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Eric Frank

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Why manufacturing businesses should integrate ERP and CRM

By | CRM, ERP, Manufacturing | No Comments
Man in a blue suit pointing to cogs.

Integrated business software means a single source of data and more transparency.

For many businesses, the most useful and effective business software tools are their enterprise resource planning (ERP) and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools. They are each essential for connecting processes, people and tasks to drive efficiency.

With so much power and performance capabilities, it’s no wonder why manufacturing businesses should integrate ERP and CRM platforms.

Complementary components make integration the right choice

Your ERP solution and CRM tool focus on different parts of your manufacturing operation. As seen in the above chart, the two solutions have distinct areas of focus and orientation.

ERPs have a back office structure that focuses on keeping data integrated, partners informed and operations running efficiently. A CRM is externally focused, helping sales, marketing and customer service teams connected with customers and leads. Integration allows for broader transparency throughout the manufacturing operation, empowering teams in different areas to work together more effectively.

Business Software Comparisons ERP CRM
Functionality Back Office Activities (Finance, Inventory, Production, HR) Front Office Activities (Sales, Marketing, Customer Service)
Orientation Enterprise Employees, Leadership, Supply Chain Partners Customers
Focus Cost Reduction, Efficiency Sales Growth
Users Project and Inventory Managers, Finance Staff Sales Teams, Marketing Leads, Customer Service Staff

Benefits of ERP and CRM integrations

Group of colleagues discussing a project.

Improve sales results and customer service with an integrated ERP-CRM solution.

There are many advantages to integration, including:

  • Dual Data Entry Reduction. All too often, manufacturers have to reenter information stored in one system into another. That’s inefficient and can be alleviated by having a single source of data.
  • Full Customer View. Gain a 360-degree view of your customers – from inquiry to sales call to order to delivery to finance to billing to customer service. This provides richer information for all employees. When a customer calls about an order status, reorder, delivery question or product need, everything can be accessed in one place. Share inventory levels, product deliveries, order status and returns easily with colleagues and customers.
  • Faster and Better Decisions. With a single source of information, employees can interact easily. Using mobile apps that let sales reps on the road and finance employees in the office discuss a potential order, for example, results in smarter and coordinated decisions.
  • Improved Quote Management. When sales reps are preparing quotes, they can access historical and current customer data, including the cost of materials, production time, delivery needs, production schedules and overall costs information stored in the ERP. Customers get timely and more accurate quotes.
  • Cost Reduction. Integrating a manufacturing ERP and CRM lets you reduce operational costs and time.
  • Mobile Applicability. Techs and sales reps need access to tools and data while in the field. Integrated platforms that allow for a single mobile source of information makes for more efficient sales and service calls.
  • Additional Benefits. Your manufacturing company also gains the following with integration:
    • Improved accuracy of product forecasting
    • Faster product delivery
    • Quicker billing using automated processes
    • More qualified sales proposals with a deeper understanding of customer history
    • Faster approvals via automated workflows
    • Improved leads management

Guidance for ERP and CRM integration

NexTec is the leader in business software consulting. Our experienced staffs can help you choose the right ERP and CRM systems, including Sage X3 and Acumatica, that provide an integrated solution for your manufacturing needs.

Which ERP best fits your needs? Here are some tips.


Business intelligence in ERP software: What to look for

By | Acumatica Cloud ERP, BI, BI360, ERP | No Comments
Business Intelligence ERP Software

Whether you are in the market for a BI tool that is built into an ERP solution or are looking for one that augments ERP by connecting it with a wide variety of applications, it’s important to understand what you need and how to get it.

Business Intelligence (BI) has grown and evolved to deliver end users and decision makers with more information and better insights. Once considered an inaccessible product for many growing businesses, today’s BI solutions are designed to work for your company—in fact, many ERP solutions have expanded their BI offerings in recent years to compete with notable BI vendors.

Whether you are in the market for a BI tool that is built into an ERP solution or are looking for one that augments ERP by connecting it with a wide variety of applications, it’s important to understand what you need and how to get it.

Some BI functionality now available in most ERPs

Nearly every ERP system on the market now also offers a BI module to provide visibility into your business. However, not every ERP solution offers the same level of BI detail or functionality. While the ERP may be able to provide end users and decision makers with attractive dashboards, you need to make sure it can offer what you need or find out how you can get it.

