May 2019 - Striven

6 Reasons to Integrate Your Accounting and CRM Software

Sales numbers and financial data: two great things that don’t always go great together. Both sets of information are essential to the success of any organization. That’s why most businesses purchase both accounting software and CRM software as separate solutions; they rarely integrate accounting and CRM software. 

Software Illustration

The problem? Those systems don’t always connect in the ways they should. And when they don’t, you risk a complete misunderstanding of your profit, efficiency, cost management, and much more.

For many growing businesses, accounting software solutions such as Quickbooks are the status quo. But with limited features when it comes to tracking, reporting, and transactions, many businesses find themselves looking for something more. This is where having the right ERP software can really make a difference.

Of all your organization’s data sets, matching sales with your accounting numbers is especially important because they are naturally prone to differences. If endless meetings and numbers comparisons sound neither thrilling nor possible, there’s a better way to do it.

The Importance of Integrating Accounting and CRM Software (With ERP Software)

Much like the cultural distinctions between sales and accounting departments, CRM and accounting software systems can be vastly different. Both are, at their core, databases. And though it should seem simple to transfer information from one database to another, it rarely is.

Putting aside the annoyance of constantly having to sign into other software applications and the potential for lost data, lacking accounting and CRM integration carries more dire implications.

Here are 6 opportunities, most of which are mission-critical, you might be missing without a properly integrated CRM and accounting software.

1) Recognizing Profit

Companies with unconnected software have a very difficult time seeing their profit. Consider this scenario: your sales team mistakenly interprets an influx of orders to mean profit. On the surface, it’s a logical interpretation. Customers are buying, and that must mean positive numbers for the organization.

But that’s not always the case. How can the sales team really know that the company is profitable?

man holding tablet with erp system interface

In order to assess profitability, the sales team needs to be able to see expenses. It’s entirely possible that a recent influx of sales is the result of higher marketing spend. Without a centralized way of sharing data, there are too many potential blind spots among divisions.

Profitability issues work the other way, too. If the accounting department can’t see CRM data, they can’t know how many invoices should be generated from all of those new product orders the company received.

Your accounting and sales divisions will likely always see some measure of separation. But integrated software allows them to have conversations, when needed, based on shared internal data. That conversation is not just expedient. It’s also based on a singular understanding of what factors comprise profit and loss.

2) Process Efficiency

With separated accounting and CRM systems, many companies complain that their staff has to enter data multiple times just to make sure it’s present on all systems. That means at least doubling (but sometimes tripling) their efforts. It also means the organization increases its risk of input errors. The process of reviewing, finding, and fixing those data errors is time-consuming and chaotic.

By contrast, integrated solutions eliminate double-entry and limit the risk of errors. Of course, those errors may happen sometimes. But when they do, your staff will only have to correct them once. Not twice. Not four times.

This kind of inefficiency happens especially often to growing organizations. As their sales and financial data get more complex, processes become more difficult. It can be a gradual change, happening often without the company even noticing. That’s why integrated solutions allow companies to grow without sacrificing the integrity of their data.

3) Proper Cost Management

We live in the age of subscriptions. From television to food, we pay for more of what we use with recurring subscription charges. Software is no exception.

cutting expenses with erp software

But with each new software solution your company subscribes to, you don’t just increase your recurring payables. You also increase training, maintenance, and efficiency costs. Those costs, of course, multiply with each new subscription.

It’s one thing to have software that helps you report on costs and expenses, but what about the costs and expenses for all those software solutions? Moving to a single, integrated solution will drastically cut your company’s subscription fees into one bill. Further, you’ll be able to leave behind the maintenance labor you once used on all of those systems to run reports, export data, etc.

4) Accuracy & Visibility

If your sales and accounting teams never interacted, how would orders move to invoices? How would you know when a customer needed a credit, or when to complete an order?

Of course, your teams do communicate. Just not always electronically. With a single business management software, your sales orders can automatically generate invoices— with no manual entry whatsoever.

