Baan's Bundle

Speed-to-market, speed-to-return are the catchphrases of the moment. And that's why collaborative software vendor Baan unveiled Quickstart, a CRM software and consulting package, this week. Quickstart bundles iBaan SalesPlus 4.2 sales-force automation software with installation and training. The aim is to get customers up-and-running within 30 days.

"The bundle caters to the market demand of small and mid-sized companies that don't have the large IT budgets to fund the typical four to twelve-month CRM implementation cycles that are standard in the industry today," said Eric Rosswog, vice president of global CRM services at Baan, in a statement.

At the center of Quickstart is SalesPlus. More than 250 companies use SalesPlus, including EDS, ITT Industries and Canon. Baan claims the software integrates with other enterprise applications, enabling users to send sales data gathered from the field to databases and production planning systems. "Since implementing iBaan for CRM in 2000, we have been able to significantly speed the communications and manual processing elements of our sales procedures, shortening the sales cycle and further extending our business development," stated Bruce Blankfield, worldwide director of strategic accounts from ITT Industries.

While Quickstart is targeted at the small-to-medium customer, Chris Mann, director of consulting at Baan, says his team can quickly implement SalesPlus for any firm -- small, large and global. Each Quickstart engagement necessarily requires up to five Baan consultants. And experience with the software means everything, says Mann, adding, "If a company tries to implement it themselves, they'll most likely fail because this is enterprise software."

After 30 days, a Quickstart customer should get some baseline functionality, whereby sales people will be able to manage quotes, place orders, build proposals, and conduct other simple tasks automatically. Later, the customer can choose to customize the software, add new features, migrate data, and integrate deeply. "It's the appropriate way to implement this software," says Mann. "Customers need to be more frugal rather than getting everything in the first release, only to find out that they didn't need this or didn't do it right."

Sheryl Kingstone, program manager of CRM at market researcher the Yankee Group, agrees that new CRM customers often did too much customization early on. As for Quickstart, "every CRM vendor is coming out with this kind of program," she says. Indeed, CRM vendors should offer a bundled "starter" kit to help companies avoid failed implementations.

But a starter kit can also be misleading, says Kingstone. Before companies even consider buying a starter kit, they must first undergo a lengthy evaluation of their business processes to find out where the inefficiencies lay. "It's not the rush of the software that's important," says Kingstone. Rather it's the understanding of the business process that's broken and how to fix it so that salespeople will use it. "I don't recommend rushing a process," she says.

Tom Kaneshige also writes for

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