Out-of-box reports may not deliver everything you need

Every ERP solution delivers reports out of the box, but the real question is “How many reports are available and which ones matter to your company?” Acumatica delivers 250+ standard reports out of the box, with many more custom reports available. Need a report now? Not a problem. You can get it with just a few clicks. Want it to schedule on the 1st and 15th of every month? Go for it. A BI tool connected to your ERP can take it further, giving you more detailed, in-depth reports that are customized to your needs.

BI is more than dashboards

Dashboards offer a way to visualize complex data through widgets that can display a wide variety of data types, but sometimes the dashboard provided in an ERP system isn’t detailed enough to give you the data you need. If that is true for your ERP, consider connecting a more advanced BI tool that can take your dashboards a step further, using analytics and data warehouse/data mining capabilities to give more depth and insight to your dashboards. Learn more about how business intelligence works in this helpful whitepaper, Business intelligence: More than a dashboard.

Consider KPIs to keep your business on track

One of the best ways to get the most out of a BI tool is to determine your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that will track where your business wants to go and how you plan to get there. Make sure the BI tool offered in your ERP can track the KPIs you want and give you the ability to hone in on the core data you need to ensure whether your business is on the right path or if corrections are needed.

Look for a single version of the truth to make collaboration easier

Spreadsheets are slow even if only one person is editing a document, but adding multiple editors can cause even more confusion and miscommunication. Whether you’re reporting or forecasting, you can’t spend hours trying to reconcile a mishmash of spreadsheets from across the organization after one department starts working on a prior version and everyone follows suit.

The best way to solve the problem and make budgeting easier is to gather all the data together in a BI tool that will give you a complete view of the company, instead of isolated glimpses of various departments that spreadsheets provide. BI360 is one such tool. It can connect directly to Acumatica Cloud ERP and the out-of-box workflow tools can provide data from key departments for real-time decision making and budgeting.

Cloud BI will give you the information you need—when and where you need it

Today’s business operates across borders, time zones, and currencies—not everyone can be online or in the same place at the same time. Luckily, mobile, cloud-based BI solutions make your data available to everyone whether they are in Tampa, Toronto, or Tacoma. Everyone stays on the same page and can access critical business intelligence from their computers, tablets, or mobile devices.

BI through NexTec—Talk to a business intelligence expert today

NexTec Group believes that an informed decision is a smart one, and helping organizations implement business intelligence software solutions that will allow them to succeed is our specialty.

Whether that solution is part of your ERP solution like Acumatica or a product customized and implemented to work alongside it including Solver BI360 or one of the many options we offer, we know how to help.

At NexTec Group we help companies like yours streamline processes, increase efficiency, and achieve complete visibility to maximize your bottom line. We work with your organization to deliver on time and on budget solutions that you can trust. Through manpower, mindshare and business expertise, NexTec delivers. Get in touch, we’re here to help you choose and implement the right BI solution for your business.

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Integrate CRM and ERP for more sales with lower costs

By | CRM, ERP | No Comments
Group of people holding gears together.

Get all the gears working together with integrated ERP and CRM solutions.

CRM and ERP systems have different functions that complement each other when they’re done right. Customer relationship management software helps improve sales figures, while an enterprise resource planning solution helps control operating expenses.

In many ways, they’re two sides of the same coin when it comes to better business practices. However, high sales volume coupled with inefficient business practices will eventually erode growth, while outstanding efficiency doesn’t mean much if sales are anemic.

Ideally, companies should have both a strong CRM and a strong ERP that have integrations that benefit both sides of the equation. Here’s a look at how to integrate CRM and ERP for more sales with lower costs.

Playing to strengths

ERP focuses on internal processes, integrating data and applications across business functions from finance to HR to warehouse management. Your CRM solution is focused externally, helping your sales and marketing teams with insights and responses from customers and prospects.

Both are designed to improve efficiency for your company. The possibilities are endless when you choose to integrate the two. With external and internal data available, business leaders can make better-informed decisions in real time that benefit the organization. Employees can share information across departments to gain a clearer view of customers, progress to goals, and opportunities for growth.

Many businesses have believed that it’s an either/or proposition when it comes to ERP and CRM. The power is gained when the approach is both.

New technological advances make integrating your ERP and CRM solutions easier than ever. You can deliver significant benefits to your organization with integrated solutions, including:

  • Deeper business intelligence. Calculate, use and respond to key performance indicators in real time. Using the two tools together gives executives a more complete picture of the business and help to make better decisions in the moment.
  • Single source of truth. Too many companies are burdened by data stored in multiple systems, requiring cumbersome and expensive third-party apps to convert and interpret data. With integrated systems, you’ll work from one source of data and reporting. Everyone will be looking at the same numbers. In addition, your data will be more accurate with the elimination of manual re-entry that leads to mistakes and inaccuracies.
  • Faster billing. When your finance and sales teams are working in tandem, able to see the same information at the same time, there is a shorter time to contract completion, faster invoicing and speedier payments.
Worker wearing a yellow hard hat and yellow safety vest.

