Review: Salesforce.com

Salesforce.com, 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.

Salesforce.com, 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. Salesforce.com 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, Salesforce.com 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 Salesforce.com provides a tab-based frame of reference for each of its modules, including Campaigns, Leads, Accounts, Contacts, Opportunities and Forecasts.

Eventually, Salesforce.com 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. Salesforce.com 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.

Salesforce.com 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, Salesforce.com clearly is not yet in the same league as Siebel: There is no best-practices culture at Salesforce.com, and there are no employee relationship modules in the Salesforce.com 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.