Web-based CRM (also referred to as hosted CRM, on-demand or online CRM, or browser-based CRM) offers the advantage of using and developing applications online.
By using online applications, where all you need is a browser, businesses can focus on on more critical tasks that will make an impact to your business (profit wise!) instead of the traditional IT development issues. How much “headcount” is in your budget to configure and customize your CRM?
Common characteristics and features to look for include:
- Available “out of the box” applications for your business needs
- the ability to develop customized applications
- Customizable user-friendly GUI
- Worldwide availability in several languages (English, French, Spanish for North America)
- Integration with your PDA and Blackberry
- Security and privacy (my favorite topic!)
Here are some vendors to look out for in 2008, in random order:
Salesforce.com provides a customizable, real-time dashboard. Its various functions enable users to manage workflow, territories and leads; manage data; analyze trends; and create reports. It offers mobile capabilities for PDAs and laptops.
Salesforce.com’s AppExchange program enables on-demand computing, downloads and development of personalized applications.
Why I like them: Constant and Never-ending Improvement and Innovation. They are the benchmark for all SaaS competitors to compare.
2) NetSuite Inc.
NetSuite offers customer-centric order management. Its SuiteBuilder enables users to customize applications to specific needs. Order Management is built in to applications so that businesses can track when leads result in revenue. It integrates with other products, and its dashboard affords views of data required according to job functions such as accounting, sales and marketing. NetSuite’s family of products includes software for e-commerce, CRM, and accounting/ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning).
Why I like them: They are part of a larger ERP and e-commerce package. Plus, their recent IPO could help fund and increase their Research and Development budget, plus increase staff for Sales and Marketing.
3) Maximizer Software Inc.
Maximizer Software provides apps and interfaces for account and contact management. It focuses on sales-opportunity management and action plans. The dashboard contains customizable, flexible views. It integrates with Microsoft Office, allowing exports to Excel, Word or Maximizer’s word processor and has the capability to link to your phone and log calls to customer information. It provides reports for pipeline, forecasts, expenses, phone log and others. Web capabilities include tracing Web inquiries and an online store. The accounting interface integrates with QuickBooks.
Why I like them: Their software integrates well with your phone logs. Probably the best choice for small size businesses due to the large user base of their popular client software.
4) Microsoft CRM 4.0 Live
Microsoft CRM 4.0 Live: This is an SaaS (software as a service) solution can operates within Microsoft datacenters, a reseller, or self-hosted at your own location. It’s tightly integrated with Microsoft Office, Outlook, and the Pocket PC (another PDAs are supported) Microsoft CRM Live is available in three flavors: Small Business, Professional and Financial Services.
Why I like them: CRM 4.0 Live is supported by Microsoft’s familiar interface and technology.
SugarCRM still has a long way to go. Several web hosting companies like Megahosters offer SugarCRM (and several other applications, like WordPress Blogs or Joomla for a complete CMS portal) as an easy install package. Once you register your domain name, setting up your web and applications is easy as pie.
Sugar 5.0 introduces a broad range of new functionality, including capabilities that allow users to build custom modules, a new AJAX email client and a “Multi-Instance On-Demand” architecture.
Why I like them: Free and Easy Installation from most major ISPs.