Best Enterprise CRM Solutions

At one time, if you needed enterprise CRM solutions, you were stuck with three choices. You could either string together a number of office tools like databases, spreadsheets and WPF forms to make something passable, you could use the much maligned Platypus, or you could spend a small fortune having something proprietary designed for your business. The latter, of course, on top of being expensive, has the problem of further expenses to keep updated and functional, and is a training nightmare.

Well, times change, and with the growing popularity and practicality of the SaaS platform, now there are some really good, practical and cost effective enterprise CRM suites available to choose from. There are literally hundreds of CRM systems available, and many, many of them are quite good. However, only two really stand out above the rest for extendibility, support and raw power. Those are of course Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

Which of these should you choose? Well, that depends on your budget, your brand loyalty and a whole host of other concerns. I cannot predict that, naturally, so what I will do in stead is tell you about the strengths and weaknesses of them both, and you can make a logical decision that’s right for you based on that.

#1 – Salesforce

On the surface, Salesforce seems like the best thing ever. It has a load of customizability for forms, record types and controls, sports a Java/JavaScript-based API called Apex which offers flexible programming to extend its functionality to infinity, and it has a huge extension library via its App Exchange.

Along with this, it also offers interoperability and integration with a billion SaaS solutions for other purposes, allowing some slick unification of services around it. However, it’s not perfect.

Salesforce is expensive, and the space available for your databases is limited to about a gigabyte, with extended space costing a fortune. Along with this, the Apex API is a bit proprietary, meaning if you want to develop custom things for it yourself, it may seem a bit hard to come to grips with, even if you’re a Java programmer or have one handy. However, once you have come to terms with Apex’s eccentricities, it is very powerful and not particularly difficult.

#2 – Microsoft Dynamics CRM

Salesforce’s biggest competitor is the big M themselves, and Dynamics is very much their equal on many points. They offer a similar level of customization for record types, field and form design, custom controls and the like, and actually have a more robust automation framework. Along with this, their API is based on their .net framework, basing around ASP and C# for WPF. This makes it more accessible for many programmers, and makes porting Windows software or WPF designs over to the CRM much easier.

Microsoft’s space allotment’s not much better than Salesforce’s, and while they do offer an app directory, it doesn’t compare, for now, to the Salesforce App Exchange. They also don’t have as much premade interoperability and integration layers for external services.

However, given the likely less logistically annoying nature of programming extensions for Dynamics, given its very standard API, if you don’t mind spending a little money on development commissions, you may not miss these premade layers or the vastness of App Exchange.

Regardless of which enterprise CRM solution you choose, you have the SaaS revolution to thank for this being practical today. Were it not for this, we’d still be using tool chains, proprietary software or possibly worse.

Michael Taylor
Michael is the Lead Author & Editor of CRMSimplified Blog. Michael established the CRM blog to create a source for news and discussion about some of the issues, challenges, news, and ideas relating to CRM.
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