There are many perfectly sensible reasons why organizations aren't yet ready to move off existing systems and adopt cloud ERP. Even though the case for moving to the cloud has already been made around security, reliability and agility, the disruption and difficulty still lead many to postpone making the jump. Perhaps the biggest stumbling block is the challenge of data integration, both during and after the move.
That's why Rootstock, which offers a cloud ERP system for midmarket manufacturers, has today launched its ERP Data Framework. This is designed to smooth the path to the cloud for organizations that are already running their CRM systems on the Salesforce platform, which Rootstock's cloud ERP is built on.
The framework is a collection of pre-configured ERP data objects that have been built to match typical ERP systems used by manufacturing companies, including inventory, production schedules, costing, invoices, customer credits and returns. Essentially, what this means is that Rootstock has already done the hard work of building the custom objects needed to map or transfer an organization's ERP data into Salesforce, providing a bidirectional API that plugs into an integration platform such as MuleSoft, Jitterbit or Dell Boomi.
This is a deeper integration than that provided by the existing Salesforce Lightning Connect tool, which provides visibility of ERP data from within Salesforce without actually bringing it onto the platform, says David Stephans, Rootstock's Chief Revenue Officer:
What we're really focused on with Rootstock Data Framework is driving the data onto the platform so that you can actually use it.
Many organizations will use the data framework to connect ERP data into their Salesforce instance while keeping their ERP system on-premise, believes Rootstock. Mapping ERP data into Salesforce gives that elusive 360-degree of all the activity relating to each customer, with the ability to bring it into Salesforce applications such as Einstein Analytics or the Community portal. "It just suddenly modernizes what you've got on ERP," says Rootstock CMO Tom Brennan.
This is particularly important for organizations that want to build on their Salesforce investment to pursue a more customer-centric strategy, he adds:
One of the common denominators of our recent wins is that they have a distinct strategy on service. You can't improve service if ERP and CRM are separated ...
Where Salesforce sales teams go out to sell Sales Cloud or Service Cloud, customers are asking, how can I push my information so I have what I need to service the customer?
One example is hydraulic valve manufacturer Hydraforce, a long-term Salesforce user with four separate ERP instances across its global organization. It has used the Rootstock framework to help consolidate that data for analysis and reporting in Salesforce.
A phased approach to cloud ERP
There are two other scenarios where Rootstock sees its data framework coming into play. The first is 2-tier ERP, where an organization uses Rootstock to manage a subsidiary business unit or process while retaining their existing ERP system for the rest of the business. One example of this is Gerotech, which builds and services CNC machines for a broad range of manufacturing purposes. It uses Rootstock to manage its parts inventory, with integration to Salesforce's field service application.
The final scenario is full-fledged ERP replacement. Here, the data framework eases data migration and enables a phased approach to implementation. For many customers, this may be a destination that comes into view after first using the Rootstock framework in one of the other modes. Bringing ERP data into Salesforce can be an important step towards overcoming resistance to cloud ERP, says Stephans:
A lot of it is fear of the unknown. We had one CIO say that, as he brings this data into Salesforce, he almost gets to turn around and address the objection from his executive team that it's hard to do ERP in the cloud. So it is a bridge in some people's minds.
Persuading midmarket organizations to move ERP to the cloud — especially in longstanding industries such as manufacturing — is hard work. Many take the view, 'If it ain't broke, don't fix it.' But the increasing need to deliver responsive service to customers — the trend towards Everything-as-a-Service, or XaaS as we call it at diginomica — is making it more and more important to connect ERP data into customer-facing systems. So Rootstock's initiative to make it easier to connect that data is an astute move. Not only does it serve a current need but it also helps demonstrate what can in fact be fixed by moving that data into the cloud, thus making the case for a wholesale cloud ERP migration at a later date.