Predict purchasing and inventory needs with integrated finance and sales functions.

  • Better business forecasting. When sales and marketing results are integrated with finance, procurement and inventory functions, your business reduces buildup of excess inventory, forecast capacity and reduce operating expenses.
  • Customer satisfaction and retention. Data accuracy means updates to customer details or order changes are shared simultaneously. That means improved operational efficiency that translates to faster shipping times and deliveries, driving customer satisfaction rates. When there are problems, everyone in the organization has a complete view of customer interactions, challenges, needs and engagement.

Integration made easy

At NexTec, we help businesses identify, select and deploy software solutions. Contact us to learn more about how NexTec can assist your organization with integrated CRM and ERP solutions.

Additional CRM resources

9 Ways ERP and CRM integration will benefit manufacturing

Why Salesforce integration makes your ERP solution better

CRM and Business Intelligence: A strategic approach using analytics

Workers in a factory smiling.

9 Ways ERP and CRM integration will benefit manufacturing

By | Acumatica Cloud ERP, CRM, ERP, Manufacturing | No Comments
Workers in a factory smiling.

Integrating ERP and CRM technologies gives you considerable competitive advantages with deeper customer insights.

Integrating your customer relationship management (CRM) and enterprise resource planning (ERP) platforms gives your manufacturing business considerable advantages over the competition.

With data from both platforms, your company can realize better sales processes and new ideas for products. Here is an overview of  how ERP can integrate multiple processes and benefit manufacturing.

1. Real-time insights

Use production, product and inventory data to provide customers with real-time information on orders, opening the door for upselling and cross-selling. The real-time insights also help planners enhance business development, optimize financial tracking, and improve communication.

2. More prospect information

Use combined information to build a clearer picture of your sales prospects, including connections to suppliers, order histories from similar customers and personalized insights.

3. Data-driven decisions and outcomes

With more information available, manufacturers can look at operational metrics from a customer’s perspective, resulting in better products, processes and procedures. Build customer-driven analytics around order fulfillment, delivery timing, quality management, pricing and payments, all designed to better serve customers.

4. Newer, better products

Speed and time-to-market are key drivers for success for B2B and B2C companies. Use integrated customer interaction, pricing, catalog, service and production information to create new products and business models. With rapidly changing customer expectations, manufacturers can bring together product lifecycle management systems, customer feedback and financial data to innovate faster than the competition.

Factory worker operating a machine.

Drawing on data from ERP and CRM systems gives your manufacturing company better insights for production planning, pricing and customer service.

5. Maximized CPQ

For complex manufacturers, the configure-price-quote model lets you deliver customized products that attract and retain customers. Use CRM and ERP data to deliver more accurate and timely quotes than your competition. Eliminate the need for manual quoting and take days and weeks off the quoting process to close more orders faster.

6. Optimized pricing

Manufacturers can fine-tune pricing models by using information from accounting, finance, and customer relationship systems to create more accurate customer personas. Pricing precision at the segment and persona level makes it possible to accelerate sales rates.

7. Accurate lifetime customer value calculations

Calculate real-time profitability analyses by consolidating visualizations of cost reporting, estimated versus actual budgets and other key metrics. Use these calculations to create a lifetime customer value for each customer, identify your most valuable customers and look for other customers that have a similar profile.

8. Automate processes

ERP and CRM tools have touted the value of automation separately. Automating tasks and information from both systems together provides more accuracy and responsiveness in customer integrations.

9. Improved supply chain management

Manufacturers can automate quotes, conversion to bills of materials, scheduling and ordering by using information from ERP and CRM systems. Show your customers the efficiency and integration that allows for better and faster responses.

Choosing the right partner

NexTec is the leading company for manufacturing companies looking to integrate ERP and CRM with Acumatica.

Acumatica delivers the right solutions that manufacturers need for integrated business practices. The Acumatica Manufacturing Edition is a features-rich, cloud-based solution that helps companies:

  • Eliminate outdated and inaccurate business information
  • Respond to customer demand for product variety
  • Balance supply and demand to reduce costs and inventory
  • Optimize production planning, sales forecasts and capacity requirements

Take the Acumatica Product Tour to learn more about how NexTec can help your manufacturing company leverage your ERP and CRM data.

