An Admin’s Guide for Getting Started with a Salesforce and ERP Integration

Just like CRM applications handle sales, marketing and support functions, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems take care of manufacturing, finance, master data and accounting aspects. It is primarily used by the headquarters and it usually available within the enterprise intranet. Integrating CRM with ERP, can truly enable sales and service teams by extending relevant information from the ERP software. This drastically improve data accuracy and enhances organizational efficiency by automating (and hence shortening) the opportunity to cash cycle.
Usually Salesforce Admins are entrusted with managing the entire lifecycle of an implementation of this kind. This article will help you to quantify the benefits of such an integration and ensure success.

Top Benefits of Salesforce/ERP Integrations

It is easy to measure your success based on KPIs finalized in project initiation phase. List all the KPIs and their current value after project implementation. See how you improved on those. For example, if Average Quote Submission lead time decreases from 10 days to 8, it means automation has increased organizational agility by 20%. More often we see the following benefits of such an integration solution.

  • Better cash flows due to reduction in both Contact to Quote as well as Quote to Payment cycles.
  • Improvement in sales and after sales KPIs by as much as 35%.
  • Drastic improvement in quality of data and single version of truth across departments.
  • Better data visibility and enormous moral boost for sales representatives
  • Reduction in dependency on sales coordinator for punching in the orders.

Stage 1 lists out some of the usual KPIs and how they are measured.

Stage 1: Assessing the Organization Needs

This is the moment for introspection and goal setting, to understand and jot down key performance indicators (KPIs) that you will aim to improve by taking on this project. This will also help you assess how successful your integration project has been after the solution has gone live. The following template will help you structure your organization’s KPIs. I’ve added some of the common KPIs we come across to give you a head start.

Business Process KPI KPI Measurement Formula* Current Value
1 Sales Quote Accuracy (%) Quotes created correct the first time / Total Number of Quotes with current month 75%
2 Sales Average time taken to submit Quote to end customer after approvals and review process. KPI Measurement Formula* 10 days
3 Sales Quote Volume Total number of Quotes created per sales person per month 86
4 Sales Average win rate Quotes converted to order / Total number of Quotes submitted in a specific month 13%
5 After Sales Average resolution time Average time taken to resolve a customer issue after logging 3 days
6 After Sales Customer Attrition rate Customers subscription lost / Total number of customers 3%
7 After Sales Customer Satisfaction Average customer rating of resolved support issues 4.5 / 5

*KPI measurement Formula is a way to define your KPIs.
I encourage you to use above chart only as a reference. When you add new KPIs, ensure that you add a KPI measurement formula and the current levels as well.

As you might have guessed, this is one step which is often missed and decreases the value of
the integration project.

Stage 2: Designing the ERP Integration

An integration project needs participation across the user community. It needs the strategic perspective from the Head of Sales, technical insights from the Salesforce Admin as well as inputs from some key sales team members. Ensure that input from various users are considered, as this mitigates risk and increases user adoption. Ideally you should have key expectations from various users captured in a crisp manner. For example, a sales representative may require a way to know stock availability and expected delivery date as per the calculation, supplied from an ERP application. The Head of Sales may desire a button to push the Quote as an order within the ERP without having to call the sales coordinator.

Once you capture the expectations, be sure to match them to one of the recorded KPIs from step 1. This will help you to remain focussed and prioritize requirements. In our above examples, this translates to KPI #1 as the delivery date and stock availability, linked closely to Quote Accuracy (ie. KPI #2 and KPI #3 translate into the ability to directly push a Quote into an order).

I will now go into more detail for each.

Accurate Master Data from the ERP

To move ahead with transactions, having master data synced efficiently and in an automated manner is very important. The table below shows the usual integration elements in this area.

Object Description Direction
1 Accounts The business partners from the ERP application must be available in Salesforce. Also new accounts created in Salesforce must sync to the ERP Bi-directional
2 Contacts The contacts from either application must sync with the other one Bi-directional
3 Products The product information is defined in the ERP and must be available in Salesforce Uni-directional
4 Price Books Again, the ERP is usually the system of record. Uni-directional

Integrating Transactional Information

The transactions being carried out need to be synced between applications. Usually the following are needed:

Object Description Direction
1 Quotes When Quotes are created in Salesforce and pushed into the ERP as an order, it should sync to the ERP. If Quotes are created in the ERP, they should translate to Quotes within Salesforce Bi-directional
2 Orders Orders are handled within the ERP and must go to Salesforce Uni-directional
3 Invoice Same as orders. They are usually created within the ERP and must sync to Salesforce Uni-directional

Other Information

You may want to sync other supporting information, which can enrich user’s experience while using the applications.

Object Description Direction
1 Inventory It may be useful to sync the inventory information from the ERP to Salesforce so that users can know the stock levels / product availability Uni-directional
2 Payments If you are relying on the Sales rep to chase receivables, it may help to bring payments in to Salesforce. Uni-directional
3 Assets If you maintain assets or installation within the ERP then you can map it to Assets in Salesforce Uni-directional
4 Cases Customer support requests can be integrated between the applications Bi-directional

Bonus: ERP Integration Best Practices & Tips

This section will describe the best practices while integrating Salesforce with an ERP system, the pitfalls, and how these pitfalls can be avoided. However, there are some more elements that can ensure success.

Respecting Governing Limits

Since Salesforce is SaaS based application, it has certain rules while sharing system resources. Check out the Governors limit around Webservices. Ensure that you design it in a way that the solution works under these limitations.

Integration priority, frequency & timing

Not all integrations need to run all the time, for example, Quotes can sync during business hours only. More intensely used elements of the integration, specifically the ones which are done on daily basis, can be scheduled to run late at night or early in the morning.

Pre-built vs. custom developed Connectors

You can use pre-configured connectors or get a custom integration developed. The earlier makes sense as it saves time and effort. The latter is useful when your ERP does not have a pre-built connector or when you are going to use specific integration elements.

Test Environments

Set up a test instance of the ERP and Salesforce before launching the solution on production environment. This helps to minimize service interruptions and ensures thorough testing.

Phase-wise Implementation

It is usual for business users to see value of integrating applications. Salesforce admins may evaluate requests and club them into planned releases instead of going in for a big bang approach. This ensure that important features are taken into account.

Summary

Just like any other project, integrating an ERP with a CRM application needs an understanding how it can help them and detail a proper plan to achieve the same. Using an out of the box integration solution can help reduce time and effort; more importantly, measuring the effectiveness of the implementation helps you track the actual impact. I welcome your questions on the subject, so feel free to comment!

About Veon Consulting

Veon has North America based seasons consultants providing Salesforce ERP integration solution. They are ISV partners of APPSeCONNECT, a pre-configured connector which integrates Salesforce with applications like SAP Business One, ECC and Microsoft Dynamics NAV. The firm also delivers and supports custom integration solution for Salesforce. Here is a way to reach out Veon Consulting.

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2 thoughts on “An Admin’s Guide for Getting Started with a Salesforce and ERP Integration

  1. Great article though.
    I just wanted to add some additional SF integration benefits. With integration you can:

    – have all the necessary data right at your fingertips;
    – extend your CRM and third-party software functionality;
    – implement the newest SaaS technologies;
    – increase profitability by optimizing your company’s departmental workflow.

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