The requirements of organizations regarding an ERP system can be totally different from the requirements to a CRM application. The systems are used for completely different purposes and often by different users within the organization as well. This results in ERP and CRM being two separate systems, each with their own vision, functionalities, setup, technology, etc. And that is not a good idea! My advice is to put ERP and CRM in just one application or, if that is really not possible to achieve, create a decent interface between the two.
The benefits of ERP and CRM in one
One system means one implementation, maintenance/enhancement just once and support for only one system. And that means lower costs and a more agile organization. Going live and upgrading the system will go faster and be cheaper, the costs for maintenance and support are lower and very important: with one system it is much easier to let your software help you to achieve your business goals. One system also means that ERP and CRM users both check the same data. This will prevent a lot of confusion, duplicate data entry and the need to have to check two systems all the time. As there often is no strict distinction within the company in who works with ERP software and who works with the CRM application, many users will (want to) use both systems. Having both in one system ensures you of a shorter learning curve and increases the chance that your employees will master the software quickly and work with it happily.
The benefits of interfacing ERP and CRM
If it is really impossible to meet the requirements of ERP and CRM with just one system, it is wise to create a good interface between the two. After all, ERP users would like to be able to see CRM data and vice versa; CRM users will want to check ERP information regularly. By interfacing the systems, all users are completely informed which helps them to take the right decisions. You are also assured that the data in both systems is always up-to-date. A good interface eliminates the need to switch between two systems and duplicate data entry, which saves you lots of time, mistakes and frustrations.
Do note that the integration of ERP and CRM should not mean that either one of them becomes inferior to the other. The requirements of both should be met sufficiently. Therefore choose a supplier and system with specialization in both ERP and CRM.
Daan Schuitmaker is Application Developer at Dysel and turns demands of customers into practical software solutions.