Additional manufacturing resources

Enhance inventory control & speed up order fulfillment

How manufacturing ERP software can improve data collection, BI, and regulatory compliance

Strategic guide to planning manufacturing production cycles


ERP plus CRM: More than the sum of the parts

By | Cannabis, Chemicals, CRM, ERP, Food and Beverage | No Comments

Integrating operational areas with customer relationship data gives your company new insights and efficiencies.

Enterprise resource planning (ERP) and customer relationship management (CRM) solutions offer great tactical solutions to businesses. Taken together, however, ERP and CRM are more than the sum of the parts.

An integrated ERP and CRM solution allows for real-time, actionable business intelligence, giving executives insights they need to make critical decisions in the time of need. Integration breaks down organizational silos and encourages collaboration. Learn more below about the benefits of integrating these tools, industry-specific examples and best practices for combining your solutions.

Benefits of ERP and CRM together

While no two ERP or CRM solutions offer the same features, in general, the roles of each can be defined as follows:

  • ERP: Back-end functions such as accounting, human resources, manufacturing and purchasing.
  • CRM: Front-facing functions like sales, marketing, customer service.

ERPs are built to bring synergy to core functions, providing transparency, a single source of data and improved collaboration and efficiency. CRMs are focused on providing a complete view of customer and prospect integrations, including marketing pitches, outreach, conversations and customer help requests.

Both are designed to build synergy among important functional areas, with the intent that shared knowledge helps to boost operations and outreach. By combining capabilities, you’ll be able to deepen the interconnectedness of various parts of your business.

“The main arguments for the integration … focus on obtaining in real time a coherent view of customers – the possibility of continuous access to everything relating to customer data and information, which … is needed for its proper operation,” state the authors of a recent paper on ERP and CRM integration. “A consistent view of the customer allows employees to make the right and quick decisions.”

Here are a few of the most essential benefits of bringing ERP and CRM together:

Seamless data sharing

CRMs and ERPs have their own unique data collection, storage and formatting guidelines. The advantage of integrated systems is the ability to provide everyone with a unified, transparent and consistent set of information. When the two solutions are integrated, changes or alterations made in one system should be reflected simultaneously in the other.

As business needs change and new data, fields or calculations are needed, the connectivity allows for continued consistency. The system integration allows for new insights, needs and opportunities to be available to each operating unit.

Optimized resource management

Consider the opportunities with a clearer, automated flow of information from sales to production. Companies can gain advantages on production planning, warehouse space optimization, supply planning, materials purchasing and production order prioritization. This benefit helps companies with long sales and manufacturing cycles to plan better based on the status of customer commitments, allowing companies to reduce carried inventory and begin production soon after an order is confirmed.

Faster delivery cycles

Companies with a free flow of information can track and share information on customer details and orders, leading to more accurate and timely shipments, lower operating costs and improved customer satisfaction with on-time deliveries.

Improved product forecasting

Linking marketing initiatives and projections allows for faster and more accurate production forecasting. Operations teams will be able to plan more accurately and companies will not tie up cash by buying excess inventory.

Appropriate and accurate sales proposals

If your sales professionals can see a customer’s complete history – order history, current balance, payment pattern, credit limit and unpaid invoices – proposals will be more consistent and appropriate. Information that’s readily available helps sales managers to make informed decisions, such as asking for down payments or full payment up front.

Sales reps using an integrated solution also have access to the most recent, updated pricing information, including any promotions or discounts. They can also provide more accurate production and delivery dates by accessing production schedules, inventory levels and requisition schedules. If merchandise is out of stock, salespeople can relay that information to customers early on in the proposal process or provide precise projections on timing.

More sales opportunities

Giving salespeople better access to order histories, leads and customer service requests helps them to frame their pitches, giving them a much better likelihood of securing a call, an appointment or a deal. Knowing the frequency of reordering, for example, helps sales professionals reach out proactively to up-sell or cross-sell products or services. When equipment is reaching the end of its predicted lifespan, salespeople can suggest new models of an old product.

Better consistency and standards in customer engagement

With an integrated CRM and ERP solution, your employees will have complete and current information on customers. Whether it’s a sales call, a help request, a product question or a delivery inquiry, employees will understand better the complete relationship, sentiment and pain points. Complete and timely data, collected from both systems, helps employees understand and respond better to customers.

Responsive approval processes

Give your salespeople access to ERP information in real time and they can move contracts through the approval process faster. Same-day signing means faster contract approvals and reduces the time it takes for revenue to be recognized.

