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Integrating CRM and ERP With Microsoft Dynamics 365 – Best Practices

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Are you overwhelmed by your data? Finding ways to make sorting easier? Been there, done that! Every growing business faces this issue. Therefore connecting Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems becomes beneficial.

Your business needs essential tools and strategies to achieve better results. Integrating ERP and CRM systems can help you work more efficiently, simplify tasks, make customers happy and increase growth. These systems are essential for modern businesses. However, many organizations buy and use them separately.

That is why you should explore Microsoft Dynamics 365. Microsoft Dynamics 365 offers strong tools for both CRM (keeping track of customers) and ERP (managing resources like money and inventory). That is the reason many companies choose it to make their work smoother and to make better decisions.

Let us begin by understanding what is CRM and what is ERP software.

What is CRM ( Customer Relationship Management)?

CRM, or Customer Relationship Management, is like a tool that helps businesses keep track of their relationships with customers. It stores information about customers, like their names, contact details, and interactions with the company.

CRM systems help businesses communicate better with customers, understand their needs, and make sure they’re happy with the products or services they receive. It’s all about building and maintaining good relationships with the people who buy from the company.

Some famous CRM providers of 2024 include Salesforce, Oracle CX, HubSpot, and Microsoft Dynamics 365.

What is ERP ( Enterprise Resource Planning )?

ERP, which stands for Enterprise Resource Planning, is similar to a big computer system that helps companies manage all their important business activities in one place. It includes things like managing money, inventory (goods for sale), and other resources. ERP systems also help different departments in a company share information and work together better. They’re used to make sure everything runs smoothly and efficiently across the entire organization.

Some of the best ERP providers in 2024 are SAP, Oracle, NetSuite, and Microsoft Dynamics 365.

You can also learn how to develop your ERP system from the ground up: How to Build an ERP System From Scratch ?

Having understood what ERP and CRM are and how they make a business work efficiently, let us delve into the reasons for integrating these two.

Why Integrate CRM And ERP With Microsoft Dynamics 365?

Integrating Microsoft Dynamics 365 with CRM and ERP systems helps combine important company processes into a single platform, including sales, marketing, customer support, finance, and operations.

With the help of this integration, divisional walls can be eliminated for a unified picture of the finances, inventory, customers, and other areas. The following are some main advantages of integrating CRM And ERP:

Better Customer Service

The integration of CRM and ERP benefits the company by providing them with a full view of customer interaction, from interest to sales and support. This helps understand customer needs, buying patterns, and order history, improving purchase planning, budgeting, and operational efficiency. Therefore providing a personalized customer experience

Streamlined Processes

Another benefit of integration is to boost productivity by streamlining processes and automating workflows. It eliminates repetitive tasks, improves communication between departments, cuts down duplicacy of data, reduces errors, and saves costs by sharing information efficiently.

Improved Decision Making

By integrating CRM and ERP with  Microsoft Dynamics 365 we can reduce the time in manually manipulating the data, thus simplifying and speeding up the business. Access real-time insights and analytics to make informed decisions quickly. This would eventually increase the employer’s productivity.

Scalability

Integrating CRM and ERP will help scale operations seamlessly as your business grows, without worrying about system limitations.

Reduction in training cost

Yet another benefit of integrating CRM with ERP is that a single platform reduces costs in training the employees on both systems and will allow better decision-making.

Flexible access to critical information

Integrating CRM and ERP will help scale operations seamlessly as your business grows, without worrying about system limitations. You can see details like order status, how much inventory is available, past orders, returns, payments, and agreements for discounts and trades. This helps you make decisions that improve your profits.

As we have understood the reasons to integrate CRM and ERP, let us move to see the many ways we can integrate them.

What Are The Ways To Integrate CRM With ERP?

There are several possible ways to integrate CRM and ERP systems based on your customized needs and the systems you own.

Direct Integration

An easy way to integrate CRM and ERP involves linking ERP and CRM systems directly using special interfaces called APIs. This setup needs careful planning and setup of these interfaces to ensure the systems can communicate with each other and share information. One benefit is that it can be tailored specifically for a project’s needs, allowing for a customized integration.

