Today, businesses need as many tools as possible to help them stay competitive, stand out from the crowd, and optimize their processes. Fortunately, many different software suites can help achieve these objectives.
A key objective when considering the various systems that you run your business on is ensuring that those systems can be successfully integrated and work side-by-side to maximize efficiency. Configure One’s CPQ software stands out from many other options on the market because we can integrate well with a variety of business systems, including NetSuite, JD Edwards, SAP, and IFS.
Let’s look at what ERP is, why it could benefit you, and how this integration can make your business even better.
What does ERP mean?
ERP stands for Enterprise Resource Planning, and it is a software tool that helps to manage most of the data needed to run your business. This software doesn’t just store the data so that you can pull it later. It also lets you automate some of the data-based processes in your business.
ERP systems are attractive to companies of all sizes because of their affordability and ability to scale as your business grows. Additionally, there are several cloud-based solutions now available. ERP systems were originally designed to work as inventory management tools, which could track where your products were warehoused and help determine what you should be manufacturing based on upstream demand.
When integrated with a CPQ system, an order taken by your company can be entered into the CPQ application and automatically transferred to the ERP system to allow for demand planning and eventual production – all without double-entry or manual processes.
An ERP system can also be used in procurement.
Let’s say your business takes in parts from different distributors and assembles these into your finished product. An ERP system can track the inventory level of these parts, the various suppliers who provide them, the lead times associated with acquiring the component materials, and actual costs.
ERP systems also house the ‘recipe’ or bill of material (BOM) for the products you manufacture, as well as the shop floor instructions and manufacturing routings, instructing your personnel how to build variants of your products. They also store ‘where used’ information in the event, you need to obsolete a component you can trace where it was used and when to assist in service orders or product defect inquiries.
Although these are just some of the ways ERP systems can benefit your business, there are many, many others that you might realize. Ultimately, ERP systems streamline business processes, so order-taking, production, and other areas of your business can be optimized up. This brings a variety of potential benefits for both your business and your customers.
What are the Benefits of an ERP system?
- Complete Access: A huge benefit is that your management has full access to all the data points during the production process. You don’t have to look for the data in multiple locations with multiple systems. It’s like a one-stop-shopping for all of your data. This also helps to streamline your processes enables greater collaboration among your workforce. With everyone working together on a project with complete access to the same data points, errors can be reduced, and production cycle times reduced.
- Cost Savings: ERPs can replace a variety of disparate software systems and manual processes. If you have multiple software systems, you know it can be expensive to maintain all of these programs. IT, infrastructure, and software training can all be costly. By committing to one ERP, you’re once again streamlining your costs and saving time and money.
- Customization: Many ERP systems are easily customizable, so you can implement them in a way that best fits your business. You don’t need to implement or use (or even install) the software that you don’t need.
- Reports: By centralizing your data in an ERP system, you can take advantage of a single reporting system. This means you can quickly analyze the financial side of each department without having to use different programs or reporting systems.
- Customer Service: Improved efficiency on your part often translates into improved customer service as well. By being able to do the mundane and repetitive processes quickly and efficiently, you free up your employees to focus on what matters most — assisting your customers and maintaining positive relationships with them.
Where does CPQ come into play?
Configure One’s Configure, Price, Quote software (CPQ) integrates naturally with almost any ERP system, whether it’s an on-premise system or a cloud-based offering. With CPQ, you can streamline the quoting processes of documenting a customer’s needs, creating a custom quote, and arriving at something that perfectly matches your customer’s needs. By integrating these two systems, your sales department will have one single networking “hub,” which they can use to enter a sale and move it into the next level of production.
Absent a CPQ system a typical “to-order” business suffers through the time-consuming and error-prone processes of a sales associate discussing an opportunity with a customer, relaying that information to a sales engineer, reconnecting with the customer to address any gaps or answer questions posed by sales engineering, and finally arriving at a quote for the customer’s review. This process can easily take several days, if not longer, and you expose yourself to the risk that a competitor will be able to create the quote more quickly & win the business before you’re ready to put your offering forward.
By using both CPQ and ERP systems, that process can be performed in a matter of minutes, and far more accurately than ever before. Sales associate takes the customer’s specifications, enters them into the CPQ system – all the while ensuring that the configuration is valid & adheres to product and manufacturing rules – and generates a custom, professional-looking quote based on predefined rules specific to the products being quoted.
The customer can see 2D or even 3D models of their configured product, so they know exactly what they’re getting before committing to purchase it. As the user answers questions about product characteristics in CPQ, the images or models are updated in real-time, giving them a “what you see is what you get” Experience. This helps ensure order accuracy, reduces returns and concessions, and dramatically reduces scrap and rework.
Once the quote is created, it can be electronically sent to the customer, and once they accept it, an order can be seamlessly created in ERP without any manual intervention.
However, speed isn’t the only benefit of integrating the systems. The ERP system allows for full data sharing, so once a bill of material is generated, the associate can see exactly which pieces are in stock, what will have to be made, and what will need to be ordered from a supplier, leading to more accurate promise dates.
All of this is handled invisibly on the backend, so your sales reps can switch between systems without even noticing the transition. Once you settle on an ERP platform, it is relatively easy to integrate a CPQ system like Configure One with it to maximize your investment and optimize your quote to delivery processes.
What can Configure One provide?
What makes Configure One’s CPQ solution stand out from the rest of the pack is how easily it can integrate with virtually any ERP system. Configure One is certified to work flawlessly with several popular ERP systems, including:
Additionally, Configure One can integrate with just about any ERP system, including legacy or ‘mainframe’ systems. This is one of the things that sets Configure One apart from the other CPQ systems on the market.
One of the benefits of Configure One’s integration with these ERP systems is that it allows data such as customer masters, bills of material, item masters, and routings to be shared by the various systems and service points. These pieces of data can all be managed in a single application and shared with the Configure One application for product configuration, pricing, and quoting.
A sales associate only needs to open up the ERP to create a detailed product configuration from the quoting interface. Multiple quote documents can be generated by the CPQ system and attached to the ERP opportunity. The associate can choose which one to convert into a quote or sales order after consulting with the customer. The data from the CPQ system is fully populated to the ERP system to show quotes and sales orders.
Finally, one of the best things you get with CPQ software is the chance to provide customized products with accurate and reliable pricing.
Business success requires a wide variety of tools. With the integration of ERPs and CPQs, you eliminate this problem and create a streamlined system that will make your business more efficient and effective.