Prompt billing and payments

Document sharing lets businesses quickly turn accepted proposals into work orders that can be tracked throughout the enterprise without manual intervention. This process simplification carries over to the finance functions, allowing for faster creation and distribution of invoices, drawing from a single data source. Faster billing leads to faster payment turnarounds and better cash flow.

Consolidated reporting

Combined systems allow for better and more automated reporting, visualizations and data analysis. Reports pull in data from both systems without the need for manual manipulations, conversions or adjustments.

Linking icons.

Applying ERP and CRM data has powerful functional advantages in the food, chemical and cannabis industries.

ERP and CRM industry applications

ERP and CRM solutions need to be uniquely suited to the industry they’re serving. Businesses like food and beverage production, chemicals and cannabis have unique functions and needs for both systems separately and together.

Here is a look at how ERP and CRM integration gives companies in those industries the capabilities essential for success and competitive advantage.


Chemical companies need solutions that address complex functions, including:

  • Formula and recipe management, measure conversions, shelf-life management, packaging and labeling
  • Rapid batch scaling in different sizes and formulations
  • Quality controls that can track – and report to customers and prospects – product quality, shelf life and expiration dates
  • Process design improvements based on customer needs, historical trends, costs and operations
  • Rigorous regulatory compliance mandates, including federal, international, state, local and industry standards
  • Lifetime customer value measurements
  • Worker safety
  • Tracking products from warehouse arrival to manufacturing processes (including intermediary products) to finished goods
  • Traceability forward and backward with ordering histories and delivery data

For process manufacturers, these systems allow for shared, real-time access to information that is valuable to the salesperson, marketing manager, warehouse chief, finance officer and executive.

Food and Beverage

Sound supply chain management is at the core of any successful food or beverage company. While these functions traditional reside within ERP solutions, a CRM integration provides even more opportunities for efficiency.

With tight margins, fierce competition and changing consumer tastes, efficiency is paramount. By integrating the customer relationship insights with operational details, food and beverage companies are able to leverage the three interconnected supply chain components – suppliers, stores/restaurants and customers.

Here are three benefits for food and beverage companies when their CRM and ERP solutions are integrated:

  • Lower operational costs. CRM tools help provide insights and ordering patterns that can improve ordering and inventory management, resulting in lower storage and spoilage costs.
  • Customer segmentation. Targeted sales by customer segments allow for optimized ordering based on demand, relevance and location. Segmentation also allows for better analysis of customer profitability, based on logistical and operational costs. Customer analysis helps finance, sales and operations teams to identify and distinguish between stable, regular business and variable or unpredictable customers.
  • Seasonality. Identifying ordering patterns allows for sales and procurement employees to track, predict and anticipate seasonal variances in demand.


With cannabis and CBD companies emerging and growing as more states approve medicinal and recreational use, businesses in this fledgling industry are seeking solutions. There is a critical need to manage the operational and customer sides, not only for better efficiency and profitability, but also to meet the scrutiny of law enforcement and regulatory agencies at the state and local level.

Cannabis companies need to track and access industry-unique data, such as the costs of materials and energy, growth rates, potency levels and cross-strain breeding attempts.

Integrating this information with customer demand, buying patterns and demographic data helps cannabis companies provide products that are most in demand and most profitable. Pricing, resource allocation and purchasing all benefit from a blending of customer and production data.

How to combine

Combining these two complex business solutions to maximize the potential of an integrated approach is a complex undertaking. Whether buying new solutions or integrating new ones, careful planning needs to happen. Among the key steps are:

  • Determining whether the integration is unidirectional or bidirectional
  • Identifying data and modules to integrate
  • Unifying headers, labels, tags and data formats
  • Mapping data and interfaces
  • Assessing existing and future reporting needs
  • Focusing on user experience
  • Training users

To manage the many complexities involved in developing a cogent integration strategy, companies turn to NexTec. Our integration specialists have extensive knowledge of the providers, solutions and features available and the expertise to deliver a seamless integration experience.

Take a free tour of Sage Enterprise Management to learn more about NexTec and ERP/CRM integration.

Additional CRM resources

Integrate CRM and ERP for more sales with lower costs

5 Best practices for customizing your CRM

Why Salesforce integration makes your ERP solution better


What every CFO wants his CEO to know about ERP

By | ERP | No Comments

An ERP solution provides companies with integrated functionality that drives cost savings through efficiency gains and collaboration.

If your company is considering investing in enterprise resource planning software, you need to factor in many different variables. How will ERP software improve operations? Is it possible to use ERP for financial management?  How will the various components of the company integrate functionality?

