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Welcome to my blog. I actually have two blogs - a personal blog and a professional blog. This is my professional blog. I'm a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) independent consultant. My consulting engagements are generally either software selection projects or CRM software implementation projects. I really enjoy both types of projects, working with interesting people and constant learning within this great industry.

Prior to enjoying my independent consulting career, I worked for a few VARs (value added resellers) and primarily implementing Siebel Systems, however, also implemented Onyx, Pivotal, Oracle, SAP and most recently two hosted CRM software solutions from and Aplicor.

I developed a few specialties during my career. I really enjoy implementing business process automation and business intelligence during a CRM implementation. With over 30 implementations under my belt, I've become well versed with change management, risk management and project management. I've done considerable work in the public sector and government, professional services, financial services, media and technology industries.


The Rise of CRM 2.0 and Enterprise 2.0

Whether social media culture and tools are more hype than substance is a matter of arguable debate. However, there should be no debate that Web 2.0 has cascaded into CRM 2.0 and Enterprise 2.0 and will continue to have a growing effect on both the customer relationship management software market and the enterprise resource planning software market. This last year has provided several tell tale signs which can be extrapolated (with some reasonable logic and some guess work) to give us a glimpse of social media's future within the CRM and ERP industries.

CRM 2.0 has been defined. Actually its was defined quite some time ago however only in the recent past have I witnessed more of a consensus definition. I'm also now seeing a widely accepted definition for Enterprise 2.0. Near universally accepted industry definitions provide a basis for customers attempting to educate themselves (before software vendors attempt to skew the definitions) and demonstrate a growing level of maturity.

web 2.0

Social media tools of questionable business value and business models are beginning to demonstrate answers. For me, Twitter has to be a prime example of a Web 2.0 tool which offers an answer however is in search of a problem. Twitter is a message service (sometimes called a micro-blog) for contacts to communicate through the distribution of quick, often frequent, posts. The most common message seems to answer the question of "what are you doing right now?". While early skeptics suggested Twitter had no redeeming business value - and Twitter itself has yet to identify a viable long term business model, companies such as Dell have shown how they made over $1 million by posting sales alerts (tweets) during 2008. Expect to see many more of these measurable benefits in the coming year.

Google and other cloud computing vendors are getting more serious - and strategic - with their Web 2.0 deliveries. Google just delivered its voice and video chat for Gmail, empowering its 50 million e-mail users with a simple messaging application that is beginning to resemble Microsoft SharePoint. Google's solution is largely consumer focused and falls well short of Enterprise 2.0, however, perhaps like Microsoft, at about the fourth version release it will begin to show enterprise functionality.

Blogs, Wiki's and RSS have traversed the enterprise. An end of year survey among eWEEK readers found that blogs and wikis are the most broadly deployed social media tools in the Web 2.0 category - 49% of respondents employed blogs, 48% employed wikis and 43% employed RSS feeds. These are particularly interesting adoption rates when you consider that many of the Web 2.0 tools were initially brought in through the back door and without IT approval.

Also expect to see cloud-based Web 2.0 tools step up to corporate information security standards - or otherwise be replaced by internal (behind the firewall) collaboration tools within the enterprise. The pervasive infection by the Koobface worm this month across Facebook demonstrated another malware targeting social networking sites. Expect to see these attackers combine their destructive exploits with traditional old school social engineering methods to infect greater numbers of social users in the upcoming year. Any only then expect to see Web 2.0 and cloud-based networks step up their information security practices.

While the direction and deliveries are less certain, there should be no doubt that CRM 2.0 and Enterprise 2.0 social media tools will continue their impressive growth and infiltration in the enterprise. According to a 2008 Forrester Research report, the analyst firm predicts that by 2013, investment in customer-facing Web 2.0 technologies (including CRM 2.0) will outstrip spending on internal collaboration software by nearly a billion dollars.

