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Is ERP needed to implement CRM?

Does an organization essentially need ERP in order to implement CRM? Will an ordinary database be sufficient?
Firstly, we have to be clear about what CRM is. CRM is 'a business strategy focused on winning, growing and keeping the right customers' and that definition says nothing about databases or technology! So keep in mind that you can still change the business without radically changing systems, although of course this approach often helps.

Not long ago - say 3 years - there were fewer integrated ERP solutions and integration was far more complex, and at that time 'CRM' flourished (although we called it Marketing Automation, Sales Automation and Customer Service Automation). So the idea of a fully integrated piece is relatively new. In essence, you don't have to integrate to ERP to CRM, electronically, but often it helps, especially if, for example, sales and marketing need to market to existing customers, where the data about customers is held in the ERP solution. However, don't get hung-up about full online integration, often you can do just as well with regular downloads between systems, especially where the market is not moving so fast, such as in high value B2B capital goods sales. The best advice is to identify the cost of integration, looking at various options, and look at the business case for integrating, and act on this - rather than assuming there must be 100% integration cross the piece.

For more information, check out searchCRM's Best Web Links on Enterprise Resource Planning.


This was last published in June 2001

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