Enterprise Resource Planning and Customer Relationship Management are two sides of the same coin. Or are they? In this article, we look at both and help you decide whether you want to hitch them together. Or keep ERP and CRM totally separate.
What you will learn in this article
- What’s ERP and CRM
- The similarities and differences of ERP and CRM
- The benefits of ERP and CRM
- Whether you would want to integrate them and how
- Getting started with CRM/ERP integration
What’s ERP and CRM all about?
ERP and CRM solutions are both heavy hitters in today’s modern business world. Surveys show that ERP and CRM are regarded as priority investments by the majority of businesses. Indeed, ERP software alone is expected to be worth in excess of $48 billion by 2022.
But how do ERP and CRM differ?
ERP vs. CRM
You may have more familiarity with the term CRM than ERP. So here is a breakdown of the similarities and differences between the two. First up, the definitions.
- ERP – ERP is designed to streamline many back-office business functions such as payroll, your supply chain, and HR.
- CRM – CRM is designed to be customer-centric and focused on improving customer experience, loyalty, and sales. It, therefore, focuses on sales and marketing, customer service, etc.
As you can see, there are similarities shared by ERP and CRM. They are both data storage systems to help you manage your business efficiently by streamlining business processes. Both contribute significantly to how you grow your business and maximize profits.
The main divergences between ERP and CRM can be summarized as follows:
- Improves overall business efficiency
- Organizes and manages all aspects of business, including management of suppliers, financial data, payroll, etc.
- Used by enterprise-sized companies and organizations to unify business functions such as project planning, pricing, and business procedures.
- Improves customer experience
- Streamlines interactions with existing and potential customers by automating routine tasks and sharing data between sales, marketing, and customer service
- Used by companies of all sizes to drive sales and improve customer satisfaction
The benefits of ERP and CRM
We can probably agree that ERP and CRM are both powerful tools for your business for varying reasons. Integrating them, therefore, makes good business sense and amplifies the usefulness of both. The following are just some examples of the benefits that you can reap from an ERP/CRM integration.
- Accurate quotes – You can be sure that it’s data-driven and accurate when reps quote a price or quantity. By integrating ERP and CRM, staff can have real-time visibility into inventory and costs.
- Reduced duplication and increased knowledge sharing – You can cut double handling and duplication of work as integration will vastly improve collaboration and workflows within and between teams.
- Improved forecasts – Ensure your sales team can access critical financial data stored in your ERP when making forecasts. Integrating ERP and CRM will give you and your employees sight of the overall picture, which improves forecasts and helps with more accurate planning.
Why go for integration?
For historical reasons, ERP and CRM have lived mainly apart. But as the technology has improved, integration has become much more viable. Today, both are being integrated to streamline business processes in ways that were unheard of before.
For example, you can allow your sales team to send orders directly to fulfillment. Or have your finance people see the revenue flowing into your sales pipeline in real-time. The outcome is less friction within your business and a better end-to-end customer experience.
In addition, both systems contain mission-critical information that’s vital to grow your business. So rather than juggle two unconnected systems, it makes a lot of sense to merge them in one platform as one source of truth for company data.
Getting started with CRM/ERP integration
Integrating your ERP system with CRM isn’t the technological hellscape you likely imagine. But, as you have seen, there are sound reasons for merging the two to obtain unprecedented collaboration and customer service levels.
Your main concern right now is ensuring any integration goes as smoothly as possible and benefits everyone in your organization. And who wouldn’t be a little worried about such a step? The next step is to take expert advice to find the CRM system that merges seamlessly with your existing CRM. Then, the CRM should be able to glide in with little to no discernible disruption. Do not be tempted to shoehorn your ERP into a CRM system that is not 100% compatible.
Typically, an ERP/CRM integration involves the use of syncing software. Usually, this is two-way, so what you see in your ERP is the same data you see in your CRM. In some instances, though, you can choose between:
- Integrating your ERP data with your CRM system
- Integrating your CRM data with your ERP
- Or using two-way syncing to have both ERP and CRM data in one location
Depending on the software, the flow of data between the two can be hourly, daily, or in real-time. The simplest method to do this is to opt for a cloud-based CRM solution.
- NetSuite – Claims to reduce manual and spreadsheet processes by up to 70%. In addition, as it’s web-based, you have 24/7 access to business-critical financial data.
- SAP – The granddaddy of business software. Still going strong and regarded as the premium solution to scale up your business.
- Microsoft Dynamics 365 – Microsoft’s offering in the ERP sphere allows fine-detail optimization for each product. It also comes with real-time insights and uses predictive intelligence.
- Odoo – An open-source ERP solution. It’s user-friendly and allows you to develop e-commerce sites, manage projects, run inventory, manage timesheets, etc.
Small businesses can leverage the power of CRM just as well as the big guys. Find out how by contacting us today. We are the cloud-based CRM specialist for small business and will ensure your ERP/CRM marriage lasts well beyond the honeymoon.