Is CRM part of ERP or a separate business software category ?
Both. As a unique category, CRM normally consists of sales force automation, marketing automation and customer support. As part of ERP, CRM is one of the five ERP pillars, with the other four pillars being financial accounting, distribution or supply chain management, manufacturing and human resources/payroll.
CRM can be described as the development and implementation of a strategy for handling interactions with past, existing or future customers. It covers all customer-oriented activities from potential market identification through to customer loyalty retention. It is technology enabled and involves data capture and analysis, information generation and distribution, and customer-oriented activity. CRM has a central database and integrates with an ERP system and different channels of interaction. CRM involves different participants and has the ability to manage these participants.