Difference between PARTY and CUSTOMER?

1. When we create New Customer in ERP, why a PARTY will be created automatically?
2. Can I create a Customer without Party?
3. Can I create a Party without Customer?
There is already a lot of material out there on this topic. There are a couple of articles on this, on oracle forums as well. I will try to explain this as elaborately as possible and not waste my “thanksgiving holiday”. I can get really pedantic at times, when im bored.Oracle as a company was basically into ERP solutions only. As part of its efforts and vision to branch out into every other application such as SCM, CRM and other domains, it started acquiring smaller companies. It acquired Siebel which was one of the industry leaders in the CRM domain. Just to provide some insight into CRM, it is an acronym for Customer Relationship Management. Any CRM is basically a marketing tool. If you understand the definition of the word “marketing”, you will easily understand the difference between a party and customer.

Marketing is the process of identifying, creating and retaining a customer. CRM tools essentially deal with that process. It is used by companies to identify potential customers, make them buy something from the company, maintain effective relationships with them to retain them for repeat purchases as well. This is what CRM does.

But an ERP like oracle does not have any relationship with a person unless he buys something from the company. A customer is someone who has a buying relationship with the company. So how do we distinguish between a person who has bought something and someone who hasnt purchased anything from you? This is where the party definition comes into picture. A party is anybody that exists. He/She/It does not have to have bought something from the company earlier. In fact, they do not have any relationship whatsoever with the company. So how does the company make them buy something? This is where CRM helps. It helps the company in identifying such people, create some marketing campaigns to make them buy something and convert them into the company’s customers, and keep maintaining relationships with them so that they will keep buying from them in the future as well.

Oracle purchased Siebel CRM to target these companies which require CRM tools to create, maintain and retain new customers. Prior to 11i, Oracle had the customer tables only. It did not have to deal with non-customers. Anyone who purchases becomes a customer and is stored in the ar customer tables. When Oracle bought CRM, it needed to incorporate the concept of a ‘potential”  and “repeat” customer into the existing data model. It could not have had separate schemas or databases for CRM tools and ERP tools. Since CRM and ERP have to talk to each other, they wanted one single model to incorporate customers who bought and people who have not purchased. So they created a layer over the customer definition called party and said “Anyone who exists is a party”. Once this party buys something, it becomes a customer. Kindly note that it is still a party. It is both a party and customer as well after the purchase is made. So for a person to become a customer, he has to exist first. Only then he can make the purchase and become a customer.

So the process would be like this. A company wants to create some new customers. So it first uses some CRM tools to identify new people it thinks can be targeted. It uses some CRM modules like marketing, telesales, telemarketing etc… to target the customer and finally convinces the customer to make the purchase. So, this person has entered the oracle database. Remember he has not bought anything yet. He is only a party for now. How does he buy now? CRM does not have any modules to place or process orders and payments. The party has to place an order in the ERP module Order management. Once he places an order, he becomes a customer too. So he is now both a party and customer. I hope this helps in understanding why some companies need CRM and ERP, and why Oracle bought siebel CRM. Oracle can target companies which deal with a lot of customers in its business like retailers (Walmart, Amazon, Target) and can sell them both CRM and ERP packages as part of a wholesome solution. since ERP and CRM are sold together, they need to communicate effectively and easily with each other and hence one single data model for customers called the “Party model”.

If you understood the above concept, you can easily answer the below questions.

1.When we create New Customer in ERP, why a PARTY will be created automatically?
A: Can a person make a purchase without existing? He has to exist first to make a purchase. He has to become a party first before becoming a customer. Once you place order in OM, the person is created as a party and customer as well. The party information can be used by CRM tools to target the person for future purchases.

2. Can I create a Customer without Party?
A: Can a person make a purchase without existing?

3.Can I create a Party without Customer?
A: Can a person exist independently without making a purchase? He can. So a party can exist without making a purchase. Imagine you went to a store, checked some stuff and did not buy anything. You might be asked to fill some information like your name, your address, what you liked,what you didnt like and things like that. So this information has to be stored somewhere. Here you will be entered in the company’s system as a party, but not a customer. they will then start sending you emails or offers trying to make you buy something using their CRM tools. once you buy something, you become a customer. Until you buy, you are only a party.

39 thoughts

  1. Pingback: TCA Architecture
  2. The way you explained the concept is awesome. I really like it. Any layman can understand without much struggle.

    Thanks a lot! Keep going with such answers.


  3. Hi,

    Thanks for your article.
    A very good explanation and really easy to understand.

    Greetings from Chile


  4. Thanks a lot mohan
    it is very good document i got now difference between pary and customers. really thank full mohan once again.

    Thanks & Regards


  5. Hi ,

    It is an Excelent artical. Once i read this artical i come to know the difference b/w customer and party. Could u please send the 02c
    cycle flow.



  6. Hi,

    Excellent and precise explanation on the difference b/w Customer and Party.I am regular visitor to this website and it really helps me in increasing my Oracle apps knowledge .

    Thanks for your good work again.



  7. Great post. It is clear You have a great deal of unused capacity, which you have not turned to your advantage.

    The way you write shows you have a need for other people to like and admire you, and yet you tend to be critical of yourself.

    It seems to me that while While you have some personal weaknesses you are generally able to compensate for them.


  8. so detailed and need ful approach for the differentiation between party and customer ,even though i am working i n ERP a s a technical consultant , i never get a chance to differentiate these two, infact till reading this article i also assume both party and customer are same . Thanks a ton to ur article


  9. Very good and so simple to understand for the beginners.
    Thanks all the member (Specially To Shivmohan) for this job.
    Thanks again and wants to more articles from SHIVMOHAN
    for ORACLE RECEIVABLE module ro Entering from OM.


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