What Is the Difference Between CRM & ERP Systems?

When it comes to business growth, most leaders will be on the constant lookout for new tools, methods and processes to get more from less. This fact has given rise to a huge market for software design specifically to support businesses in their pursuit of higher levels of efficiency and more profit.

In this article, we explore two of these systems - CRMs and ERPs. We take a look at how they can both benefit your business but in different ways. 

What Is a CRM System?

First we need to understand what a CRM system is. CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management. This is the part of your business that deals with the day-to-day communication and relationship-building with your customers. A CRM system is a software tool that helps you achieve this.

Typically your CRM system will help you handle anything that has to do with dealing with customers. For example, some key features include:

  • Customer contact automation (such as recording emails/calls to/from customers)
  • Input and output of important customer information such as contact details
  • Tools for delegating workflow associated with customer communication
  • Ability to integrate with other customer management/communication tools
  • Lead capture, allocation and monitoring
  • Automation of customer relationship reporting

The ultimate goals of a CRM system is to drastically speed up essential processes surrounding customer relationship management, ensure higher levels of data quality and support the growth of profit by offering data and insight on potential opportunities.

What Is an ERP System?

Now we know what a CRM system is, we now need to get to grips with what an ERP system is. ERP stands for Enterprise Resource Planning. The term ERP usually references specialist software that helps businesses to manage the day-to-day running of their internal business areas. This includes areas such as procurement, project management, accounting, risk management and compliance.

The major benefit of using an ERP system is that it centralises the day-to-day running of your business. This limits duplicated effort, increases data reliability/quality and allows management to gain an accurate picture of how the business is performing. The insight your ERP will provide can also help businesses make predictions on future performance and generate better plans based on these predictions.


It is clear that CRM and ERP both take different approaches to supporting your business. Although both will arguably generate significant ROI by facilitating efficiency in key business processes, they achieve this in very different ways.

A CRM system will typically support growth by increasing profits as a result of better customer relationship management. So, a CRM offers tools to improve the outward-facing aspects of your organisation. This is why CRMs can often also supply marketing tools such as social media management and email marketing - helping integrate all customer relations into one space.

On the other hand, an ERP system delivers growth by increasing the efficiency of internal processes. This reduces costs, helping to increase profit margins. An ERP will typically tie all internal functions together in one centralised space - offering better visibility and control to management. ERP systems like Odoo will commonly come with CRM systems included.


It is clear that CRMs and ERPs can be highly beneficial to practically any business. Although there are several core differences in the way they work and the goals they seek to achieve, each can help drastically improve efficiency and limit the potential of costly mistakes.

What Is a CRM System?