CRM as a Process provides tips on Microsoft Dynamics CRM for mid-sized businesses, focusing on the area of business processes and workflow integration. Eli Stutz is Head of Knowledge and Collaboration for PNMsoft, a Microsoft technology-based BPM vendor.
Most organizations require that their CRM communicate with their ERP. Companies who use SharePoint and CRM extensively, are also interested in surfacing CRM and ERP data to their SharePoint. Ideally, they'd like to enable a wider range of users to access CRM and ERP processes via SharePoint, if possible. But just how possible is it? Integrating CRM, ERP and SharePoint can be done using coding solutions on each end, though this often leads to dragged out coding projects, functionality that is difficult to maintain and even harder to change, and serious issues when one of the systems is upgraded or worse, replaced.
So where can a company govern its integration between systems? One practical and increasingly popular option is to place integration squarely where the processes are best designed and managed - in a BPM Suite. A BPM (Business Process Management) suite that maps out and controls mission critical processes which touch multiple systems, can be viewed as the central integration hub of an organization, the place where integration is both built, controlled and observed over time. Some BPM suites include specific, pre-built connectors to integrate with specific ERP, CRM and ECM products. For example, PNMsoft SCE includes out-of-the-box integration with Dynamics CRM, SharePoint and ERP systems such as SAP and more. Such pre-built components make it much easier to quickly setup, maintain, and even more importantly change integration when the need for change arises.
Here's what a customer billing integration process could look like in a BPM Suite. Notice how the process connects CRM, ERP, SharePoint and an external portal in one process:
One of the keys to managing Integration properly is being able to visualize all the components of the system. A BPM process (like the one seen above) is actually a great visual map of how each separate system is connected to the overall line of business process. Making changes to the integration setup can be as easy as changing the order of the components, removing or adding a connecting line. This type of rapid change (we call it "HotChange") may seem extreme at first, but it's just the type of rapid change capability that organizations need today in order to compete and stay up-to-date with changing market conditions and requirements. The key is that process administrators and managers be given visibility over change, which is what they have with such a visual process map, as opposed to having to track changes in code, which can be no less far reaching, but much harder to detect.
For more information on PNMsoft SCE Integration with Dynamics CRM, ERP systems and SharePoint, see this page: http://www.pnmsoft.com/technology/integration/
Head of Knowledge and Collaboration, PNMsoft
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