Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) are two products that go great together.
CRM simplifies and standardizes customer interactions, ensuring a steady flow of sales into the business. ERP streamlines business processes, cutting overhead and ensuring a steady flow of products and services to the consumer.
While either product can work well on its own, their true potential isn’t realized until both are working together. This can create difficulties for businesses that have already opted for one or the other, and now wish to complete the package.
With so many ERP and CRM vendors on the market, it’s difficult to tell which products will work well together. Some vendors offer both products, other vendors offer multiple options for integration, while other vendors force you to seek out a third-party solution. Here we’ll look at some of the more popular ERP and CRM vendors, along with possible options for integration.
As one of the world’s largest business software companies, it’s no surprise that SAP offers both ERP and CRM products. A standalone product, SAP ERP is a collection of modules that the end user can purchase to create their own customized ERP solution. SAP CRM is also a customizable collection of modules that can be integrated into the ERP solution. As such, the CRM is not available as a standalone solution, and can only be purchased in addition to ERP.
For other popular CRM vendors such as Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Salesforce.com, and SugarCRM, a customized connector or third-party application is necessary to integrate with SAP ERP. Since customizations and individual needs will vary widely, your mileage may vary.
Another of the world’s largest software companies, Oracle also provides module-based ERP solutions. Oracle also provides a variety of CRM products, including PeopleSoft CRM, Siebel CRM, and On Demand CRM. Information on integration is scarce, and anyone considering integrating Oracle CRM products into an Oracle ERP installation should contact Oracle.
For Salesforce.com, Microsoft Dynamics CRM, and SugarCRM users, it is necessary to use third-party software to integrate with Oracle ERP.
Microsoft Dynamics ERP
Microsoft currently offers four versions of their ERP software: AX, GP, NAV, and SL. The version chosen will largely depend on the individual needs of the business–whether it’s a multinational trying to simplify compliance in different countries, or a small company trying to streamline industry-specific processes. Whichever version is chosen, Microsoft Dynamics CRM should integrate natively.
If you’re using Salesforce.com or SugarCRM, you’ll need additional software from a third-party to integrate Microsoft Dynamics CRM and their ERP offerings.
One of the smaller companies on the list, Infor provides a wide variety of ERP solutions tailored to very specific needs. Infor offers its own CRM software, called Epiphany, though it’s unclear which of their many ERP solutions it will integrate with. If you have an Infor ERP installation, you may want to contact them to find out whether Epiphany is right for you.
Salesforce.com customers are in luck, as Infor has partnered with Salesforce.com to create Inforce Everywhere. This application provides out-of-the-box integration between Salesforce.com CRM products and Infor ERP products.
Microsoft Dynamics CRM and SugarCRM users will have to rely on third-party applications to integrate with the many Infor ERP offerings, including: LN, LX, M3, Syteline, System21, Visual, XA, Adage, Sun Systems, Lawson, Distribution A+, FACTS, and SX.e.
Targeting mid-size businesses, Epicor also provides both solutions. Sold separately, Epicor CRM integrates with your Epicor ERP installation. Given how industry-specific, and highly customized, an Epicor ERP installation can be, Epicor CRM may be the easiest way to get CRM functionality without having to repeat the customizations on another vendor’s product.
As with most of the ERP vendors on this list, you’ll need a third-party application to integrate Epicor ERP with Salesforce.com, Microsoft Dynamics CRM, or SugarCRM.
Sage also offers a CRM product along with their various ERP solutions. According to their website, Sage CRM integrates with Sage 100 and Sage 300, though that can vary by region. For users of Sage 500 or Sage X3, it’s unclear whether Sage offers a direct CRM solution. Contact Sage for more information on product integration.
Salesforce.com, Microsoft Dynamics CRM, and SugarCRM depend on third-party applications to integrate with Sage ERP.
NetSuite is a California-based, Software as a Service (SaaS) provider. They offer both ERP and CRM products, all hosted entirely in the cloud. They also offer more flexibility for integration than some of the other ERP vendors.
NetSuite’s CRM+ can be integrated with an existing NetSuite ERP installation, for an additional fee. CRM+ offers the typical CRM features, along with some other functionalities such as order management, sales forecasting, and more.
For businesses using Salesforce.com, NetSuite offers SuiteCloud Connect, which allows for integration between Salesforce.com products and NetSuite ERP.
Microsoft Dynamics CRM users can integrate with NetSuite ERP using NetSuite OpenAir Connect. This application also allows you to integrate other Office products like Word, Outlook, and Excel.
If you’re a SugarCRM user looking to integrate with NetSuite ERP, you’ll have to use a third-party application.
Getting two separate pieces of software, especially those created by different vendors, to merge seamlessly is highly unlikely. There are going to be some hiccups along the way. That being said, it won’t always be in your best interest to look for the software with the easiest integration.
As always, the best practice is to start with the core goals of your business, and look for the software that helps you achieve those goals. A smooth transition isn’t much good if it leaves you with software that lacks some of the functions you need, or requires massive customizations to be useful.
Start by looking for the ERP and CRM combination that best meets your overall needs, then start looking for ways to get them to play nice with each other.