Finding the answers means asking the right questions. An ERP solution can alleviate many pain points within the organization, allowing for simpler processes and faster decisions. Here is a closer look at what every CFO wants his CEO to know about ERP.

1. Core financial management functions are integrated.

Top ERP providers offer excellent solutions for businesses looking for integrated functionality. The best ERP products include comprehensive functionality for general ledger, accounts payable, accounts receivable, payroll, cash flow, project accounting, project costing, fixed asset management, project billing, supply chain management, materials resource planning (MRP), and scheduling.

In addition, they provide for better purchasing functions, from requisition creation to processing of purchase orders to invoice matching and payment functions.

The leading ERP platforms integrate financial analytics and detailed financial reporting in real time. Up-to-the-minute profit-and-loss statements and balance sheets are available to help drive decisions.

2. There is better communication with sales, marketing, and operations.

One of the major benefits of an ERP solution for businesses are the integration of financial areas with other parts of the enterprise. For example, with ERP solutions, sales teams can communicate directly with accounts payable, purchasing, project costing, supply chain management, and manufacturing, entering in data remotely that colleagues can use for deeper analysis, pricing, and better and faster customer response. Orders can be placed quickly and processed without waiting for a salesperson to complete the visit or the day.

On the manufacturing side, operations teams can look at the same data that accounts receivable and asset managers are reviewing to gauge shifts in production scheduling, inventory control, or warehouse management.


ERPs create more opportunity to innovate and accelerate growth with real-time views of finances and operations.

3. Legacy data can be imported and used.

With the right ERP solution, there will be no delay in functionality with multiple systems in use. With robust import and conversion functionality, legacy data in financial systems can be used within the ERP.

4. Multiple functions support multiple locations.

Today, many manufacturers operate in multiple locations and jurisdictions. They have employees, consultants, suppliers, and customers around the world. An ERP provides for simultaneous use of data, simple data entry, and access regardless of location or device. ERPs today can support multiple currencies, languages, measurement systems, and company units.

In addition, an ERP allows for financial integration across business entities, with rapid consolidation, cash management, and payments.

5. ERP drives efficiency.

Manufacturers are constantly looking to improve efficiency. With an ERP system, companies have an opportunity to plot and streamline workflows, improve business processes, offer suppliers more transparency, and foster collaboration that previously had not been as easy to facilitate within the organization.

At NexTec, we help companies find the right ERP solutions for their operations. Whether you need to justify ERP for CIO, CEO, or CFO leadership, download the NexTec Corporate Brochure to see how we can help make the case.


What every CEO needs to know about ERP

By | ERP | No Comments

ERP solutions are powerful tools for CEOs and other executives to build efficiency and use data effectively.

Dynamic companies include complex functions that often seem to operate independently. Operations, IT, finance, and marketing entities may act independently in their daily operations but are interdependent, closely woven groups.

For CEOs, knowledge and information are valuable assets. These business units generate large amounts of data, often using independent software platforms and systems.

What if that data were truly integrated, providing powerful visuals and analytics to drive decisions? What if those systems were connected, allowing for more synergies, efficiency, and collaboration throughout the organization?

That’s the power that enterprise resource planning (ERP) platforms can provide. Enterprise resource management helps create a structural framework and integrated processes that make data readily available and actionable. With ERP solutions, your pain points are addressed and eased in real time, while driving overall functionality, productivity, and profitability.

Below is a comprehensive guide that illustrates what every CEO needs to know about ERP.

ERP for CEO basics

ERP systems are business process management software packages that allow organizations to integrate multiple applications. In so doing, executives can better manage day-to-day operations, manage the business, make strategic decisions, and automate back-office functions.

From research and development and product planning to manufacturing to sales and marketing, an ERP system brings together the core business functions. It pulls data from these disparate systems into one unified space for analysis and reporting.

The first deployments of ERP systems in the 1960s focused on simple computer programs that monitored inventory levels and reconciled balances. In the 1970s and 1980s, software engineers began creating more complex programs called Material Requirements Planning or Manufacturing Resource Planning systems that could manage manufacturing processes.

By the 1990s, modern ERPs began to emerge that could manage inventory and operational processes along with back-office functions such as human resources.

In the early 2000s, as the web became more prominent, the web-based software allowed for some real-time access to business information. These newer systems incorporated new components, including business intelligence, sales force management, and e-commerce.

In the past decade, as software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications have grown and become modernized, many ERP solutions are moving to the cloud.

ERP explained: Benefits of ERP systems

ERP solutions have considerable benefits, advantages that are magnified the larger and more complex an organization is. By driving complex data sets to a singular platform, it becomes easier to identify synergies, trends, challenges, and opportunities.

