At a time when cloud computing Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solutions mirror efforts to utilize Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software - as a joint effort to improve digital communications - there is some confusion about which solution is best for business. In turn, the management of electronically stored information is evolving to such a degree that there seems to be new technology acronyms being created almost daily for online businesses. CRM and ERP are just two examples of various activities being heavily marketed to boost business software sales.

Basically, cloud-based ERP software is designed to help manage a business by allowing access to constantly updated data across the various departments, while CRM is a catchphrase used to explain how a business or company interacts with a customer when it comes to a product or service being offered. While there are many information technology (IT) experts who can rattle off all sorts of technology acronyms at the drop of a hat, they note that what is really important about either customer relationship management or enterprise resource planning is found in the details of how to rethink the ways and means in which digital information is both managed and stored.

Despite worries about security when using cloud based systems many large businesses are now utilizing ERP as a means of streamlining their processes, and as a result are improving management oversight of how the business is running at any one time.

CRM and ERP differences

While it is much easier to state that CRM software is helping to manage a business owners "front-office" processes and practices, an IT expert might expand the CRM definition to say an organized CRM simply helps to automate customer service. Thus, if CRM helps to track a customer's communications with an online business, the job required of ERP is strictly centered on business management software that is used to store massive amounts of information that centers on every stage of a business. So, while CRM ensures that a customer is satisfied, ERP makes sure the manufacturing, inventory management, shipping and payment are also in sync with the needs of the customer.

At the end of the day, both CRM and ERP are viewed as business management tools that business owners use for process improvement. Also, a common IT definition for both CRM and ERP is that both of these technology based systems help with the efficient flow of information between various functions of an online business.

CRM and ERP systems integrated

The process of integrating CRM and ERP systems is trending today in IT circles at the top of businesses worldwide. The goal, say the IT professionals – when discussing the highly competitive digital environment today – is to combine the best of CRM and ERP business solutions so that there is just one central management system that takes care of such things as customer service, finances and operations for the overall improvement of operations management. For example, the CRM software helps manage vital sales processes; while ERP software helps manage everything from human recourses to typical supply chain management with a goal of improving both online business accuracy and reducing costs for greater profits.

Overall, there are some distinct differences between customer relationship management and enterprise resource planning, however, they can be used effectively singly or in tandem, to manage enterprises with greater efficiency.