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ERP & CRM: Better when they’re together

As clichéd as it might sound – teamwork always wins. The same is true for ERP and CRM. Alone they’re both fantastic products, but they’re enhanced immeasurably when working in tandem with one another.

With Dynamics 365 just around the corner, we thought it would be a great opportunity to look at why ERP and CRM work so well with one-another. And why Microsoft seem to think so too!

But first, let’s set the scene:

What do ERP and CRM actually mean?

It’s pretty simple actually. Have a look at the couple of blogs we’ve written about them both.

If you don’t have time:

  • ERP – A tool for managing back office activities like: accounting, inventory, finance and HR
  • CRM – A tool for managing front office activities like: email marketing, sales force automation, social monitoring.

There’s more data than ever!

This might hurt your brain – But more data has been created in the past two years, than in the entire history of the human race. That’s thousands of years of data – surpassed in two years! Businesses need to react to our increasingly data driven world. You need systems that can put all of this data in one place and help you make sense of it all. ERP and CRM are the tools to do that.

Do ERP and CRM centralise your data?

It’s a frequently touted benefit of deploying one or other.  But do you still reap this benefit if you have an ERP and CRM system? The answer is actually a bit of a tricky one. Technically no, you don’t have the benefits of a centralised system. By having two separate systems, the data from an ERP and CRM do not feed into one another.

However, there are potential solutions to this issue by paying for “bridging” solutions whereby ERP and CRM can integrate by sharing a common database. But this isn’t a true integrated ERP and CRM solution, as it’s using two separate products, and bridging their respective databases and resources.

Blurred lines

Microsoft have clearly recognised that in 2016, the lines between CRM and ERP are becoming increasingly blurred. The newly announced Dynamics 365 is the realisation of this strategy. Dynamics 365 is a true integration of ERP and CRM as features traditionally associated with ERP and CRM are packaged into one product.

Over the last few years, Microsoft have been steering their Dynamics CRM product towards ERP integration. The acquisition of Field One and the Field Service Module are indications that Microsoft sees their CRM as more than just a CRM system. They see it as a complete end to end solution that encompasses every function of your business.

So why should I integrate ERP and CRM?

Good question. There are many reasons why you should! We’ve prepared 5 of our favourites for you here:

#1 – Eliminate Data storage duplication

ERP and CRM systems hold data for different purposes. A CRM uses data to improve customer service. An ERP holds data for back office functions like inventory and billing. But why shouldn’t these systems work in tandem?

Scenario: A customer shopping for shoes has clicked through a link in an email. On your website, a plugin connects directly to your system to pull the inventory you have for their chosen shoes. After some persuasive messaging in the email and the website, they go on to convert into a sale. They order their shoes for delivery and their details are captured by your checkout system. This data then isn’t sent to a separate system; it instead becomes part of the existing account your customer has on your system. Their order is then despatched.  

This whole process is made seamless by an integrated ERP and CRM system. It saves you having to copy this data over to your dispatch system. Or even manually key it in!

#2 – Support Cost Decrease

Having one system instead of two means you’ll spend less money, time and effort maintaining your system. You’ll only have one system to worry about, which means you won’t need to spend a fortune on maintaining both systems.

#3 – Save money on training

Training staff up on any system is a costly affair. You’ll invest time on boarding staff with your systems when they’re new, invest time and money on staff when systems get any sort of change or update. With just one system, you’ll reduce the amount of time and money spent on training. It’ll free up time to be spent on other tasks.

#4 – Empower your sales team

Taking advantage of the resources a combined ERP and CRM offer is hugely beneficial for your sales team. They’ll be able to complete sales and advise customers of the status of their order, without having to navigate into another system or utilise a third party. Your salespeople will even be able to amend and track an order, fundamentally altering the way they interact with your customers. Your salespeople will also have all of their order history to hand, so they’ll be able to gain insight into your customers before/during a sale.

#5 – More money!

Integrating ERP and CRM has obvious financial benefits. Your organisation will operate more efficiently, your employees will work more efficiently and effectively. You’ll all use one source of data. You’ll save money on training, you’ll save money on maintaining your new system. All of this will lead to an overall increase in productivity and efficiency, which will increase the number of sales you’ll make – Which means, more money and profit for your business.

Microsoft aren’t re-inventing the wheel when it comes to Dynamics 365. They’re merely refining the wheel to make it more efficient and effective!  With all of this change afoot in the ERP & CRM world, we’d be delighted to hear what you think about Dynamics 365. Feel free to drop a comment below.