PeopleSoft CRM: Customers Talk

In the past, AMR Research has had difficulty obtaining solid customer references for PeopleSoft implementations. This, however, has changed.
Written by Laura Preslan, Contributor

In the past, AMR Research has had difficulty obtaining solid customer references for PeopleSoft implementations. This, however, has changed. We recently had conversations with some happy and satisfied customers about the recent progress of implementations. Some of these references were supplied by PeopleSoft, so there is a bit a self-selection in the process, but data from those discussions is also balanced against other unsolicited calls, providing a broader industry cross-section of PeopleSoft implementations.

The Bottom Line: PeopleSoft’s CRM product has proven itself to work across several industries and implementation sizes. Customers report that implementations are progressing well, but getting the ROI originally promised, addressing the complex industry requirements, and upgrading technology to support new functionality have been difficult.

What It Means: First, a quick overview.

PeopleSoft 8.8 (released in December 2002) plugged several of the holes in version 8, including the second release of its mobile application for disconnected use (first released in 8.4), marketing automation improvements through its acquisition of Annuncio, and improved usability. However, there is still work that needs to be done:

  • PeopleSoft is still playing catch-up to fully address a significant number of unique vertical and subvertical requirements (although it is a leader in the Public Sector and Higher Education). While PeopleSoft tells a vertical story, it has not proven that customers have bought or are using vertical offerings.
  • Analytics also needs further investment on the CRM side, even though it is a strength of PeopleSoft overall.
  • Relatively speaking, the service module (based on the 1999 Vantive acquisition) is the strongest module in the suite, especially in Web self-service. However, performance remains an important consideration for higher volume call centers based on the limits and performance considerations of Internet-based architectures.
PeopleSoft has more than 1,200 customers currently using or implementing CRM, with half of those as legacy Vantive customers that have not migrated to PeopleSoft CRM and the other half comprised of legacy Vantive users that were upgraded, existing ERP customers, and new customers. The good news for PeopleSoft’s clients is the growing number of references during the first half of the year, based on the improved functionality and stability of the product. The references are predominately using the sales and service functionality across a variety of industries and size of deployments, including several with more than 1,000 users.

The Positives:

  • Great progress was made in usability. One customer referred to a “quantum leap” in usability between 8.4 and 8.8.
  • The PeopleSoft team really wanted to help solve customer problems, customers report.
  • One company was able to rationalize four disparate systems into one instance of PeopleSoft. With more than 1,000 agents using the customer service module, agent productivity improved by 20%.
  • Some users (especially sales users) prefer the interface for the lightweight mobile product over the connected Internet-based deployment.
  • One customer had more than 5,000 seats across 10 sites and was satisfied with system performance.
  • Companies that waited for the thin-client architecture of 8.0 and 8.8, before making the purchasing decision, are satisfied with the result.
  • Overall training effort for agents decreased while the functionality available to agents increased (one reference cited training being cut 50%).
  • All references reported that they would “do it all again” with PeopleSoft.
The Negatives:
  • Few companies could describe actual ROI or tangible benefits from the system. This is an endemic problem in the CRM space.
  • Learning to speak “PeopleSoft” is difficult. The specific language of PeopleTools was particularly troublesome for some.
  • Companies bought several modules at once but are implementing in a phased approach, leading to a significant amount of shelfware and high maintenance bills.
  • While overall usability improved, some customers found system navigation was cumbersome--“too many clicks” to access the desired information.
  • Several customers reported that there were “too many surprises” once implementation began. Specific examples include: Additional budget required to cover implementation effort from PeopleSoft Professional Services and data conversion/migration effort larger than expected. And while some reported less training, others said the training effort was significantly underestimated.
  • Some customers are staying with old Vantive software rather than upgrading to new PeopleSoft modules.
  • Several customers reported problems with the system performance of the Internet architecture, requiring the purchase of additional hardware, network upgrades, and additional software, like Citrix, to achieve desired performance.
Conclusion: PeopleSoft CRM has been proven to work across several industries and implementation sizes, but it still lacks vertical-specific version to address the complex needs of various industries.

Specifically, PeopleSoft is best for:

  • Small and midsize deployments across sales, marketing, and service
  • Midsize sales implementations without deep industry requirements
  • Large-scale call center installations, as long as attention is paid to the performance implications and necessary hardware/network investments are made
AMR Research originally published this article on 14 August 2003.

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