by Kristine Colosimo
The range of small business owners is vast—some have just made the leap to cloud applications, or even a more advanced Point of Sale system, while others run completely online businesses and are the first to adopt the latest technology. But the sentiment for all business owners, no matter their technological fluency, seems to be that there are never enough hours in a day. There are sales to reconcile, inventory to take, employees to manage—the list goes on and on.
If you could use a few extra hours for growing your business or to spend with your family, integrating your Customer Relationship Management tool (CRM) and accounting applications is a key step to freeing up some precious time. If your CRM and accounting apps can send data back and forth to one another unhindered, manual data entry becomes a thing of the past and that means the hours you used to spend doing it are suddenly open for better things.
This is only one of the many advantages of integration for a small business or nonprofit organization that will end up saving you hours and hours. So, if you haven’t considered it, here are four reasons you should:
1. Double data entry is time wasted
CRMs and accounting apps need much of the same information to reach their full potential. They both need to know the names of your customers, what they purchased and more. Entering the same data into two different systems, whether you are manually typing it or downloading CSV files, reformatting them, and uploading them into the other app, is tedious and wastes time.
Small businesses and nonprofits can spend up to 40 hours each month just on exporting invoices and updating revenue. If your CRM and accounting are integrated you can use only one app as your hub instead of logging in and out of each application. No more exporting and uploading, just enter a new customer in your CRM and a new profile will automatically be created in your accounting app without ever needing to log in.
2. Errors and bad data can cost you
Manual data entry is tedious and therefore error prone, especially if you’re entering information twice. While it’s easy to accidentally put information in the wrong place or to format something incorrectly, discrepancies between your CRM and accounting will cause huge issues that are difficult to fix. In fact, data experts like Thomas Redman, Jack Olson, and Larry English all agree that approximately 15–45 percent of operating expenses of almost all organizations are wasted due to data quality or data duplication issues. Another study found that bad or duplicate data could potentially be costing your small business as much as 10–25 percent of your entire revenue.
Integration providers that allow for duplicate control will keep this problem at bay. Not only does the removal of possible human error increase accuracy, but duplicate control ensures that the same email doesn’t get added twice under two different accounts by searching your entire database before creating a new account. It’s a worthy investment to save yourself from the high price of bad data.
3. Complex systems
If your small business sells merchandise, or uses other apps to run a facet of the business, your vital information may be spread out between three to five different apps like Infusionsoft by Keap, QuickBooks Online, Shopify, MailChimp, Zendesk, etc. You need all of these apps to share information so your customer information, purchase history, and marketing efforts don't work against one another. For example, you don't want to have duplicates of a customer and send them the wrong marketing campaign, or miss vital information while providing customer service because you located the wrong profile.
Integration makes conversations and fluidity between all of your apps easy and automatic. They also open up a full 360-degree view of your business that you can access in minutes. A small business needs to have purchases in sync with both their CRM and accounting for accurate revenue reports, and integration makes this process painless and automatic.
4. Real-time tracking
Small businesses and nonprofits are usually running lean and that means that every penny counts. Tracking revenue needs to be easy and immediate so nothing is unaccounted for and you can stretch your dollar. Manual data swapping simply doesn't allow for this. It’s too time consuming to log in, download data then format it only to log into your other app and upload it, then generate the report. Integration means the data you need will be sitting there in the app you’ve chosen as your hub, or in both if you choose a service with bi-directional sync, ready to go. It's critical that a small business or nonprofit keeps on top of their cash flow to manage their business finances and grow their business. Integration makes this a breeze.
Kristine Colosimo is an integration evangelist and writer for Workato. Workato began when a group of early integration experts came together to create a no-code integration service with vast enterprise capabilities at a low price for small business users. To read more about Workato’s features visit their website.