By Michael Caton  |  Posted 2004-05-31 Print this article Print

The Salesforce.com services biggest advantage over competitors is its Sforce 3.0 development environment, which makes it easy for companies and third-party developers to integrate other applications into Salesforce.com. Sforce was updated with the rest of the service last month.

For companies that want a highly customized Salesforce.com implementation, the applications standard field customization tools and the Sforce environment combine to provide broad options.

During tests, we could easily add custom tabs and capture data from external sources, such as a Web site lead-capture form, and use that data in Salesforce.com. However, many of the customization tools in Salesforce.com are wizard-driven, which made the customization process tedious over time.

This latest release of Salesforce.com provides better tools to customize and manage complex workflows around customer support.

For example, the new Solutions Management component made it much easier to manage content used for customer support. Content such as knowledge-base articles can now reside in the Salesforce.com application and be published to a companys Web site for customer self-service.

Salesforce.coms customer support case-management capabilities also have been improved, largely through the addition of escalation support and the ability to let support personnel share cases.

The release we tested, Spring 04, adds a sales process feature like that found in Salesnet, as well as the ability to set reminders for opportunities and forecasts.

While the new features are useful, the Salesforce.com application is getting more difficult to learn and will likely take longer for companies to implement as they set up Salesforce.com to meet function and security requirements for user roles.

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

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