Integration Using Intermediary Software

This method uses special integration tools or platforms that act as an intermediary between the ERP system and CRM. These tools collect data from one system and pass it to the other, often also allowing for processing and cleaning of the data before its transfer.

Integration Through Additional Modules Or Plugins

Another method of integrating CRM and ERP involves additional plugins or modules. Some CRM and ERP systems offer modules or plugins that can be installed to support integration. They are specifically designed to work with certain systems and may offer smoother integration.

Ipaas (Integration Platform As A Service)

Of late, ipaas is used a lot for the same. This is a cloud integration solution that offers tools and services allowing the integration of various business systems, including ERP and CRM. iPaaS offers ready-made connectors that facilitate integration.

Hybrid Integration

It uses different ways to connect systems like CRM and ERP based on what the company needs. For important tasks, it uses direct integration. For less important information, it might use other software to connect them.

Companies decide how to connect their systems based on their business type, what technology they already have, how much money and resources they have, and their budget. They often get advice from IT experts to pick the best way and make sure their ERP and CRM systems work together well. Our experts can create standard or custom connections for marketing tools, like linking your CRM with ERP systems.

Are you wondering how Microsoft Dynamics 365 fits into all this? Read on to find out how Microsoft Dynamics 365 helps integrate CRM and ERP.

Where Does Microsoft Dynamics 365 Come Into the Picture?

Well, this is the place where everything comes together. Microsoft Dynamics 365 combines the functions of both ERP and CRM. It gives you a single view of your entire business and makes it easier for you to monitor everything from sales activity to inventory levels.

In addition, you can easily integrate your ERP and CRM with Microsoft Dynamics 365 using connectors. For example, you can set your CRM to automatically change the pricing of a product when it is added to your ERP system.

Additionally, Microsoft Dynamics 365 has strong analytics features. By using these features to analyze real-time data, you may learn more about your business. For example, you can view the top-selling products, buyer profiles, and effective marketing efforts.

Once you integrate CRM and ERP with Microsoft Dynamics 365, you must examine the common integration touchpoints.

5 CRM ERP Integration points

Integrating CRM and ERP systems in a way that shares important information helps make your business run more smoothly. Common points where these systems connect include:
Sync CRM And ERP Contact And Account Data

The CRM stores details about leads and customers for sales orders, while the ERP manages customer and account information for invoicing, shipping, and payments. Syncing these points ensures that contact and account details are correct and up-to-date without repeating information.

Easy Access To Quotes And Order Information From CRM and ERP Systems.

Sales quotes usually start in the ERP system, but sales reps prefer to use the CRM system where they manage their work. When sales reps create sales orders in the CRM, the ERP handles processing them, creating invoices, fulfilling orders, and shipping products. Integrating your CRM and ERP systems ensures quotes and orders are correct and allows sales reps to handle everything they need in one place: the CRM.

Sync Customer Sales History In An ERP With A CRM.

Companies find sales order history very useful because it helps predict what customers might buy in the future using artificial intelligence (AI). This history is usually kept in the ERP system, so it is important to sync these records with the CRM. This way, sales representatives can easily access this information when they need it.

To View Account Payment Status From Both ERP And CRM.

Payment is the final step in the process from quoting a sale to receiving cash. The data about payments is stored in the ERP system. When this payment data is accessible in the CRM, sales representatives can see when payments are due and assist with collecting them. This integration helps them stay informed and proactive about managing payments from customers.

Providing Access To Integrated ERP Data To The Sales Team.

Product details like quotes, prices, and inventory are in ERP. Sales reps need these for proposals, availability checks, and order updates. Integrating ERP product info into CRM streamlines sales improves service, and boosts efficiency.

Now that we understand how CRM and ERP systems can work together, let’s look at the best practices you need to undertake while integrating them using Microsoft Dynamics 365.

Best Practices For Integrating ERP and CRM using Microsoft Dynamics 365

Best Practices For Integrating ERP and CRM using Microsoft Dynamics 365

To ensure a successful CRM and ERP integration with Microsoft Dynamics 365, consider the following best practices:

Define Clear Objective

While integrating CRM and ERP, it is imperative to clearly state what you aim to achieve by connecting systems, like making information easier to see, improving how you help customers, or making money processes work better. This ensures everyone knows why the systems are being connected and what the business goals are.

