By default, accounts in an Enterprise Resource Planning application are designed for a business-to-business (B2B) model in which accounts represent companies and contacts represent individuals working at those companies.
However, many organizations interact not only with Companies, but with individuals. In addition, those interactions are often financial. This is true for both for profit and nonprofit organizations. Examples of financial transactions with individuals include:
- Business-to-consumer sales
- Membership dues
- Student tuition
- Ticket sales
Unfortunately, many traditional ERPs do not support private accounts. Instead companies are forced to set up an individual as a company where the company name is used to house the person name.
Why incorporate person accounts into your ERP?
Following are some of the top reasons:
- Data Normalization - the structure matches a real person's profile and includes demographic information pertinent to individuals such as age, gender, marital status, interests, etc.
- Relationships - modeling of real world private and business relationships such as spouses, siblings, etc. within a single household as well as relationships between persons and organizations.
- Consistency - supports a consistent interface for both the ERP and CRM aspects of an integrated suite.
- Flexibility - supports B2B and B2C transactions simultaneously and seamlessly without any messy workarounds.
- Visibility - gives the user a much easier paradigm for viewing records; both organizational and individual records appear in a single accounts tab. With person accounts users have one central place to have complete visibility to ALL records. This is significantly easier than only looking at companies/organizations in the accounts area and only individuals in the contact area.
Examples of Person Accounts in ERP
ERP applications implement private accounts to varying degrees. Following are examples from 2 ERP applications that we support:
SAP Business One
SAP Business One allows for the categorization of a Business Partner as Company, Private or Employee, but as shown following, this acts as nothing more than an indicator that a company is a sole proprietor. None of the data schema varies for Company vs Private. What is most telling is the ability to maintain multiple contacts for the person.
Business One Business Partner Maintenance
SAP Business ByDesign
Business ByDesign provides true support for private accounts. They are treated properly as individuals. The following screen shows that the account name is maintained using proper first and last family names and that personal contact details are provided. Furthermore this record is more than a CRM contact as it is flagged as having an Account role, indicating that sales transactions can be booked against it:
Going a level deeper into the relationships tab we can see that standard relation types may be maintained with other person accounts in the system. Show following are other person accounts maintained in the system who have familial relationships to John Jones.
Private Accounts and Relationships in Business ByDesign
As stated, there are a number of compelling reasons to want to include support for person accounts in an ERP. Furthermore, support for this functionality varies by ERP. If your company or organization has financial relationships not only with companies, but also with individuals, then consider putting this requirement on your short list.