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blog postPost: December 30, 2008 in Social Media | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
tagTags: CRM 2.0, ERP 2.0, Enterprise 2.0, social media

on-demand crm

Bearingpoint Unable To Practice What It Preaches

As first reported in CFO magazine, Bearingpoint's financial woes and CFO departures continue with no end in sight. In fact, if the McLean, VA. consulting firm loses one more CFO (Chief Financial Officer), it will have separated with enough former finance chiefs to field a baseball team. I fail to understand how a firm that boasts its expert capabilities to implement business processes, CRM software systems and financial and accounting software systems for clients is so incapable of running its own financial systems and producing its own financial statements. Now the firm can also exclude CFO retention as a core competency.

Last month, Eileen Kamerick called it quits as Bearingpoint's 8th CFO after just three weeks on the job. While outside intuition might suggest that she uncovered items after accepting the CFO role (that were not disclosed to her prior to accepting the role), the company simply cited "discussions with the audit committee" as the official reason for her departure. At last count, Kamerick was the eighth CFO in the nine-year history of BearingPoint.

With most publicly traded companies, a CFO's early, unplanned and unexplained exit prompts shareholders to exercise extreme caution at the minimum or bail on the stock at the maximum. But with Bearingpoint, investors have seen it all before. "Her resignation is not surprising," says Moshe Katri, an analyst at Cowen and Co. in New York. Even the company didn't feel obliged to supply much more information than the referenced "discussions." According to news reports, Kamerick would say only that she found herself in a different situation than she had expected. That would seemingly mean worse than expected, as it I don't know anybody that bails on a new company because things were far better than eluded to during the interview discussions. The giant consultancy, which was of course originally part of the Big Four accounting firm KPMG, has a history of accounting errors. In 2004, a $93 million accounting error triggered the resignation of CFO Mark Falcone and led the company to restate its financials back to 1999. Bearingpoint has also incurred a series of legal troubles with the US government regarding professional services delivery for government projects. Several government legislatures suggest that Bearingpoint should be banned from future government work.

Taking on the CFO role is "no easy task," says Katri. "In fact, these factors make it very logical for anyone who's going to look at this job to consider it challenging." Now all eyes are glued to CFO number 9, who happens to be former audit-committee member Eddie Munson. No doubt his days will be full, but on the plus side, he only needs to hold the job for 28 months to qualify as BearingPoint's longest-serving CFO.

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blog postPost: July 20, 2008 in Strategy | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
tagTags: crm/erp software consulting

on-demand crm

SAS 70 Deficiencies and Pitfalls

During our software selection process for an on-demand accounting software and ERP (enterprise resource planning) system, our project team searched for a industry certification or recognized credential which would provide comfort from a third party authority for the internal controls, information security and governance compliance of a future on-demand software provider. Our CPA recommended the SAS 70 certification. Our project team would later discover this was a very self serving recommendation.

SAS 70 audits are a by-product of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX). SOX requires that companies verify the accuracy of their financial controls, and establishes SAS 70 Type 2 audits as a method to verify that third-party providers meet those goals. Our surprise came when we looked as SAS 70 attestation in more detail. A SAS 70 audit does not rate or attest a company's internal controls against a particular set of defined criteria or best practices. In a SAS 70 audit, the service organization being audited prepares a written description of its goals and objectives and the auditor then examines the service organization's description and comments whether he or she believes those goals are fairly stated, whether the controls are suitably designed to achieve the control objectives that the organization has stated for itself, whether the controls have been placed in operation, and in the case of a Type 2 audit engagement, whether the controls are operating effectively.

sas 70

The fact that a company has conducted a SAS 70 audit does not necessarily mean its systems are secure or accurate. In fact, a SAS 70 may confirm that a particular system is not secure, by design. According to Robert Aanerud, chief risk officer and principal consultant at security consultancy HotSkills, "You can have control objectives to make any statement management may want to make." Management could decide that it is acceptable for the company to operate with bad access controls, and the auditor (who must be a CPA) then needs to ensure that access control is at least bad. The SAS 70 audit opinion would essentially say that, yes, the company has achieved its stated control objectives.

