The concept of ERP – Enterprise Resource Planning – is really very simple. It is a route that businesses find leads to clear visions of what is happening across all business divisions, and as a bonus, a significant reduction in computer-related costs leading to enhanced profitability.
ERP is software that integrates the functions of business departments, allowing data that is inputted by one department to give an automatic update to every other department linked on the system. If data is put into sales, for example, this will immediately show up in the deliveries department and action can then be taken to ensure the sales instruction is carried out and completed. ERP is used to link human resources, marketing, production, financial operations and service and product development, enabling managers to get an immediate snapshot of how the business is operating at any one time.
Cloud ERP is where all the software functions are handled by a provider off site via the internet. As the system is based on modules, for example for human resources or financial management, businesses can use as many or as few modules as they need. This makes cloud ERP suitable for small businesses, as well as for large ones that may be planning to roll out mobile ERP for employees to access via smartphones and tablets.
The importance of CRM
Customer relations management is a key area for business success and is important both for B2B sales and for organisations, such as supermarkets, that are facing the public as customers. Systems for CRM were early colonisers of cloud technology, and as ERP moves off site and online there is a pressing need for the applications to be integrated.
CRM generates a complete picture of a business’s customers through marketing, sales and customer engagement service, and cloud ERP is in a unique position to deliver information on customer accounts and their financial status, information on supply chains and warehouse management data. The ability to keep in touch, in real time, with customers and their needs is helping to drive the future of CRM by using cloud ERP.
Linking ERP and CRM
The faster that a business can respond to customer requirements and requests, the more likely the customer is to continue to place orders or to shop at a particular outlet. Cloud-based services give the advantage of speed, with applications able to be rolled out to employees wherever they are, accessible via mobile devices and at any time.
Businesses looking to have instant recall of what customers want will also have to consider the security implications of data held. A well-integrated cloud ERP/CRM system will have built-in protection to ensure that customer-sensitive data is held securely, and part of a business’s approach to its customers will need to highlight that security aspect.
As with any new development within a business, it has to be thought through and planned carefully. There may be data compliance issues, or integration may not initially be as smooth as planned, but being aware of these issues means that businesses can effectively look to linking their CRM with cloud ERP.