CRM Success Continues To Falter
This month we were brought another quantifiable reminder of a topic all of us in the CRM software industry know only too well from first hand experience. According to a July 2007 research report issued by PMP Research and circulated in CRM magazine, 42% of enterprises polled said their CRM systems had achieved only partial success and limited business benefits. The research report discovered a clear separation between recognizing the importance of CRM strategies and actually fulfilling those strategies. PMP Research Manager, Cliff Mills, suggests that an even greater number of organizations recognize that CRM strategy is more essential now that it was three years ago. It is viewed as "much more important" by 44% of the organizations surveyed and "slightly more important" by another 39% of respondents. "No one sees it as less important" according to Mills.
Recognizing the importance of customer management strategies and achieving planned results remain mutually exclusive for most organizations. 37% of organizations report achieving some clear benefits from their CRM software systems while only a small 4% of surveyed participants indicate their CRM software systems are successful and delivering all of the intended benefits.
While CRM software implementation failures suffer from a causes and factors which have been well publicized for over a decade, CRM post-implementation success has not received the same coverage. The PMP study did offer one concrete failure point which is that CRM production environments can degrade and often fail due to a failure to periodically measure results. Only 30% of the companies enlisted regularly measure their CRM systems performance against operational metrics and anticipated benefits. About another third of CRM implementers indicate they are planning to measure progress, 11% have measured only one time since the software implementation and an embarrassing 13% have never measured their CRM application effectiveness. Author Mills comments in the report, "This suggests that judgment as to the degree of success of a CRM application is often made on subjective basis rather than quantitative information because organizations do not know how to successfully, or how frequently, measure their CRM software."
According to the research report, the most cited benefits for initiating customer relationship management software implementations included the following:
The report findings also showed that a lack of success is not reducing interest in being successful. 78% of participants indicate that they are currently implementing changes and improvements to their on-premise and on-demand CRM software implementations in order to eventually achieve their objectives. Only 11% have thrown in the towel and completely abandoned further improvements.
Hey Oracle - Salesforce Is Cozying Up to Google!
On April 15, Salesforce.com announced 'Salesforce for Google Apps' as a new online service that helps Salesforce CRM users integrate with Gmail, Google Talk, Google Calendar and the Google productivity suite which includes Google Docs spreadsheet, presentations and word processing applications. Unfortunately, Google Apps users won't be able to leverage this CRM to desktop integration unless they subscribe to Salesforce.com.
Guy Creese, analyst and research director for Burton Group, summed it up best by stating that this press party is "an installed base play - non-Salesforce.com customers won't be touched by this initiative." While Google would like to use the on-demand software giant to get some traction into the enterprise market, Creese points out that Google Apps is still missing important enterprise features such as role-based administration, document records management and the ability to work offline. At this point, Google Apps does not compete well with Microsoft Office and is pretty much relegated to non-power users looking for free or cheap software.
However, the real story behind the media blitz is less about a hot-button interface between a CRM system and an area of the Google empire which has struggled to make even moderate inroads to the enterprise and more about a thoughtful merger and acquisition (M&A) strategy being carefully orchestrated by Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff.
While many debate whether Benioff is a blow hard or a visionary, there's no denying he is a forward thinker and masterful and painting perception. Combine Benioff's marketing prowess and colorful articulation with the fact that many industry insiders believe Salesforce.com is for sale, or at least Benioff would like the company to sell, and you can begin to see the stage for a multiple bid acquisition opportunity. Benioff has pimped himself and Salesforce to Google for more than two years, however, the search engine giant shows no interest in bringing this CRM software company into its fold. The corporate cultures between the two Silicon Valley big wigs are seemingly opposite. Google operates with complete humility while Salesforce is clearly a gorilla marketer not hesitant to inflict personal jabs, drop provocative sound bytes, trade barbs with industry veterans or even commercialize the Dalai Lama. Salesforce.com's real sugar daddy is Oracle and former boss Larry Ellison. However, while Salesforce.com is reported to be in M&A discussions with Oracle, Benioff knows that without competition from another suitor, Oracle's impetus to act and valuation decline. I expect to see a few more Salesforce.com and Google announcements - each big on media and small on substance - but seemingly enough to get Oracle's attention.
