How to Streamline Customer Management with CRM and SAP S/4HANA Integration

Modern businesses know that customer management is everything. However, sales, marketing, and customer service teams are regularly hamstrung by a lack of access to important data.


Organizations utilize tools like CRM and ERP systems to manage business processes, and those tools can be integrated to improve the storage, sharing, and analysis of data.


In this blog post, we’ll talk about:

  • The differences between CRM and ERP systems
  • How integration can improve your customer management
  • How to successfully integrate CRM with an ERP system like SAP S/4HANA

The Differences Between CRM and ERP

Let’s start with a breakdown of the key terms.


Customer relationship management (CRM) is a catch-all term for the process that usually involves tools that sales and marketing teams use to manage customers. Customer management is a vital part of organizational success. CRM tools involve storing and analyzing customer data to help manage customers more effectively. CRM systems allow sales and marketing teams to store customer data, create and deploy marketing campaigns, track the CSAT score, track leads, funnel customers through the customer journey, and analyze and predict customer behavior.


Enterprise resource planning (ERP) is a broader term for an organization’s core processes and the tools used to manage them. Whereas CRM only applies to sales and marketing, ERP software involves the whole organization. It includes everything from supply chain logistics to human resources to accounting. Modern ERP tools such as SAP S/4HANA are cloud-based and offer the latest technology to allow businesses to streamline every operation.


How CRM and ERP Integration Can Streamline Customer Management

Customers are your bread and butter, and meeting their expectations creates engaged, repeat, and loyal customers. Integrating your organizational processes with your customer management systems can help you improve the overall customer experience. Here’s how.

Better Organization

ERP systems hold customer data. CRM systems like SAP S/4HANA Sales also hold customer data. That’s two systems holding complementary but different data, and that can make work difficult for customer management teams. Integrating CRM and ERP systems allows better organization and sharing of data across the entire business.

Faster Operations

Segregating data and processes can bog down a workflow.


For example, a high-value customer might ask a sales representative why their order is taking so long. The salesperson has access to some of that customer’s data, but not billing, inventory, or delivery data.


The salesperson has to gain access to ERP systems to find this information. Has the customer’s purchase gone through? Has the payment been taken? Is there available stock? If not, is there a supply chain issue? When is the next delivery expected?


To answer these questions, the salesperson might have to talk to other departments or gain the authority to access certain data. If there’s a problem, the salesperson needs to communicate with the customer or the relevant team to resolve it.


All of this takes time, leaving the customer in delivery limbo.


An integrated CRM and ERP system would allow the salesperson immediate access to billing records, contact details, inventory, and delivery ETAs. They could locate and resolve the issue quickly, communicating any issues and expectations with the customer.

Improved Productivity

Better data access can improve employee productivity.


In our above example, the sales team member is being held back by a lack of access to data. Without these roadblocks, teams can work more efficiently, take more initiative, and have more time to tackle other issues.

Better Insights

Data works best when it’s centralized. Centralized systems allow for better data storage, access, sharing, and analysis.


Data analysis is a vital part of monitoring and improving business operations. Every department can utilize analytics to improve the customer management process. Both CRM and ERP systems contain their own analytics, but those insights come independently of one another. You can’t get a holistic view of the organization. Integrating CRM and ERP systems allows the data to work together, offering deeper and more accurate insights.

Improving the Customer Experience

How a business operates naturally affects the customer experience.


Customer management teams can work to improve the customer experience, but they can only do so much if there are other organizational failures. A CRM and ERP integration opens a pipeline between customers and business operations. It gives sales and marketing teams the authority they need to effectively manage customers.


How to Streamline Customer Management with CRM and ERP Integration

Digital transformations can be stressful, but there are ways to ease the process.


In the following sections, we’ll discuss the best CRM and ERP integration practices, focusing on the SAP S/4HANA ERP suite, to ensure a smooth transformation, along with some common integration pitfalls and how to avoid them.

Look for Overlap

To start your CRM and ERP integration, it’s important to work from a few common touchpoints. Where do your customer relationship and overall business operations intersect? These are your strongest integration starting points.


Here are some examples:

  • Combining customer data stored in CRM systems and accounting information stored in ERP systems: integration can help speed up customer transactions, billing, and delivery.
  • Adding customer purchase history from ERP systems to CRM systems: this can help sales teams make better predictions about customer behavior.
  • Adding supply chain and inventory data to CRM systems: sales teams can monitor stock, make more informed sales decisions, and keep your business’ Only Domains registered online store up-to-date.
  • Synchronizing prices across the entire organization: this allows accounting, sales, and marketing teams to work cohesively from the same source of truth.

