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Manufacturing Cloud offers key reasons to re-think your CRM and ERP integration

Feb 21, 2023 | Manufacturing

Salesforce Manufacturing Cloud is a powerful application that addresses specific challenges manufacturers have faced in terms of CRM configuration and integration with other applications – namely ERP.  Manufacturing Cloud gives manufacturers new tools to manage customer price and volume changes over time, consolidate CRM forecasting data and link customer committed volume with customer ordered volume. All of this can make the day-to-day job of your sales professionals easier and increase visibility and transparency across the organization. Taken together this creates a new opportunity for manufacturers to reimagine the relationship between CRM, ERP, and other applications across the IT landscape. 

It is not uncommon for manufacturers to have a CRM configuration that is designed to produce data inputs for ERP, after all ERP is responsible for supporting the coordinated production of goods that stem from deals won in CRM. While an approach like this is very logical, it can lead to inefficiencies and friction in the sales process in terms of duplicated data, poor seller experience, and in some cases, a poor buyer (customer) experience. Manufacturing Cloud has a few key features that provide a compelling reason to revisit how CRM and ERP are integrated.

In some cases manufacturers may require new CRM Opportunity records to capture changes in customer demand and sync with order management or demand planning functions in ERP. This kind of design can bloat sales pipeline data and make it difficult for sales managers to get an accurate picture of pipeline health. Manufacturing Cloud Sales Agreements help solve this problem by allowing for easy management of price and volume changes over time separate from Opportunities. Sales Agreements can isolate ‘run rate’ data from new sales data – allowing each part to run more effectively and provide better information to the organization. Integrating Sales Agreements with ERP rather than Opportunities or Quotes could be a highly beneficial change for some organizations.

Another key feature of Manufacturing Cloud is Advanced Account Forecasts. This feature helps to summarize data from different CRM sources and provide a comprehensive customer/product forecast based on data available in Salesforce. By itself, Advanced Account Forecasts can give reps easier access to committed volume (from Sales Agreements) and best case volume (from Opportunities) in one place allowing for quicker forecast review to support customer interactions. With integration to ERP, Advanced Account Forecasts can serve as a valuable input into more comprehensive demand planning and potentially limit the need for sales to enter duplicate data in CRM and then separately in ERP (not that anyone would ever do that). Advanced Account Forecasts also provide a place for demand planning and ERP to communicate back with sales and CRM. Consider a volume shortage scenario where data could be sent from ERP to CRM so that sales or service professionals can proactively communicate with their customers. 

Another key feature call out is Salesforce Orders. Salesforce Orders are not Manufacturing Cloud specific, but Manufacturing Cloud adds a new dimension to this standard object. If Sales Agreements represent what customers have  communicated they will purchase, then Orders can represent what customers actually purchase. Generally manufacturers will enter and process orders in ERP. If that information is coupled with CRM and Manufacturing Cloud, sales and service professionals can now see exactly how customers are performing against commitments in one place. This provides incredibly valuable information to manufacturers in terms of increasing data visibility and managing customer relationships. 

For many manufacturers these types of technology and process adjustments will not be small. In many cases these features will represent large architectural shifts that need to be considered across the entire IT (and business) landscape. What are some considerations to keep in mind with shifts of this magnitude?

1.Develop a clear sense of the problems to solve.

Having a clear sense of what problems are being solved for and the experiences for the impacted personas will help to keep designed focuses and will provide guiding directions for complex decisions. 

2. Develop clear system responsibilities.

Duplicating capabilities across systems is not only wasteful, it can lead to confusion and all kinds of operational problems. Keep technical debt at bay by defining what data and processes are mastered in what systems. This will also provide direction in complex scenarios and minimize risk. 

3. Develop a roadmap before development starts.

Manufacturing Cloud has many powerful features that will leave many stakeholders re-imagining what is possible. This is good – and bad. Having a roadmap outlined that describes expected changes will help keep development focused on small and frequent delivery while managing stakeholder expectations about when new development may become available. 

Another age old question that Manufacturing Cloud can resurface concerns single vs. multi-org strategies. Single vs. Multi-Org approaches have to balance many different factors and there is rarely one right answer. Manufacturing Cloud and reimagined integrations with ERP may benefit from a multi-org approach as transitional architecture and this is something to consider.

Maybe it’s just too much change to move all sales and service to the Manufacturing Cloud at once. Maybe there is a particular business unit that will benefit more in the short term from a Manufacturing Cloud implementation. All of these are valid reasons to consider a multi-org strategy that enables a transitioning from your current state CRM configuration to a Manufacturing Cloud enabled CRM. 

Would you like to learn more about Manufacturing Cloud and understand how it might help with challenges you are currently facing? Have you already pinpointed high priority issues and are wondering if Manufacturing Cloud can help address those?

Reach out and we’d be happy to have a conversation and learn how we can help. 

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