ERP vs. CRM: What Are They and How Can You Use Each of Them?

Matthew is a Marketing Copywriter with a B.A. in Professional and Public Writing from Auburn University. He aims to learn a little more about the SEO world each day, and share as much of that knowledge with you as he can. When he's not striving to put out some fresh web content, he's usually fueling his Tolkien obsession or working on miscellaneous creative projects.

Running a business involves many different tasks. You have to coordinate product production, market your company, and maintain a budget, among other things. But at its core, running a business is all about data.

Everything you do is — or at least should be — centered around data. You can gather data about your customers’ behavior, your marketing return on investment (ROI), and so much more. But where do you store and analyze that data?

That’s where tools like customer relationship management (CRM) and enterprise resource planning (ERP) platforms come in. But what is ERP vs. CRM, and how can each of them benefit your business? Read on to find out.

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What is ERP vs. CRM?

As mentioned above, ERP and CRM platforms are both types of tools used for helping you manage your business data. However, they aren’t one and the same thing. Here’s a simple breakdown of each one!

ERP

ERP stands for enterprise resource planning. An ERP platform exists to help you centralize all kinds of data from all across your company. It keeps different departments in sync with one another and enables you to quickly access all your data in one place.

ERP platforms can handle many different types of data. The main type of data ERP platforms are used for is financial data — budget, revenue, spending, and so on. But other common data types used in ERPs are things like product inventory and employment information.

The basic idea, though, is that ERP platforms help you manage all the internal information vital to running your company.

CRM

CRM stands for customer relationship management. As the name suggests, CRM platforms focus on keeping up with information about your customers. Basically, any piece of data related to the way people interact with your company can apply to a CRM platform.

Some examples of data that you might manage in your CRM platform include:

In this way, the function of CRM platforms is a bit more specific than that of ERP platforms.

Benefits of ERP vs. CRM

When it comes to CRM vs. ERP, it’s not really a case of one or the other. A successful business will use both types of platforms, as both offer their own unique benefits. But what are those benefits?

ERP

The primary benefit of using an ERP platform is centralization. ERP platforms let you bring all the data from across your company and pool it together in one place. That means you don’t have to jump between countless data sources to get a comprehensive picture of how your business is running.

Aside from convenience, the other main benefit is consistency and synchronicity. When you use an ERP platform, all the departments in your company contribute to it. That means you’ll avoid ever having two teams be out of sync with one another.

CRM

CRM platforms offer the same main benefit as ERP platforms — convenience. Like ERP tools, they help you keep all your customer data in one place so you don’t have to jump around between different programs.

CRM platforms also help you improve your customer experience. If you have to go back and forth between tools, or if your sales and marketing teams aren’t on the same page, it can be easy to miss important bits of data or send inconsistent messages to your audience.

With the help of a CRM tool, however, you can present a fully informed and unified front as you market to your customers.

You can learn more about the benefits of CRM in this video:

Benefits and drawbacks of a combined CRM and ERP

In many cases, CRM and ERP are separated into two separate platforms. However, there are some ERP platforms that come with CRM capabilities. This means you have the option of getting ERP and CRM platforms separately or getting a combined tool.

The most notable advantage of getting a combined platform is that it further centralizes everything for you. Instead of using one tool for your financial data and another for your customer data, you can have one tool that does both. This also helps you keep the two in sync.

However, there are some downsides to this as well. ERP and CRM platforms are often stronger when they’re built for one particular function. A platform built specifically for CRM will naturally be more specialized than one that divides its focus between CRM and ERP features.

It’s also worth noting that even if you get separate platforms, CRM and ERP tools often integrate with each other, so you can still sync all your data despite having two platforms.

How are CRM vs. ERP similar and different?

To wrap up this blog post, let’s briefly summarize the ways in which CRM and ERP platforms are similar to and different from one another. 

Similarities

The most obvious similarity between CRM and ERP is that they both concern company data management. Both are optimized to help you centralize data in one place, and both carry the benefit of helping you keep different teams on the same page.

Both types of platforms also tend to integrate with a wide variety of other tools so they can pull in all the necessary data. Furthermore, they both often come with features that help you analyze the data they gather so you can improve your business practices based on your findings.

Differences

The main differences between CRM vs. ERP come down to the types of data they help you manage. CRM platforms deal specifically with customer data. ERP platforms, on the other hand, are broader in their scope. They can deal with all kinds of data, sometimes including customer data.

However, ERP platforms are used mainly for more internal company proceedings like budgets and inventory, while CRM platforms handle external interactions with customers and leads.

Get help managing your ERP and CRM with WebFX

If you’re looking for the optimal CRM for your company, look no further than Nutshell, our very own in-house CRM platform designed specifically for small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs). It can help you track all your leads and customers throughout the marketing funnel.

WebFX can also help you maximize digital marketing efforts through your ERP platform, whichever platform that may be. With over 25 years of experience, our marketing proficiency is unparalleled, and we can’t wait to work with you.

Just call us at 888-601-5359 or contact us online today to get started!

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