Starting with overlapping points can streamline your CRM and ERP integration, as well as quickly proving the value of your digital transformation to stakeholders.

Update Your Systems

Many organizations run on a patchwork of systems.


We’ve all worked on a shiny new SSD-powered operating system and then headed to the department downstairs to be met with the glorious sound of a Windows XP tower chugging along. When conducting organization-wide integrations, consider bringing your systems up to a level playing field.


This has two benefits:

  1. It’s easier to integrate systems with similar architecture.
  2. One day, you’ll be forced to update those old systems. (Those running SAP ERP are well aware of this with an end-of-maintenance date looming.) When you do, you’ll have to start the whole integration process again.

Many modern organizations are moving to cloud-native computing, apps, and storage. The latest ERP systems such as SAP S/4HANA are cloud-based. They offer cutting-edge tools like improved machine learning and AI in sales. Cloud-native apps and data integrate seamlessly without the need for complicated digital transformation processes. This can help you future-proof your organization.


If you want to get the most out of your CRM and ERP integration, consider upgrading to SAP S/4HANA for your ERP solution. SAP has developed its own APIs to streamline migration and integration processes, which we’ll talk more about later.

Decide What You Need to Integrate

While the data stored in CRM and ERP systems can be similar, each will have its own values and formats. This can lead to conflicting, duplicate, and erroneous data. Knowing which data and applications you want to integrate beforehand will help your CRM and ERP integration go much more smoothly.


Finding overlap between CRM and ERP processes is a good start. When you’ve identified those touchpoints, you should ask your departments which data and apps would improve their workflow. Once you have a comprehensive list of apps, data sets, values, and formats, you can decide how to move forward with your integration.

Choose a Method

There are several data integration methods to consider:

  • ETL (extract, transform, and load): Data is moved from one repository to another to combine it. First, the data is transformed to match the format of the target repository.
  • ELT (extract, load, and transform): Data is still moved, but it is transformed within the target system once the move is complete.
  • Data streamlining or virtualization: Data is streamed between two systems, allowing real-time access between both systems.
  • Application integration: Data is sent between different applications via an API.

Each method comes with benefits and downsides, so consider your data requirements and business needs before committing.

Use Tools

Don’t be afraid to use a middleman. To streamline your CRM and ERP integration process, there are plenty of third-party integration platforms as a service (IPAAS) out there to help.


Many CRM and ERP software developers offer their own integration services. For example, SAP has developed APIs to help integrate its SAP S/4HANA system with your own services. They also developed SAP Cloud Integration as an IPAAS to help businesses outside of their services.


Of course, be sure to vet any software before you use it. Conducting a digital transformation puts sensitive data at risk. Breaching data regulations can lead to legal trouble, financial loss, and customers losing trust in your organization. Any tools should have the relevant digital security certificates, end-to-end encryption, and regular security audits.

Test and Monitor

It might sound obvious, but a watchful eye over your CRM and ERP integration process is important.


Performing data integration testing ensures that data from different sources is combined and processed accurately. Monitoring your integration process allows you to keep track of errors and fix them.


You can also monitor the performance of your CRM and ERP integration to evaluate its impact on your business. If your goal is to improve customer management, getting feedback from your customer-facing teams is essential to determining success.


Streamlining Customer Management with CRM and ERP Integration

Customer management is an essential part of business operations. Poor customer management can lead to bad customer experiences, decreased customer satisfaction, and customer churn. Traditionally, customer management teams have had limited access to larger business operations. But in an increasingly digitally connected landscape, business operations are customer relations.


Integrating CRM and ERP systems helps everyone, from sales and marketing teams to supply chain leaders to customers. Centralizing data streamlines workflows, democratizes access to essential information, and leads to improved business processes across the board.



Interested in what SAP S/4HANA has to offer? Find out with this big-picture guide! Take a tour of SAP S/4HANA functionality for your key lines of business: finance, manufacturing, supply chain, sales, and more. Preview SAP S/4HANA’s architecture, and discover your options for reporting, extensions, and adoption. With insights into the latest intelligent technologies, this is your all-in-one SAP S/4HANA starting point!

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Austin Guanzon
by Austin Guanzon

Austin Guanzon is the Tier 1 Support Manager for Dialpad, the leading AI-powered customer intelligence platform. He is a customer retention and technical support expert, with experience at some of the largest tech service companies in the US. Austin is also the co-founder of the California-based Infinity Martial Arts and has served as an instructor in the sport.