An iconoclast is an individual who challenges the prescribed or established way of doing things, finds a better way, creates a plan for change, and executes it.
My first and greatest journey as an iconoclast and business leader, was questioning how accounting technology was used. This led me to create the world’s first and only accounting platform built on the Salesforce Customer Relationship Management (CRM).
Challenging the Prescribed Technology: ERP vs CRM
Originally, digital accounting was mostly performed on standalone accounting applications or on Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) platforms.
ERP’s legacy was directly tied to the development of accounting software. Because developing industry-specific applications is difficult, IT creators added software for the most prominent cross-industry operations. Traditional ERP provides accounting-related solutions like supply chain automation and resource planning in addition to accounting.
What defines the traditional ERP system is a rigid operating structure and solutions-set that give users consistency. ERP became a one-size-fits-all system. It’s a great source of structure, which any accountant can appreciate—until the structure doesn’t work for a different situation.
I encountered a lot of frustrations with ERP. The platform lacked a key feature that’s critical for business technology: flexibility. Flexibility is something definitive of the CRM platform.
CRM was developed to manage customer relations and communications to enhance and streamline sales processes. Traditionally, CRM platforms offer solutions like prospect tracking, pipeline reporting, and quoting. The heightened degree of flexibility in IT structure comes from its roots as a sales tool. Individual companies have different products and processes. Unique organizations make money differently than others, even within the same industry so these solutions had to be adaptive to how the users needed them to respond. CRM focuses on allowing users to manage the system around the business’ requirements instead of organizing processes around the software itself.
Despite the growth of CRM, stand alone accounting apps or ERPs were still the main go-tos for accounting. Why?
Why do accounting functionalities have to be secluded to the ERP? Instead of having to integrate an ERP or accounting app to CRM, couldn’t an accounting solution be built on and designed like a CRM? Could accounting and financial data be better on a CRM? I asked all this after yet another integration project just didn’t suit the needs of one of my clients. But, instead of just trying to improve the integration process and work with systems that didn’t give leaders and accountants the flexibility they needed, I looked to engineer a different solution.
Engineering a Better Solution: Accounting on CRM
As an accountant, an IT specialist, and business leader, I knew that financial data is critical. Whoever controls how accounting is performed and data is captured and used, can clearly examine return on investment. Being able to pinpoint the factors defining financial health is key to everything from cost savings to increasing sales. However, if you’re restricted by how your accounting is logged and performed, you lose an articulate way to measure your data. You’re also spending more time/money trying to conform billing requirements, payables, and general ledger specifications to a system that wasn’t built to handle your precise needs.
The reality is that accounting is significantly stronger on a CRM platform.
CRM’s greater capacity for customization and configuration gives it an edge over ERP as an overall platform. This is also what makes it an ideal platform to house accounting functions. I began thinking how accounting would be enhanced with an IT structure developed with these principles in mind. Users would be able to take the accounting system and mold it to how they need. This brings several core benefits, including:
Additionally, if this accounting solution was built on the Salesforce CRM it is already integrated to other applications on the platform. This is another major cost and IT hurdle that gets dropped by developing an accounting system with the CRM mindset.
Reflections What can we learn from this besides the potential for accounting on CRM? As businesses recover and pivot from the effects of COVID-19, we are in a new reality. Question, explore, and don’t be afraid to adjust to empower you, your business, and most of all, your customers. For more information on using this technology to transform how you do business, take a look inside my book.
TONY ZORC, is the founder and CEO of Accounting Seed, the world’s first accounting platform built in the cloud. Tony combines a very unique combination of skills being a