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What CRM Package

If a director is blindly heading off in the direction of the salesforce website ( http://www.salesforece.com ) with little to no knowledge of I.T. best practice or our internal I.T. policies or strategy and we would rather they didn't then what other CRM's are available.  What alternatives can we offer to the business.

The problem with Salesforce is that they run it themselves on their own servers. This is a problem for the following reasons.

1. Subscription.  You must pay per month per user.  (annual option available) This will be expensive compared with something that utilises our existing infrastructure (i.e. it would be free~ish to run something internally)

2. Your data is not secure. It is being hosted by someone else.

3. There is no guarantee it will be properly backed up

4. If you use Salesforce for a year and decide you don't like it then you will have to export all of your data (assuming this is possible) and you will need their cooperation to do so.  This might not be available if you aren't paying your bill so you could lose all of your data as they may hold you to ransom and refuse to hand it over.

5. You aren't in control of your updates and you cannot manipulate the code to suite your own requirements.

6. Reliability is not guaranteed to be as reliable as your own internal systems.  

So I have lots of reasons for not implementing Salesforce but I recognise that the company would like use of a CRM so what else is out there?  I am particularly interested in anythign that runs using an SQL backend and a HTML front end.
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-CPG-
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-CPG-
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2 Solutions
 
crm_infoCommented:
Hi,
Just to qualify my answer - we are certified in both Salesforce.com and Microsoft CRM (so, of course, we're big believers in the virtues of both of these solutions).  With that said, here are some responses to your above points, and some suggestions:
First of all, I would of course recommend that you also evaluate Microsoft CRM.  Using that solution, your director can  head off to having MIcrosoft host your CRM (just like Salesforce.com) but, if you decide to bring it in house and host it yourself down the road, you can do that.
Secondly, I would point out that there are really 4 stakeholders that should make decisinos about CRM (we call this CUBS(TM) ) -
* Customers (after all, it is about getting them faster and keeping them longer)
* Users (the people who are hoping that their lives will become more efficient because of a CRM solution)
* Business (the managment, directors, etc) that need the right kinds of reports to run the business
* Systems (the IT department needs a solution that is easy for them to manage within the existing IT architecture and enables them to do their job of protecting the security of the organization).
Neither Salesforce.com nor Microsoft CRM is a guaranteed fit for all 4 stakeholders - but we've found that one of those two solutions is a fit about 90% of the time.
DIrect answers to your concerns about CRM:
(1) Subscription: Yep, you're right about this.  You're stuck paying a fee forever with a hosted solution.  On the other hand, if you carefully evaluate the total cost of ownership, you may find that paying for hosting isn't a bad deal (working in the cost of hardware, upgrading server software, etc).  We find that, overall, the total cost of ownership of Salesforce.com is somewhat higher than other solutions - especially in organizations that are already hosting their own software and have the talent in their IT department to handle this (unless, of course, part of the plan is downsizing IT).
(2) Data is hosted by someone else.  But I would guess (no proof here) that far more organizations have lost valuable data through holes in their own firewalls than they have lost through the likes of Salesforce.com (or Microsoft for that matter).  There have been some known compromises - but I would still argue that the risks are much higher with managing the security of complex internal systems than they are when you trust a vendor like Salesforce.com who has a large team that focuses on data security.
(3) I believe there are guarantees.  Salesforce.com gives you some pretty strong guarantees in their agreements.  In addition, you can back up the data locally if you wish.
(4) Yep, if you want to migrate your data elsewhere, you'll need to export it out of Salesforce.com.  Depending on the version that you get, this process is fairly straight forward (no special permission or involvement is required from Salesforce.com).  If you're not paying your bill, then Salesforce would rightly not allow you access to your data - so make sure you export it before you stop paying your bill.
(5) You can't directly update the code with Salesforce.com.  Then again, you can't update the code in most applications unless you are going the purely open source route (in which case, neither MS CRM or Salesforce.com would be a good match for you).  However, Salesforce.com does have a very robust API as well as excellent UI-based customization tools (MS CRM shines in this area as well).  Many of our clients have built whole new applications using the Salesforce.com platform as a starting point.
(6) You are correct again.  There is a chance that any hosted solution won't be as reliable as what you're hosting internally.  Then again, the guys at SF.com have a vested interest in making sure that their infrastructure is VERY reliable (otherwise they have unhappy clients who go somewhere else).  Many of their clients have been with them for many years.  There are the occasional planned outages (just like any corporate network) and the occasional unplanned outages (Salesforce.com reports these openly - so their record is fairly transparent).  Most corporations that compare their unplanned outages with those of SF.com find that SF.com outperforms them.
Microsoft CRM uses as SQL Server backend and an HTML front end (per your last question).  It also integrates tightly with Outlook and other Office tools.  So it may be something that works better for your business than Salesforce.com does.
If I were to summarize all of the above:
* Don't be too quick to dismiss Salesforce.com.  Many IT groups that I've worked with have come to find that it is a great tool for their business.
* But you should also consider Microsoft CRM, based upon the requriements that you shared.
* There are others out there for smaller businesses (Goldmine is often said to be a good tool for < 50 users).
I hope that sheds a bit of additional light on Salesforce.com, gives you some ideas for how Microsoft CRM may also be a good candidate for your needs, and helps you in making your case to the powers that be in your organization.
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-CPG-Author Commented:
The biggest problem is the money side of things.  This director does not seem to realise we actually spend very little on I.T.  - Normally we spend money on the eseentials (like Internet acces) and basically nothing else.  When spending on something like Salesforce you would want to get your money back.  I'd be willing to bet we would not see those pounds comming back into our organisation simply by paying for the Salesforce subscription and that's why I would not want to do it.  I'd prefer something free or cheap or a one-time fee for the code.

We've all heard of Act for example.  That might be a better alternative for the likes of our organisation. But it still annoys me in several ways and that's why I wouldn't want it.

So other than Act, Microsoft CRM & Salesforce... does anyone know of anything else that will run on an SQL backend with a HTML front end that is reasonably priced?
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crm_infoCommented:
have a look at:
sugarcrm
zoho.com
rightnow.com
goldmine

not all meet your reqs, but worth a look
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Free Tool: Port Scanner

Check which ports are open to the outside world. Helps make sure that your firewall rules are working as intended.

One of a set of tools we are providing to everyone as a way of saying thank you for being a part of the community.

 
Mike LazarusAct! Evangelist - CRM ConsultantCommented:
In what way does ACT! not meet your requirements?
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-CPG-Author Commented:
It probably does.  Have not looked at ACT for a few years.  Perhaps it is better now.
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Mike LazarusAct! Evangelist - CRM ConsultantCommented:
It's changed a lot in the last few year....
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Mike LazarusAct! Evangelist - CRM ConsultantCommented:
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