Microsoft CRM Delay Irks Users

The 2.0 release date falls to the fourth quarter, even as Microsoft has hired a veteran CRM executive to help get the product out the door.

Customer dissatisfaction is growing with Microsoft Corp.s delayed CRM release cycle, even as the Redmond, Wash., company has hired a veteran CRM executive to help get the product out the door.

Brad Wilson, a former marketing executive with PeopleSoft Inc. and Epiphany Inc., joined Microsoft in early February, at the same time the company announced another delay for its long-awaited Microsoft CRM 2.0, originally due to ship early last year.

Microsoft CRM 2.0 is now expected to be released to manufacturing in the fourth quarter, with general availability in the second quarter of next year. As recently as January, Microsoft was promising that Version 2.0 would be released this quarter.

"In the last 60 to 90 days, we met with a lot of our partners to decide whether to come out with what we have right now or open the scope more," said Wilson, who added that he was not responsible for the latest decision to delay the product.

"We decided to add more things, in the area of extremely rapid installation—small business in five clicks or less—things around enhanced workflows, around more component services."

"Their upgrades need to be more regular and come quicker," said Clark Cox, regional sales manager for Bastian Material Handling Corp., which has about 100 seats of Microsoft CRM. "[Version] 1.2 was pretty much a band-aid really. We need the features in 2.0 today."

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Bastian Material Handling has been a customer of Microsoft CRM since the products inception in January 2003, moving from Siebel Systems Inc.s Mid-Market Edition product to have better integration with its Microsoft Great Plains applications, Cox said, adding that he knew the 1.0 version had some functionality gaps but that Microsoft officials promised him those gaps would be filled with another release within 12 months. He said hes still waiting.

"They are 18 months behind schedule," said Cox in Novi, Mich. "Its disappointing."

As with Cox, Microsoft CRM user Darryl Nitke, CIO of Cosa Instrument Corp., is still waiting for better synchronization with Microsoft Outlook as well. "When you create a task in Microsoft CRM, you want it to appear in your Outlook calendar," said Nitke in Yaphank, N.Y. "You shouldnt have to enter it twice."

Nitke said he also needs better handling of account information, such as the ability to put notes taken on accounts into chronological order. Hes considering a third-party add-on to get this functionality, which he expected would be in Microsoft CRM 2.0.

Microsoft CRM 2.0 will include marketing and service automation applications and more sales tools, according to Wilson. Microsoft will also add more analytical CRM capability in Version 2.0, mainly in the form of deeper reporting capabilities, what Wilson called "right-size analytics."

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