The package, aimed at small businesses, will include account and contract management, lead management, activity and task management, calendaring, and business-management functionality.

InformationWeek Staff, Contributor

July 11, 2002

2 Min Read

Microsoft Thursday unveiled packaging and pricing information for its forthcoming customer-relationship management suite of applications, which is aimed at small businesses.

MSCRM has entered a beta phase with several Microsoft sales partners, and customers will receive beta installations within the next two months. MSCRM, which was built using Microsoft's .Net technology, will include account and contract management, lead management, activity and task management, calendaring, and business-management functionality. In addition, it will come with a sales-force automation application for creating product catalogs, quotes, and orders. The customer-service module will manage contracts and E-mail as well as service requests. A customer portal will provide access to sales and support information and can be used in conjunction with the customer-service capabilities for online chat.

Microsoft will sell a standard version of the suite, starting at $395 per user, and a professional edition with user licensing for about $1,295. The suite will compete with Saleslogix's Act! Software and FrontRange, which sells GoldMine CRM software. Those packages run about $199 and $295 per user, respectively.

Both versions will come with sales and service applications. The professional edition, however, will include workflow technology to let an administrator set up business processes without the need for outside consultants, according to David Thacher, general manager of Microsoft Customer Relationship Management Business. It'll have more automated features, such as routing leads to sales personnel based on a number of criteria and then rerouting them automatically if the salesperson hasn't followed up within a specified amount of time. Thacher says the professional edition will also include deeper functionality related to back-office systems such as the ability to create sales quotes, and generate an order that integrates with back-office order-processing applications.

Businesses can implement the entire suite or sales or service application packages individually. The suite is scheduled to be generally available by year's end in North America. International versions will ship in the first quarter of next year.

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