If your organization’s basic financial and operational tools aren’t enough anymore, it may be time to review business management software with enhanced capabilities. There are software solutions—in particular, enterprise resource planning (ERP) and customer relationship management (CRM)—designed to support business productivity. Understanding the difference between ERP and CRM software can help you streamline business processes and increase efficiencies within your organization.
What Is ERP?
ERP refers to a type of software that organizations use to manage activities such as accounting, procurement, project management, risk management and compliance, supply chain operations, and resource management. ERP software can streamline everyday work processes, support data integrity and compliance, and help growing businesses scale.
Historically, ERP systems did not integrate easily with other business systems. Financial and inventory data was siloed. Supply chain information was not connected. Project management updates were not integrated. Customer data was siloed or scattered. Lead or prospect activity was not included to help produce more accurate forecasting. The need to have all this information connected was clear.
Today, many ERP systems can bring together a multitude of business systems and enable the flow of data among them.
Some of the top benefits of ERP include:
- Managing multiple business functions in one central location
- Supporting more visibility across the entire organization
- Streamlining processes and workflows
- Reducing function and record duplication
- Providing advanced tracking and traceability
- Generating real-time business intelligence
A few examples of popular ERP tools include:
- Microsoft Dynamics 365 – Dynamics 365 ERP apps help break down siloes across an organization by providing a single source of intelligence. Apps include:
- Sage – Sage ERP software enables users to share information across the entire organization from HR to accounting to inventory management.
- In addition, Sage Intacct is an advanced financial management platform and is the preferred solution for the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA).
While ERP software can centralize many business processes, it is primarily a finance and operations tool. So how can sales and marketing add their data into the mix? That’s where CRM can help.
What Is CRM?
CRM software is designed to help organizations improve how sales and marketing teams interact and do business with customers and prospective customers. It handles contact and sales management, tracks sales and marketing activity, and shows customer relationships.
A CRM tool lets you store customer and prospective customer information, identify sales opportunities, record service issues, and manage marketing campaigns. With this information stored in one system, it’s easy for team members to see how customers and prospective customers have been communicated with, what product information they have looked at, what they have purchased, and more.
CRM also can help you manage an inquiry across channels without losing track of it. For example, a customer uses social media to express a concern and then switches to phone or email to continue the conversation. With a CRM tool, sales, marketing, and service can get a single view of the customer to inform their activities.
Some of the top benefits of CRM software include:
- Storing customer and lead information
- Identifying sales opportunities with new businesses or opportunities to cross-sell and upsell to existing businesses
- Providing insight into open support tickets and customer service history
- Managing marketing campaigns
A few examples of popular CRM tools include:
- Microsoft Dynamics 365 – Dynamics 365 CRM apps help organizations manage activities related to customers—from tracking leads to managing sales data. Apps include:
- Salesforce also is a prevalent CRM tool for sales, marketing, and customer support teams.
- Sage CRM is another option to help organizations manage customer experiences and evaluate business standards.
What Is the Key Difference Between ERP & CRM?
The key difference between ERP and CRM software is that ERP generally supports accounting, finance, and operations while CRM generally supports sales, marketing, and customer service.
Both types of software can streamline and automate many core business processes. While each has a unique purpose, both can help you improve efficiencies and promote productivity.
When a CRM software service connects to or is a part of an ERP software service, sales data can feed into operations data and vice versa. In addition, forecasting reports may become more accurate when your CRM software integrates with your ERP software.
Evaluating tools that can support your organization is a critical step to take before investing in any service. The Technology Consulting practice at FORVIS can support your ERP and CRM journey by providing insight, demos, and certified experience in Microsoft Dynamics 365, Salesforce, and Sage systems. If you have any questions or want to book a consultation, please reach out to a professional at FORVIS or use the Contact Us form below.