Enterprise Resource Management (ERP) and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) are two business management systems that often integrate policies, processes, procedures and computerized documentation and tracking to improve business flows and productivity. By integrating the two, an organization can manage all aspects of its operation by monitoring and modifying repeatable processes with documentable metrics.
What Is ERP?
ERP systems often integrate engineering, planning, materials management, finance and human resources. ERP systems integrate data systems with manufacturing processes to help speed raw material supplies and work with every aspect of an organization to ensure efficient operation. In the past, hardware costs limited ERP systems to very large organizations. However, advances in both hardware and software systems have brought ERP systems down in cost to the point where they can be implemented in most organizations.
What Is CRM?
CRM helps track and manage customer relationships. In the past, CRM was a term used only to describe a software application used by customer service representatives to manage customer interactions. However, in recent years, CRM has come to describe the software system, the documented customer service processes, and a customer-centric philosophy and methodology.
There are a number of ERP systems available for organizations ranging from small offices to large manufacturing and engineering organizations. Baan is an ERP system optimized for custom engineering to build organizations like Boeing and other large manufacturers. Other ERP systems are offered by Microsoft, Oracle, PeopleSoft, SAP and Siebel. The system that is appropriate for your organization will depend on the size of your organization and the business functions to be standardized through an ERP system.
There are many vendors of CRM software and systems. These systems differ in their optimization related to organization size, price per user, automation features and other features, like service, support, and marketing features. Well-known CRM packages are Act!, Co-ordimax, GoldMine, Legrand CRM Pro, Maximizer Enterprise, and Salesforce.com. Some of these products are off-the-shelf solutions and others require customization to meet specific business needs.
ERP Systems With CRM
Integrating ERP with CRM is an ideal solution for companies that perform both manufacturing tasks and deal heavily with customer service issues. By integrating CRM with ERP, customer orders can be automatically integrated into a manufacturing flow and supplier chain management system. For companies engaging in custom builds, the time to deliver can be lower and problems with component delivery can be solved by initiating supplier orders as customer orders come in.