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What Is ERP? (A Beginners Guide)

Is a CRM an ERP? Find out which is which, ad how integrating them can help you plan for the future. [Getty sesame]

Understand what an ERP system is, the difference between ERP & CRM, and the benefits of integrating it with Salesforce.

Planning can make or break a business. A good plan can become your lifeblood. If you’re wondering how to plan your finances, human resources, project management, inventory and sales all together — you aren’t alone. Enter ERP.

In this complete guide, we will find out the difference between ERP and CRM, it’s benefits, and how to integrate it with Salesforce. Yes, it’s possible.

Here’s what you’ll learn:

What is ERP?
What are the benefits of using an ERP system?
Is Salesforce ERP?
Why integrate ERP and CRM?
How can you integrate Salesforce CRM with an ERP?

What is ERP?

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) is software used by organizations to integrate multiple business functions into one system. It includes various activities, such as accounting, human resources, project management, sales, inventory and order management, and compliance.

An ERP system uses a shared database that enables employees from across a business to see the same information — a ‘single source of truth’. With everyone’s data in the same place, companies can use an ERP to streamline processes and information across the entire business.

An ERP is different from a customer relationship management (CRM), however, you can integrate them to work together. This guide outlines the benefits of using an ERP system, the difference between an ERP and a CRM like Einstein 1, and why you should consider integration.

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What are the benefits of using an ERP system?

There are many benefits of using an ERP system for businesses. Having one unified place for all data can reduce silos and improve efficiency across an enterprise. Some of the main advantages of using an ERP include:

Enhanced collaboration

Collaboration is simplified when all data is shared, and employees can easily see and share information on contracts, requisitions, and purchase orders. When everyone in the business is connected to the same information, collaboration comes far more easily.

Improved business insight

Real-time information allows everyone in an organization to have an up to date view of data, which can improve decision making across all areas of a business. With an ERP, everyone is looking at the same information simultaneously, and there is no risk of specific departments looking at outdated documents.

Better financial compliance

The financial controls with an ERP reduce any margin for error. Increased data integrity means users will always be working with up to date information, which also reduces the chances that something will be missed, and can improve financial compliance.

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Is Salesforce ERP?

Salesforce is not an ERP. Salesforce offers various business solutions, which can be integrated to enhance and support your ERP but it does not provide an ERP product.

At the heart of Salesforce is Einstein 1, which is the world’s #1 AI CRM system. ERPs and CRMs are both used by businesses to improve efficiency and streamline operations, but they serve distinct purposes.

An ERP helps businesses connect their financial and operational systems to a central database. Meanwhile, a CRM makes it easy for everyone in your company to share the latest data on current and potential customers to improve relationships and grow your business. 

Although CRMs are not ERPs, you can integrate them to enhance all aspects of business operations and processes.

Salesforce also offers other solutions, designed to complement ERPs. Einstein 1, brings together configure, price, quote (CPQ) and billing, partner relationship management and B2B commerce capabilities. This helps businesses take control of their revenue growth across every channel and make billing more strategic. Salesforce is not an ERP and works best when integrated with an ERP.

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Why integrate ERP and CRM?

A CRM provides businesses with consolidated views of various functions, such as sales and service, while an ERP includes functionality like inventory management, production, supply chain, and finance. Integrating them gives your business a complete view of its customers and its financial performance in one place.

There are many reasons why businesses should consider integrating their ERP with their CRM, including:

End-to-end visibility of your business processes

You can take complete customer views to the next level with the added understanding of how they impact your business financials.

Improved efficiency

Workflows can automate tasks between CRMs and ERPs and enhance your productivity. There is no need to manually enter CRM data into an ERP once integrated.

Better employee collaboration

Empower your employees with access to critical customer information, even if they do not work in your service or sales team. Giving everyone access to real-time data helps ensure the right decisions are made across the organization.

Reduced data duplication

When you have an ERP and a CRM working separately, you may have customer data existing in both, leading to inaccuracies and out-of-date information. But even when it is accurate, it can cause unnecessary duplication, and it’s hard to determine which should be the master record. Integrating ensures there is only one record.

Speed up sales approvals

Sales and operations teams can move customers through an approvals process much quicker when they can be sure they have real-time customer data.

Lowered cost of IT support

When you have just one system to maintain, your IT support cost will reduce. With a fully integrated solution, you only need to train teams on one platform, reducing downtime.

More accurate reporting and forecasting

Because all of your data is accurate and in one place, an ERP improves reporting processes. Accurate forecasting is critical for a growing business, and integrating with an ERP automates some of the manual processes that can cause errors and delays in reporting.

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How can you integrate Salesforce CRM with an ERP?

It’s simple to integrate Salesforce with your ERP and reap the benefits. You used to need to use complex systems to integrate legacy systems with Salesforce CRM. However, modern cloud-based ERPs allow for easy integration. With some providers building ERP natively on the Salesforce platform, it is possible to run both CRM and ERP seamlessly on Salesforce.

MuleSoft helps businesses integrate data and connect experiences from any system. You can bring data from any third-party system such as SAP, Oracle, Workday into Salesforce.

Just visit our MuleSoft Platform overview to get started today.

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