Choose Integration Methods According To Your Needs.

Consider different ways to integrate CRM and ERP systems into Dynamics 365, like using built-in connections, APIs (Application Programming Interface), or tools from other companies for integration. Choose a method that works best for your business, fits with your current technology setup, and matches what your team can manage.

Mapping And Cleansing Your Data

A good practice is to align data fields between CRM and ERP systems to ensure consistency and accuracy. This involves mapping how data is structured and ensuring that information flows smoothly between systems. A recent study suggests91% of CRM data stored is either incomplete or duplicated in nature. Thus, it is crucial to cleanse and de-duplicate data to maintain data integrity.

Establish Data Synchronization Rules

Define rules for data synchronization, including frequency and direction (e.g., CRM to ERP or vice versa), to maintain data integrity. These rules define how information flows between the two systems, to allow consistency, accuracy, and reliability of data across different departments and functions within an organization.

Customization And Configuration

Customization is the talk of the town when it comes to business sales strategy. Customize Dynamics 365 to meet specific business requirements. Set up the workflows and automation processes across CRM and ERP modules to streamline the operations and improve efficiency.

Upgrade Legacy Systems

When companies try to connect old ERP and CRM systems, it often causes more problems than it solves. Old systems can be slow and may not work well together. They might have issues sharing data or the integration might not even work. Companies need to upgrade to newer ERP and CRM systems that can be easily connected and offer modern features like AI and IoT. This helps businesses run more smoothly and use technology more effectively.

Security And Access Control

Execute robust security measures to protect sensitive data during integration. Define role-based access controls (RBAC) to ensure that the users have appropriate permissions based on their roles and responsibilities.

User Training And Support

A useful practice is to provide thorough training to users so they can use the integrated system well. Provide ongoing help to answer questions, fix problems, and ensure that everyone can use the CRM and ERP systems together effectively.

Monitor And Maintain

Regularly monitor integration performance and data quality. Fix any problems quickly and make improvements to keep everything running smoothly over time.

We have a proper understanding of integrating both the systems and what are the key points to consider while doing so. This brings us to an important part of the blog – the purpose or the pros of integrating them for a service provider like yourself.

5 Reasons Integrating CRM And ERP Is a Gamechanger

Reasons Integrating CRM And ERP Is a Gamechanger

Other than achieving the goal of unifying several platforms to streamline your workflow, the integration of CRM and ERP also offers the following benefits:

It Automates The Process Of The Entire Customer Journey

CRM and ERP integration automates business tasks throughout the customer journey. It is beneficial as it links customer orders (like orders and invoices), product details (such as quotes, prices, and inventory), financial data (like accounts receivable and revenue tracking), and other information to give a complete view of customer data.

Customer and contact details are synced between systems, reducing manual data entry and errors. Updates on products and pricing are automatically sent to the CRM, ensuring sales teams have the latest information. This speeds up order processing, helps track which products are selling well, and confirms revenue is recorded promptly.

Boosts Efficiency By Removing Delays

Another benefit of automating the order processes by integrating CRM and ERP is that it gathers documents from various systems and helps manufacturers speed up the order-to-cash process. Having all customer and product details in one digital system streamlines order processing and makes it faster to fulfill orders, deliver products, and send invoices.

Provides A Complete Customer View

A 360-degree view means showing all customer information clearly. Integrating CRM and ERP is beneficial to gather all customer details accurately. This helps teams like sales, finance, and product manufacturing work together better. Accessing data in real-time helps teams make quick, smart decisions. It improves sales predictions and planning accuracy.

Personalize Customer Interactions.

Integrating CRM and ERP systems gathers useful information about what customers want. This benefits you as you can access all the data stored in the back office and you can create special offers just for them. Using the right technology, you combine this data with other sources, like online and offline information which benefits you to create a complete picture of each customer. With this full view, you can use AI to suggest the best messages and deals for each customer during all their online shopping interactions.

