CRM vs ERP: what are the key differences?

erp vs crm

The exponential growth of SaaS and Cloud applications has accelerated business productivity. Applications such as ERP and CRM are used on a daily basis, but can still cause confusion for users. Selecting the right tools for your activities is challenging, so it’s important to understand their key features and differences in relation to your needs. To help you, we’ve compiled some basic definitions and key differences between CRM and ERP to point you in the right direction.


CRM software is used predominantly by sales, marketing, customer success, and customer service departments. ERP software is used primarily by finance teams. Some ERPs include CRM integration, but no CRM can support ERP data. A CRM is a front-office application that targets end users, while ERP is a back-office solution that deals with organizational activities. 

Although CRM and ERP serve different purposes and departments, they are both databases.

What is ERP?

ERP or Enterprise Resource Planning software is a powerful system used to integrate, manage, and centralize several business activities. An ERP connects information from different business applications in charge of day-to-day activities and creates a single source of data. Applications include:

  • Accounting
  • Finance
  • Customer relationship management
  • Human resources
  • Project management
  • Stock management
  • Sales management

ERP systems are a problem-solving and unifying solution for various reasons. ERP implementation helps streamline your business processes and improve operational productivity. ERPs can do this by automating repetitive business processes and reducing manual processes. In turn, errors are reduced and management simplified thanks to one centralized system. Finally, an ERP allows you to easily and securely share information across chosen entities in your organization.

How can ERP improve operational efficiency?

ERP solutions improve efficiency by automating business processes, furnishing integrated applications that share data to give employees instant access to the information they need, and providing business intelligence and analytics to improve decisions and planning.

CRM, what is it for?

CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software provides companies with a 360-degree view of their prospects and client data. It allows an organization to better manage customer relationships and personalize the customer journey. This multipurpose tool manages sales processes and reveals the data to optimize them. This usually results in improved sales performance and increased business revenue. CRM software is primarily used by a company’s sales and marketing departments, but also by customer support to ensure continuous consumer satisfaction. A CRM can perform several actions, including:

  • Follow-up of customers and their order history
  • Customization of the customer area
  • Management and automation of marketing campaigns
  • Management of the sales funnel
  • Customer service automation

With a CRM, customer or prospect data is collected during each company interaction. It means information is up-to-date and accessible across concerned departments at all times. Like ERP, CRM is also a centralized database, bringing together sales, marketing, and customer service processes. Processing mass information relating to customers and prospects creates a clearer, more reliable source of information that improves the customer experience and provides more opportunities for businesses to close sales.

CRM vs ERP: what are the key differences?

The fundamental difference between ERP and CRM software is their uses. A CRM is intended solely for customer relationship management and sales. ERP software, on the other hand, is a resource planner and focuses exclusively on managing the company’s operational processes. The two are different but complementary tools that every company can use to improve productivity.

  1. A CRM is a front-office application that is directly related to customers, whereas ERP deals with back-office activities such as financial reporting.
  2. A CRM is directly concerned with increasing sales, while an ERP is focused on reducing costs.
  3. A CRM is focused on customer relationship management, whereas ERP is concerned with the optimization of all business processes.

Using a CRM in combination with an ERP system can streamline your company’s internal processes thanks to automation. As a result, your company can gain efficiency and productivity. As mentioned earlier, modern versions of ERP are now able to integrate CRM data. Integrating your CRM and ERP can provide your sales representatives with all the information they need to sell and upsell because of additional information such as stock and availability. CRM and ERP integration can provide a dashboard of real-time information, which means less time wasted locating and analyzing data.

How to train your employees on these software?

If you’re looking for effective ways to train your employees on one or multiple SaaS software, a digital adoption platform could be right for you. Solutions such as Lemon Learning can integrate directly with your web-based applications, via plug-in or one line of JavaScript code.

Once integrated, editors have multiple options to create interactive training content:

  • Content Creation by Lemon Learning: For the duration of your project, Lemon Learning’s pedagogical engineers will be responsible for the design, creation, and review of your training content.
  • Internal Creation Mode: You independently create and design your content while benefiting from our support during each stage of your project.
  • Hybrid approach: Combine the previous two options for hybrid support that best suits your needs.

Want to know more? Get in touch! Or check out our case studies page


Sarah C

Sarah oversees all things inbound marketing, exploring the many business uses and topics surrounding digital adoption. Her previous experiences include B2C and product marketing in the social listening space, uncovering emerging industry trends.