Cutting Deployment Pain
MDServe is itself a Microsoft .Net development partner so it is used to working with Microsoft products. However, a major reason why the implementation failed was because the package was "originally sold by a value-added reseller who claimed to have more product knowledge than they really did have and they overstated the capability of the product," Putney said. MDServe wanted a CRM application that could be seamlessly integrated with a single central database of customer information, he said. The company eventually gave up on Microsoft CRM after spending more than six months and $60,000 in consulting costs back in 2003 attempting to get the product to work.The company switched to Salesforce.com and found that the integration and total cost of ownership issues were much more favorable. "We configured Salesforce.com ourselves in a week," he said. Furthermore the adoption rate among the sales representatives and managers was much faster. Half the battle in the success of any CRM system is to convince the sales representatives to take the time to enter accurate information into the application, Putney said. To get them to use it consistently, they need to feel the application "is their best friend," he said. Currently, about 60 sales staff members use the product and the best proof that the application is working is its ability to generate useful and accurate reports, Putney said. At this point, Putney said he wouldnt even consider taking a look at Dynamics CRM 3.0. "I wouldnt give them the benefit of the doubt," he said. Microsoft has put a lot of work into CRM 3.0 to try to eliminate this kind of customer experience. But how well it has succeeded wont be apparent until a significant number of customers start to put it into production. Click here to read why Microsoft will rely on partners to provide on-demand versions of its CRM package. But these days, customers are a lot less patient dealing with software deployments than they used to be. They are much less willing to buy into the proposition that application deployments by their nature have to be painful, difficult and expensive. In fact, more than ever they expect that enterprise application deployments will be simple and uncomplicated processes that allow them to work productively in short order without spending a lot of extra money on exorbitant consulting services. That really isnt so much to ask for. John Pallatto is a veteran journalist in the field of enterprise software and Internet technology. He can be reached at email@example.com. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, reviews and analysis about customer relationship management solutions.
"We came away with the feeling that [the consultants] didnt know what they were doing and the product just wasnt ready for prime time," he said.