Jonathan Gossel of System Experts suggests that “The Emperor Has No Clothes”, and that the SAS 70 has three underlying critical faults that result in SAS 70 opinions being held in very low regard. First, SAS 70 audits have no specific and objective standards. There are no predetermined standards for an organization to “pass”. Instead the organization sets their own standards and controls. The auditor simply determines if the organization meets their own self determined criteria. Organizations without security policies in one area could pass a SAS 70 audit even though their information system contained a gaping security hole elsewhere because, “the control activities (none) matched the stated control objectives (none). Second, only CPA firms can perform SAS 70 audits. While many CPA firms cannot tell a router from a firewall, much less determine if information systems are properly configured and internal control effective, they are according to the AICPA the only qualified resources to perform this audit. Third, the SAS 70 process is designed to drive billable hours. Typical SAS 70 costs average between $40,000 and $250,000 per year.

The end result is that the SAS 70 is little more than an accountant's billable revenue activity, brilliantly marketed by the AICPA, and built upon fears from the violated public trust in the wake of Enron, WorldCom and other organizations that out-foxed the AICPA approved audits of those eras. The SAS 70 is without value-add to the auditee or the person reading the audit report. Its non-prescriptive structure permits gaping holes in assessing information security, financial controls and overall compliance. Its requirement that the auditor be a CPA (certified public accountant), without requisite guidelines for technical competence or experience, follows a poorly structured audit plan with potentially incompetent resources.

To achieve our need for valid information systems compliance assurance, we ultimately selected the ISO 27001 as a more relevant and trusted source. This ISO (International Standards Organization) standard is globally recognized and specifies meaningful requirements for establishing, implementing, operating, monitoring, reviewing, maintaining and improving a documented Information Security Management System (ISMS).

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blog postPost: April 23, 2008 in Strategy | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (1)
tagTags: AICPA, SAS70, hosted accounting software, on-demand erp software

on-demand crm

Hosted SAP Implementation Goes South

Waste Management Inc. filed suit against SAP on March 20th for a failed ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) software implementation. While failed ERP implementations are nothing new, this situation is somewhat unique in terms of the claims made and the opportunity for post mortem analysis.

The Waste Management claims that fall outside the norm of failed implementations include legal allegations of fraud and operational allegations that the core out-of-the-box SAP ERP software product failed. Software modification is a common culprit associated with most unsuccessful accounting software implementations, however, in this case the client company claims that they consciously avoided software customization in order to reduce risk and increase the probability for success. Waste Management also claims that the SAP demonstration of a waste industry standard solution with no customization required included functionality the software didn't have and in turn made the company a "guinea pig" for on the fly software coding which was not ready for the production environment.

SAP and rival Oracle have aggressively moved into adapting their horizontal ERP software applications for the needs of vertical markets. Waste Management intended to use SAP software for back office accounting, receivables processing, container management and waste logistics. A key buying criteria was the ability to streamline the order to cash process which was a key element in the company's customer satisfaction strategy referred to as Customer First.

Waste Management selected SAP Managed Services to host the mySAP Business Suite implementation so that the waste service company could focus on core business and strategic issues. However, after spending in excess of $100 million to implement the SAP software, the SAP implementation was a "complete failure." The company chronicles that during the pilot project in New Mexico, the software couldn't perform the most basic revenue management function and when SAP attempted to fix the problems by rewriting tens of thousands of lines of code during the implementation, the problems became exacerbated and contributed for further failures.

This implementation is certainly a far cry from the December 2005 press release issued by SAP claiming among other things, that "Waste Management becomes SAP’s flagship U.S.-based waste and recycling customer, joining more than 50 waste and recycling customers throughout the world." Waste Management is now seeking recovery of expenses and additional damages.

The legal claims of fraud don't come at a good time for SAP, as the software giant is embroiled in a losing lawsuit with Oracle due to its subsidiary TomorrowNow allegedly taking Oracle confidential information. While Oracle boasts the breach was "corporate theft on a grand scale", SAP acknowledges the act, however, is trying to downplay the magnitude and control the damage.

Possibly on a more positive note, the Waste Management failed ERP implementation may provide the needed public visibility for a post mortem analysis that will benefit ERP implementers and users of any ERP application. SAP is certainly not unique in failed engagements and the lessons learned may be applied by other project teams and project managers in a way that will benefit the industry. I intend to survey the information as its released and look forward to finding some insight that industry practitioners may benefit by.

