The ways in which businesses are run are growing more complicated by the day. New processes, technologies and strategies are constantly being introduced and organizations need to have the flexibility to stay current and competitive. For this reason, many organizations are turning to enterprise resource planning (ERP) and customer relationship management systems (CRM) to have a better handle on their business and stay efficient and effective. Both CRM and ERP are vital for any business to survive in the modern era and the integration of them together can help businesses operate more efficiently and grow quickly. But what are ERP and CRM systems and how do they fit in a modern business? Read on to find out.
ERP and CRM
ERP and CRM solutions are two sides of the same coin when it comes to business functionality. An ERP system is a software system that helps an organization to automate and manage its core business processes. It functions as a repository for vital information that provides a single source of truth to your business. The workable data that comes from an ERP system can be used by any of your organization’s back-office teams to simplify their processes and reduce communication. ERPs make your organization more efficient, more able to be flexible and grant the ability to make better decisions with clear, actionable data.
CRM software functions on the other side of the business, helping to manage the wide range of customer interactions that your organization may have. This ranges from storing prospect customer data for your sales team, to providing the ability for marketers to send automated and personalized emails. Whatever your organization needs for contacting customers or potential clients, a CRM can do. CRM software is also helpful when it comes to working with your existing customers as they can act as an effective customer support tool.
Both ERP software and customer relationship management solutions can be used in combination with one another to provide organizations a holistic technology foundation for managing every aspect of their business, from revenue creation and capture to purchasing and job costing to inventory and manufacturing management. Interconnected ERP software and CRM solutions working together to provide companies with one omni-functional database and work slate that allows for greater collaboration, more accurate decision-making and accurate reporting. The ideal state for any company is to have an ERP and CRM system working perfectly in tandem with each other to support their employees with any business process.
ERPs: A breakdown
While an ERP system can help the entirety of an organization’s back-end business processes, they are especially helpful for ensuring that more complicated procedures are made as efficient as possible through automation and simplification for employees. They bring a wide range of benefits for more complicated areas of any business, including supply chain management, finances and human resources. Any company that could benefit from having higher clarity in their data and maximizing cost savings can effectively gain value from an ERP solution. The automation functionality that many ERP solutions bring also helps your employees be more efficient with their workdays and focus their time on business-forward tasks instead of rote labor like data entry.
By giving your employees a wider range of data to work from, as well as simplified ways to interact with it, your organization can ensure that it doesn’t have to struggle against itself to accomplish work. This is the biggest advantage that ERP systems can bring to an organization — the ability to make effective transformational changes in the way that they operate their business.
As ERPs provide a single source of truth for your employees — as well as clear, actionable data that is easy to work with — they are a perfect solution for any company looking to increase efficiency and clarity in their back-end processes. Utilizing automation and advanced analytics technology, your company can make sure that it’s set up for the future and ready to scale.
CRMs: A breakdown
While the ERP handles the back office, ensuring that supply lines are moving well and that finances are being appropriately dealt with, A CRM system assists the front end of your business in gaining and maintaining revenue share. These solutions provide a powerful set of tools that assist your sales team, marketing team and customer support team to effectively reach out to your clients and potential customers while maintaining an automated database of each of the customers interactions with your company.
CRM solutions grant your organization the ability to stay on top of how constituents are interacting with your organization across the board. From tracking support tickets, to qualifying leads and sending automated emails, these systems act as a nervous center for the entirety of your front-end operations. Much like ERPs, they provide your team with a single source of truth regarding customer data and allow for clear minded decisions to be made surrounding marketing, sales and support.
For any modern and effective organization, marketing and sales lives and dies based on the data they are able to acquire and utilize. Oftentimes, without a CRM solution providing a single clean source of truth data gets lost or isn’t communicated between teams. With a CRM system, marketing can understand what’s happening on the sales side of the business development team and sales professionals can have a clear understanding of their clients’ customer satisfaction and their support needs or issues. These systems help to streamline how departments function and promote interactivity and collaboration between them.
CRM systems are one of the best ways to make your sales, marketing and customer support teams more efficient by automating how data is handled. Much like the aforementioned ERP, customer sales and service data can be centralized and shared by all in the CRM systems, reducing the amount of legwork that your teams have to go through in order to have valid data. This helps to keep your sales people selling, your marketing operations running smoothly and your service team focused on supporting clients instead of having to worry about who’s data is most accurate and current.
Any organization that wants to provide additional support to its revenue acquisition operations can benefit from implementing a CRM system. By helping companies increase productivity and collaboration, CRM solutions assist in streamlining their sales process.
Implementing an ERP and CRM
The benefits of implementing ERP and CRM systems are clear and hard to ignore. Organizations of any size can gain immense value if they successfully implement either one of these systems. This can be tricky for some organizations — 50% – 75% of ERP implementations fail. However, this statistic doesn’t have to apply to your company. There are best practices that any business can take to help ensure that they can get off the ground running and feel the benefits of these systems quickly. Some best practices to bear in mind include:
- Create a steering committee: It’s of vital importance that your organization create a committee of stakeholders from each different department that will be affected by the implementation of either one of these solutions. Without cross-departmental buy-in adoption rates for this technology may be slow.
- Understand your needs: Without knowing what your company is currently lacking, and where there needs to be room for improvement — your selection of technology might not fully solve the problems that you need it to.
- Set achievable and measurable goals: Your committee should create clear benchmarks for what the success of your desired technology should be. These benchmarks should narrow further as you explore different options for ERP or CRM providers and understand further what’s possible for your organization.
There is one more best practice that can really make a difference in implementing ERP and CRM systems — working with a consultant who is knowledgeable in implementing these solutions. You don’t have to go it alone, and often working with a partner to ensure that everything is set up for your unique business requirements will grant your organization far greater success and value than attempting it for yourself. When looking for a partner, you should be looking for the following attributes:
- Highly knowledgeable: Ideally you want a partner who has experience in implementing and supporting ERPs for your specific industry as they will be able to ensure that your unique needs are met.
- Flexible: A partner that has experience with both CRM and ERP as well as many industries is more familiar with the wide variety of features that are available to them and will best help your organization get greater value from your investment.
- Experts at implementation: As the stat above shows, implementation can be a gamble — you want a partner with a proven track record of successful implementations across a wide variety of industries and have a dedicated project management team.
- Partnership focused: ERP and CRM systems can be complicated to implement and manage over the long-term. A partner who is committed to long-term relationships and ongoing support is a must for any organization looking for one of these solutions.
At the TM Group, we’ve turned CRM and ERP implementation into a science. With a rich legacy in providing both CRM and ERP solutions, we’re perfectly positioned to help your organization with its specific requirements across many industries. With thousands of implementations completed since we were established in 1984 and specialized in Microsoft Dynamics CRM and ERP solutions, we’ve been in the game for a long time and can help your organization configure your ERP/CRM system so it works best for you. For more information, contact us today.