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Have you ever used an ERP system with an embedded eMail and CRM system?

I am not talking about an integrated eMail or CRM system. Integrated systems use bridges (SDKs to us programmers and consultants) to communicate between the two distinct systems that are capable of running independently of each other.  An example would be SalesForce CRM and Microsoft Exchange.

Instead, I am referring to an ERP system that has a module built-in – embedded – for CRM and eMail.  We have been using one such system and I want to share this experience as I found this so exciting that I realized my wife has been telling me the truth for years.  I am a tech geek!! With the constant talk of “ERP is dead” in the groups so far I think it is time to post something a little less misinformed and misleading.  It is well understood by ERP consultants, who are not trying to sell you a system, that ERP is a name given to a suite of tools used by companies to manage processes and until businesses no longer want to manage their processes, ERP will continue to live and evolve!

Our company adopted one such system as it is the one we are reselling and I will not identify which system here as the purpose of this article is not to deliver a sales pitch but rather to describe the “tangible” benefits and advantages we are seeing with embedded modules over integrated modules in an ERP system.

We have been deploying “ERP” systems for just over 22 years so the question I asked myself was “Where’s the meat?!!”  What have we actually gained by deploying an ERP system that has embedded CRM and eMail over the one we had that used integrated CRM and eMail?

Here is a small but very important bit of what you get, “bad habits that needed to die”!  The toughest thing for me was to wrap my head around the fact that things we had done had to change when using embedded features!  For years I received emails and placed a copy from CompanyX.CustomerX1 into the folder for CompanyX.  We all do this every day. As a matter of fact this is so automatic we do not even notice that we are doing it.  When they took that away from me I was like “What the *@!* type of email system is this?”  How was I to store/organize my emails from contacts when they arrive?  My inbox was growing to an unmanageable length. What’s up with that??

I went to the ERP champion for the company to complain that this system was weak!!  “Delete all the emails you are done with.” he said…”What?!! I cannot afford to lose these!” was my response.  Then he began to show me the “magic” of an embedded system.

As eMails flow into the system, the embedded eMail system recognizes the eMail addresses and uses a CRM activity to log the eMail to the Customer record automatically.  An eMail folder is not needed as we already have a customer record in the Contacts table (called a register in this system), so no need for a folder. When I “deleted” the eMail from my mailbox, on the customer record, the system simply drew a red line through my eMail address to indicate that I had deleted it from my mailbox. The company still had a record of that eMail on the customer file where it belongs. Any authorized user can review the “Customer Folder” and if they have the rights they can view Accounting details, what the contact bought or sold us and all CRM activities; and as such all the eMails in and out of the system relevant to that contact.

As a Director of the company the benefits to the organization were easy to recognize. I honestly felt the stress of years of worry of losing eMails dissipate into thin air. Backing up our ERP system now captures everyone’s eMail in the company, properly filed by contact.  Upset employees deleting emails in their mail boxes just before quitting, is no longer as issue. Corporate sabotage has been shown to be mostly internal sabotage – we have just reduced this risk by adopting an ERP system with the two tools we rely on most for our sales, purchasing and inter-company communication.

So, is ERP dead or evolving? Here is another scenario, the big ERP vendors are working hard to convince the market that emulated systems are better (ruining ERP in browsers) than clients built to run on all platforms. This goes against everything we were told back when I started off as a programmer. Our new ERP has clients, native clients, for Apple, Android and Windows. With mobility fully supported and a simple but effective embedded document management system, I can sit anywhere I have connectivity and work on practically any device.

This is my prediction for the path of the ERP evolution. Support for both “Cloud” and “On premise” deployments, a “full” suite of modules that includes CRM, eMail along with mixed platform/multi-platform capability.  ERP is evolving and the market will be forced there.  Who knows, maybe in the next two to three years we will be selling Sage or Microsoft XXXX ERP, as you never know who they will buy up next!  Yes, my prediction may very well be wrong but what is absolutely right and evidenced here is that when it comes to ERP, embedded modules have a higher potential to deliver greater value than integrated modules.
DPD Software Ltd.
Wayne Dinzey
Technical Director