A subtle question I get frequently is “What is ERP”? Along that same line, I get the question about CRM (aka Microsoft Dynamics 365 CE) and how it fits into an ERP solution. So, let’s throw it out there: CRM IS ERP! Yes, I said it!
In a recent conversation with a CRM specialist, I brought this up and the sigh of relief was palpable! It took a moment and the CRM specialist said “wow, you are preaching to the choir!”.
How did we get to the point where we think CRM is something different? Well, it began during a time when CRM solutions were made whole-cloth from other publishers like Siebel and Saleslogix and ERP was made whole-cloth from Oracle, SAP and others. Remember the JBOPS? For those too young to know JBOPS was JD Edwards, Baan, Oracle, Peoplesoft and SAP. Fun history, huh?
This changed with integration promises from Microsoft when they released Dynamics CRM and had four on premise ERP solutions to choose from (AX, NAV, GP and SL). These promises were real and we really did do some CRM integrations but they were always very complex and frankly, never fully delivered the bottom-line promise: an Integrated Enterprise Resource Planning solution from Sales through Financials.
Today’s environment is different, though. With a single source provider of solutions, integrated CRM and ERP is real. Well, real enough. There are some challenges ahead and here they are.
First: Does Dynamics 365 Business Central have a CRM System? The answer is yes, to a degree. It depends upon how you are looking at CRM and what you want to do. If it is contact management around customers and accounts, yes. Opportunities, yes. Some opportunity management, yes. However, is it Dynamics CRM/CE? No.
Second: Can you integrate Dynamics CRM to Business Central. The answer there is yes. You will want to outline exactly what the integration flow is and how to interact between the accounting system and CRM. For example, who “owns” the record: sales or accounting? What can a CRM user update? Therefore, there a considerations that are needed to make it fully integrated for you.
Third, there is a common data model / common data service. There is some functionality that is not yet fully online but the foundation is there for a better, more integrative approach going forward. Does this mean it works without concern today? No but with the proper technical and business guidance there can be a better future out there.
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