Here are the key advantages to ERP:

  • Visibility. With shared access to data across the organization, leaders and managers can quickly know progress in other areas. Managers have a holistic, big-picture view of the company and its operational areas. This aspect of ERP systems boosts both accountability and transparency.
  • Productivity. With more access to more data more quickly, businesses will be better able to pinpoint logjams, gaps, and problem areas in production and back-office functions. Automated functionality allows for faster turnaround of processes, faster transfer of information, and better seamless handling of information.
  • Mobility. Today’s global organizations need to have data entered by and accessed by employees all over the world. With ERP solutions, especially those that are cloud-based, employees can access the system and its data anywhere, at any time, and on any device.
  • Scalability. ERP systems today are designed to grow as a company does. Instead of purchasing systems that have too little or to. With cloud-based ERP solutions, companies can grow their ERP needs as their capabilities, markets, and operations expand.
  • Better Access. With ERP systems that automatically convert and display inputted data, companies can see what’s happening faster than ever, often in real time. Data is more usable and does not need to be shared, converted, and tweaked by staffers in order to be usable.
  • Security. ERP systems come with careful security controls that allow organizations to limit access to systems and data based on documented criteria. This user identification and management technology ensure that information is accessed by authorized personnel only.
  • Compliance. Many businesses are subject to rules and regulations by federal or state government agencies. With ERP solutions, compliance with mandatory audit, inspection, and reporting requirements is automated and protected.
  • Collaboration. With more and easier access to information, employees in different business units can collaborate more easily and effectively on special projects or regular work.
  • Central Repository. With an ERP system, leaders can have a clear sense at any time about services provided, products, inventory, financials, vendors, retailers, suppliers, and customer orders.
  • Reduced Complexity. Simplified and common rules for access, entry, and retrieval of information reduces complexity for system users. This drives better data quality, better reporting, and reduced data entry and analytics costs.

ERP modules integrate multiple functions — from back-office finance and human resources to production and inventory control.

ERP components explained

ERPs can include multiple types of information modules, many of which are common across companies and others of which are industry-specific. Here are some of the most common:

  • Manufacturing. Managers can determine current stock, future needs, and past orders to track trends and ensure that supply meets current and anticipated future demand.
  • Supply Chain Management. This section provides seamless transparency from start to finish throughout the supply chain. This module includes forecasting, procurement, planning, demand management, procurement, and planning features.
  • Product Lifecycle Management. This module helps track design and features of products throughout their lifecycles. Product design, data management, portfolio management, materials sourcing, and customer needs features are usually included.
  • Warehouse Management. These modules follow a finished goods or components from warehouse delivery through to replenishment, picking, and fulfillment. In certain manufacturing sectors, these systems also help with track and trace capabilities in case of a needed recall.
  • Inventory Management. This module is often closely linked to other components of the production cycle, including shipping, orders, and logistics. Features include inventory control, serial number tracking, barcoding, inventory valuation, and SKU management.
  • Asset Management. When combined with the Internet of Things, these modules can accurately track equipment, materials, tools, and even plants themselves. Features include maintenance schedules, locations, equipment uptime rates, maintenance management, warranty management, compliance with hazardous-material regulations, and waste tracking.
  • Project Management. Here managers and employees can track project progress, timelines, costs, and budgets. This module is ideal for companies that bill customers based on time spent by employees on specific projects. The module can track project definition, specifications, variances, costing, billing, portfolio management, and resource management.
  • Order Management. To accurately track orders, these modules help monitor order progression, beginning with customer identifiers and product part numbers. This module may include automated order entry, packaging assignment and analysis, picking management, order status, cancellation and return tracking, and validation.
  • Human Resources. Employees and HR staff can manage time off, time entry, employee assessment, rewards and recognition, payroll, benefits management, learning and training, professional development, and vacancy paperwork and recruitment.
  • Sales. Sales reps can see available inventory, review orders, and place new orders in real time, while managers can analyze sales by product, client, employee, or time period.
  • Marketing. Manage outreach to potential and existing clients, track responses by channel or campaign, review customer interaction histories, and develop marketing segments.
  • Accounting and Finance. Employees can access customer accounts, cash booked business as accounts receivable, and create financial reports and ledgers. Business reporting and analytics functions allow executives to review financials and find trends.
  • Customer Service. Customer service reps can log calls, emails, and other interactions, see sales histories and notes from finance and sales teams, and provide higher levels of service when dealing with complaints, concerns, or returns.

