Should CRM and ERP Systems Come Together?
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It is a well known fact that integrating CRM systems to your business helps you to serve customers, capture leads, track opportunities and activities. Integrating CRM systems to your business leads you to operational efficiency of your sales and management team.Often, the ultimate goal of many companies who buy and install CRM systems is control and transparency over the operations. They wish to take control over sales team, to keep records in one place and to make fast decisions using reporting capabilities.
However, companies realize that successful integration of CRM systems is just the start of the story, and there is more work to do to achieve control and transparency. Managers start realizing CRM systems work with finding right clients and customers only. Clients and customers are just the start of long business supply chain, and they are the causes of next operations in the company: receiving orders, sending invoices, fulfilling orders, manufacturing, etc. While sales and support team handles the customer requests and problems, there is no feasibility of their customer information that is stored in other software packages. Marketing/sales person talking to the client, advertising about their new product feature, has no idea that the client has a lot of overdue invoices, and products that needs to be shipped. Customer Relationship Management in turn becomes ineffective because, we don’t know necessary information about the client, because that information is stored in another system.
Companies start seeking for solutions. The first solution is to ask the CRM providers for customization in order for the system to be able to handle orders, payments, manufacturing and other functionalities. The advantage of this solution is that, at the end of the day, company may get the proper working system tailored for their business needs. However, the vivid disadvantage is that, customizations take long time to implement, and they cost more money.
The second solution is to integrate 2-3 systems together, or ask providers of those systems for import, export capabilities. The advantage of this solution is that it is actually faster, and results can be seen sooner. However, disadvantage is that, data may not be compatible with each other, and a lot of data entry work may be needed, from several employees or separate integration team. There are more problems with this method, for example imagine that customer information is changed in one system, the changes have to reflected in other systems too. If synchronization is going to be manual, this leads to loss of invaluable employee hours.
Third solution is to buy ERP and CRM packages together. This is the most optimal solution, because, no double data entry will be required, and all the information will be kept in one place. However, when buying CRM and ERP systems together, managers should first map their business processes in a document and see if ERP system can handle all operations in a chain, or customizations will be needed. ERP package vendor, in turn should provide flexible system that can be easily tailored to all business processes in valuable supply chain of the company.