“Will we use CRM functionality in ERP or will we buy a separate CRM system?” This is a question that has been asked for a long time in the manufacturing industry. Particularly with the emergence of complete ERP packages, this remains a difficult question. Unfortunately, I don’t have an unequivocal answer, but I can help by offering insights that I have come across over the years. In this blog I assume that we are dealing with a mature ERP system, which has CRM functionality. If not, the question is irrelevant because then you wouldn’t escape a dedicated CRM system.
Separate or integrated?
ERP systems are (quite) directive in terms of recording data. Everything is saved in tables and through smart queries and links, functionality can be used. I will keep it simple for now, I am not a real techie or database practitioner. In recent years, ease of use has clearly become more common and that is very evident in some ERP systems. Dedicated CRM systems are one step ahead. Consider the full integration with, for example, email clients. Instead of starting up a CRM system, you would start, for example, Outlook and then you would immediately have all CRM functionality from one solution. Dedicated CRM systems often support online and offline use, something not directly possible with ERP software; solutions are available for this, but in native mode it is often not supported. In the Netherlands, this shouldn’t have to be a problem because the average cover of 3 or 4G is reasonably good. Here you can quite literally always be online, provided you aren’t in a deep cellar, bunker or Faraday cage. If you are only interested in Opportunity Management, in terms of functionality, the two systems don’t differ much. It is all about how you use that functionality. I’m not going to try in this blog to give a full explanation about the differences, but would like to mention a couple of points to think about, which could help you to make a decision.