April 11, 2023

By Jim Norton, CPA, Principal, Accounting Technology Solutions

It all starts to sound like alphabet soup after a while, but modern organizations are increasingly dependent upon cloud technology to get things done. In fact, remote work demands that data reside in the cloud so that work can be done anywhere and at any time. Over the last 10 years, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) have become integral to the digital transformation necessary to remain competitive. It is important to understand the difference between ERP and CRM and embrace the capabilities each offers to move the needle for your organization.

In a nutshell, ERP helps your organization manage its resources and finances, whereas CRM is focused on sales and client service. Both are remarkable tools that leverage technology to provide data transparency and operational efficiency, and together they provide leadership with the information they need to make key strategic decisions.

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)

The primary purpose of ERP software is to integrate business functions across the organization for data transparency, task automation, and improved efficiency. It serves as a central hub for critical business data allowing leaders to access data in real-time for financial and resource planning decisions. The top products on the market are cloud-based, allowing for access across devices and time zones, AND they integrate seamlessly with third party software systems for managing budgeting and planning, time and expense, payroll, and others. ERP solutions like Sage Intacct and Acumatica also offers robust reporting features that integrate this data into a comprehensive view of the organization’s performance across departments and functions. A high level of customization of ERP solutions is also possible with thoughtful planning and the help of the right implementation partner.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

CRM solutions help organizations manage the relationships they have with their clients as well as prospective clients and referral sources. Industry leaders like Salesforce and HubSpot also include a digital marketing platform that allows the marketing and sales teams to manage communications, develop marketing campaigns, build automation that support the sales process, and schedule their social media posts. All of the data collected is tied to customer records in the CRM to build a transparent history of interactions with your organization and provide reporting. Some of the most popular CRM platforms also now include features that support the customer service experience. Over time, a CRM helps the organization determine and extend the lifetime value of customers, improve customer satisfaction, forecast new business, and develop future marketing strategies based on actionable data.

How ERP and CRM Work Together

Once you understand the job of each, it is easier to understand how they work together. Today, open APIs allow for many of the top ERP and CRM solutions to share and exchange data that connects the sales process with operations. When integrated, ERP and CRM work together to provide a real-time picture of sales and operations that ultimately increases revenues by improving transparency and processes. Whether it’s having a single source of truth for the organization’s customer data, robust data on customers to improve client service, or a better understanding of clients’ needs for cross-selling opportunities, ERP and CRM are a winning combination.

Why Now Might Be the Right Time to Consider ERP, CRM or Both

ERP and CRM features and integrations are better than ever, and plans and pricing structures are more flexible than in previous years. Now is a great time to explore ERP and CRM products to position your organization for growth.


To kick off your transformation journey, contact us for a customized Cloud ERP demo.

Jim Norton, CPA

Former Principal, Accounting Technology Services