OVERLAPPING CAPACITIES: HOW TO DECIDE BETWEEN CRM AND ERP?
Since Y2K, the consensus that CRMs and ERPs perform different jobs has been undeniable: CRM for sales and customer relations, ERP for accounting, manufacturing, and operations. But, as we move into a new age of cloud computing solutions, new features are regularly added to both types of systems in an effort to stay relevant and attractive. This, in turn, yields a new problem: overlap in features and functions.
If your company is undergoing a complete business management system overhaul, you will undoubtedly face decisions regarding which solution should be used by your departments. Take for example a manufacturer whose business model involves the installation and support of its products. Naturally, Microsoft Dynamics NAV would be used for accounting, manufacturing, and warehousing, while sales would be on Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement. What about installation planning, service details, dispatch? Or warranty tracking, service level agreements, document management? Both applications offer functionalities in these areas and your solution architecture is, therefore, more challenging to flesh out as you clearly don’t want to make a bad call on such a significant endeavor. Here are 5 tips to help you sort out your project:
1. Pick your technology family
By deploying systems that are related, chances are that integration between the various members is much more native and powerful than between unrelated products. Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement, both Cloud and on-premise, has a bi-directional, real-time integration for Dynamics NAV – not a connector, which is an additional piece of software, but true native integration. This can significantly alleviate some communication issues. Throw in SharePoint and Office, and your organization is seamlessly integrated.
2. Maximize your investment
Let’s take the installation planning from our previous example. This can be done using Field Service on Dynamics 365, which includes a visual planner, or with Service Orders on Dynamics NAV, but it is text-based only. Therefore, investing in Field Service would seem like the sensible choice until you consider additional NAV modules like PlannerOne Resource Scheduler. If this module makes sense in your environment, addressing other functional requirements around manufacturing, then planning installation and service calls from PlannerOnebecomes a viable option as it maximizes your investment dollar.
3. User-based decision
While Dynamics NAV’s Role Tailored Center is quite a versatile and friendly tool, Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement (CRM) remains simpler to use. That being said, if a user’s responsibilities require data and processes from both systems, a good rule of thumb would be to focus the user on the most required solution for two reasons: minimizing licensing needs and simplifying the employees’ experience. It often makes more sense to simplify and train on one solution and rely on integration to handle the information coming from the second system.
4. Reporting and Costing
Producing and highlighting Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and Business Intelligence is a key goal in deploying new business management software. Based on their nature, these KPIs could be made available on either system. We can drive that decision by evaluating the reports that will be needed and the origin of the data. Thus, while sales reports may seem to naturally originate from CRM, seriously consider producing them in Dynamics NAV since they are typically based on financial results. However, the forecast and pipeline would remain in Customer Engagement, especially considering they outline future performance. Generally speaking, if any information requires evaluation or financial categorization, it should be made available in your ERP.
Circling back to point 1, real-time integration still allows users to work from Customer Engagement while relying on reports produced in NAV.
5. Getting help
Taking the time to create the appropriate technological roadmap can save you a lot of hurt in the future.
It’s perfectly normal to rely on your deployment partner: they know the ins and outs of both solutions (CRM / ERP) and can support you in making the right calls as you structure your business platform. Which solution to use, what adaptations to introduce and how to best utilize your software are all questions that can be addressed more efficiently with the right help.
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