By Jeremy Waterman, Managing Director Sage ERP Africa & Middle East
Every growing mid-sized enterprise needs to put in place business systems that help it streamline business processes, gain visibility into its operations, and enhance productivity. The underlying fundamentals are enterprise resource planning (ERP) and customer relationship management (CRM) solutions.
Each on its own delivers enormous benefits to a business, but to unleash their full potential, they should be integrated. Let’s take a closer look at ERP, CRM, and how they add up to more than the sums of their parts when combined.
Why invest in CRM?
A CRM system helps the business record, catalogue and leverage information about its customers. By keeping this data in a standard format and in a central location, it makes it easy to share customer information throughout the business.
Because management, shipping clerks, sales reps, the service team, accounts, and other departments have access to standard customer information, they can work together to improve customer service, relationships, and satisfaction.
They have the knowledge at their fingertips to increase sales and improve customer retention by offering a superior customer experience.
Why invest in ERP?
Where CRM largely focuses on increasing profits by growing sales, ERP is about improving efficiencies and reducing costs. It allows for the rapid sharing of standardised information throughout all departments, efficient capturing of transactions, and streamlining of business processes. ERP also allows for better workflow and tighter integration of operational data and processes in growing businesses.
Combine and conquer
Traditionally, the decision making around ERP and CRM have tended to be driven by two different areas of the business – sales and marketing driving the CRM decision and finance and operations driving the ERP purchasing decision. This disjointed approach has typically led to the creation of islands of information.
But now, it’s time to bring them together. Integrating ERP and CRM will help remove data silos in from the organisation and optimise operations across their businesses. It gives a more complete view of the customer, spanning sales, support, finance and accounting.
A more integrated view of the customer
This provides a more detailed view of his or her needs, order history, product shipments and account standing. This is actionable information enterprises can use to better anticipate and meet clients’ needs. Another important benefit is that information can flow between the systems without the need for clumsy, expensive interfaces or the need to recapture data.
It improves efficiency, and thereby customer service, When a customer phones to check whether an item is in stock or the status of an order, a call centre agent should not need to log into a different system (to the CRM platform) to find out or, worse still, phone someone in another department to ask.