E-CRM vendor hits up an ASP for rapid CRM implementation

When e-CRM vendor !hey needed to service its own customers, it realized that an in-house accounting and sales force automation system would have taken too long to implement and taxed its limited IT staff.

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BOSTON -- North Andover, Mass.-based !hey Inc., an e-CRM vendor, realized it, too, needed to service its own customers, and fast. Rather than use its own software, it chose Bedford, N.H.-based application service provider (ASP) ManagedOps Inc. to get CRM software up and running, according to Dan Conway, regional manager at !hey Inc., speaking at DCI's CRM Conference and Expo.

!hey needed an accounting and sales force automation system to service its clients. The process of selecting software and building the architecture would have taken at least a year, and the components would have cost $1 million. In addition, !hey had five employees working in its IT department who would not have been able to support the software, he said.

"We literally could not have done this on our own," Conway said.

ManagedOps was able to implement software over the hosted model in about six weeks, and now, !hey uses Siebel software for accounting and sales force automation. !hey selected an ASP because the software would not have to be installed on their own machines, a low risk factor, and the low price -- definitely lower than $1 million, Conway said.

For rapid implementation, small and mid-size companies should turn toward ASPs, said Tom Brennan, vice president of marketing at ManagedOps. One reason, Brennan said, is that the IT department in smaller companies cannot support a CRM system on top of their other duties. ASPs also present a predictable cost to bring to management. Lastly, the days of do it yourself for CRM may be over, as evidenced by Monster.com's first CRM failure. (See related article.)

ManagedOps has developed a Rapid Success program that compresses the steps in implementing a CRM system. The company also offers an integration manager to drag and drop information from old ACT! databases into Siebel and has developed best practices to assist in the rapid implementation. Depending on the configuration of a customer's system, most companies are up and running in five days, Brennan said.

"For mid-size companies, ASPs are a good alternative," said Catherine Wesemann, special project consultant at BTRG Inc. Of course, the company must still define its business processes before turning to an ASP if it wants its CRM program to work. Large companies may have less defined business objectives and would need software and services more comprehensive than an ASP model could offer, she said.

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