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blog postPost: March 30, 2008 in SAP | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
tagTags: SAP, Hosted CRM software, on-demand crm software

on-demand crm

NetSuite's Red Hot IPO

If you are near New York and just heard a loud swooshing sound, that was the climbing price of NetSuite’s stock shooting for the sky. If you are near Silicon Valley and just heard a loud swooshing sound, that was Larry Ellison's bank account ratcheting up by another billion dollars or so.

NetSuite began the next phase of its corporate evolution by trading as a public company on the New York Stock Exchange today after raising $161 million in a public offering that earns the accounting software as a service manufacturer a slightly more than $1.5 billion company valuation. All this from a hosted software company which is $242 million in the hole after nine years in business, $20.6 million down for the first nine months of the year on $76.8 million in revenues and projects a very questionable profitability forecast. Netsuite currently employs 600 and has yet to make a profit, however, its revenue growth is impressive and its loss has narrowed from $35.7 million last year to $20.6 million in the nine months to September.

NetSuite increased its coming-out price three times in the hours before its Dutch auction IPO. The proposed stock price initially went from $13.00 to $16.00 upward to $16.00 to $19.00. Later on Wednesday it continued to climb to $19.00 to $22.00 and finally settled later on Wednesday night at $26.00 (shortly after Oracle posted its market beating financial results). The Dutch action method, made famous by Google in 2004, is supposed to value the shares closer to their actual market value than a typical IPO, which often prices shares at a discount. Of course there are the pundits and skeptics who claim the stock and the company is overvalued. These people have been making this claim lately about VMware and for years with

To celebrate the day’s special occasion, NetSuite CEO Zach Nelson rang the opening bell and was joined by NetSuite Founder, Chief Technology Officer and Chairman of the Board, Evan Goldberg, and NetSuite CFO Jim McGeever. Both Nelson and Goldberg came to NetSuite from Oracle where Nelson was a marketing guy and Goldberg was a programmer.

Now the challenge is to show increased growth under the public microscope. NetSuite has long been rumored to have excessive customer churn, operational difficulties and lack of assured hosted software delivery (due to a lack of data center availability). We’ll see if having tons of available money remedies these alleged misgivings or if the scrutiny of public market oversight clarifies these events in the public venue.

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blog postPost: December 20, 2007 in NetSuite | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
tagTags: NetSuite, Oracle, IPO
on-demand crm

Aplicor CRM Implementation Lessons Learned

I finished managing an Aplicor hosted software implementation and wanted to share the experience and the lessons learned. This was my third on-demand or software as a service CRM engagement (the first two were jobs) and my first direct experience in working with Aplicor.

As far as working with Aplicor goes, I will testify that this company really practices what it preaches when it comes to cultivating and growing customer relationships. Never before have I received so many courtesy calls and genuine interest from so many levels in the manufacturer's organization. I routinely received proactive calls from the help desk, training staff, consulting staff and even the CEO of the company. And here's one for the books - the sales person actually periodically followed up even after closing the sale (I later learned that sales people and other staff compensation plans are heavily influenced by customer satisfaction). The few times I offered input, it was clearly followed up and acted upon. Aplicor takes its customer relationships very seriously.

Unfortunately, the client staff on the implementation team were not quite so proactive. To counteract the company's inertia, the significant staff turnover we incurred and the issues when dealing with users in several countries we implemented a change management plan fairly early. Much of the change management plan centered around vocal executive sponsorship, early and broad user involvement, testimonials from key managers and users, and a constant and progressive communication of chained messages. In the end, those users who first threw up red herrings and objections ultimately came around and endorsed the sales force automation (SFA) and customer relationship management (CRM) systems.

