply passing valuable Account & Order (or Invoice) data into Salesforce on a nightly basis. Let’s look at the value that just a basic one-way nightly integration of ERP Account & Order data unlocks in Salesforce:

  • Account Record: Access to Orders & Order status (from mobile devices as well!).
    • Roll-up Summary of Order data can provide instant access to KPIs for Account Management. No more struggling to pull Sales reports from ancient ERP interfaces!
      • Last order date (reads date from most recent order)
      • Year-to-date/Month-to-date Sales
      • Current Period vs. Previous Year Current Period Sales (Trending)
      • Rolling 90 Day Sales
  • Order Notifications: Create Salesforce notifications to the Sales Person when Orders are posted that meet certain criteria (Order >$0, Order Status = Back Order). Or even better, notifications when orders are trending down in relation to historical Order behavior.
  • Cases / Ticket Logging: Now that Orders are in Salesforce, we can log Cases in relation to the Orders for issues or problems.

These are just a few examples of the power that even a basic ERP-to-Salesforce integration provides. By initially cutting out the complexity of bi-directional integration, we can deliver a Salesforce solution that unlocks new value that will drive excitement with your users – all in a cost-effective and timely project.

How do we approach the Integration?
We know there are countless methods to system integration. But, in keeping with the theme of time-to-value & starting with something you can build upon, we find that we can typically handle the integration needs of Manufacturers in one of two ways (depending on your ERP solution):

  • A batch process integration that runs on a scheduled basis (i.e. Nightly).
  • We can often leverage an inexpensive middleware (i.e. KingswaySoft) to perform a similar sync at the database level (commonly used for SQL based ERP solutions).

If you are interested in more of the technical details, please contact us today!

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