CRM vs. ERP Software: What Does Your Organization Need?

Written By: Michael Huang
Date: September 8, 2019

As more and more companies upgrade to modern enterprise resource planning (ERP) software, customer relationship management (CRM) software often comes up as a topic. If your systems are older, you may start wondering if your organization needs this sort of technology to augment your ERP software.

Here are some things to keep in mind about CRM and ERP systems, along with how to determine which one may be a priority for you or your organization as part of your software selection process.

Overview of CRM Software

So, what exactly is CRM software? CRM software is used by businesses to keep track of customers, their purchasing behavior, streamline sales processes, manage social media and a multitude of other things. It is the software that’s used for managing a company’s interactions with current and potential customers. Expect the ability to collect new leads as well as execute campaigns to further the sales process.

CRM software may be purchased as standalone software, and these packages are often more powerful and robust in customer-facing functionality. They also come at a higher price. Connecting a CRM to the systems that underpin your business may be the challenge, especially if your systems are older, disparate or manual. However, there is certainly a lot to be said for being better able to manage you current and future customer bases, and we’ve successfully helped many companies add a robust CRM system.

If your current ERP systems are stable and still providing value, adding a CRM system may be an option to look at that could hopefully deliver increased sales while seamlessly providing your customers with better service. In some cases, CRM systems such as Salesforce have third-party bolt-ons that can allow it to act more like one of the industry’s top ERP systems.

Overview of ERP Software

ERP software’s main function is to manage your business. ERP software keeps the business running while hopefully giving you some efficiencies. Depending on your company, you may be running on a combination of systems. Some may be old with reoccurring issues. If your system(s) can’t grow with the business, or are highly manual, you may want to look at longer term solutions that navigate you away from your current pain points.

A new ERP system is a large undertaking, but the benefits can be strong. Newer ERP software allows for transmitting standardized information through different departments via real time data. The software can typically also encompass human resources, accounting, manufacturing, order management, distribution and other areas. Many organizations evaluate SAP S/4HANA vs. Oracle ERP Cloud vs. Microsoft D365 and others when determining potential ERP systems.

Not to confuse things, but new ERP software may even come with a basic CRM as part of your investment. Depending on the complexity of your business, a basic CRM may work fine, or your business may need a more robust separate CRM (as mentioned above). Don’t feel you need to figure this out on your own. We have intuitive tools that can help you decide which configuration might work best and at what cost.

ERP vs. CRM software: Which one does my organization need?

The first step to answering this question is to look at what your company needs the most. If you’re looking to improve your sales and marketing and you can live with everything else, you would probably benefit most from a CRM system.

If you’re looking to overhaul most of the systems in your company, or are experiencing rapid growth, investing in a new ERP system could be the answer. We recently worked with a client who thought their systems were working fine but found themselves adding employees almost monthly to address capacity. By helping them understand their “real costs” it became evident that new ERP software could help contain costs while allowing for scalability.

In some cases, and as mentioned above, some CRM systems provide the option to grow into a more complete ERP solution. For example, Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics CRM are two systems that provide native and third-party software options to extend its technology into inventory management, financials, and other traditional ERP processes.

If you’re still struggling to figure out what your company needs, feel free to reach out to us at Third Stage Consulting. We are always here to help provide you with honest and unbiased advice, and maybe even a strategy or two that you may not have considered.

Michael Huang

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