By Michael Caton  |  Posted 2004-09-20 Print this article Print

With a price of less than $60 per user per month, Entelliums hosted CRM suite is a low-cost alternative to other hosted customer relationship management services, albeit with a limited feature set.

Module-based Entellium ranges in price from $45 per user per month for the eSalesForce SFA (sales force automation) service to $59 per user per month for the complete suite, including SFA and the $55-per-month eCustomerCenter CRM applications.

eWEEK Labs tested the latest version of the CRM suite, which went live last month. We found quite a bit to like about the service, particularly from an ease-of-use and management perspective.

However, we also found some areas, particularly in performance and workflow, where competitors such as Salesforce.com Inc. and NetSuite Inc. deliver more customization to administrators.

Click here to read Labs review of four hosted CRM suites, including Salesforce.coms Spring 04 Enterprise Edition and NetSuites NetCRM. Entellium is, in large part, comparable to both of those services, but it does not sell the service directly, as NetSuite and Salesforce.com do. Entellium sells its service only through resellers that ostensibly have the sales consulting expertise to tailor the application to a companys particular sales and customer service processes.

We tested a plain-vanilla implementation of the service and did minor customizations for testing. As with most hosted services, Entellium relies on tabs for organizing core components of each of the suites applications. We generally liked the way Entellium organized information for sales and support users. Search is a key element for finding company data under each tab, although some Entellium modules maintain a list of the 10 most recently accessed leads or accounts.

One of the nicer features on the sales side is the work note field, which includes relevant contact-interaction data associated with a given opportunity. In the SFA application, we could move quickly from task to task using a convenient quicklist of common tasks that follows the user through most parts of the sales force application. However, we wish a similar list appeared in the customer service and administration components.

As with NetSuite and Salesforce.com, Entellium includes a few integration tools for moving data between the suite and desktop applications such as Microsoft Corp.s Excel. An XML schema handles data integration with enterprise applications.

While Entelliums administrative features give companies a wide range of options for integrating custom fields, filtering data for reports and modifying workflow, the service has a workflow design that might not fit an existing sales process. For example, converting sales leads to opportunities requires an additional step beyond qualifying and quantifying the lead. We needed to actually assign a lead to a salesperson to promote it to an opportunity.

New in this release is the ability to use workflow templates to fit a particular industry or sales process, although the underpinnings of the templates cant be altered within the administrative application.

Entellium has other shortcomings as well. Although we could perform most tasks within the application using the Mozilla Web browser, the desktop integration plug-ins require Microsofts Internet Explorer. The service uses SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) encryption, but given the number of exploits targeting IE, wed like broader options.

We were disappointed with the services performance as well. Although its not slow, Entellium isnt as snappy as wed like. Too often, we saw noticeable pauses when navigating from screen to screen.

Technical Analyst Michael Caton can be reached at michael_caton@ziffdavis.com.

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