By John Taschek  |  Posted 2003-05-09 Print this article Print
 , a finalist in this year's Excellence Awards program, is among the most complete CRM packages we've tested and is especially well-thought-out for the hosted space., a finalist in this years Excellence Awards program, is among the most complete CRM packages weve tested and is especially well-thought-out for the hosted space. turned in best-of-class performance in a benchmark that Keynote Systems Inc. ran for us and had 100 percent uptime during the testing phase—the only ASP we tested that did (see graphic).

Functionally, has a clean interface designed for throughput. While NetLedger, Salesnet and UpShot opt for dashboard-style interfaces, Salesforce. com displays as much data as possible on a single screen. The data is organized effectively through tabs and menu items (see screen), and eWEEK Labs found it easy to maneuver through the interface. We especially like how provides a tab-based frame of reference for each of its modules, including Campaigns, Leads, Accounts, Contacts, Opportunities and Forecasts.

Eventually, will run out of screen real estate, especially if it continues to add modules at a rate of about two per year. Until then, the interface is highly suitable for online work. also has a simple but effective help desk tracking system.

Salesforce.coms offline strategy is a work in progress. The offline client is browser-based (Internet Explorer) and mimics the online version. There have been reports of data synchronization problems, but we could not verify them in tests. was designed from the ground up to offer everything that Siebel Systems Inc.s CRM system does, but in a simpler way and from an ASP.

However, clearly is not yet in the same league as Siebel: There is no best-practices culture at, and there are no employee relationship modules in the application. Salesforce.coms integration with desktop applications—something that Siebel excels at—is coming along, but it is coming along slowly. And Salesforce.coms back-office integration strategy is more of an afterthought, although the companys recent focus on integration has led to remarkable progress.

As the director of eWEEK Labs, John manages a staff that tests and analyzes a wide range of corporate technology products. He has been instrumental in expanding eWEEK Labs' analyses into actual user environments, and has continually engineered the Labs for accurate portrayal of true enterprise infrastructures. John also writes eWEEK's 'Wide Angle' column, which challenges readers interested in enterprise products and strategies to reconsider old assumptions and think about existing IT problems in new ways. Prior to his tenure at eWEEK, which started in 1994, Taschek headed up the performance testing lab at PC/Computing magazine (now called Smart Business). Taschek got his start in IT in Washington D.C., holding various technical positions at the National Alliance of Business and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. There, he and his colleagues assisted the government office with integrating the Windows desktop operating system with HUD's legacy mainframe and mid-range servers.

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