Oracle CRM many scoops of one flavor

If you trust Oracle to have the best marketing, sales and service automation in the world, then just sign up for their CRM-in-90-days offer. Just don't ask about customization.

If you trust Oracle to have the best marketing, sales and service automation in the world, then just sign up for their CRM-in-90-days offer.

Don't ask about customization though - but do tell the consultants if you want one scoop or all nine scoops of their CRM dollops.

By leveraging Internet business practices in their integrated E-business Suite 11i, the FastForward Flows program will deliver portions of the Suite that can be implemented for a fixed-price in a fixed-time.

Their first offering is CRM and other applications may be included in the future from the E-business Suite which has manufacturing, order processing and fulfilment, in addition to marketing, sales and customer service.

No doubt, the pre-configured hosted CRM software would be suitable for companies looking to gain a fast bang-for-their-buck by automating their "complete marketing processes rather than just business functions through niche point solutions", according to Chris Hummel, vice president of Marketing at Oracle Asia Pacific.

Marketing is important, but being able to follow the dollar - from marketing campaign to cash in the general ledger - is much more important. Businesses must be able to track the cost of a marketing campaign down to the receipt of payment from the customer.

This integrated approach has made an immediate impact at McData, a US-based storage solutions provider, where recognizing deferred revenue is now automatic, as is generating month-end journal entries to adjust for multiple currencies. "The old way of creating journal entries was very time consuming," says Debra Morton, director of business systems at McData. "With Oracle, we can turn POs around in one day."

A word of caution: It is going to impact the way your company handles business flows and processes and "our consultants will advice accordingly during the 90-day set-up period," assured Don Smallwood, senior director of CRM Marketing at Oracle Asia Pacific.

Initially, Oracle's own consultants will be deployed while others from Big Five consulting firms will be trained to join in when orders ramp up.

Whether your company can change its business processes within 90 days is an issue that managers might want to consider before taking the plunge.

The 90-days consulting costs US$150,000 if you choose a handful of the nine CRM dollops and it goes up US$395,000 for the full 9 CRM FastForward Flows. For those familiar with consulting charges, it simply means US$1,666 to $4,388 per day for Oracle consulting and pilot implementation.

But cost and speed-of-deployment may not be everything.

According to a recent Forrester Research report, some users complained at last October's independent Oracle Applications User Group (OAUG) meeting about receiving notice from
Oracle of at least 5,000 patches for version 2.0 - and noted particular problems with payroll and order management. Oracle's Smallwood, earlier in February this year, assured that the latest Platinum release is fully patched, stable and has been deployed at various customer sites in Asia.

The CRM-in-90-days system demonstrates Oracle's ability to offer prospects a peek at how their holistic approach works - removing complexity by deploying a complete Internet business flow into the company rather than dated business rules.

But the cost of re-glueing it to other apps is another story altogether.