Determined not to let Salesforce.com's Force platform as a service (PAAS) get all of the business software reviews and software as a service ecosystem headlines and mindshare, NetSuite released its Business Operating System (NS-BOS) development platform in an effort to partner with independent software vendors (ISVs) and value added resellers (VARs) to create vertical market business software systems.
NS-BOS includes five primary building blocks:
An effort which shows some commitment to the program is the appointment of Michael Ni as VP of Industry Solutions and Ecosystem (does that title fit on a business card?). Ni will manage all vertical initiatives, software developer programs, and oversee the NS-BOS evolvement. In a company that has demonstrated a significant turnover history of channel related executives, I wish Mr. Ni much luck.
While software analysts and industry pundits are sure to compare NS-BOS to Salesforce.com Force and AppExchange, NS-BOS provides a noticeable difference in that the program must include the horizontal NetSuite application (not a requirement with Salesforce.com), thereby directing efforts toward vertical solutions and away from more complimentary horizontal solutions.
From my initial review, I see some obvious advantages and disadvantages with the NS-BOS program. On the positive, the program can dramatically accelerate time to market for third parties looking to offer industry specific solutions and looking to forego the building of the many horizontal accounting feature sets.
On the negative, the biggest reservation for any partner may be establishing a long-term commitment with a less than channel friendly company. I suspect that the mandate to use NetSuite's delivery infrastructure and pass along the NetSuite core ERP or CRM solution will limit participation to smaller companies and more focused point solutions. I also suspect that ISVs who prefer or demand to work in an open systems technology environment (e.g. Java/J2EE or .NET) will view NetSuite's proprietary development offerings as a big negative. Oh yea, I also think that NS-BOS sounds way too much like MS-DOS, but maybe that's just me.
Salesforce.com Looking For Acquisition Buyer?
After seemingly being snubbed by Google, Salesforce.com is reported by Silicon Valley Watcher to be approaching Oracle as the next suitor to acquire the high flying software as a service (SaaS) CRM company. Industry pundit Tom Foremski and the Silicon Valley Watcher network report to have reliable sources indicating that Salesforce.com has approached Oracle too see if there is any interest by Oracle to buy Salesforce.com at $75.00 per share.
A potential deal could make sense for a number of synergistic reasons:
When looking at the factors that surround a company allegedly looking for a buyer (Salesforce.com) and a company clearly on an M&A (merger and acquisition) growth plan, an Oracle acquisition of Salesforce.com is clearly a possibility. If I continue to see some traction toward a Salesforce.com acquisition, I'd like to survey some users to better understand their perceptions of the upside and downside of the combined company.
|Posted: Friday, December 28th, 2007
Permalink | Comments (3) | Trackback (1)
I'm barely five weeks into an implementation of the new Sage Software MAS 500 version 7 product. The scope of the implementation includes the following:
As you can see, this is a comprehensive implementation. Fortunately, my client has assembled an outstanding executive sponsor and project team. Not so fortunately, we were pretty much forced to engage with two VARs (value added resellers) instead of a single VAR as neither VAR had expertise in all of the software purchased. We're already seeing the VARs jockey for the professional services work, but that's a minor issue that will be quickly remedied.
I'm going to create two blog posts regarding this engagement. This first will focus on the new capabilities in the just released version 7 product as well as an informal review of the solution. Some months from now I'll post a blog entry on the implementation lessons learned from this CRM and ERP software engagement.
The most interesting new feature in MAS 500 version 7.0x is the Business Insights Explorer (BIE) query and data analysis tool. This tool is a step up from the prior version Business Insights Analyzer (BIA) module and now merges inquiry, drill-around and data analysis in a single view. The BIE Preview option permits a user to view master/card records along with performance statistics and related transactions (e.g. a customer record with related quotes, sales orders, invoices or a vendor record with associated vouchers and payments). BIE views are largely user defined so that a user can designate which columns to view, choose the primary column and sort order, and insert column sums or calculated results. Sage has positioned BIE and BIA as complimentary, however, dual licensing for this overlapping products can get a bit pricey.
The Order Entry module has finally received a much needed new user interface (UI). The UI is more intuitive and better accommodates heads-down data entry clerks who process higher transaction volumes. Users can also now place their most utilized fields in the grid entry page and leave less used fields in the "more" area. It's also helpful from a workflow perspective that users can now take sales orders, assign serial and lot numbers, issue pick tickets, receive shipments and generate invoices all from the same screen. The drop shipment function has been enhanced to both permit this selection at order entry as well as receive notification from the third party when the drop shipment has occurred.