We implemented the Aplicor ENTERPRISE version 5 SFA, marketing and customer support modules and were very pleased with the product's ease of use, flexibility and reliability. Aplicor is clearly the most intuitive and efficient CRM system I have seen for serious users (that is, users who are truly leveraging and maximizing the system for their everyday effectiveness as opposed to users who view CRM systems more sporadically or just as a contact manager to look up a telephone number or address). The many-to-one account viewing in Aplicor is extremely useful for quickly reviewing account, contact, activity, task, opportunity, case, campaign or calendar records in a prioritized and rapid fire fashion. This user interface is something I haven't seen since Siebel Systems and I'd like to see it more non-hosted or hosted CRM systems. We mixed Aplicor's Menu Designer and Forms Designer with the one-click-to-anywhere concept to really streamline CRM system navigation and activities for virtually every role in the company. The training curriculum was well done, however, not that different from other CRM software training agendas. What was different was the near consistent positive and embracing response from the user attendees during and after the training classes. With the exception of one location (Germany), the users were extremely complimentary of the project team's efforts and the new CRM application. Germany eventually came around after a few more doses of change management and an additional training class which incorporated a few things they considered unique to their market.

All in all, it was an outstanding CRM implementation. It's always enjoyable to work with a flexible and reliable CRM application and I truly enjoyed the personal attention from the Aplicor operational staff and management team. I'm planning on attending this years Aplicor annual user retreat in Florida. If any readers are also attending, please let me know.

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blog postNovember 6, 2007 in Aplicor, Implementations | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (1)
tagTags: Aplicor, on-demand crm, on-demand accounting software, system review
on-demand crm

NetSuite SuiteBundler versus AppExchange

While's AppExchange has a reputation for being far less successful than the company claims, that hasn't stopped NetSuite from trying to trump in the third party product and industry solutions game. NetSuite announced today a new software product called SuiteBundler which apparently permits business partners (primarily VARs), ISVs, programmers and system integrators to create vertically focused industry solutions.

Suitebundler is part of the SuiteFlex platform which includes other components such as SuiteBuilder, SuiteScript and SuiteTalk. As with many product announcements coming out of Silicon Valley, NetSuite took the opportunity to spin yet another hosted software industry term now called "Service as Software", not to be confused with "Platform as a Service" from, "Software Plus Service" from Microsoft or "Software as a Service" from the rest of the industry.

Early SiteBundler industry releases have been designed or are being designed for the software, media, IT resellers, agriculture, retail (point of sale), franchises and electronics whole distribution industries.

While SuiteBundler remains to be seen in action, it comes across as a bit of a template builder. Not sophisticated nor flexible but a decent start and possibly useful for adapting a horizontal ERP (enterprise resource planning) solution to certain industry segments. The focus of a few of these industry solutions shows that NetSuite may be passing on some of the vertical markets so big they are almost horizontal and instead getting to the micro-verticals which I believe offer a much higher margin and sticky customer market.

While AppExchange (and Force/VisualForce) has more maturity, capability, participation and momentum, I think the big advantage SiteBundler has over AppExchange is NetSuite's enterprise wide application capability. Verticalizing an integrated front to back office application suite is far easier and more effective than trying to verticalize just the front office or add a third party back office to another vendor's front office. In the last 20 years, the promise of "seamless integration" between multiple vendor systems has been ridiculed as largely a failure. Having worked with multi-vendor allegedly integrated applications I will personally testify the integration is generally weak, upgrades are problematic and expensive and the technical support is maddening.

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     October 24, 2007 in NetSuite, | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
on-demand crm

NetSuite IPO & Data Center Disregard

After years of management telling employees the company is going to go public, NetSuite appears to really be going public. Rumors have circulated that the IPO was delayed first to improve NetSuite's massive financial losses and then due to an (unscheduled?) change in accounting firms. I have a feeling that there were likely some complications as NetSuite's majority owner is Larry Ellison - who also happens to be CEO of that small company called Oracle which is a NetSuite competitor. Interesting dynamics not the least of which suggest conflict of interests. But that's for another blog post.

Interestingly enough, the IPO will be performed via a Dutch auction. Not so interestingly, the underwriters are Credit Suisse and WR Hambrecht. A few of the more telling financial performance measurements revealed from the registration include the following:

  • Big revenue growth. Revenue grew from $36M in 2005 to $67M in 2006.
  • Big financial losses. NetSuite lost $23.4M in 2006 and had an accumulated deficit of $193M.

However, in my opinion the absolute most telling statement was the company's disregard for system and client data redundancy. Here's what NetSuite included in their SEC filing.

