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Do I Need an ERP or CRM System?

What’s the difference between ERP and CRM?

You’ve most likely heard about ERP and CRM systems, but you don’t know which is right for your business.

First of all let’s explain the acronyms:

CRM is Customer Resource Management
ERP is Enterprise Resource Planning

The short answer is that both systems help you run your business more efficiently. There is fuzziness and overlap between the two types of systems, but there are still distinct differences. This guide will help you make informed choices between the two.

CRM deals with potential business – the sales and marketing department, while ERP deals with business orders – fulfilment and finance.

Let’s take a look at what each system does in detail

What does an ERP system do?

ERP systems are often used by manufacturers to run their businesses and improve efficiency. ERP systems cover all areas of business, like finance, manufacturing, and HR

ERP descriptions


  • Transactions
  • Accounts payable and receivable
  • Cashflow
  • Financial reporting


  • Productions schedules
  • Fulfilment
  • Engineering
  • Bill of materials
  • Quality control

Supply chain

  • Planning
  • Warehousing
  • Picking and packing
  • Inventory management

Order management

  • Shipping and payment
  • Pricing
  • Order entry


  • Automated purchasing
  • Quoting
  • Contracts
  • Purchase orders

Human Resources

  • Payroll
  • Timesheets
  • Training

What are the benefits of an ERP system?

  • Increased efficiency
  • Faster reporting
  • Reliable data
  • Simpler systems
  • More flexible

What are the drawbacks of an ERP system?

  • Can be expensive
  • Need regular maintenance
  • Projects can be complex and costly
  • They can’t fix processes, only analyse them.

What does a CRM do?

CRM covers a smaller business area than ERP. Normally, CRM is used by sales and marketing departments to keep track of existing customers and new leads. CRM, traditionally, is focused on getting deals done – after that the work is passed onto an ERP system

CRM descriptions

What does a CRM do?

  • Store contact and lead data
  • Automate sales processes
    • Follow up emails
    • Staff reminders
    • Real time reporting
    • Forecasting
  • Lead management
    • Store lead information and score them based on their likelihood to purchase
    • Respond to new leads and notify staff
  • Marketing
    • Bulk emailing
    • Customer tracking
  • Opportunity management
    • Create quotes and orders
  • Customer service
    • Some CRM systems include case management

Do I need a CRM?

It is increasingly difficult to operate without a CRM, once you have more than a few employees. As you grow, you’ll become overwhelmed with disconnected systems if you don’t use a CRM.

Things to consider when choosing a CRM

  • Is your CRM easy to use and access?
  • Can you use an off the shelf CRM, or does it need to be tailored to your business?
  • Is your data secure?
  • Can the CRM integrate with your existing systems?
  • Can the system grow with your business?
  • Do you get support and training?
  • Is the system reliable?
  • Can you upgrade and add on extra features easily?
  • Can you easily customise reports and dashboards?

Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Sales ticks these boxes

Do I need ERP?

  • Can the software be tailored to fit your manufacturing processes?
  • Does the system integrate with your CRM and other systems?
  • Is your data secure?
  • Can the system grow with your business?
  • Do you get support and training?
  • Can you upgrade and add on extra feature easily?
  • Can you easily customise reports and dashboards?

What about an integrated CRM and ERP?

Many ERP systems offer built in customer management and if your sales and marketing needs are small, then that is an option for you.

Given that when you come to buy an ERP system, you’ll most likely have a CRM, you might want to look at integration. It might be easier and cheaper to buy a specialist ERP and integrate it with your CRM. For most popular CRMs this is possible.

How do I choose?

There are no hard and fast rules

If you’re a smaller, service based company, you’ll need a CRM, but probably not an ERP system just now

If you’re a larger manufacturing company then an ERP system with some customer management might be the right thing for you.

If you’re somewhere between, so should talk to a specialist to help make that decision

Hopefully, this guide will have helped your decision, but if not, please drop us a line and we’ll help. We’ve helped in many similar situations.

📆 Last update: January 31, 2024

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