To Optimize Operations

Yet another benefit of integrating systems is that your company uses data more effectively across all its operations. Having a complete view of customer information helps manufacturers predict what customers will need, respond faster to market changes, speed up the process of making customized products, and communicate better overall

While integrating CRM and ERP offers many benefits, some factors can affect its proper functioning. We must also consider them, before making any decisions.

What Challenges Could You Face Upon Integrating The Systems With Microsoft Dynamic 365?

All that said, integrating CRM and ERP is a complex task that accompanies its own set of unique challenges. However, once you overcome the problems you can optimize your business and stay competitive.

Lack Of Technical Experts

Integrating complex systems like ERP and CRM requires an understanding of their make-up and possible incompatibilities. Thus having experts who understand these systems helps make the integration go more smoothly by knowing what problems might come up and how to fix them.

Data Silos And Accuracy

Another challenge of integrating the systems includes the differences in data between systems can cause errors or inconsistencies. This challenge could be overcome by collecting and integrating accurate data. This is essential for making good decisions and keeping the system trustworthy.

Complex System

A significant challenge is to integrate new systems into older software. New cloud platforms often have capabilities or designs that older on-site software may lack. This can lead to challenges when integrating CRM with ERP such as errors in mapping data or issues with keeping the information synchronized. Traditional methods, like processing data in batches, may not work well for the instant data needs of today’s platforms.

Employee Training

Another challenge one could face after integrating the systems with Microsoft Dynamics 365 is encountering a different interface or new functions. Understanding it and using it efficiently requires training sessions. For example, sales teams might need training on how to use their CRM to access real-time inventory data.

Integrating ERP and CRM is a complex job with challenges, but when done right, it makes business smoother, keeps customers happier, and helps the company grow.

Let us have a look at the recent trends in integrating CRM and ERP which will help your business to meet the ever-changing demands to improve customer relationships, operational efficiency, and overall business performance.

Trends And Insights About Integrating CRM And ERP In 2024

While you have made a smart decision to integrate your CRM and ERP systems, let us tell you about the recent trends observed. This will help you set the pace for what’s next in the market!

Unified Data Architecture

Companies are focusing on making sure CRM and ERP systems share information smoothly. This involves using modern integration platforms and APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) to ensure real-time synchronization and data consistency between the two systems.

AI and Machine Learning Integration

Another interesting and beneficial addition would be AI and ML. More businesses are using AI and machine learning in CRM and ERP. These technologies help predict sales, understand customer needs, and manage inventory more efficiently.

Cloud-based Integration Solutions

Yet another trend observed among high-performing companies is that; they are moving their CRM and ERP to cloud platforms. This makes it easier for teams to work together and for systems to handle big amounts of data quickly and securely.

Mobile and Remote Accessibility

A trend to look out for while integrating CRM with ERP! Systems are being designed so they work well on phones and tablets. This helps sales teams and employees access information and do their jobs from anywhere.

Analytics-driven Insights

Your data will help make smarter decisions for you! Companies are using tools that analyze data to make better decisions. These tools show information in easy-to-read charts and predict things; like what customers might want next.

In 2024, CRM and ERP systems will be combined into smart, cloud-based platforms that focus on improving how businesses interact with customers, keep data safe, and work smoothly with other apps. This helps companies run more efficiently, make better decisions, and build stronger relationships with customers using advanced technology.

Conclusion

In conclusion, integrating CRM and ERP systems is crucial for businesses looking to improve operations, strengthen customer relationships, and grow. By combining these systems effectively, using the latest technology, and tackling challenges head-on, companies can make the most of CRM and ERP integration. This helps them stay competitive in today’s changing market, eliminating the confusion of scattered data across different systems.

At Zealous Systems, we are committed to helping your business grow. Whether it be managing your ocean of data, hiring a Microsoft Dynamics 365 developer, or building and integrating your ERP system into Microsoft Dynamics 365, we are just a click away. Together, with our expertise and your trust, we can help you streamline your workflow, improve customer engagement, and drive growth.

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    Pranjal Mehta

    Pranjal Mehta is the Managing Director of Zealous System, a leading software solutions provider. Having 10+ years of experience and clientele across the globe, he is always curious to stay ahead in the market by inculcating latest technologies and trends in Zealous.

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