But the questions go deeper than credits and invoices. Throughout your organization’s lifecycle, you’ll ask plenty of them. Should we renovate the office? Can we hire a new employee? Does it make sense to purchase a new fleet vehicle? Your answers to these questions depend on your assurance that you have the funds and financial stability to act accordingly.

5) Reporting Connectivity

Without fully integrated connections between sales and accounting, it becomes increasingly difficult to report on them without exporting into external spreadsheets. Lacking connectivity also compromises your reporting accuracy.

With a full business management solution, users can generate informative system reports can at any time. Imagine having the ability to view and compare data across divisions, without the struggle of using multiple spreadsheets and emails.

6) Audit Trail Accountability

erp software screens

Imagine having to track down which sales rep gets credit for an invoice because the sales orders are not connected within the same system.

Now picture how much communication time you’d lose outside of the system, trying to figure out which order matches the invoice, and then associating the sales rep to the invoice so that they get credit on the sale.

One last time: now think about being able to click two buttons inside of a single solution to see the same information. How much time would your organization save?

Conclusion: ERP Software Unifies Your Business

So far, I’ve said a lot about integrating accounting and CRM software. There are plenty of options out there, but the better ones won’t be separated. That goes for having two different products, but it also means not trying to connect modular solutions.

Even products that were developed by the same company may have vastly different development histories. One may have been acquired by the parent company, while the other may have been developed in-house.

Truly integrated solutions will be developed and supported by the same vendor, with the same standards and optimal connectivity. So make sure you do your research. If possible, involve your sales and accounting managers in your software search. The more you can collaborate, the better your chances of choosing the right product for you the first time around.

Your goal, no matter how you get there, should be a single version of the truth throughout your organization. That means the most accurate data, the most connectivity, and software that can handle it.

How to Master the Customer Satisfaction Survey

If you sell a product or service, your customers are the lifeblood of your business. Through experience, you’ve probably found that your happy customers are your best marketing tool. But how can you know that your customers are happy? And how can you get the insights that help keep them happy? Answer: the customer satisfaction survey.

Survey Illustration

Anjul Bhambhri, writing in CIO, notes: “A 2018 Forrester Consulting study of global enterprises found that experience-driven businesses grow revenues 1.4x the rate of other companies and enjoy significantly higher customer retention rates.”

In other words, it’s important to get a holistic understanding of your customers.

That doesn’t just mean what they like or dislike about your products and services. It means knowing what they feel and value. Having insight into not only what people need, but why they decide they need something, can help you make better decisions about your marketing, sales, and product or service development.

Why experience data matters

A maxim to follow: the ways your customers feel about your product or service is more important than the way you feel about it. After all, they’re the people who use it. A customer can tell you in five minutes what your team has been wondering for months.

Here’s the proof:

ABC Company offers services and they’ve focused their attention on response time. Their yearly goal was to get response time under 5 minutes, on average. They’ve spent all year measuring it down to the second and finally met the goal.

But does ABC Company’s internal measurement actually correspond to the way their customers perceive response time? What if, in a survey, their customers rate the response time poorly? They’ve spent all year achieving the goals they set, and it’s still not good enough.

There may be other factors that can prompt another look at the way Company ABC approaches response time. Perhaps their service employees always begin calls apologizing for not responding sooner, even if they do it within 3 minutes. Though well-intentioned, those apologies shape customers’ perceptions which, of course, become reality.

On the other hand, maybe customers are rating ABC Company’s response time as excellent. With this rating, they know their efforts to optimize response time have paid off.

Using customer satisfaction surveys to gather experience data

If you own or manage a business, you have probably formed your opinion on surveys. You’ve seen them work (or not). Maybe you’ve decided they’re a “necessary evil” but you don’t put much stock in them.

However, done correctly, a survey can be one of the best sources of customer experience data that you can’t get from any other source. The trick is to create a survey that people actually want to engage with and returns insightful experience data.

