ERP vs CRM vs SCM: Getting your ducks in a row

Three of the most popular software solutions that businesses use to automate their processes are Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), Supply Chain Management (SCM), and Customer Relationship Management (CRM). Granted, there’s an acronym for just everything these days, but when it comes to managing your operational business processes, you want to be sure you know what options are out there, and more important, which solution best meets your unique business needs and requirements.

An ERP is a comprehensive business software solution that helps automate and streamline internal business processes. A CRM helps companies to improve their relationships with existing and future customers. An SCM’s purpose is to enhance communication and collaboration between businesses, vendor, and other stakeholders in the supply chain.

Let’s compare the key features and functionality of ERP, CRM, and SCM, so that you can make better-informed decisions before scanning the market for a reliable vendor, and before making a significant commitment (and purchase!) for your organization.


ERP vs CRM vs SCM at a Glance

Complete business solution Enhances customer relationships Focuses on supply chain management
Automates every business process Important for sales, marketing, and customer support teams Targeted at manufacturers and distributors
Scalable and customizable Does not cover other areas of the business Does not cover HR, customer service, marketing, etc.
Implementation is complex Can be integrated with ERP Less complex than ERP
Can be expensive Not a complete business solution Not a holistic solution

An ERP is a complete software solution for businesses

ERP is a comprehensive business software solution whose modules streamline every aspect of your business operations, including finance & accounting, HR, inventory management, project management, customer support, sales and marketing, manufacturing, project management, and more. Most businesses start out with a few necessary (basic) modules of an ERP suite, and then add other modules as and when needed. As ERP is scalable and often delivered via a SaaS model, businesses of all sizes can easily implement it.

Features of an ERP

  • Centralizes all functions and operations of a business
  • Eliminates duplicate entries and maintains the latest, most up-to-date data on a single platform
  • Enhances employee and business productivity and business scalability; grows as your business grows
  • Streamlines communication between departments, teams, and companies, provides tools to collaborate and connect with external entities
  • Reduces manual tasks, and helps save time, resources, and costs

Benefits of ERP

  • Gain business insights, planning and forecasting
  • Streamlined processes and workflows
  • Enhances productivity and scalability
  • Improves collaboration
  • Reduces human error

Who’s it for?

An ERP system can be deployed by practically every business, no matter their size or scope. Niche businesses can use specialized modules or request customization to meet their unique needs.

A CRM helps businesses better manage and serve their customers

CRM helps businesses manage every aspect of their relationships with existing and future customers. A CRM system automates communication with customers and prospects, provides context and information to sales and support teams, and generates reports and insights based on customer behavior, purchasing habits, market trends, and more. Most importantly, it manages and centralizes customer data at every stage, all in real-time, to provide a holistic view of your customer base.

Specific functions of CRM

  • Manages company/customer interaction
  • Builds buyer personas
  • Pulls customer data from previous interactions, social media, and various digital sources
  • Integrates with other tools, such as SCM and ERP, for a seamless user experience
  • Generates real-time insights and reports

Benefits of CRM

  • Helps increase sales and lead conversions
  • Improves customer satisfaction
  • Segments customers based on priority
  • Manages loyalty programs
  • Provides customer support

Who’s it for?

CRM can be used by both B2B and B2C businesses. CRM is also used by businesses that fall outside the B2B and B2C category.

An SCM helps facilitate the flow of goods & services, from sourcing through delivery

SCM helps businesses to manage the flow of goods and services until they are delivered to the end customer. In other words, right from the sourcing of raw materials, to delivering finished goods to the customer at their preferred location, SCM is what’s often referred to as a constant companion. SCM is a one-stop-shop for all stakeholders in the supply chain, from raw materials vendors to parts suppliers, and from manufacturers to delivery agents.

SCM solutions include a wide range of modules

  • Inventory Management
  • Supplier Sourcing
  • Warehouse Management
  • Logistics
  • Shipping and Delivery
  • Business Intelligence and Forecasts

Key features

  • Improved visibility of the product lifecycle
  • Forecasting and trend analysis
  • Process automation and efficient distribution
  • Seamless deliveries and returns

Who’s it for?

SCM is ideal for manufacturers, retailers, commerce vendors, and other stakeholders in the supply chain.

What’s best (and why)

While all three software solutions have their specific purposes, ERP shines as a comprehensive business solution, with modern ERP systems offering built-in SCM and CRM modules and functionality. It helps organizations to automate and streamlines their operational processes, and they can start out small, and scale later on. Although its implementation can be complex and costly, ERP reduces overall spend in the long-term, and improves productivity and efficiency.

SCM and CRM both have their particular niche, and cannot be fairly compared with ERP. However, depending on a company’s unique needs and requirements, all three can be integrated with each other or with other software solutions.

Contact us today to find out which solution is the best fit for you and your business.

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The Author
Efrat Nakibly
Director of Consulting, Priority Software U.S.

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