There are 1000’s of SaaS business productivity applications available in the cloud with a few clicks of a button in a browser. These applications provide awesome functionality needed by mid-market organizations. By focusing on one small task these cloud solutions are able to zero all their efforts into single function greatness. These cloud apps are both awesome and cheap.
Traditionally a mid-market company has used the functionality provided by their ERP solutions – regardless of how good that functionality was. They did this because they had purchased a big complex and expensive solution, so they used it for everything they did even if components of it were not all that great. The big reason to use the ERP functionality is that everything is integrated and tied together. There was nothing wrong with this model, until now. Cloud apps today are so good and most importantly can be integrated with your ERP with only minor effort.
Let’s look at few cloud Apps. The Timely App is one of my favorites. One single and simple interface handles time planning and scheduling your time, as well as time sheet entry. You enter your timesheets directly into the calendar interface, and it is immediately clear if you are spending your time on the thing you planned to work on. This is the coolest interface for planning my day and entering my timesheets online, on my cell phone or on my apple watch. This is all it does – it does timesheets brilliantly for $14 per user per month.
My ERP is never going to do timesheets this well, because timesheets is just one small component of my ERP and ERP timesheets will never get the full time attention of a bunch of Silicon Valley developers. So imagine if this sweet little timesheet app could integrate seamlessly with your ERP? Now Timely may not fit your business needs like it did mine, but I am sure there is a cloud app that will.
Let’s take a look at another great cloud solution Zendesk. Zendesk builds ticket management software for help desks and does it really, really well. There are many CRM solutions that have ‘ticket or case’ functionality – but they do not provide the same streamlined functionality and simplicity of a dedicated tool. Why – because Zendesk have a large team of developers that do nothing but think about the best way to build help desk software.
My CRM system is never going to be as smooth and funky as Zendesk. Anything built in my CRM is limited by the structures of a CRM system which may not lend itself to building an awesome ticket management system. Imagine if Zendesk was integrated with both your CRM and ERP – seamlessly? Imagine if your tickets linked with timesheets which linked with billing in your ERP?
There is no doubt that many mid-market companies are already using these tools. There is one indisputable fact – that hundreds of thousands more will begin using these tools in the next 12 months. The challenge is that the core functionality of CRM and ERP is not going to go away by using these applications – they are helper applications and do not even pretend to try and replace your core CRM and ERP. This means that these applications must be integrated with your ERP.
All have API’s which means integration is easy. Well, relatively easy if you have a few days, understand the exact business process required and have completed a 4 year computer science degree. API’s are the greatest thing ever, but they are completely useless to me. I do not write code, and if you cannot write code than working with an API is as in reach as space travel.
So if you are not a programmer, and do not employ a programmer, and do not want to pay expensive fees to a programmer, and do not want that programmer to disappear in six months with all the integration knowledge important to the business – do you have any options?
The self-serving answer is yes, you have a great option. You build an integration plan around SmartConnect that lets you manage all your integrations, including your cloud app integrations without writing code. Watch for the next blog which will outline exactly how you go about building these integrations with SmartConnect.