Mastering the customer survey

erp success stories

Surveying your customers is an art. It takes skill, practice, refinement, and intuition. If you stick to these best practices, you’ll be well on your way to capturing the experience data your business needs. Here are 6 tips to help you:

1. Decide what you want to know

Creating a good survey is kind of like all those tests you took in school. Your teacher crafted the questions to elicit certain types of responses. Likewise, you can craft your customer satisfaction survey questions to reveal exactly what you want to know about your customers.

That information will depend, of course, on your business. Let’s say you sell a product. Do you want to know how people feel about product quality? Shipping cost? Packaging? Think about all of the factors that make up a customer’s experience with your product. They are all possible touch-points you can target.

Let’s say your company provides a service. You might want customer data on your service quality or employees’ professionalism. You’ll rarely (if ever) get answers to questions you don’t ask, so make sure your team takes your most valuable data into consideration.

Similarly, not all customer data may be useful to you. If you’re unnecessarily asking too much, you’re going to overload your customer and they may bounce from your survey.

2. Experiment with question types

There are a million ways to ask questions poorly. But there are only a few ways to do it well. When writing your customer satisfaction survey questions, format matters. For example, asking open-ended questions won’t get you specific answers from most people.

You might find that a question like “What did you think about our service?” is too open to interpretation. If you’ve decided that you really want to know about your field-service employees’ punctuality, ask specifically about that.

Multiple-choice survey questions can help direct customers to the kind of feedback you’re looking for. Don’t make your questions too subjective. There should be some kind of measurement that resonates with your customer base and your internal team. In other words, everyone should agree on the definitions of the terms you’re using.

3. Phrase your questions carefully

Poorly-composed surveys can hurt you. If it feels like a robot created the survey, you won’t have the opportunity to forge an emotional connection with your customer.

This is the key point and the hidden power behind surveys. They give you an opportunity to step away from the faceless identity of a company. Properly done, surveys show that, like your customers, you’re just people trying to do the best job you can.

So use language that reflects your company. Write like a person. And think about what kinds of questions you would like to be asked. After all, companies probably send you customer satisfaction surveys all the time. Ask yourself which ones resonate with you, then analyze the way they’re constructed.

In the survey, you should also be honest about your goals. After all, you’re trying to create a better customer experience, not just gather data. Tell your customers about your intentions and assure them that their answers not only matter but can help improve their future experience.

Andrew Reid, writing in Entrepreneur, says that “surveys need to feel less like surveys and should feel more like conversations. Use tools that deliver shorter and more fun experiences to improve the quality of experience data you get from your customers.”

4. Consider the best time to send the survey

timing is everything with erp software

Knowing when you send your customers a survey is central to getting the kind of feedback you want. Sending out a feedback survey the minute they’ve received a product, for example, will not be helpful. They haven’t had the time to evaluate its use.

On the other hand, it might make sense to send a more timely survey about a service you’ve just provided, while it’s still top-of-mind for your customer.

Finding the best time to send a survey is a process of trial and error. Experiment with a few different times and test your response rates.

5. Don’t offer gift cards as compensation

This tip is controversial. Many companies will say that the only way they can get a good survey response rate is through offering a gift card. It makes sense to reward someone for completing a survey. But there are other forms of rewards you can offer.

Consider offering a discount on your customer’s next purchase. That will entice them to continue their engagement with you. Further, it will prove your effort to provide maximum value for what you’re offering them in the first place.

By contrast, gift cards (especially to other stores) can certainly be carrots that boost response rates. But is the person who responds for compensation really interested in answering your questions thoughtfully or honestly?

Remember that you don’t just want a good response rate. You want valuable customer experience data that you can actually use.

6. Choose your survey software carefully

You could have the best survey in the world. But without the right software to send, collect, and store the data from surveys, you’ll be lost.

Or, as Anjul Bhambhri says, “It must be hosted on the cloud and fit within [your] existing enterprise architecture. It must have capabilities to stitch a holistic view of the customer leveraging centralized and virtualized data.”