We host our services and serve all of our customers from a single third-party data center facility located in California. We do not control the operation of this facility. This facility is vulnerable to damage or interruption from earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, fires, terrorist attacks, power losses, telecommunications failures and similar events. Our data facility is located in an area known for seismic activity, increasing our susceptibility to the risk that an earthquake could significantly harm the operations of this facility. It also could be subject to break-ins, computer viruses, sabotage, intentional acts of vandalism and other misconduct. The occurrence of a natural disaster or an act of terrorism, a decision to close the facilities without adequate notice or other unanticipated problems could result in lengthy interruptions in our services. We do not currently operate or maintain a backup data center for any of our services or for any of our customers’ data, which increases our vulnerability to interruptions or delays in our service.

If I were a NetSuite prospect and became aware of the above statement, I would no longer be considering NetSuite as my possible provider of mission critical front to back office business systems.

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     August 1, 2007 in NetSuite | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
on-demand crm

I'm Heading to DreamForce

I'm gearing up for my second San Francisco DreamForce trip. Please let me know if any friends or blog readers are also going and have time to catch up over a coffee or session.

     September 1, 2007 in | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
on-demand crm

Is Microsoft Serious About Software as a Service?

I just attended the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference in Denver. I enjoy these conferences for their content and also find them great for catching up with friends and colleagues I only see at conferences like this one. The most interesting topic for this conference was clearly software-as-a-service. The overwhelming buzz during the conference was the apparent bipolar view of SaaS by the channel and my most significant takeaway from the conference was how under-empowered Microsoft's SaaS CRM software solution really is.

Hosted CRM software clearly threatens the more traditional CRM software licensing (on-premise) model. Like an ostrich putting its head in the sand, Microsoft and most of its business partners first ostracized and then clearly ignored the on-demand CRM and ERP movement (a common and usually ill-fated strategy for Microsoft). Well, after losing considerable small and midsize market (SMB) market share to and walking on eggshells with its channel, Microsoft has used this conference to hit SaaS head on. Seemingly.

The majority of the Microsoft channel has not exactly embraced hosted software; far from it. From a software sales perspective (which is the perspective that drives many Microsoft partner business models), hosted software provides a long-term financial return that is viewed as pennies on the dollar when compared to the high margin short term, cash generated from traditional on-premise software sales. However, as most value added resellers (VARs) have ultimately figured out, hosted software is now being demanded by sales prospects and trying to pitch on-premise software when the prospect wants a subscription-based, hosted, thin-client on-demand solution is only going to result in lost sales opportunities. The product delivery decision equation has moved from selling on-premise versus hosted to selling hosted or losing out on a hyper-growth market (in which case its the VAR that often suffers the customer erosion to this unstoppable movement). While several VARs that I spoke to continue to fight SaaS, most have recognized that if you can't beat them, it's time to join them.

Microsoft's CRM software approach is all about Dynamics CRM Live (code name Titan). Microsoft claims to have found SaaS religion and at first blush, this multi-tenant, semi thin-client CRM system is the thunder behind Microsoft's SaaS adoption. However, after viewing the yet to be released product, I was clearly convinced that this is either a very low-end solution targeted at ACT!, GoldMine and the low-end contact management market or a poorly advised tactical defensive strategy to somehow appease the business partner community and hold off the perceived cannibalization of the higher end Dynamics CRM on-premise solution. Or possibly this is a rushed to market solution and like most Microsoft products they'll get it right on the fourth version release. Will the hosted Microsoft product be successful? Microsoft and its colleagues will certainly say yes, however, I suspect the market will largely say no. I do believe Titan will successfully compete in the low-end of the SMB market and maybe take away some deals from arch rival's Group Edition (formerly called Team Edition) - and while there will be a few press releases citing large user count customer acquisitions, I predict these will represent less than one percent of the target market buying Titan. The other 99 percent will be the lower-end of the SMB market.

     Technorati: microsoft, saas
     July 30, 2007 in Microsoft, SaaS | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
on-demand crm

Hosted CRM Similarities and Differences

I've finished my third hosted CRM software implementation. The first two were fairly small engagements. This last one was a 205 user Aplicor engagement. While I'm still a novice when it comes to these hosted applications (I guess the proper name for these on-demand CRM solutions is software as a service (saas)), I thought I would reflect on the last three jobs and point out the similarities and differences.

