The Systems Integration Problem for Small/Medium Business
When it comes to selecting a CRM, it is always of paramount importance to make sure you choose one that will fit in with the rest of the tools you plan to use to manage your business. In our post 5 Things Your Business Needs to Crush the Competition, we saw that the online side of your business is likely to need at least a website with lead forms, and a CRM. Then you may well also need an eCommerce store, a customer portal and even a marketing automation system.
For your overall business management, however, you’ll likely need more than that: an accounting system, perhaps an IP telephony service, an email service, a website chat system, video conferencing system, payments system, file sharing solution, mobile phones, … the list goes on!
Making sure that all of these systems play well together is obviously going to be very important for you, but can potentially be so complex that it is a major distraction from the real work of running your business. Business owners should not have to feel like they are their own system integrators – and should avoid making decisions that put themselves in that position.
The Role of an All-in-One CRM in Systems Integration
One approach to minimizing the effort required on this front is the adoption of an all-in-one CRM. In our earlier post on the topic of What is an all-in-one CRM?, we conclude that an all-in- one CRM is one that covers Sales, Marketing, Order Management, Project Management and Service Management. Because this type of CRM has so much more of your core business information in it, if it comes with a wide selection of out-of-the-box integrations, plus a strong API for any custom connections you may need to make, it has the potential to significantly reduce the headaches of integrating all your business systems.
What does this approach look like in the real world? With our 1CRM solution, the CRM contains Quote, Sales Order and Invoice data, and so it can integrate with accounting systems like QuickBooks Online and Xero, synch’ing data in both directions, so that CRM users can generate invoices that end up in the accounting system, for example.
The CRM integrates as well with several eCommerce solutions such as WooCommerce or Magento, so that store transactions, and new client data, sync to the CRM and then to the accounting system – all automatically!
The more types of data you have in your CRM, the more opportunities you have for this kind of synergy. 1CRM offers its own customer portal for WordPress, for example – so when your clients are in that portal they can see their history of service cases, and add new issues, lookup past invoices and pay them, approve quotes, interact with you on ongoing projects, access FAQs, update their own contact data, and more.
Conversely, the less data you have in your CRM, the fewer opportunities you have to offer this kind of capability to your clients, and the role your CRM can play in quarterbacking your internal systems integration is reduced.
When purchasing any CRM, the buyer needs to carefully check the integrations available for that solution, as well as the API available for custom integrations, and the support for 3rd party integration services such as Integromat and Zapier.
But if your CRM simply does not contain certain types of data – such as Quote & Invoice data, Project data or Service Case data, then clearly it cannot synchronize information of that nature with other systems. This can significantly compromise your organization’s ability to see a holistic view of your customer relationships in the CRM, but perhaps worse, can limit your ability to integrate data exchanges between the many systems you can expect to have in your business today or in the future.
Accordingly business owners and managers need to visualize the overall movement of data they need within their organization, and decide if the all-in-one CRM approach makes sense for them both as a better CRM solution, as well as a way to simplify the overall systems integration process.
Looking for more information? Read our Ultimate Guide to All In One CRM Solutions.
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