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ERP and CRM are technology first cousins


Enterprise Resource Planning and CRM are technology first cousins—and partners. They are usually separate but so intertwined that CRM cannot function effectively without constant communications with ERP, from orders and sales to logistics and deliveries—and customer credit status. ERP aims to be an integrated set of business management and administration applications that covers all normal activities.

ERP software generally has specialist modules for vertical sectors, which can differ greatly. Its history started in manufacturing as Materials Resource Planning but ERP has long since extended to retailing and supply chain and even service industries. Several of the major ERP solutions have their own CRM modules, but all work well with the leading standalone CRM systems, as they must in today’s market.

 

The Relationship between ERP and CRM

But Customer Relationship Management does what it says on the cover, acting in many respects as an extension of ERP into marketing, sales, order processing and generally ensuring that customers or clients are looked after properly and will buy again. The front end of CRM is of course focussed on interactions with customers, from pop-up transaction history for contact centre agents to immediate information for field sales people.

But the back end is about integrated administration and nowadays very much the automation of processes, real-time stock information and order processing to credit/debit card acquisition to the warehouse and logistics functions for fulfilment. We know where all that is handled. 

 

The Smart CRM

The value of smart CRM systems has grown enormously since the early days of (in hindsight) the massive and slightly clunky but pioneering Siebel system, still a leader and part of the Oracle product range. Today, CRM is almost more about mobile working than contact centres or office-based sales agents. All of the leading CRM vendors allow their products to be deployed on any mobile platform.

Another important aspect is that CRM has evolved to cover all types of relationships. Customers and clients can be patients, job applicants, students, association members or volunteers. But the relationships can also be with business or professional partners, vendors and distributors, suppliers, intermediaries and many others.

 

ERP & CRM work together

CRM and ERP work hand in glove in many areas but above all in sales and service process automation and in targeted marketing. CRM for example today even extends to potential customers and trial use of bought-in contact lists.

Today, both are increasingly linked to Business Intelligence and analytics, harnessing the value of the depth of information that builds up in CRM systems. There is a very real sense in which CRM in its first year or so of implementation is at an intern stage—technically qualified but lacking experience and knowledge. But as time goes on the sheer depth and richness of the information builds up to an immensely valuable resource.

 

Summary

The partnership between ERP and CRM still offers potential for future development. In competitive, fast-moving sectors it is the engine of fulfilment to the satisfaction of customers. It is also increasingly the smart cortex, the brainpower of the organisation. It is where management can obtain analysis and insights, potential lines of development and expansion and the decision-making information to progress.

 

Want to know more about ERP selection?

If you are in the middle of an ERP selection process or considering implementing a new ERP, consider attending ERP HEADtoHEAD in Milton Keynes on March 6th and 7th. At this event you will be able to meet with and see multiple ERP vendors demonstrate ERP solutions. Redfaire will be demonstrating Oracle Cloud ERP.

Tags: ERP, Oracle ERP

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About the author

Sean Jackson

Sean is Managing Director of Lumenia. He also consults at senior management level on enterprise systems strategy, organisational change management and business transformation and has led major projects for clients in Europe, the US and Asia in the Life Science, Food & Beverage, Engineering, Retail and Service sectors. Sean is an internationally recognised expert on ERP and technology-driven business transformation programmes and holds Engineering and PhD degrees from NUIG, Ireland. Sean was also a Director of BSM Ireland until its sale to Efeso Consulting in 2015. Previously Sean worked for Digital Equipment Corporation and AMT Ireland in a variety of engineering and management roles.

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