by CIO Staff

Reader Responses to ‘The Truth About On-Demand CRM’

Apr 15, 20064 mins
CRM Systems

I’m writing in reference to “The Truth About On-Demand CRM” (Jan. 15, 2006), which drew heavily on my company’s experience with RightNow CRM. This article does not accurately represent my relationship with RightNow or the benefits we have received from its solutions.

Despite the fact that 95 percent of what I told Senior Editor Stephanie Overby about our experience with RightNow was positive, she chose to focus disproportionately on the 5 percent where I candidly shared some issues. Those issues have absolutely nothing to do with on-demand versus on-premise. They were integration issues that are endemic to any software project as ambitious as ours.

The fact that RightNow immediately sent a team of its top people to resolve the issue—and remained dedicated until the solution was found—clearly proves that this is exactly the kind of company CIO readers would want to do business with.

I would go even further and say that we were able to address these issues as quickly as we did because of RightNow’s on-demand model. With a typical on-premise vendor, it is likely that after three months, we still would have been just getting the software installed rather than completing the first stage of our initiative, as we were able to do with RightNow.

The truth is, we are happy with what we’ve achieved. We have exceeded our goals across the board. That’s what I told both Overby and the fact checker who contacted me afterward. For some reason, you chose to run a story that gave a very different impression.

Alex Marxer

Vice President of Operations (Financial Services)

ResortCom International LLC

Senior Editor Stephanie Overby responds: Alex Marxer made it clear to me that he was pleased with the overall ROI of the RightNow on-demand system that ResortCom implemented, and I noted that in my article. The purpose of the piece was to illustrate that implementing and integrating on-demand CRM software is not as simple as some in the marketplace would have CIOs believe. Marxer’s experience was one of several illustrated in the article.

My intention was not to imply that Marxer or ResortCom had a contentious relationship with RightNow or was displeased with the results. On the contrary, the article notes that Marxer found the on-demand model in general to be an “unbeatable value proposition” and the ROI of the RightNow software specifically to be strong. My hope was that readers could examine the experiences of Marxer and others and decide for themselves if on-demand was the right solution for them.

Tips on Doing More with Less

After reading “How to Do More with the IT You’ve Got” [Dec. 1], I felt compelled to share some tips that have made a significant difference in my projects.

1. Buy instead of build. Buying takes only 10 percent of the man-hours of building, assuming a product exists and you’re not the first customer.

2. Automate. Permanently fix and automate tasks that occur every three months or less. Some issues take several debug cycles to fix, so a three-month issue that needs five debug cycles will take over a year to fix. Once everything is automated and fixed, support personnel can be assigned to development tasks and you can reach a ratio of one support staffers to three developers.

3. Hire fewer, better people. A great IT resource can accomplish the same amount of work as five typical ones.

4. Simplify. Go for less functionality in the first release and push out sophisticated features into the next release unless they are truly needed.

5. Data modeling. The industry has finally figured out that data structure is crucial to a project’s success and has reflected this in the salaries of data modelers, which are at an all-time high. Do the data model right the first time, validate database performance while the data model is being developed, and design for the current version plus the next release to ensure future functionality can plug-in without refactoring the model.

6. Issues. Don’t rely on users to call when they have a problem. Build automatic error logging into every application, set up a process to monitor the logs, and graph the issues using a Pareto chart to determine which ones to fix first.

John Lehew

Dealership Management Services