For manufacturing companies, integrating Salesforce with an existing ERP system is essential for strategic business growth. By connecting the two platforms, you’ll help your team save time, boost valuable data visibility and better serve customers.
That said, a Salesforce-ERP integration can be a hefty, time-consuming project. To help make things easier for both your own company and any consulting firm you bring in to tackle the integration, make sure you accomplish these 6 steps before any major work gets done.
Step #1: Plan, plan and plan some more.
Before you can integrate your ERP system with Salesforce, you need to know exactly what data and information you want represented. In other words, what will you bring from the ERP into Salesforce? Invoices? Orders? Inventory? Your business strategy and goals will dictate your particular needs, but you need to have an answer up front. And if you aren’t sure what information to carry over, consider expanding the scope of work for your chosen consultant. The right partner will be able to advise you on processes as well as the tech side of things.
Step #2: Make sure you really understand your ERP.
For a consultant to be able to successfully create the right kind of integration for your company, you’ll need to be able to communicate exactly how your ERP functions. Do you know how your products are structured? What about your inventory management system — is it effective? Do you know how invoices are tracked? Many users think they understand their ERP because they use it every day, but they may not understand how the data that’s stored in it is structured. And when it comes to integrations, that’s what counts the most.
Step #3: Understand the difference between CRM and ERP.
This one might sound silly, but it has to do with the more-or-less endless capabilities of Salesforce. Technically, you can transfer all of the data from your ERP into Salesforce — but that doesn’t mean you should. Generally, the point of a Salesforce-ERP integration is to make it easy to retrieve invoices, products, orders and contracts associated with a particular customer. That’s the way to think of it: Everything in Salesforce should be related to a specific customer. Any data that’s not related to particular customers — things like checks and balance, revenue, etc. — should stay in your ERP.
Step #4: Pick the correct middleware.
As we’ve mentioned before, middleware refers to an intermediary platform that can be used to create a connection between Salesforce and another platform (in this case, your ERP). There are lots of great options out there, but you’ll want to keep two things in mind when choosing: capabilities and cost. For robust integrations, you’ll need a middleware solution that can handle a lot. Of course, these platforms tend to cost the most. For a simpler integration, you can save money by choosing a lighter-weight tool. You don’t want to cut corners, but you also don’t want to waste money.
Step #5: Ensure that someone on your team will be able to understand the integration.
Even after your integration is complete, people in your company are still going to have questions about its structure and logic. For instance, how were various fields mapped? Make sure you’ve got somebody on the team with sufficient technical knowledge to answer.
Step #6: Be ready to validate data.
Data validation is the process where you check to make sure the data transferred from your ERP system appears correctly in Salesforce. Your consultant will do as much as they can, but having support from somebody inside the company is immensely valuable. After all, you know your company’s data best. Find somebody who’s willing to spot check a few reports, compare open orders and check the field mapping on a particularly familiar account.
Once you’ve accomplished these six tasks, your team should be ready to begin the integration process. And once everything’s up and running, check out our latest eBook to make sure your Salesforce strategy is at its best: