Sunday, December 5, 2010

Integrating CRM and Accounting systems , Part 1

In a previous post we talked about CRM Systems in general and the benefits associated with implementing a CRM database and a CRM process within any business environment.

Today we will be talking about  the benefits associated with enabling your CRM database to talk to other databases in your organization, we will be specifically talking about integrating CRM databases with Accounting databases.

To demonstrate the integration process we will be using the ACT! CRM system and the QuickBooks Accounting system, through the use of our own Accounting link for ACT! and QuickBooks we will provide practical examples and highlight the benefits associated with integrating your office databases together.

Part 1 of this Article will cover the concept of Integration while Part 2 will provide a walk through showing the integration in action.


Within a typical business it is possible to have a number of disconnected databases each serving a specific purpose, some of these databases however may share the same information (e.g. Customers and Contact details).

Within such environments there is a need to enter and maintain the same information across the different databases within the business, for example if the business captures a new customer, their details will need to be entered in the CRM database and also in the Accounting database (so you can bill them etc.).

The same customer will have different types of data stored against their record(s) within the two databases above, the CRM database will be used to track that customer's communication history and anything that is not considered quantifiable data.

On the other hand the accounting system will be used to record the customer's transactions, generate sales invoices and ensure the customer is paying his/her bills on time etc.

Looking at the above we can immediately identify an issue, Dual entry of data , every time the business acquires a new customer their information need to be recorded in the CRM database and the accounting database. On top of that if the customer decided to change their contact details then the changes will need to be applied twice.

With disconnected databases this can pose an issue, what if the customer changed their contact details and the changes were not made across the board? What if the accounting system kept the old billing address?

Another thing to consider, from time to time your staff might need access to information which is not typically available to them, for example your sales and marketing staff may require real time access to a customer's transactions history, within a disconnected environment your sales staff might not have direct access to your accounting system and for them to get the information they need your accountant will need to be involved.

With many small businesses there are usually one or two accountants present and most of them work part time, what happens when a customer calls asking about the status of an order or to make sure if an invoice has been paid? what if your accountant was not present at the time and the customer was asked to call again next week when the accountant comes in on Tuesday? Many customers will not consider this as an example of a Responsive business and would prefer to deal with businesses who can give them what they need right there and right now.

Last but not least your staff might require access to certain business functions which are not available to them directly, for example consider the process of raising quotes or invoices, when a customer calls asking for a quote or an invoice your sales staff will need access to an up to date pricing list for whatever Items / Services your  business has on offer, in addition when a quote is generated it will need to be passed to the accountant manually in order for it to get converted into an order and from there into an invoice.

In a disconnected environment your sales staff might be depending on pricing lists entered in a spreadsheet or they might have the information written on a piece of paper! the problem which arises from here is that these price lists might not always be up to date since the source data can be changed and it could take sometime before the price lists are updated.


Having your internal business systems communicate with each other can give your business and your staff a number of advantages these advantages are the following:
  • Reduction or even elimination of Dual, Triple or even Quadruple entry of data thus saving time and minimizing data entry errors.
  • Providing your staff with the information they need when they need it thus allowing them to provide a higher level of service to your clients and helping in ensuring customer satisfaction.
  • Streamlining your business process work flow thus enable your business to become more agile and ensuring that your staff can respond to your customers needs in the best way they can.

 This concludes part one of our Integration Article, feel free to comment on this topic and make sure to stay tuned for Part 2, you can follow us on Twitter to keep up to date with our blog posts.

If you currently have ACT and would like to download a trial copy of our QuickBooks link then you can visit our products page here , you also purchase a copy of the QuickBooks link by visiting our online store.

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