CRM

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Microsoft Dynamics Community

Microsoft Dynamics Community: The power of integrated CRM & ERP

Here’s an interesting perspective from our Microsoft Dynamics community.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) are not mutually exclusive. Historically, CRM was considered a front office solution and ERP a back office one: The former used mainly by sales and marketing staff, whilst the latter, locked away in the dusty back office, accessed by only a few privileged finance users or senior operational managers. However, things are changing and the line between the two has narrowed. Companies can now share data seamlessly between the two systems giving businesses a unique advantage they never had before.

In this article, we explain the differences between CRM and ERP, and explore the benefits of systems integration.

CRM

CRM software fulfils the customer-side requirements of a business, focusing entirely on the customer engagement process. All customer and prospect information can be tracked in CRM to show a 365 degree view at any time, of all interactions. It is likely to be used by everyone in an organisation, from sales representatives to managers to accounting personnel. Companies that engage well with customers will be capturing all interactions to increase customer loyalty and ultimately revenue.

However, modern CRM systems now have functionality to cover much more than just sales management: They now include customer service and marketing automation, and the capabilities to customise into a functional database for tracking and reporting on anything data orientated. When it comes to CRM uses, the sky is the limit and every department can benefit from using or having access to CRM data.

ERP

While CRM focuses on the customer or front office side of the business, ERP focus on the business at large. ERP allows different departments to easily share information with the rest of the company with the goal of automating and improving the overall efficiency of processes. It integrates all business units and departments including; manufacturing, product development, finance etc. Automating these processes and having this information helps leadership review crucial company metrics to make better strategic decisions.

In other words, ERP is a back office application since it has no direct relation to customers. Modern ERP solutions cover the basics of general ledgers, sales and purchase ledgers through to project accounting, warehouse management, manufacturing and more.

Integrating CRM and ERP

Many businesses will find benefits for a CRM solution and an ERP finance solution, but not all will be integrating the two. Lack of integration may mean there are information gaps within a company with the chances of duplicating work increased.

A common duplication occurs between the sales team closing an opportunity and creating a CRM sales order for the same order to be re-keyed in the back office ERP/finance system, which increases the chance of errors. Another example is sales teams wanting to know the exact position of stock, often when in the field have to rely on out-of-date figures from their CRM as they have no visibility into the ERP that links the stock back into the system.

Although the process of integrating CRM with ERP isn’t straight forward, it’s definitely something worth pursuing for a business as it can bring huge benefits: It can result in streamlined business processes, improved staff collaboration and create competitive advantage and ROI, something that is advocated by leading analysts, Forrester. Studies by the Aberdeen Group show that through accurate, real-time information about daily operations accessed through business systems, companies can make faster, smarter decisions which allow them to reduce operational costs by 23% and administration costs by 22%.

However, before purchasing any type of business software, organisations should evaluate their specific needs and understand what their pain points are. This type of evaluation is essential to fully understand what software requirements a business may require. At Advantage, we take the time to fully understand a business and match software to those requirements. We find the benefits of CRM and ERP are relevant to all businesses and think a holistic view of solutions and not just products is the way forward.

If you would like to explore more the benefits of integrated business solutions, call Advantage on 0203 004 4600 or email justin.bown@advantage.co.uk.