First the similarities.

  • CRM strategies, objectives, goals and ROI measurement metrics remain unchanged with installed locally or hosted remotely.
  • Data conversion is unchanged regardless of platform. The real issue here is that most organizations don't recognize dirty data until they go to transfer it and the data cleansing, staging and transfer process is unchanged with on-premise or hosted.
  • With the exception of a few technical tasks, implementation methodologies and project plans remain consistent.
  • Change management requirements and strategies remain constant. User adoption is always a challenge.

Now the differences.

  • With no hardware to procure or software to install, the project plan bypasses early technical activities and accelerates to the pilot phase.
  • While there is less IT (information technology) staff participation, IT people are still valuable resources for data conversion and system integration activities.
  • With both and Aplicor, I found user training to be much shorter than with on-premise systems. For the most part, these saas solutions are easier to use, far more intuitive and more quickly learned by users.
  • In my experiences, the highest impact difference is the remote system administration. Network optimization, database tuning, information security, disaster recovery, business continuity and the host of laborious system and network administration tasks are offloaded to the hosted CRM manufacturer.
  • Another very valuable difference is the elimination of time consuming and costly software point release installs and version upgrades. These tasks are now handled in the background by the CRM vendor.

While I don't think hosted customer relationship management software solutions are going to accommodate every organization, they offer a clear and compelling value proposition and I'm certain the sky high growth projections for saas are likely to come true.

     Technorati: saas, crm
     June 6, 2007 in SaaS | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
on-demand crm

What ever happened to Pivotal?

Since I'm reminiscing about one time great CRM products that seemed to have slipped into oblivion, let me ask the CRM blogging community 'what ever happened to Pivotal?' You know, Pivotal, that midmarket customer relationship management system built on Microsoft technologies.

I know Pivotal was acquired by CDC Software (previously Chinadotcom) back in about December 2003. I also recall there was a competition among bidders CDC and Oak Investment Partners, however, the competition seemed more of a tug of war than a bidding war.

Since the CDC acquisition Pivotal has lost its executive team, market buzz, analyst coverage and media attention. Within the consulting community I hear very little sales or implementation activity. If there is a vision or a future for this once great product, it's not known within my circle. Please let me know if you have better knowledge regarding this product than I do.

     Technorati: crm software, crm
     May 12, 2007 in Pivotal | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
on-demand crm

What ever happened to Onyx?

I first implemented Onyx in 1995. Onyx used to be one of my favorite customer relationship management software systems to work with. The information system was flexible, feature rich and accommodated the three pillars of CRM (sales force automation, marketing and customer support) extraordinarily well.

Unfortunately, ever since the June 2006 acquisition by Consona (then called M2M Holdings or Made2Manage) Onyx seems to have fallen off the industry map. The acquisition actually caught me by surprise. I had briefly spoken to former CEO Janice Anderson just after Onyx had fought off an unsolicited acquisition offer from CDC software (who previously acquired Pivotal) and after the Oracle acquisition of Siebel Systems. Janice seemed intent on capitalizing on the much ballyhooed Oracle fear factor. During the long period where Siebel was the direct competitor in the enterprise software market, Onyx was unable to chip away at the 800 pound gorilla or to grow their own business. I believe at the time of the acquisition, Onyx actually held the lowest CRM software company valuation in the public markets (the only CRM software manufacturers with a valuation less than annual revenues). The Oracle acquisition, the departure of Tom Siebel, a questionable project Fusion and a long held customer suspicion of Oracle's true motives seem to provide the best chance for Onyx to leverage a good product and regain lost ground. Well it didn't happen, the company liquidated to M2M, the entire executive management team departed and the product's place in the market is not understood or recognized. I network with a fairly large circle of CRM professionals and none of us are aware of the Onyx vision, value proposition, R&D, upgrade path or future. More so, none of us have heard of any new Onyx engagements. The acquisition gives the appearance of taking a classic CRM software product and moving it to maintenance mode.

     Technorati: crm software, crm
     April 20, 2007 in Onyx | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
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