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Oracle SFA software review

on demand crm Oracle OnDemand SFA Software Review

Software Functionality

Traditional CRM software suites include sales force automation (SFA), marketing, and customer service (CS) functions.

Sales Force Automation

Oracle's CRM OnDemand has evolved to become a strong competitor in the sales force automation (SFA) industry in large part through its acquisition of UpShot and the multiple year development effort to make the product more competitive with other pure play SaaS products such as While industry leader tends to attract more attention as a SFA tool, in many ways Oracle's CRM OnDemand provides greater core SFA functionality and a more robust user interface than

CRM On Demand from Oracle also offers a significant advantage of being produced by a company that clearly understands back office accounting software and enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems. This enterprise-wide expertise translates into much tighter and more effective integration between the front office CRM system and the back office ERP applications. Practically speaking, the most common integration point between front office and back office applications is sales order processing. Oracle On Demand provides packaged integration to Oracle ERP systems and a web services based integration engine that permits clients to create their own integration to non-Oracle ERP applications. Therefore, with an integrated Oracle ERP system, users will perceive they are in a common, enterprise wide application as they process sales orders. If you do not use Oracle ERP, you may be on your own to build the software integrations. The only other combined SaaS CRM and ERP systems are offered by Netsuite and Aplicor. Both Netsuite and Aplicor deliver integrated sales order management between their ERP and CRM applications. Similar to Oracle, Aplicor also offers an open web service suite for front office (CRM) sales processing integration with other back office ERP systems.

Overall, Oracle's CRM OnDemand delivers a solid SFA application which enhances sales person productivity and customer centricity. CRM On Demand facilitates sales reps in tracking the usual activities for any given prospect or customer in the application including the account base data, contacts, activities, sale opportunities, leads, sales orders and the like. There are a few subtleties to note in the user interface and data model that limit software flexibility. For example, addresses handling is modeled on the ERP application with “bill to” and “ship to” as pre-built standards. This can be a downer if your customers have additional addresses to track and manage (for example, the location of home offices for mail distributions or branch offices that you need to visit). Several users report that working within a customer account in CRM On Demand is intuitive and straight forward.

If you track custom data about your customers (meaning data that is not part of Oracle’s core data structure), there is both good and bad news. For the good news, it is simple to add basic fields to customer pages for raw data capture. For the bad news, it can be difficult to make these custom data elements work in other parts of the system such as queries, data views, reports and workflow routines. This makes CRM OnDemand a strong contender for the capture of customer data but there are many questions about how that data can be used and leveraged once collected.

The CRM On Demand tools and utilities that allow sales people to tailor their data to refine customer targeting and answer basic questions without first navigating to an account remains weak. For example, a sales person who is making sales calls in California might want to view a list of contacts for all accounts that have had greater than $25,000 in sales during the prior 6 months. This would be accomplished as a simple ad-hoc custom query or report in most SaaS CRM systems. Unfortunately, for many sales reps, it is not simply achieved without first getting help from somebody else. This difficulty is one example which reduces the system’s utility in targeting accounts at the user level which is where most sales activities originate from. Further, there is a clear recurring cost to have support staff on hand to aid sales reps with their many seemingly simple requests.

The CRM OnDemand solution recently joined the social media and Web 2.0 fray with a series of system integrations to social networking sites such as LinkedIn and Facebook. This is fairly unique functionality that most mainstream CRM manufacturers have yet to replicate. Oracle demonstrated the vision to see that many companies are exploring their use of Web 2.0 tools in their business operations, and there’s no smarter place to trial that type of integration than with CRM. The social media to business application concept is simple enough – you are calling on the VP of Sales of a Global 2000 company and want to see if anyone you know has a relationship with him. Using simple Web 2.0 search tools, you can look to see if your network has contacts which overlap into the prospects social network. While Web 2.0 integration is promoted as an attention getter by Oracle, as a practical matter, users we have spoken with indicate that using these tools to establish a connection with a decision maker is a bit of a shot in the dark - and advances are not always well received. Many senior and C-level executives do not embrace Web 2.0 tools or concepts as yet and therefore it can be tough to make these type of atypical connections. Also, the second and third order impact of sharing personal data through social networks makes many sales executives and managers uncomfortable.

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