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Five signs you need customer-centric ERP

Though ERP systems have been around for decades, many business leaders are increasingly recognizing the unique value offered by a truly customer-centric ERP solution. While legacy systems focus everything around the physical good or, for HR-based systems, around the employee, it has become clear that this model isn’t a good fit for organizations with a major services component.

Business leaders at professional services organizations and technology firms with services units have spearheaded the move to ERP solutions built around the needs of the customer. Is it time for you to make a move? Here are the five signs you need customer-centric ERP.

Depending on the size, maturity, and other attributes of organizations, the problem may vary. One company may say its business intelligence (BI) tool doesn’t have access to the right data so it can’t possibly produce accurate reports. For another, its BI tool may have access to the right data, but reporting may take too long to act on. For yet another, it may simply seem too cost prohibitive to have any BI solution at all. But in all cases, the result is the same: business leaders simply don’t get meaningful insights into future operational and business performance, so they can’t be confident about the day-to-day decisions they make.

Put another way, customer-centric businesses need technology that can analyze data about their customers produced across the organization, and they need that technology to quickly and accurately turn that data into actionable datasets, dashboards, and reports.

To build a customer-centric business, you must be able to manage the entire customer lifecycle on one system. If the sales team is using one system, the services team another, and the finance team still another, then you can almost guarantee there will be lapses in communication, which in turn undermines the customer experience. Maybe the salesperson made promises the services team could never meet, or the finance team issued an invoice at a time when the customer wasn’t expecting it.

Though issues like this lead to big headaches for customers, they’re easily preventable by giving salespeople, services leaders, and finance teams access to the same set of customer, project, and financial data. That’s only possible through customer-centric ERP. Not only will your customers be happier, but you’ll also be able to increase collaboration, bill faster, and collect sooner, supporting business growth.

If you run a service-based business, you already know that customer satisfaction and profitability are directly tied to utilization metrics. But you’ll never improve utilization without the ability to forecast and predict future needs, which is only possible through a powerful professional services automation (PSA) solution. Furthermore, that PSA solution can’t stand alone, but must be tied to the rest of your ERP system in order to produce accurate forecasts.

Giving your PSA solution the same customer-centric view as your ERP system means you can be even more intelligent about how you manage people, project, financials, and customers. It streamlines every services process, allowing you to efficiently align skills and workers and keep projects on time and on budget.

Product and sales teams tell the customer “yes, the sky’s the limit,” and then finance teams deliver the sobering reality check: “nope, not possible.” Sound familiar? One of the biggest problems with legacy ERP systems is that they’re too rigidly built around a single business flow: for example, the traditional model of a company shipping a physical good to a customer. But the reality is that successful organizations today continuously blend revenue streams from products, subscriptions, and a wide variety of services to serve customers and grow the business.

Physical products. Service offerings. Service-product blends. Subscription-based contracts. Fixed-fee services. Recurring invoices. Usage-based billing. No matter the revenue streams or business models your organization needs to pursue in order to best serve customers, your ERP system should be the last thing holding you back. Customer-centric ERP gives you the power to not only identify opportunities and evolving customer expectations, but also make the necessary changes to your business to act on those opportunities.

Approximately 9 in 10 financial leaders say it’s important for their organization’s financial system to run on the same platform as their productivity, collaboration, and CRM software. But more often than not it’s easier said than done. While it’s rare for businesses to have completely discrete systems that never communicate with each other, even “integrated” sets of software have severe shortcomings. Data may sync slowly across systems or, even worse, critical information may go missing along the way.

On the other hand, if different people in different roles in different departments all have access to the same set of data, you can make the best decisions to improve customer experience and maximize for business growth. And the path to a single source of truth for many businesses is a customer-centric ERP built on a single, powerful cloud platform.

If any of these sound familiar, it’s time for you to upgrade your approach. See what customer-centric ERP can do for you in our new ebook The Ultimate Guide to Certinia ERP.

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