Integrations. At face value, they’re so simple. It’s just linking one system to another. But if integrations are so simple, why are they the part of the project that always seems to go over budget and past deadlines? Why do these seemingly simple integrations go wrong so often?
Integrating ERP and CRM is simplification at its finest. There are so many benefits from this kind of integration. ERP and CRM do so much for your business individually. Imagine what they can do when tied together.
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There are a lot of different ERP and CRM integrations. But being that we’re pretty big fans of both Salesforce CRM and NetSuite ERP, we do a lot of work integrating them for clients. Bringing your closed sales in Salesforce automatically into your NetSuite ERP? Process perfection.
But how do you make sure you’re doing it right? And how do you keep your integration from blowing up your budget and timeline goals?
Well, you can start by keeping these four things in mind.
Integrations should be the last thing you do on an implementation project. It requires you to know your process, backward and forwards. If you start designing your integration right off the bat, you’ll end up with a lot to rework. And more work means more money.
Take the time to analyze and design your systems up front when integrating ERP and CRM software. It will be a lot cheaper and easier to make process changes on a piece of paper than after it’s developed.
One of the best exercises you can do when integrating Salesforce and NetSuite – or any two systems, really – is to take a few hours with each department in your business and whiteboard. Spend the time creating flow charts of all the processes that require information to move between the two systems. Without fail, you will almost always find that you don’t have your processes quite as well defined as you originally thought.
Once you have your processes completely outlined, you can clearly identify each and every integration point. An integration point is the times when data moves between the two systems. It’s essentially your “integration actions.”
From this point, you need to figure out how the data is going to map between your ERP and CRM. And we’re talking specifics here people! This is not a vague “I want to move my contact and account data.” This is where you get down and dirty, and define where every – single – field is coming from and going to.
Field mapping makes or breaks an integration, especially when integrating ERP and CRM systems.
So exactly how detailed are we talking? Well, you need to map each field from your Salesforce CRM to its specific field in your NetSuite ERP. That means granularly defining that the “Contact First Name” field in Salesforce is going to map to the “Customer First Name” field in NetSuite. Or that the “Opportunity amount” in Salesforce will map to the “Invoice amount” in NetSuite.
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Without the specifics, your integration loses its value, because the data you want won't be where you need it.
You can have the most robust processes in the world. But if your data is bad, it’ll all be for nothing.
We see more time spent troubleshooting “broken” integrations because of bad data than almost any other issue. Bad data is one of the most common problems we see working with clients. It’s unfortunate because your data means so much to the outcome of your implementation and integration projects.
It is worth the cost – many, many times over – to make sure that you have good, clean data. Good data leads to more accurate reporting on key metrics, better visibility into the health of the system and your business, more reliable integrations and automation, and – ultimately – makes for much happier employees.
Work with your CRM consultant to make sure your internal team is trained on how to identify errors from bad data. Trust us, it will be a huge time and money saver for your business. And you’ll probably save yourself some stress and headaches too.
When all is said and done, there will still be issues that arise. That is just the nature of software development. And when you’re integrating ERP and CRM, you don’t want to risk things going wrong that could be avoided. These two systems are integral to your business. Treat them with care.
One of the best ways to minimize issues is to have an expert in both systems on hand. If you’re integrating Salesforce with NetSuite, do everything you can to have access to a Salesforce expert and a NetSuite expert.
Every system has its quirks. An expert will know them and be prepared for them.
When you have someone that understands both systems, they can help you navigate each system’s unique terrain during your integration. There will just be those “things” in an integration that seem simple on the surface, but turn out to be a bit more complex.
Like when integrating Salesforce and NetSuite, for example. Did you know that drop-down values in NetSuite each have a unique ID? This means you can’t just populate a text value like you can in Salesforce CRM. Not knowing this or how to address it during your integration will be a huge roadblock. One that will likely lead to additional work and process modifications, which just means more time and money. Not quite what you want.
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Whether it’s one team that knows both systems (like us) or two that can work together on your integration, there’s just no substitute for experience. If you’re wanting to integrate Salesforce and NetSuite, make sure your consultant has the experience and depth of knowledge on both sides to complete the integration.
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