People's Review

The more accessible your customer data is, the easier it will be for you to start making sense of it. Surveys that go unaddressed just result in a waste of your time and effort.

Make sure, in choosing your customer survey software, you find what works best for you, according to your needs.


Gathering experience data from customer satisfaction surveys can mean the difference between one-time and lifelong customers. Great surveys not only give your company insightful data, but they also allow you to forge a stronger personal connection with your customers.

While the process of crafting the perfect survey requires time and trial, it can be worthless if you don’t have the right software system to properly gather data and create action items from it. With the right considerations, you’ll find that it won’t take long to master the customer satisfaction survey.

Why You Should Use Cloud Accounting Software

When your business started, desktop accounting software (DAS) might have been the ideal solution. The leading applications seemed powerful, especially compared to old-school accounting: sales receipts, pencil sharpeners, and hand-held calculators.

Receipt Illustration

As technology and accounting software have evolved, more applications have migrated to the cloud. Some accounting programs such as Quickbooks are leaving users feeling like their software solutions should be doing more for them.

As Zach Lanich writes in Forbes, cloud-based software applications have increased security, they update automatically, and they save companies a lot of money.

Cloud accounting software has all of those advantages but can do so much more for your organization’s financial management.

Breaking the chains of your desktop software

Let’s face it: desktop accounting software tethers you to one place, on one device, at one time. With an increased business atmosphere of collaboration, accessibility, and speed, it doesn’t benefit you to be limited by a desktop application.

There are plenty of reasons to move your accounting operations to the cloud. To fully understand them, let’s examine the most common problems accounting departments face with desktop software. Then we can see how the cloud solves them.

Exporting Time

cloud erp software system

Users of desktop accounting software (reader: you may be one of them) are consistently frustrated with reporting time. Some DAS applications use front-end exporting, which means you have to wait until their report exports before it can be 100% complete.

What should take seconds ends up costing your accounting department over 30 minutes. That’s 30 minutes per report.

Desktop software’s speed is also often dependent on the amount of financial data you’re trying to export. It’s enough to frustrate any business with robust accounting records.

Fortunately, cloud accounting software reports in seconds. Because it’s web-based, it uses back-end exporting. That means it exports reports “behind the scenes.” The result? Reports happen almost instantly.

In the cloud, reports also load in real time, allowing you to continue doing your job, rather than losing time and resources waiting.

CPA Access

Because DAS is hosted on your hard drive, it only allows for one user to access it at a time. (This counts for remote users, too.) If your CPA needs access to company data, you’ll probably end up with a multi-step process, including exports and relaying information either by email or snail mail.

CPA Illustration

If that export takes 30 minutes, you’re wasting an employee’s time just so your CPA can view the data in the first place.

With cloud accounting software that’s hosted on a remote server and browser-friendly, CPAs can access your accounting system anywhere, at any time. Unlike on your desktop, when your CPA uses the system, you don’t get kicked out.

Even better, CPAs can run reports and export them all on their own, directly from within the system. All you need to do is grant them access.


Users of desktop accounting software have to work on different computers, each with separate hard drives. That means users outside of those computers can’t see any financial data. Instead, they’ll need to rely on the (slow) reports exported from the system.

DAS tools are also limited: they don’t allow you to see granular details about, for example, report and transaction totals.

Cloud-based accounting software provides much more access and transparency across your entire organization. With a complete business management system, all of your employees can not only access accounting details simultaneously, but they can also communicate using the system. That way, your company keeps information centralized and continually accessible.

A complete management software application with full financial management tools also allows you to access more data points that might be related to, but not be derived from, a traditional accounting system. That information could include sales data, marketing budgets, payments on a customer portal, or payroll data. If your accounting department can easily get access to company-wide information, they’ll work much more efficiently.

Mobile Access

Woman using mobile erp software

According to a recent study by IWG (International Workspace Group), telecommuting is on the rise—and remote access to software is more important than ever. They report that: 70% of professionals work remotely one day a week; 53% work remotely for at least half the work week; 11% work remotely all week long.

