The best CRM suite

Summary:We look at seven CRM solutions, compare them and give some recommendations for where each would have the best fit.

Oracle CRM On Demand

Intro

While Oracle and SAP can be grouped together as huge software companies that produce enterprise-scale packages, their approach to CRM differs quite a lot. Unlike SAP Business ByDesign, Oracle CRM on Demand is a hosted CRM package that is similar to the other hosted solutions tested in this review.

UI

The user interface is clean and well organised. The left-hand menu is the same for every module and provides shortcuts to allow quick creation of Opportunities, Contacts, Leads and Appointments, and so forth. There's also a search feature, recently viewed items and a list of Favourites that each user populates. The whole menu is reminiscent of Microsoft Outlook and takes very little time to get used to. The top of the screen has tabs for Calendar, Leads and Accounts. We liked the 30-day "recycle bin" feature in case you have to recover items you have deleted. The help and training section is comprehensive and easy to use. It integrates with Microsoft Outlook and Office, as well as IBM Lotus Notes.

Oracle CRM On Demand's home page.
(Screenshot by CBSi)

We found Oracle CRM On Demand similar to Salesforce.com in usage. There's not a large repository of AppExchange add-ons, but Oracle does have some partners that offer extensions. Not surprisingly, the real strength of Oracle CRM On Demand is the deep integration with other Oracle back-end software products, such as Oracle ERP.

Technical

The standard product is hosted in a multi-tenant database configuration, so your data will be stored alongside other companies' information on the same servers and will share the same network. Larger customers with specific regulatory requirements can look into the isolated tenancy offering.

Email marketing support is strong, but there are limited campaign and analysis features. The email template tools are easy to use: we managed to create a personalised marketing email in just a few minutes.

There's a call centre module as well as a customer support tool, and these can be merged for efficient customer support. It can even integrate with common phone systems to display caller information before the call is taken. We didn't test this functionality and it might work less well outside of the US due to latency. Basic workflows are easy to create but more complex processes require programming. The built-in reports are comprehensive, but building custom reports isn't straightforward and may require programming skills.

The broad list of built-in reports.
(Screenshot by CBSi)

Too late to be included in this review, Oracle launched its new line of Fusion applications (not to be confused with the Oracle Fusion Middleware application), which covers CRM as well as a range of other business processes — similar to SAP Business ByDesign.

Customisation

Earlier versions had some limitations on customisation; the recent R19 lets you customise at the UI level and the business process level as well as the data level. Users can personalise their experience, hiding tabs that don't pertain to them as well as creating dynamic layouts that adapt to different types of records. Custom fields and data can also be created, and their relationships defined; there's also a comprehensive workflow engine.

Mobile

There's no offline editing (except through an Excel spreadsheet), and no mobile support included, although third-party plug-ins are available to provide this functionality.

Social CRM

There are social media connections in Oracle CRM On Demand with links to LinkedIn and Facebook.

Summary

Rooted in the many years of experience from both Siebel and Oracle, this is a very capable CRM solution, suitable for medium to large businesses. It's also clear that Oracle CRM On Demand was created by a company that understands ERP and other back-end systems — in particular, sales order processing.

SAP and Oracle are the largest players in ERP software for large corporations, and a CRM solution is often just a small part of the deal at this level. Oracle CRM On Demand is a competent product that reaches far smaller businesses than traditional Oracle clients; it'll be interesting to see if it achieves this in the market.

Product Oracle CRM On Demand
Price Available on request
Vendor Oracle
Phone 1300 366 386
Web www.oracle.com/us/products/applications/crmondemand/index.html (trial available)

Interoperability 3/5 Can easily be integrated with other Oracle software.
Future-proofing 4.5/5 Oracle CRM On Demand has a strong heritage from Oracle's Siebel acquisition and is frequently updated. As long as the Oracle way of approaching business processes and the integration with other systems works for your business it's a good choice for most medium to large businesses.
ROI 3/5 A good fit if your business is already using other Oracle products.

Topics: Microsoft, Enterprise Software, Oracle, Reviews, SAP

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