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On-Demand CRM

The CRM on-demand market is a noisy place, with much of the sound volume generated by and its larger-than-life CEO, Marc Benioff. Rising above the din are two offerings, one an update from a mature player in the hosted CRM space, and the other a long-anticipated entry from one of the world's largest software vendors.

Salesnet's experience in the on-demand market comes through loud and clear in Release 25 of its software, reflected in its thorough treatment of not only sales and marketing functionality, but in its inclusion of messaging and document management systems. Newcomer SAP has a strong, if so far limited, entry aimed at enticing existing customers that want to get CRM initiatives under way fast. We tested both products at our Real World Lab in Green Bay, Wis.

SAP CRM On-Demand 1.0

Software behemoth SAP is targeting departmental projects within midsized-to-large enterprises without an existing CRM implementation, with the intention of migrating these users to the enterprise-class CRM module in the mySAP Business Suite. This first release of SAP CRM on-demand is focused on sales force automation features, with marketing and services modules due later this year. SAP wants to avoid problems like the ones that beset earlier this year--the application was down at least twice in January and February due to acknowledged system performance issues--so it has partnered with IBM to provide hosting and support.

SAP's pricing is competitive and its functionality well-rounded enough that it's worth a look by organizations that might be considering or Salesnet for SFA needs, even if they don't envision migrating to SAP's full-blown CRM implementation. But there are holes in the product, such as the lack of a mechanism to import existing customer data. Data integration, with the exception of importing users, isn't possible, and testing showed that even user importing is difficult because of requirements for SAP-specific fields within the imported user list.

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