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Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software has great appeal to manufacturers, but as with any tool, you should be careful and selective of how you use it. This is especially important when deciding how (and even IF) marketing information and efforts will interact with the ERP.
What is ERP software and what its purpose?
- Shares data across financial functions, logistics, manufacturing processes, human resources
- Some ERP systems include Customer Relations Management (CRM)
- All data is standardized and managed from one place
- ERP software is focused on making processes more efficient
- Can increase bottom line savings for the company
Now let’s look at how different marketing and its purpose is:
- Constantly changing opportunities and platforms to reach potential customers
- Message strives to address your ideal customer’s challenges
- Educates your prospects
- Establishes a relationship over time
- Focused on increasing top of the line revenue
There aren’t many similarities between marketing and ERP. So are you wondering if you should coordinate marketing data with your ERP? Numerous ERP software makers claim that marketing can easily and should be fit into their software.
However, consider the following before making that commitment.
When to connect your ERP and marketing:
With an online sale, you’re collecting data to complete the transaction. You can increase efficiencies by connecting that information into your ERP to track inventory, delivery, and financial aspects.
You have hundreds or thousands of active customers or sales
With this amount of data, it will be easiest and most efficient to manage in the ERP system. It’s critical to keep this data consistent, and having the complete sales history for customers can help inform the strategy and decisions of your marketing person.
Hundreds or thousands of inquiries come in through your website
Just as above—it’s most efficient to manage the data so that when someone fills out your contact form that information automatically goes into your ERP.
You manufacture or distribute a product that needs to be reordered/replace regularly
Using the sales data, the system can track when a product or quantity of products was last ordered. Then the system can send an automatic reminder to the customer that it’s time to reorder.
When to keep marketing and ERP separate
In the examples below, you could still connect your ERP and marketing; however, it may not be worth the upfront development costs.
You aren’t selling products online
Many manufacturers don’t sell products online because their products are highly engineered or customized. In other situations the products cost customers hundreds of thousands of dollars—obviously not something they are just shop for and order online.
Your company sells to a few big customers
While there’s lots of data when working with a few big customers, there’s likely less marketing information that needs to be entered because you’re selectively going after a few big targets.
You can save a significant development costs by creating a standard process for how you take web inquiries / marketing data and manually enter it into the ERP.
Less than hundred online inquiries annual
That’s 8 or less than inquiries per month to enter into the ERP. Creating a standard process and copy/pasting could save you thousands in development costs.
Information on your website is badly out-of-date
When you desperately need to update your website, don’t delay months (or even years) because of your ERP. Keep in mind the opportunity cost of not updating your website. How many opportunities are you losing because your website no longer accurately communicates what you do or doesn’t work well on mobile devices?
How to proceed if website data should connect to the ERP:
Find a marketing and web development company with experience integrating with ERPs
Tell them what data you need to go into the ERP and why.
Don’t let your ERP company handle your entire website
We’ve seen this happen, and that’s why we don’t recommend it. This goes back to the fact that most websites are focused on marketing, sales, and education. The ERP is there to manage data. To add more customers, you first have to attract them—that’s marketing.
Keep in mind ongoing costs
Like all software, there will be updates to the ERP. If the ERP is connected to your website, updates to the website will be necessary as the ERP system updates and evolves.
ERP software can be fantastic for manufacturers that are growing, need to make standardize processes and data, and increase bottom of the line savings. Marketing is there to attract customers and strength existing relationships.
That’s drastically different from the purpose of ERP software. The logical connection between the two is sharing specific data. It’s important to decide whether the development costs necessary to share the data between your ERP and website are worth than investment based on the resulting efficiency.
Do you have a specific question regarding your situation and your ERP? We’d love to learn more about your business—contact us for a free consultation.