Picking and shipping sales orders has been upgraded to permit automated shipments from item picking, more flexible product substitutions and modifiable business rules which prioritize sales orders and back orders by lot (expiration date), oldest inventory picked first, priority, date and other variables. Shipping documents such as the Bill of Lading and packing sheets have been upgraded and are more closely tied to the StarShip manifest system.
A new warehousing management module delivers new functions such as zones in warehouses, three step inventory transfers and wave and zone picking (to track quantity by bin). Warehouse automation also supports a (Windows Mobile 2003 or CE.NET) wireless solution for using handheld devices and scanning during order picking and physical cycle counts.
From the technology perspective, this product is built using SQL and a Visual Basic front-end. VB isn't exactly cutting edge technology and does little to facilitate thin client computing over the Internet, however, this implementation resides in a single facility and the client's IT department didn't want to consider a hosted solution so the technology isn't really a problem.
While largely focused on information access and enhanced warehousing, version 7 is a solid upgrade and the MAS 500 product is a solid ERP system. Sage MAS 500 modules have won several awards, including three Microsoft "Best Technology Integration" awards as well as five consecutive Software Technical Assistance Recognition (STAR) awards for outstanding customer service.
|Posted: Friday, November 23rd, 2007
Under: Software Reviews, Sage
Permalink | Comments (0) | Trackback (0)
I had the chance to perform a detailed review the Aplicor CRM software product and discovered that this software-as-a-service (SaaS) system is a unique solution in at least five key areas. First, I found its ease-of-use unmatched when compared to other hosted and subscription-based CRM and ERP software products. The one-click-to-anywhere navigation and simultaneous multiple accounting viewing make the system quick to learn, easy to use and very efficient. The ability to change views from Schedule to Task List to Opportunity Review to whatever AND see a sub-table of every related transaction is really helpful for increasing personal productivity.
Second, I really like the way Aplicor uses a single page view to show every customer interaction (whether from sales, marketing or customer support) that has ever occurred and thereby achieve a 360 degree view of each client relationship. Third, the CRM product provides advanced functionality in terms of business process automation (workflow) and business intelligence (BI) analysis and reporting. The drag and drop visual reporting tools are flexible, very powerful and the stepping stones to elevate staff from data servants to knowledge workers.
Fourth, the ability for a non-technical person to customize the screens, forms and fields with a visual toolkit was really impressive. I was able to modify the system to my business and sales processes very quickly and without any programming, syntax scripting, endless wizards or techno mumbo jumbo.
Lastly, Aplicor's hosted software is more than just CRM as it also includes a complete back office ERP system that I found to be feature rich and flexible. Providing a built-in accounting software and back office system achieves a single enterprise-wide business system and lowers the cost of software acquisition and integration (not to mention the headaches and finger pointing when dealing with two different software manufacturers). What I really discovered very early in my review is that this CRM system is far more than simple contact management and is clearly capable of supporting more strategic CRM strategies and initiatives. I look forward to my next Aplicor software implementation.
|Posted: Sunday, November 23rd, 2008
Under: Software Reviews, Aplicor
Permalink | Comments (0) | Trackback (0)
I was fortunate to get a first glimpse of the just announced SAP Business ByDesign hosted solution (formerly code-named A1S). SAP made the splash announcement on September 19 at a press and analyst conference in New York - which happened to be the same time as Salesforce.com's Dreamforce user conference and only a day after NetSuite announced that Asahi Kasei Spandex America had replaced SAP R/3 with NetSuite's on-demand ERP system.
SAP CEO Henning Kagermann made several lofty comments, including "It's not just a new product for us ... It's a new era for SAP", seemingly to try to convince the many doubters that this new hosted solution lacks true competitive advantage and is little more than a defensive tactic intended to slow the erosion of clients to salesforce.com, NetSuite and Aplicor.
The Business ByDesign software breadth seems to be it's most competitive value and includes:
Peter Zencke of SAP's executive board indicated the on-demand software product is intended for prospects with between 100 and 500 staff, moderately complex business processes and moderate transaction volumes. He also indicated the hosted product may be complimentary with SAP's other SMB (Small and Midsize Business) solutions Business One (intended for companies of less than 100 employees) and SAP Business All-in-One (designed for companies with between 100 and 2,500 staff).
