CRM vs. ERP: Which does your business need?

Successful companies need both enterprise resource planning (ERP) and customer relationship management (CRM) solutions to operate effectively in the competitive landscape.

What Is CRM?

Customer relationship management (CRM) software is used by sales, marketing and business development professionals to:

  • Keep track of customers and their purchasing behavior
  • Identify business opportunities and new sales leads
  • Streamline the sales process and reduce repetitive work
  • Automate marketing processes, e.g., email or online advertising campaigns
  • Manage social media accounts and campaigns
  • Facilitate better support for current customers

What Is ERP?

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software is heavy duty software that assists with every aspect of a business’ operations. It encompasses sales and marketing, human resources, accounting, manufacturing, order management, distribution and more. Common features include:

  • Product and purchase planning
  • Manufacturing and delivery planning
  • Inventory management
  • Shipping and payment
  • Supply chain management
  • Accounting
  • Marketing and sales
  • Customer relationship management

How to Decide Which Is Best for Your Situation

Determining where to apply the organization’s resources is guided by these integration outcomes. Other, less direct outcomes can tip the scale, as well. For some organizations and IT groups, a single platform is easier to maintain and troubleshoot, since it involves a single service contract from a single provider. Multivendor environments, of course, are notorious for their structural incompatibilities, which inevitably lead to multiple rounds of finger-pointing when trying to figure out why things are not working. And many organizations are finding that workflows proceed even more smoothly with a fully integrated platform ­– a function not just of the now-unified structure of the software itself but also the fact that it is working off a single, unified data environment.

5 Questions You Should Ask During Your CRM / ERP Demo

  1. Can You Meet My Specific Business Requirements?
  2. Will this Streamline Important Tasks?
  3. Do My Business Process Have to be Adapted?
  4. What is My Management Burden Like?
  5. What is the Total Cost of Ownership?

Connecting CRM and ERP Benefits

When these two systems are separate, you’re not getting a full view of your customer. And when customers call your sales department to find out the status on an order, valuable time is wasted as the sales rep contacts the back office, or tries to figure out an unfamiliar ERP system.

Here are three of the biggest benefits to linking CRM and ERP systems:

1. They provide better opportunities for mobile applications.

A technician in the field does not have time to log into CRM and look up customer information, then pull up details about past orders and pricing from ERP. So these systems are in one platform, valuable information is now at the technician’s fingertips.

2. They assist with internal controls.

All of the data your team members need will be in the CRM system, which helps eliminate information silos. It also keeps employees out of systems they don’t need to be in (such as a salesperson going through the accounting system), just to find out details about a payment or quote.

3. They boost business intelligence.

CRM has an opportunity forecast online, while ERP shows historical data, lagging indicators, and past orders. When your team has easy access to all of this information, they will be able to forecast more accurately.

Both customer relationship management (CRM) and enterprise resource planning (ERP) are powerful tools. But combined, they give your company full access to both front-office and back-office activities.

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