Have It Your Way

As IT budgets continue to shrink and companies struggle to cut costs, customizing CRM platforms has been a luxury few smaller businesses could afford. But vendors like Adapt Software Applications says it can help companies customize on the cheap. Adapt says its new product, ADAPTsdk, enables consultants, resellers, and customers to develop customized versions of its ADAPTcrm solution without relying on writing programming code. "We saw that the investment required to customize CRM with traditional programming was just too high," says Adapt CEO Brian Dunn. "Nowadays customers are seeking faster returns on smaller investments." "ADAPTsdk turns ADAPTcrm into a complete application-development environment that [allows for] customized CRM applications in a fraction of the time and at substantially less cost than normally associated with custom programming," Dunn adds. "Whether a CRM system is built on Visual Basic, .NET, J2EE, or any other code-based development technology, companies will continue to spend small fortunes on adding features to meet their specific business requirements." The company says customers can use ADAPTsdk to add new features, design screens, and new tables--all without writing one line of programming code. Another self-customizing CRM platform is hitting the market this week as well: Kentucky-based Corvus has launched a new CRM product line that includes more than 30 modules that can be customized to fit a customer's organization. Corvus claims users can roll out and customize a CRM platform for an operation at a fraction of the price of Siebel Systems Inc., Oracle Corp. and other CRM vendors. Erin Kinikin, vice president and research leader for enterprise applications at Giga Information Group, says that self-customization success depends on who the user is and what he's trying to do: "Almost every CRM vendor claims to be easy to customize, and most offer graphical drag-and-drop configuration facilities. Even big vendors like PeopleSoft and Oracle allow business users to customize screen layout, level of detail displayed, level of information sharing with other users, etcetera. "Easy configuration without expensive customization is the new standard--everyone's got pieces of the answer, but no one really has the right mix between flexibility and ease-of-use," Kinikin says. "The key is to let the user change the areas that are important to the user, while not limiting the expert user or administrator to make more sophisticated system-level changes." Though companies like Adapt and Corvus argue the cost angle when pitching their product, Kinikin says there is more to being cost-effective than a low entry price. "Cost is not just how much it costs to implement the system initially," Kinikin says. "Cost means cost of ownership over time, ease-of-upgrade, ease of integration and customization, and the right functionality to deliver the highest business benefit."
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