eWEEK Labs tests of four hosted CRM systems show that this genre of enterprise services has grown more sophisticated and flexible, giving companies several good options for managing sales and customer service data.
Since the beginning of this year, Accpac International Inc., NetSuite Inc., Salesforce.com Inc. and Salesnet have rolled out new releases of their hosted applications—Accpaccrm.com, NetCRM 9.5, Salesforce.com Spring 04 and Salesnet, respectively. Each service makes it easier for companies to manage sales and customer support processes, as well as gain more and better insight into how the sales process drives business.
Accpacs Accpaccrm.com Enterprise Edition, which is priced at $70 per user per month, has a simple Windows-like interface that makes the product easy to learn. However, it lacks its competitors extensibility.
NetSuites NetCRM, which costs $75 per user per month, provides the best out-of-the-box view of a business, but it doesnt have the extensibility of Salesforce.com. NetCRM is one of the three modules in NetSuites customer relationship management/accounting/e-commerce service. NetCRM can be used alone, but it realizes its full potential only when packaged with the other modules of the suite.
The Enterprise Edition of the Salesforce.com service is the most flexible system we tested, but it comes at a high price ($125 per user per month), and the management platform can be difficult to use.
Companies that already have a customer service application will find Salesnets Salesnet Extended a powerful and customizable tool with good reporting capabilities. Salesnet Extended costs $99 per user per month.
All four of these services cover the basics of managing contacts, opportunities and, except for Salesnet, customer service. We found the systems differed considerably when it came to how the applications presented information and how users entered data.
With all these systems, as with CRM in general, companies will need to perform some customization to align the services with their particular selling methodologies. We found customization to be straightforward with all four services, although with NetCRM and Salesforce.com, customizing the look of the applications can be a lengthy process. Both applications have a tabbed interface and many elements that provide entry into each application function; configuring those elements according to security requirements can be time-consuming.
Technical Analyst Michael Caton can be contacted at email@example.com.