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CMS, CRM, and ERP – What Is It and Why?

Anna Smith
Published: July 15, 2022

CMS, CRM, and ERP are the three main software solutions to automate core processes in business. They assist in managing day-to-day operations, the company’s interactions with customers, handling data, reducing redundant tasks, prioritizing leads, running a website, and much more. CMS, CRM, and ERP offer powerful tools to boost profitability and increase sales. However, the core components and the work principles are not the same, especially regarding CMS. 

What Is a CMS Software?

Answering what CMS means in business, we come to the next definition. Content Management System (CMS) is computer software to build a web page on. It is used to publish, add, easy to replace, and manage digital content – design, text, and graphics. It provides an interface for working with content, handling both the back-end and front-end of a website to modify online business without technical knowledge or background. It is a convenient option for someone who is not technically minded to deliver content and build a dynamic website without getting into the code. For example, to write or to update a page. CMS platforms provide a variety of pre-designed templates to create a simple yet well-designed page. Templates visualize future websites. Thus, they can be used as a starting point for small businesses.

The Key Features of CMS

So, what is a CMS’s role in powering a business website? Here is what it is capable of:

  • adding/editing content;
  • creating functional pages without having to write any code from scratch;
  • providing access to detailed analytics;
  • handling the basics of digital content;
  • offering built-in security features.

Why Use a CMS?

Let’s define why CMS can be used and what impact it can have on processes:

  • maintaining a website cost-effectively;
  • no need for coding knowledge;
  • increasing website traffic;
  • easy to use predesigned templates;
  • preventing potential security threats to a web page.

There are many content management platforms out there. Among the oldest and most popular ones are WordPress and Joomla. CMS is not the same as CRM/ ERP. Why? Let’s have a look at what is a CRM solution first?

What Is a CRM Software?

CRM, in full Customer Relationship Management, is a technology used to store information about clients, their purchasing habits, transaction methods, and other sales activities in one place to research interactions and measure data throughout all stages of a customer journey. It supports marketing and serving practices to extract maximum value for a business. In general, it is designed to automate repetitive tasks and speed up or reduce inefficient processes, ensuring quality and increasing sales quota. It helps manage team operations daily by connecting different departments – from marketing to customer service.

CRM refers to strategies and techniques for managing relationships, interactions, and sales. It consolidates real-time business data into one cohesive system, allowing anyone in a team to access it wherever they want to. Customer Relationship Management provides full information on client needs and behavior, creating an extraordinary journey that is a more personalized experience for each person. The more personalized the approach is, the higher the financial and marketing level a company can reach.

But, what does CRM mean apart from staying connected to clients? How does a company benefit from using the tool? It provides better data organization, enhanced communication, scheduled statements, and easily shared information inside a company.

The Key Features of a CRM

The solution provides vital business insights by:

  • influencing marketing campaigns;
  • optimizing sales patterns and strategies;
  • social media monitoring features;
  • ensuring quality;
  • automating repetitive tasks;
  • tracking and customizing the customer journey;
  • third-party software integration.

Why Use a CRM?

The platform would be useful if a company has an unclear vision of its potential clients and sales opportunities. Here are a few things you might need it for:

  • greater insights;
  • automated sales reports;
  • better customer service;
  • improved customer retention;
  • be up-to-date on what’s occurring in real-time;
  • higher productivity and efficiency.

CRM is designed to keep activities organized by tracking everything that comes from a client base, response and interaction, and everything that goes out from a company to a client. The platform saves energy, time, and money, enabling a team to arrange customer interactions in one place. It is never too early to start implementing a CRM system. 

The only problem is that it is limited to customer-facing departments and mid-sized organizations, compared to ERP. So, what does ERP mean for mid-sized businesses and large enterprises?

What Is an ERP Software?

ERP stands for Enterprise Resource Planning. It is designed to improve the efficiency of a business process with a focus on every aspect: costs, visibility, and the ratio of work performed by a team. The main purposes for numerous tasks include project management, accounting, budget planning, forecasts, and analysis of reports and financial results of the organization. ERP enhances business performance and simplifies workflow for large companies, reducing the time spent on complex processes. Within such a system, many business processes intersect and provide a quick exchange of data between them.

Currently, such ERP systems are of great importance for the management of hundreds and even thousands of companies of any size, from small local teams to large international network enterprises. For all these companies, ERP is as important as the sail that steers the boat.

The Key Features of ERP

Enterprise resource planning technologies assist in:

  • financial and accounting data monitoring;
  • automation of repeatable business tasks;
  • alerting about issues in different departments;
  • storing information about products or services;
  • visibility and tracking all business metrics;
  • processing orders;
  • recruiting and hiring, onboarding, and timekeeping.

Why Use an ERP?

ERP can be used in any area, for small or large businesses, to optimize and increase efficiency. Such a system solves everyday business tasks for project management, including:

  • becoming more aware of your business;
  • receiving more precise reports;
  • increasing team collaboration;
  • organizing an efficient, data-driven business environment;
  • reducing operating costs;
  • simplified compliance and risk management.

But there are some limitations as well. ERP is great for managing backend parts of a business (operational or accounting data), but it is not suitable for customer-facing operations. ERP platforms are not user-friendly. They are pretty complex, and the price is high enough to be considered a luxury or a profound investment for a small or middle-sized business. Among the top globally used ERP platforms are Oracle Netsuite and Microsoft Dynamics 365.

Quick Overview of CMS, CRM, and ERP

CMS, CRM, and ERP are stand-alone products with major differences in their core principles and functionalities, which can be incorporated together. It is important to understand those differences to make the right decision.

It is used to manage the back-end/ front-end of a website by providing a ready-to-use interfaceIt is used to manage and analyze data throughout the customer lifecycle to optimize business strategyIt is used to manage a backend part of a business, like operational and accounting data
The focus is on creating, editing, and distributing content on a websiteThe focus is on marketing, selling, and customer service automationThe focus is on marketing, financial data, and managing human resources
Five categories:
Component Content Management System;
Enterprise Content Management System;
Document Management System;
Digital Asset Management System;
Web Content Management System.
Three categories:
Operational (marketing & customer service);
Analytical (data collecting & analyzing);
Collaborative (interaction & document management).
Five categories:
International enterprise;
Large business;
Mid-sized business;
Small business;

Which one to choose? There are a few things to consider when making a decision. What are your current challenges? On what scale do you expect your business to expand? What type of products or services do you provide? What are your revenue and expenses? Prioritize the requirements and analyze the condition of your customer and operational data. 

CRMs are cheaper than ERPs. They suit small and medium-sized companies that require a much smaller investment. ERP technologies are for complex businesses. Companies that are not ready to integrate ERP at the very beginning, can go for CRM first. Customer Relationship Management platforms are great for companies with a customer orientation that are interested in improving their growth and retention. Thus, what is an ERP best for? ERP would be great for businesses that have already reached maximum growth but want to optimize their organization even more. Limiting to a single system is not the only option. The platforms can be integrated to benefit the work.