Because you can only access desktop accounting software using the computer you’ve installed it on, you’ll have to purchase a license per-computer in order for others to access it.

If your accounting department has remote workers or employees who travel, they’ll have to bring their computer wherever they go. (In this scenario, hope they’ve downloaded the software onto a laptop.)

If they don’t bring a computer, or if they experience any technical difficulties, they’ll need to contact someone who has a licensed computer just to enter simple financial records.

Cloud-based accounting software, on the other hand, is accessible on any device at any time. It’s perfect for remote workers, CPAs, and traveling accountants.

Some cloud-based software products have their own apps; some don’t. Any cloud accounting software you try should at least be optimized for views on desktop, mobile, and tablet.

Data security

With desktop accounting software, you have to perform backups manually to ensure your data is secure. But if something happens to the computer your software is installed on— if it’s damaged, lost, or stolen— you’ll also lose and compromise your data.

Keep in mind that it’s not just “data” we’re talking about. Those are your financial records. It’s painful to think about what that kind of loss can do to a business. Even options for data recovery can be time-consuming, and they’re not guaranteed to work.

There’s also a speed issue here: desktop software is only as fast and secure as the computer it’s installed on. A slow and unsecured computer equals a slow and at-risk software application.

Cloud accounting software is backed up on remote servers, 24 hours a day. In the cloud, your data is also backed up in real-time. Should your desktop computer be compromised in any way, your data is not only protected, but you can also still access it from any other device.

Cloud-based software has an added speed bonus, too. Since your financial data isn’t being stored on a hard drive, everything you do in the system will happen much faster.


Most desktop software only offers updates once per year. That means no new features and no resolutions to problems unless the vendor issues an intermittent bug fix. Not only do these updates occur sparingly, but users sometimes have to pay to unlock them and then download the update on their licensed computer.

Worse, users are typically locked out of the software until the update is fully downloaded. If you’ve ever waited for one of these to happen, you know just how frustrating it can be. Especially when you’re trying to get work done.

By contrast, most cloud accounting software automatically updates every 3-6 weeks. With a truly robust software, that means you get access to approximately 8-17 new features per year, as opposed to the paltry few on the desktop.

erp software system update

With every update, your system unlocks new functionality and resolves bugs. And because updates occur for only an hour on off-hours and on weekends, you shouldn’t experience any disruption to your workday.

Truly advanced cloud accounting software will even update in the background of your application, so if you happen to be working during an update, you’ll still have read-only access to all of your financial data for that hour.

Double Entry

Most desktop accounting software offers limited integration opportunities. Most of the time, companies who use multiple systems need to replicate data in every system just to maintain accuracy.

Double entry means double the effort.

However, if you have a fully integrated cloud accounting solution, you can eliminate double-entry altogether. By pulling in data from your sales, human resources, and project divisions, you’ll already have the information handy.

Some systems accomplish this type of connection through integrations and APIs. But it’s also possible, and preferable, to have a single system that connects your data. That means no signing in and out of separate applications. For your accounting department, it means no twisting arms to access information from other divisions.

A complete ERP management solution

At this point, you might be wondering: can my desktop accounting software just integrate with an ERP or other business management software?

It can. But that’s like plugging your vacuum cleaner into a wall socket that keeps shorting out.

Rather than ignoring the shortcomings of desktop software (which will only become greater with time, as they become legacy products), moving to a fully integrated cloud solution will provide greater accessibility for more robust financial management.

ERP Illustration Pt. 2


Desktop accounting software applications are going the way of the dinosaurs. Applications that run in the cloud provide not only more data security, but a whole host of process features that make your accounting much easier. And faster.

It’s no longer a question of whether you should consider a cloud solution— it’s a question of when.

When looking for a cloud solution, make sure it can completely integrate with your other company data. Just because an application exists in the cloud doesn’t necessarily mean it does everything you need it to.

With the right vendor and features, you’ll be able to completely streamline all of your accounting processes, for now, and for the future.