Presumably to prevent Business ByDesign from cannibalizing the company's flagship product and cash cow, CEO Kagermann made it a point to demonstrate that the Business ByDesign was not designed as an ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) software suite and is instead organized around business processes typically found in smaller companies. Per Kagermann, "We have not designed it with these traditional categories in mind like CRM, ERP, et cert era." Also by design, the hosted product offers no upgrade path to the company's on-premise software product.
Under the hood, the software technology is by and large far superior to SAP's flagship product. Business ByDesign uses a Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) and of course the (proprietary) NetWeaver development framework.
I'm unclear as to the fate of SAP's first introduced hosted CRM solutions, SAP Sales On-Demand (released in February 2006) and SAP Marketing On-Demand (released in May 2006). It's no secret that these hosted CRM software products haven't taken off nor fared well against the more traditional software as a service CRM competitors.
At the time of the new hosted product announcement, there were 20 customers involved in a beta-type testing of the software. As with most new product announcements, the product is not yet available and is expected some time in 2008. U.S. pricing starts at $149.00 per user per month.
|Posted: Friday, September 19th, 2007
Permalink | Comments (0) | Trackback (0)
I recently finished an implementation consulting gig for a Canadian distributor and thought I'd share the lessons learned from that engagement. Overall, the project went fairly well, however, like all projects there were bumps in the road.
The project was estimated to take six months to get to go-live and actually made it in just under seven months. Not bad considering. I'm proposing to do a one year post-implementation ROI measurement, however, the client hasn't yet confirmed this. We'll see.
|Posted: Wednesday, August 1st, 2007
Permalink | Comments (0) | Trackback (0)
I got a call to provide some consulting services to a small CRM implementation that had stalled and was looking for some help to restart it. While the engagement was only one week, it gave me a great opportunity to review the Salesforce.com Group Edition.
The best thing about Group Edition is that it includes almost all the sales force automation (SFA) functionality of the Professional Edition, Enterprise Edition or Unlimited Edition for a small fraction of the price. While limited to a maximum of five users, Group Edition includes the full account management, contact management, activity management and sale opportunity management. Group Edition provides a simple and easy way for very small sales teams to get a hosted SFA solution quickly.
The biggest downside is the missing items to achieve a broader CRM system, such as marketing campaigns, e-mail distributions, workflow, case management knowledgebase and analysis reporting. Other functionality such as dashboards and mobile access would have been helpful, but are understandably absent for such a low price point. The other potential downside appears if the customer elects to upgrade from Team Edition to one of the higher versions as the price differential is exponential.
Overall, the product performs as advertised, is a solid solution and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it for small business environments.
|Posted: Tuesday, July 3rd, 2007
Under: Software Review
Permalink | Comments (0) | Trackback (0)
I had my first experience with Entellium and overall it was quite positive. Frankly, I knew nothing about Entellium before a former client told me they were converting off Sage SalesLogix to Entellium.
Entellium gets high marks for web-based system speed and overall performance, ease of use and workflow processing.
Having just finished a NetSuite implementation, I was really happy to experience the Entellium system speed. Page changes and browser refreshes were typically completed in less than a second and report processing was limited to a reasonable time. Relative to some other hosted CRM software systems, Entellium is really easy to learn and easy to use. The end user training classes were completed in one day and the users felt comfortable going into the go-live cut-over. Granted, we were only using the SFA functionality, however, that type of easy to use system is not the rule when it comes to customer relationship management software systems.
The workflow processing was great. We configured several business process automation routines which saved hours of work per week for several sales staff and administration staff.
I enjoyed the relationship with the folks at Entellium. They were knowledgeable and responsive (again, not the norm in working with CRM software manufacturers). I look forward to additional Entellium projects.
|Posted: Wednesday, June 20th, 2007
Under: Software Review, Entellium
Permalink | Comments (0) | Trackback (0)
Welcome to my blog. I've created this blog to compliment my consulting career and grow my professional networking. This blog is intended for readers interested in CRM software, ERP software, software as a service (SaaS) and e-commerce software solutions and implementations.
software reviews, salesforce.com, entellium, aplicor, netsuite, microsoft
free crm, software review, downtime, sfa, hosted software, salesforce, netsuite ipo, salesforce.com, online crm, web-based, marc benioff, marketing, accounting software, erp system, opportunity management, contact management, sales force automation software