Click to learn more about author Eran Rozenfeld.
With the beginning of a new year, most businesses will share one common resolution – to increase profits in 2019. However, focusing on efforts to generate more sales is not enough. Finding ways to reduce costs by becoming more efficient is also an integral part of maintaining high profit margins. Lowering expenses can include automating business processes to reduce manual labor and increase efficiency.
There are several systems companies typically deploy to streamline and improve business processes to reduce operational expenses. These include financial, CRM, e-commerce and logistics systems. However, whether these systems work independently or are updated periodically via interfaces, data can fall between the cracks. If the different systems can’t share their data in real time to create one unified picture of the business, management can’t gleam all the insights they need to make strategic decisions.
Here are five examples of how integrating data across departments using ERP as a smart business platform can result in better use of resources and improved customer service.
1. Better Inventory Management: Feeding sales forecasts into financial systems can yield a more accurate assessment of inventory requirements which results in being able to order the right quantity of parts and materials. More precise purchasing based on demand minimizes the possibility of tying up too much working capital in inventory that can be put to better use elsewhere, or product shortages that can result in delayed deliveries and potentially lost revenues due to cancelled orders.
2. Improved Online Sales: When the competition is only a click away, providing online consumers with all the information they need to make a purchasing decision can be an important differentiator. Integrating e-commerce systems with inventory systems will enable online shoppers to know in real time whether or not an item is in stock, not only when ordering from the site, but also from local stores, including available sizes and colors. Consumers can also receive an accurate price quote for shipping and reliable delivery times by connecting e-commerce systems to shipping providers’ systems. Integrating finance with e-commerce sites can also speed up invoicing, resulting in quicker payments and revenues.
3. Enhanced Customer Service: If service reps use a different system to log in their hours to provide repair and preventive maintenance calls, then sales people might be missing important information about their customers resulting in missed sales opportunities. Knowing when customers’ products need to be replaced because they are no longer reliable or adequately meet their needs is important to identify future sales. Customer service managers can benefit by having access to information on new sales opportunities to ensure service reps have the necessary training, ample time and parts, for example, to complete a site installation.
4. Quicker Revenue Recognition: With a unified database, businesses can automatically turn proposals created in the CRM system into actual orders executed and tracked in financial systems without any manual intervention. Automatic updates keep both systems in sync and prevent the possibility of inconsistent or inaccurate data, such as incorrect shipping or billing addresses that can result in delays with deliveries and invoicing.
5. Cost and Time Savings: Separate systems can be more expensive to operate and maintain with higher licensing and hardware fees, and upgrade charges. In addition, duplicate data entry can result in more labor hours and data inconsistencies and inaccuracies. Also, when data is stored in different databases, it can take more time and resources to generate comprehensive reports that are needed to provide a complete view of the business.
In today’s data-driven business environment, having separate databases can stand in the way of business growth. ERP systems can be used as a unified business platform to streamline internal processes for cost savings and improved customer service. Integrating data to better orchestrate business processes improves the collaboration between sales, customer service, and finance, enabling companies to create a reputation for excellence while building lasting customer loyalty.