Posted by Indusa Admin on June 27, 2016 4:45 am
Depending on your industry, you likely have a specialized set of applications for different lines of business (LOB). Engineering systems, an SQL database for a certain division, a clinical health record application – all are LOB applications which power business operations. The sum of the parts of LOB systems creates a unique technology environment which makes your business tick differently (and hopefully more competitively) than others.
Data, in particular, is of interest to different business divisions. Competitive pressures and the influx of large amounts of data have led to massive investments in data integration systems. While access to timely and accurate data is imperative for improving speed to market and reacting quickly to changing business models and industry trends, integration between systems remains a challenge for many. If your ERP collects information about purchase orders, but your engineering system keeps track of asset movement separately, can the data really be useful? Or if your ERP helps with demand forecasting, and your CRM captures sales pipelines, but the two are not integrated, can you really count on that forecast?
Each organization has a different approach to its LOB system. Some organizations have one application throughout the organization while others have a series of focused applications for different teams. Let’s look at some of the core business functions and how ERP integration can help you achieve operational excellence:
- HR: As the old adage goes, your company is only as good as your people. The performance of an organization majorly depends on the quality and performance of employees. Acquiring, retaining, and rewarding the best talent is imperative for success. By integrating your ERP system with an applicant tracking system, like Taleo or iCIMS, you can achieve seamless transfer of data between the data warehouse and backend human resource information systems. This creates smooth and efficient HR processes to ensure positive employee hiring and on-boarding experiences. Integration also provides you with all employee related data in one place and lets you identify high performing employees, training gaps, and risks throughout your different teams.
- Sales: CRM systems provide insight into marketing, sales, and customer service functions, enabling you to successfully manage channel relationships and carry out efficient demand planning. Integrating ERP and CRM – whether Dynamics CRM or others – provides the essential insight, guidance, and tools that salespeople need, so you can focus on the right customers and priorities, win faster by collaborating with colleagues to harness the power of the entire organization, and build a trusted relationship with customers through personalized and relevant engagements. With improved organizational task management, sales professionals can then have more customer facing time rather than spending valuable time on administrative tasks and sending data back and forth between two disparate applications and departments. Integrating ERP and CRM not only streamlines your business processes through automated workflows, but you’ll now have sufficient control over forecasting and sales reporting, and the capabilities to effectively track customer interactions.
- Operations: A robust ERP like Dynamics AX is at the heart and soul of many operations teams and integration opportunities associated with them are endless. With rapid proliferation of mobile devices in the workplace, keeping up with the needs of the ever-growing mobile workforce with existing ERP functionality has become challenging. By extending mobility to the ERP function, you can unlock workforce productivity by extending the reach of ERP systems to remote employees, partners, and even customers, when they need it, where they need it. A combination of mobile devices and ERP business systems empowers workers, increasing their productivity and enabling them to better engage with peers and customers. For made-to-order companies, if you integrate CRM and ERP, and your sales team completes the sales order and configurations, then your ERP can effortlessly convert that into a bill of materials and production orders for your production team. Integrating CAD design software tools like AutoDesk with an ERP provide instant bill of materials after design entry along with detailed work orders, seamlessly connecting design and production. If your industry calls for quality statistical control software, you can integrate it with ERP, too. Your ERP can grab the stats required and send them over to the quality software solution for accurate information and reporting. Integrating the machines on your shop floors with the ERP gives the benefit of estimating and determining machine hours and overhead.
- Finance: Integrating finance systems and ERP is a natural choice that can simplify your process for payroll and tax payments. If an ERP captures hours worked by your employees, then that information can be easily transmitted to a payroll system like ADP for accurate payroll and accounting. This streamlines your process by eliminating the need for work hours to be printed out of an alternative system and manually keyed into payroll.
ERP integration with LOB systems can provide countless benefits. We stated some of these by various LOBs, but holistically these changes can result in an overall increase in employee productivity due to improved access to real-time data and easier knowledge-sharing. Immediate access to relevant content also results in improved agility to respond immediately and accurately to customers for improved service and higher levels of quality. By integrating your ERP with LOB systems, you can also achieve the compliance benefit of consistent records management across all data. No more manual entry of data, no more inconsistency, no more duplication of data – you can instantly update your business applications as soon as it receives information and make accurate data-driven decisions to achieve business excellence. All in all, access to contextual and consolidated data contributes to unlocking the true value of LOB systems and results in better business performance.
About the Author – Manoj Nair
Manoj Nair is a seasoned IT professional with over 12 years of experience in Software Consultancy, ERP Implementation, Testing, ISV Development & Client Management. He is a Senior Project Manager at Indusa and is responsible of managing various software programs through cross functional coordination.
Contributing Writer: Neha Kumar