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By Michael Caton  |  Posted 2004-03-08 Email Print this article Print
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


Maximizer Software Inc.s latest version of its namesake CRM application capably addresses past versions shortcomings in reporting and integration with Microsoft Corp.s Outlook.

Although Maximizer Enterprise 8.0, which shipped last month, is a mature product, the addition of reporting and group calendaring in this edition makes it a much better customer relationship management tool for small and midsize enterprises, eWEEK Labs tests showed. However, with prices starting at $489 per seat, Maximizer Enterprise 8.0 presents a substantial investment for a smaller company.

Maximizer Enterprise 8.0 is fairly inexpensive as a CRM application, but the bill can add up quickly depending on the options purchased. For example, deploying to 30 or more seats or using the version that supports Microsofts SQL Server requires purchasing first-year annual maintenance and support, which costs 20 percent of the list price.

The version of the suite that includes Microsoft SQL Server support, an e-commerce engine and a Web portal costs $699 per seat.

Maximizers long-standing strength—providing a single tool for salespeople to manage contacts, companies and sales opportunities—has been improved through a couple of changes. We like the way this version gives salespeople a new summary view when launching the application, compiling daily tasks and appointments in a single view.

This view is better integrated with Microsofts Outlook, so e-mail sent to customers can be easily added to the customer record. We also found the group calendar a good way to help sales teams streamline the process of organizing meetings.

In general, we like how Maximizer organizes sales leads and account management, although companies will need to plan for training or customization, given how much of Maximizer is exposed to the user out of the box.

The daunting user interface is another area in which Maximizer and its closest competitor (in feature functionality), Best Software Inc.s SalesLogix, are diametrically opposed to Web-based hosted applications such as NetCRM from NetSuite Inc. and Salesforce.com from Salesforce.com Inc. Web-based services generally expose fewer forms to start, making them more approachable, but require considerable customization to deliver the same out-of-the-box functionality thats found in Maximizer.

In addition, Maximizers ability to go on the road gives it an edge over these services.

From a sales management standpoint, Maximizer 8.0s new support for Business Objects S.A.s Crystal Reports is a big plus. Maximizer comes with a good range of predefined reports as well as a custom report engine. Although we found it easy to build reports to get a handle on the sales pipeline, those with less experience generating reports may find the engine daunting to use. Providing an integrated view of sales data is another area in which Maximizer could still improve. The product trails integrated sales and financials applications such as NetSuites NetSuite because it doesnt provide a way to easily get a comprehensive graphical and numerical view of financial health.

Version 8.0 does integrate with the 2003 and 2004 versions of Intuit Inc.s QuickBooks accounting package. This is comparable to the integration available in SalesLogix for Best Softwares MAS 90 and MAS 200 accounting packages. However, at $99 per user, Maximizers QuickBooks option is an expensive add-on. Best Software may have an inherent advantage by offering multiple accounting packages.

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

Check out eWEEK.coms Enterprise Applications Center at http://enterpriseapps.eweek.com for the latest news, reviews and analysis about productivity and business solutions.

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