SAP and Sales Force- How this integration can be beneficial from an end user’s perspective
A lot of you would have heard of Sales Force and SAP. Sales Force in simple terms is a pioneer cloud-based tool predominantly used to make the life of Salesperson’s easier. For most part of the week, they are always on the move looking to get new leads, opportunities and contacts that could eventually end up into something financially useful for the company.
These people don’t have the time to spend on noting down all the small details of their business interactions and that’s where tools like Sales Force plays a huge role in ensuring that all data gets entered into the system efficiently so that all stakeholders involved in the company( Sales, Delivery, Marketing, Finance) are on the same page.
So basically, this whole process of noting and tracking an opportunity right until the invoice is sent to the customer as “Lead-To-Cash’’ process, which includes aspects such as lead generation, Sales Management, order fulfillment and revenue recognition.
Being a SAP FI/CO consultant now, I have the opportunity to get first hand access on how to create an invoice along with tracking all points that have financial or accounting significance like payment terms, invoicing milestones, penalties, tax rates etc or I get to know from other SD consultants and MM consultants regarding the process involved in creating Sales Orders/ Purchase Orders, Configuring prices etc.
It is made rather simple in SAP but having interacted with other professionals who were in the Sales domain before shifting industries and getting into SAP or just having had the opportunity to interact closely with the Sales/Marketing folks makes you realize how hard it is to generate that one lead which could be converted into an opportunity which finally can end up becoming a deal. The whole concept of meeting targets and the mental and physical toil they have to endure is something someone like may never completely appreciate.
Having had the opportunity to extensively work on SFDC as an end user before venturing into SAP, here are some of my personal take-aways:
It allows you to enter data at a very granular level. For eg, even a telephonic call to a prospective customer will be recorded in the tool will be recorded as a Lead. So, this in a way empowers the Sales team to deliver better results. No effort of theirs goes unnoticed.
It acts a perfect platform for the Finance team to pull out all Sales and Marketing related data required for the company. This can be beneficial as well as problematic as if data is not entered correctly in the system, it can lead to altercations within the company.
If you have the opportunity like I did to interact closely with key members of the Sales team and Finance team, you get to realize the true value such a tool produces! As all the Sales & Marketing data is usually entered on Sales Force (predominantly most companies use SFDC), and it acts as the perfect fodder to understand the business extremely well.
Someone like me sitting in a cosy desk job handling operation at the back-end gets a closer look into the trials and tribulations of being in Sales in such tough times globally. Constant interaction with such people makes you realize how important their role is in a company’s growth and success.
Sales Force is very big in the Sales and Marketing domain (a lot of medium to big size companies use SFDC to do end to end planning of marketing campaigns using Sales Force Marketing cloud) falls short when it comes to covering or tracking the complete business life-cycle.
SAP CRM does include all these features but it’s still not widely accepted or implemented especially by mid-sized companies who can’t possibly afford to spend too much money on acquiring both SAP and SFDC licenses.
Keeping the cost factor as well as efficiency from a business perspective, SAP the market-leader in ERP systems gains much more prominence in the corporate world. Every company usually wants to invest in one software or tool that can track all business processes across teams so and it saves them the trouble of spending on acquiring/buying licenses of other tools which would affect the company financially in the long run.
That got me thinking- Can some processes that are so well planned and executed in SFDC be replicated in SAP? If so, what are they and how can companies possibly integrate processes between SAP & SFDC
A completely easy and seamless integration may not be possible/ feasible as SAP covers way too many aspects of a business (Functional and Technical aspects) that Sales Force may not be able to provide. It’s how well a company can leverage the benefits provided by SFDC and implement that into SAP which would be beneficial for them.
If SFDC and SAP could be integrated then as end-users and business users, it would be extremely helpful as it would remove most pain-points that they currently face.
Some of the obvious areas where end-users or business users can benefit from an integration are as follows:
- Better Creation and Tracking of Invoices: When any company wins an opportunity, if they integrate their sales process with SAP, then the opportunity can automatically be converted to a Sales Order and then an invoice can be generated and tracked smoothly.
As of now, the time in converting a closed opportunity into invoicing takes far too long. The finance team needs the data tracked in a Sales order to efficiently create or track invoices. I have personally been on the firing line at times when Finance team found that there was a difference in expected numbers/ bookings vs what was projected from the Sales Pipeline report I generated.
- Reduces errors and helps in effective time management: From an end users’ perspective it would be perfect if an integration between the two giants take place, then there won’t be any questions raised on the data entered and fetched from SFDC.
Data entered in SFDC is a manual task and that can lead to errors and also take more time. Also, if you are dependent on others to provide you the basic data of an opportunity or have to wait for the Sales team folks to send out PO’s, it makes the process even more prone to mistakes.
3. Execution of orders in real-time: When a new opportunity closes in Salesforce CRM, the associated order details automatically get placed within the SAP system and further it estimates and tracks cost real-time on the fly. Hence it makes entire opportunity-to-order process gets optimized and becomes much more efficient.
As of now, once a closed opportunity is entered into SFDC, it leads to PO (Purchase Order) creation. And then the Sales/Business Operations are expected to prepare a pre-invoice kit to aid the Finance team in entering all the details into the SAP system.
This process generally would happen manually through MS Excel. So ideally you would want a smooth transition once an opportunity getting closed to the customer getting their invoice. But now with the use of SFDC and SAP there is a lag and also lot of human effort to ensure smooth transition.
There are ways in which technically and functionally Sales Force and SAP can be integrated, but this blog post is mainly focused on detailing the potential business benefits and positives for all end users/ business users involved in the processes that are tracked on either tools- SFDC and SAP.