29 January 2015
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What is ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning)? What is CRM (Customer Relationship Management)? What is the basic difference between ERP and CRM? Are they both connected? How can they be useful to my business? Can I use them without having software expertise? Will my people be able to work with them? Will their implementation ask for extra budget to train my people? Should I implement them? Or are the just a marketing gimmick?  Through this blog issue, we would try to answer these concerns.

Recall a situation when you purchased an apparel online. What you did when there was a delay in the delivery of that product to you. Well, you might have called the merchant over the phone or have tracked the status of the delivery online to know exactly where it reached and by what time you would get it. What made it happen? This is what ERP does for you. It interlinks the various processes from inventory to shipping, and in between. Isn’t it wonderful to have a single place where every detail can be found? ERP provisions every bit of information not just to customers but also to business people who are behind the scene. It fosters real-time sharing of information to streamline business operations. Now recall one more situation, when you call to your phone banking officer to know the last transaction that happened against your bank account, and the officer picking your call after a bit of authentication comes with the right information. How come? Perhaps, CRM does the job here, it acts as a repository of information from where you can find real-time details regarding the products or services that you opt.

ERP organizes business data and brings into picture a centralized data management. It works as a single umbrella for all processes, and users can enter or retrieve information from it based on the rights or permissions granted to them. Administrators can govern and monitor their steps as and when required. Thus, by allowing smooth and secured sharing of data across different processes of a business, ERP cuts down the operating costs and makes the delivery system efficient. While CRM organizes and centralizes the customers’ records, and helps businesses to collect requests and deliver their services well to customers. This ultimately raises not just the level of sales or acquisition but also the customer satisfaction and their loyalty with respect to a brand.

Which should step in to first, CRM or ERP? Speaking logically, ERP should come first because without having business processes one can’t expect to have customers. But since adopting ERP will not be without expense, and to be capable of investing one should have healthy sales statistics. At initial stage startups can manage their processes manually but once they have gained foothold they can think of enhancing their processes and workforce productivity by having a responsive and intelligent ERP system. Well, CRM tasks can also be handled that way. Yes, it can be to some extent, but in the competitive and customer-centric economy, one should be more sensitive to customers’ demands, if a brand really wants to succeed and create a niche of its own. Hence, implementing CRM should be the top priority and considered as an upfront investment. In the later phase both ERP and CRM can be interlinked to achieve greater agility and make the processes more consistent and transparent. Cloud technology has made significant contribution in making the ERP and CRM system more dynamic, user-friendly and cost-efficient. Nowadays, without shelling out hefty sum, entrepreneurs can find relevant ERP and/or CRM solution. These services can be managed, monitored and used without having any IT expertise. Moreover, they are offered against a flexible pay-as-you-go module, and entrepreneurs can choose features that they or their people would need the most.

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My name is Anurag Sharma.
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