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Master ERP, SAP, and CRM Integration: Ten Tips from our Zentelia Expert

By Mireille Caouette: Software Quality Assurance (SQA) Specialist

April 18, 2024

Integrating ERP, SAP, and CRM systems such as Workday, SAP Concur, and Salesforce is a complex challenge for any organization. However, with meticulous planning, cross-functional collaboration, and innovative solutions, you can successfully overcome these challenges, enabling businesses to fully leverage these technologies to optimize their operations.

This reality became vividly clear to me during my first assignment at Investissement Québec (IQ), where I was directly involved in integration projects for these systems. Drawing from this enriching experience, I want to share significant lessons from my journey and offer ten essential tips to effectively master integration and maximize benefits for your organization.

Collaboration and Adaptation

Close collaboration between business and IT teams was crucial to ensure effective change management, understand the company's specific needs, and adapt the systems accordingly. Rigorous testing was conducted at each stage of the integration process to ensure data quality and reliability.

Streamlined HR Management with Workday

During this assignment at IQ, I worked on integrating the Workday system, a software similar to an ERP but specifically designed for human resource management. Workday was chosen for its ability to seamlessly manage key human resources processes, such as recruitment, compensation, scheduling, absence and leave management, as well as employee benefits. These functionalities are essential for effective personnel management at IQ.


Although the field of human resources was new to me initially, I quickly realized the complexity of the processes, particularly those related to hiring and benefits, governed by strict procedures and hierarchical authorizations. This complex framework required a deep understanding and meticulous configuration of the system to meet diverse expectations.

Migration and Configuration Challenges

Upon purchase, Workday was ready to use, but since IQ already used a HR management system, data migration without loss or corruption was a major challenge. We established a detailed test plan for each migration stage, validating the transfer of all employee data and converting existing data to the format required by Workday.


Adapting to Organizational Standards  

The complexity did not stop at migration. Workday had to be configured to comply with IQ's specific standards, which employs workers from five different unions, each with their own rules concerning working hours, overtime, absences, and various benefits. This required customizing the system to precisely meet each union's requirements, ensuring that each configuration respected the employees' rights and expectations under different collective agreements.


Testing and Validation 

The initial tests were crucial to ensure that each system aspect worked as intended. Each configuration was subjected to rigorous testing to ensure the system met the specific requirements of each employee group. Numerous adjustments and iterations were required to refine the system for optimal performance in a real operational environment.


Through a meticulous and adaptive approach, we successfully addressed the complex challenges of integrating Workday at IQ. We carefully migrated data from the previous HR system and conducted detailed tests at each stage. This approach enabled the precise configuration of the system according to the specific needs of various employee groups, following the rules of the five unions representing them. Thus, we ensured a smooth transition and successful adoption of the system by all concerned employees.


Flexibility and User-Friendliness with SAP Concur 

During the same assignment at IQ, I also participated in integrating SAP Concur, an essential system for managing employee expense reimbursement requests. Like Workday, SAP Concur required meticulous configuration to account for different expense reimbursement rules. IQ processes a variety of expenses, including meals, accommodation, transportation for business trips, and expenses for physical activities, furniture, office supplies, and training. Reimbursement amounts vary by region or country, and each type of expense differs according to the employee's hierarchical level, with each request following a strict approval process.


The integration of SAP Concur posed considerable challenges due to the complexity of reimbursement rules. Initially, the system's rigid configuration complicated the establishment of certain reimbursement rules, requiring adjustments to make the validation rules more flexible. These adjustments made the process more user-friendly, improving the user experience and operational efficiency.


In response to initial challenges encountered during testing, we developed an automated process to import new employee data from Workday to SAP Concur. This automation aimed to reduce potential errors related to manual data entry. This second phase of development not only simplified operations but also strengthened internal control integrity, ensuring the successful integration of SAP Concur into IQ's operational environment and a smoother, more accurate expense reimbursement management.


These steps demonstrate how a flexible and responsive approach can turn initial challenges into effective solutions, improving business process management and supporting the complex needs of a large organization.

Project and Data Management with Salesforce

During my two assignments at IQ, the integration and expansion of the Salesforce CRM marked a significant transformation, evolving from a simple internal application to a robust platform integrating multiple business lines such as sales, international investment, as well as environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues. Salesforce, with its modular design, allowed various applications to be tailored to the specific needs of different organizational divisions.


Consolidation and Feature Development 

The consolidation of business lines within Salesforce involved creating numerous specific objects and applications, access to which had to be carefully controlled based on user roles and profiles. This structuring required meticulous validation to ensure each division could operate efficiently while adhering to data security and governance standards.


CRM Project and Data Management  

One of the biggest challenges was the ESG project, which involved creating complex questionnaires to evaluate environmental, social, and governance issues. Careful planning was required to ensure the consistency and accuracy of the collected data. The questionnaires were developed by internal users and sent to external clients via a web link, allowing direct and secure interaction.


Clients had to fill out these questionnaires online and sign them securely. We managed two types of questionnaires: Questionnaire A comprised 21 questions, and Questionnaire B, more detailed, included 56 questions, each with up to seven sub-questions. The process included validating the creation of the questionnaires, sending emails, ensuring the availability of web links, and verifying the accuracy of the displayed questions and answers, which varied according to the company's NAICS code. In the final phase, the completed questionnaires were signed and uploaded, and their responses were imported into Salesforce for analysis and future use.

Validation and Success

This intense and arduous project required multiple validations to ensure the accuracy of each process step and the precise alignment of data with the corresponding fields in Salesforce. The success of this project strengthened the organization's ability to manage complex data and improved client engagement through more precise and relevant interactions.


Thanks to our proactive and reactive approach, we overcame the technical and organizational challenges related to Salesforce integration, ensuring effective project and data management in various strategic initiatives at Investissement Québec.

Expert Tips

  1. Meticulously plan data migration tests to ensure data integrity and accuracy during system transfers.

  2. Adapt system configuration to meet the specific needs of different user groups, ensuring effective customization.

  3. Automate tests for repetitive processes and large data volumes, increasing efficiency and reducing errors.

  4. Document test processes and results to facilitate adjustments and compliance audits.

  5. Integrate user feedback into testing phases to refine the system and align its features with real needs.

  6. Ensure security and confidentiality during tests, especially with sensitive data management and inter-system communications.

  7. Monitor and validate system performance under various loads to ensure robustness.

  8. Verify post-migration data integration to confirm that all information is processed correctly.

  9. Prepare for regulatory adjustments and flexible configurations, continuously optimizing the system.

  10. Encourage close collaboration between development teams and end users to foster mutual understanding of goals.

Wondering if these recommendations apply to your context? Want to improve operational efficiency and user adoption? Contact an expert from Zentelia today! Transform your challenges into promising prospects with our extensive expertise and dedicated support!


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