ACCPAC Steers Toward SMBs with CRM 5.5

Computer Associates subsidiary ACCPAC International is digging deeper into the CRM space with its rollout of CRM 5.5, an Internet and wireless system for small and mid-size businesses (SMBs). The application, which promises enterprise-class capabilities that are easy and cost-effective to implement, incorporates a newly designed user interface, along with improved e-mail integration and sales forecasting features.

ACCPAC stepped up its role in the CRM space when its parent company bought eWare in December. The CRM 5.5 announcement marks the first major release since that acquisition, Aberdeen Group vice president and managing director Christopher Fletcher told CRM Buyer.

Now, the challenge for ACCPAC’s management is to make sure it understands CRM, Fletcher said, noting that CRM users come from a different part of an organization than traditional ACCPAC customers.

Bringing SMB to the Party

However, neither CRM nor SMBs are new to ACCPAC. The company integrated CRM products into its lineup through an OEM agreement with eWare in 2001, which was roughly when Computer Associates also started on the CRM path. Additionally, ACCPAC, which has made a name for itself in a variety of business management areas, including accounting, human resources and warehouse management, has been in the SMB market for 22 years.

Despite this involvement in the SMB space, the company’s earlier CRM products were designed for large enterprises and then “made to fit” SMB applications, Craig Downing, ACCPAC vice president of product management, told CRM Buyer.

In contrast, CRM 5.5 provides a rich complement of features with “out-of-the-box ease of use” for mid-size customers that tend not to have a large team of computer specialists, Downing said. “The application can be up and running in a matter of days and can be integrated without spending tens of thousands of dollars.”

The goal is to make the user experience fast and intuitive. A new user interface is designed to provide smooth screen transitions and easy-to-read screen transitions.

Rich in Features

Applied Data Systems, an ACCPAC value-added reseller, or VAR, in late May installed CRM 5.5 for its own sales force automation, marketing automation and call-center tracking. The application is attractive because it is fully Web-based, integrates with ACCPAC and other accounting software and its “true work-flow technology,” according to Jim Campbell, vice president at Applied Data Systems.

Customers reaching out to Applied Data Systems’ call center are guaranteed a four-hour response time, Campbell told CRM Buyer. A technical question first might be passed to different members of the technical staff, but if it is unanswered within the four hours, it is routed to a supervisor, he said. “The goal is to provide customer service.”

Sorting the Mail

CRM 5.5’s advanced mail-management server lets users set custom rules for automatically monitoring and processing inbound e-mail. For example, a message that comes in to a general tech-support e-mail address can be logged automatically as a support case and rerouted to an appropriate staff member.

On the other end of the equation, new outbound e-mail processing capabilities allow users to send e-mail from different areas in CRM 5.5 and create standard e-mail templates that can be reused. This e-mail can be sent using delivery capabilities included with ACCPAC CRM or other mail services.

CRM 5.5 also helps sales staff easily provide forecasts to their managers. Forecasts can be rolled up throughout an organization, and managers can add their own assessments. The system also retains historical forecasts.

Attribute-profiling capabilities enable users to assign selected characteristics to specific customers, prospects or groups. In addition, outbound call management automates outbound phone-based telemarketing campaigns.

Customers can buy the fully integrated sales-force, marketing and customer-care automation suite or start with sales-force automation only. The offerings, available through the company’s solution providers, start at US$1,995 and $995, respectively. Both are available in either hosted or on-premise versions.

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