SCM CRM FAQ: Integration tips

Supply chain management (SCM) and customer relationship management (CRM) software can work together to strengthen connections with and better serve a manufacturer's customers. These common SCM CRM questions are a good place to get started when planning an integration project.

Supply chain management (SCM) and customer relationship management (CRM) software both contribute to serving a company's customers. Integrating these two worlds seems like it should make sense, but not every company needs the same level of integration.

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With input from analysts, we have formulated some frequently asked questions -- and some of the surprising answers -- on the subject of SCM CRM integration

What's the idea behind SCM CRM integration?

CRM works by helping a company better understand its customers, and especially by identifying those customers that are potentially most profitable. By integrating that knowledge with SCM, better supply chain decisions should result.

What are some examples of reasons to consider SCM CRM integration?

Opportunities for integration between SCM and CRM may exist in many kinds of operations. For example complex products that require field service – needs to tie in CRM information more tightly with the services organization and the supply chain.

Should I consider integrating SCM and CRM in my business?

According to Manufacturing Insights analyst Simon Ellis, most businesses probably aren't ready for SCM CRM integration just yet -- the rewards wouldn't justify the effort.

OK, so does that mean I should forget about SCM CRM integration?

Not exactly; SCM cannot and should not work in a vacuum. CRM can help supply valuable information about customer demand but most companies and most SCM systems don't need all the details -- just the summary information.

So what does SCM CRM integration look like for "most" companies?

"Don't try for airtight integration," said Ellis. Instead, integration can usually best be accomplished through a business process that provides communication between sales and supply chain. For example, "There is usually no need for sales automation functions within CRM to be formally integrated into SCM, but they must not be in conflict and they must be working in parallel."

About the author: Alan Earls had his first exposure to computer programming on one of Digital Equipment Corp.'s PDP-8 minicomputers. He went on to serve as editor of the newspaper Mass High Tech and is the author of the book Route 128 and the Birth of the Age of High Tech, a photographic essay on a key part of Massachusetts economic history. He currently is a freelance writer, covering many aspects of IT technology and writing regularly for

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