ERP and CRM systems are strategic systems for most businesses. The ERP vendors are trying to convert their customers to run the system in the Cloud but the fact remains that the vast majority of their customers are still running the ERP (e.g. SAP) on-premise. For the CRM systems it’s the opposite. The majority of businesses run cloud based SaaS services, like Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics and Oracle.
Hybrid Architecture for SAP Integration and Automation
The Crosser approach to the SAP-to-CRM integration is a Hybrid architecture where the Crosser Node is implemented close to the on-premise SAP system. This brings a number of benefits over cloud-centric integration solutions.
Illustration: The architecture of a true Hybrid Integration Solution
Seven key learnings from Integrating on-premise SAP and cloud based CRM systems
1 - Put the automation workflow in the middle
Older integration platforms like ESB and iPaaS do ETL at best, they transfer and move data between end-points. All logic and workflows then have to be implemented in each end-point system. We believe in a cleaner architecture where the integration hub is smart and all the automation workflows are done in the middle.
Key benefits with having Intelligent Workflows with streaming analytics capabilities and conditional logic between the systems are:
- One system to master for Intelligent Workflows instead of many
- Faster development of integrations and automations
- Lower cost of integration
2 - Run the integrations and automations on-premise
Close to your SAP system. The difference between the Crosser Node and most older iPaaS platforms is that the Crosser Node is not just a gateway that collects and moves data but a full real-time automation engine where the Intelligent Workflows are deployed and all data is therefore processed wherever it makes sense. For companies with legacy systems, that point is on-premise.
Running the Intelligent Workflows locally allows for a direct integration between your on-premise SAP system and the cloud-based CRM system without having to go between a cloud proxy.
3 - Event driven is the new normal
Synching data in batch by polling an API at scheduled intervals is the old way of integrating systems. As both consumers and business users we are becoming accustomed to a real-time world without delays. We have simply come to expect real-time notifications and triggers. Event-driven is the new normal and when possible we recommend leveraging Change Data Capture and events to trigger automations.
By leveraging a Streaming API in the CRM system, like for instance Salesforce offers, is it possible to get instant push messages for the creation, update, delete or undelete of a record. As Crosser is natively a real-time streaming platform, any pushed notifications from the CRM will immediately trigger your Intelligent Workflow for CRM to ERP integrations.
4 - Leverage multi-path workflows with more systems
If mapping data is all you need then it’s straightforward. But, with Intelligent Workflow capabilities in the middle you can create multi-path workflows. A change in CRM can for instance trigger a workflow that updates both the SAP system, creates email notifications based on conditions AND updates a support system. In a single workflow.
With multi-path automation capabilities you can build smart workflows involving multiple systems from a single trigger.
5 - With the Crosser Flow Studio and FlowApps you can empower Citizen users to speed up your digitalisation journey
You likely have many users for both ERP and CRM but for each new workflow and automation they want to build they depend on IT specialists and developers to make it happen. IT becomes the bottle-neck which is frustrating for everyone and it slows down the pace of innovation. With the low-code Flow Studio you can empower many of them to build automations themselves using drag and drop and visual workflows. FlowApps works like templates that gives users a starting point that they only need to adapt instead of building complete workflows from scratch. Let your IT specialists build the most common CRM-to-ERP automations and publish them as FlowApps.
Find one or several super-users in each business team and empower them to leverage the Crosser Flow studio and your FlowApps to build their own integrations and automations.
6 - Be thorough when setting up access right
When multiple users in an organization, especially larger enterprises, use the same software is it key to be able to separate who can do what with access rights.
The best way to think about access rights is that it is both about security but also about usability. Users in one team have little benefits from automations that users in other teams build.
Think about what the best structure for your organization is for:
- Building Flows
- View and Edit Flows
- Use different credentials to access different systems
- Deploying Flows on different on-premise nodes
7 - Explore other data sources and types to build smarter Automations
When you have your common CRM to SAP integrations and automations in place, consider how you can leverage other data sources and data types to build automations.
There might be use cases where you can have a combination of data from different systems that should trigger an action. Examples:
- IF a CRM field is updated AND a field in the support system contains a certain value, THEN a trigger in SAP should be created.
- IF a SAP field change AND the asset management system contains a certain value, THEN a CRM trigger should be created AND a message should be sent through the communication platform (Slack, Teams, Twilio, SMS etc)
Think about how you can leverage Intelligent Workflows to automate more of your processes.
The Digitalization Journey is not one project. It is rather hundreds or thousands of mini-processes and use cases that you make digital and automated. CRM and ERP are what we call “back-bone systems”, critical systems for your business and bringing these worlds together have huge advantages.
But moving to the next level to also include all other on-premise systems and SaaS applications and empowering Citizen developers in all business teams to be self-sufficient could have an exponential impact on your business.