Types of ERP deployments

ERP systems can be installed and managed in several ways. The most popular are on-site, cloud, or hybrid systems.

On-site systems allow for maximum control of the data, security, and maintenance of your ERP solution. Often these installations are used by companies with federal contracts that require special security protocols and safeguards and wherein cloud solutions are not allowed.

Cloud-based systems are growing in popularity among manufacturers. With cloud solutions, companies can reduce costs related to on-site storage and cooling, maintenance staff, version and patch management, and on-site and virtual security. Cloud ERP tools can scale as the organization grows, provide redundant backups in multiple locations, physical security, and dedicated update management.

Hybrid versions place some functionality in the cloud while retaining some systems management internally.

The future of ERP

Throughout its history, ERP systems have evolved in response to new technologies and changing business needs. The future is likely to follow the same pattern.

Future advancements are likely to better support multiple languages, sites, currencies, companies, and legislative restrictions. Mobile ERP solutions will evolve to provide more functionality and access to reports, dashboards, and data regardless of device or location.

Making the switch to ERP

For CEOs considering a switch to an ERP solution, here are some considerations to answer:

  • Is the organization ready for the change?
  • What resources will be needed in terms of budget and personnel to manage the change process?
  • What additional training and support will employees need?
  • Can the selected solution be customized?
  • Will ERPs boost performance in weaker areas of the business?
  • How adaptable is the system to anticipated future growth?
  • How long will it take to show a return on investment?
  • What external assistance will I need in selection and implementation?

At NexTec, we help senior leaders answer these questions and make well-informed decisions. Our nationwide team of consultants understands the vendors, products, and features in the ERP space.

We work closely to help companies select the right systems and implement it with little disruption. To learn more about NexTec Group, download the NexTec Corporate Brochure.

Key considerations for choosing the right technology partner

By | Accounting software, BI, CRM, ERP | No Comments
Before settling on a provider, make sure they fit all of your company's needs.

Before settling on a provider, make sure they fit all of your company’s needs.

Over time, enterprises often encounter situations where their current ERP, CRM, and BI systems are not working as planned. There are a variety technology providers that can consult with you to source and implement the software applications you need the most. But for such a critical part of your company, you need more than a provider – you need a technology partner. Someone you can trust and get advice from even after implementation. Here are some of the primary things to consider when finding the right technology partner.

Find a technology partner that meets all of your needs

Find a provider that works with a variety software publishers, so they can source the best software application for your company. Every business is different, and you need a provider who’s willing to work with your company to find a customized solution, rather than a one-size-fits-all software. Additionally, you need a provider that can help you to find the right ERP, CRM, and BI systems, so you can access your primary IT needs from a single source.

Choose a technology partner that offers unmatched credentials

Any company can claim to be an expert in their industry, but you need a provider who can prove it. Ensure the provider you partner with has the necessary credentials and experience to successfully support your business. The primary credentials to look for include CPAs, MBAs, and MCPs. Also make sure they are members of the Information Technology Alliance (ITA), as this indicates a higher level of trust and professionalism.

Seek a cost-effective and efficient implementation strategy

One of the main reasons many businesses postpone implementing new software and IT strategies is due to fear of the implementation process itself. Research the implementation process of the provider you choose to ensure they offer low implementation costs while rolling out your services as efficiently as possible. They should provide a clearly defined implementation plan that identifies various milestones to help you track the progress. That way you can ensure the services will be rolled out in a way that is efficient, without disrupting the flow of your operation.

Implementation should be as efficient and non-disruptive as possible.

Implementation should be as efficient and non-disruptive as possible.

Evaluate their customer support

No matter how cost-effective their services are, if the provider doesn’t offer ongoing customer support, it could cause problems later on. You need a provider that you can depend on, so your business can receive critical technical support if needed. Find a provider that offers extended support hours and international coverage, so you can access the help you need at any time and from any location.

Opt for flexibility when choosing a partner

Your business is dynamic and rapidly changing. Your provider needs to be along for the ride. Find a provider that offers flexibility regarding your service needs, systems management, and implementation process, so you can ensure your software solutions are tailored to the precise specifications of your business.
If your enterprise is in search of a new business solutions provider, it’s important to assess the partner thoroughly to ensure they’ll be able to strengthen your current business model. There are a lot of key factors to seek in a provider to make sure they are credible and up for the job. Of primary importance are the credentials and experience they offer, as well as their ITA membership, as these are all powerful indicators of reputability. To learn more about finding a provider for ERP, CRM, and BI systems, contact us today. Begin Media Shower Content Reporting code