Microsoft delays release of CRM suite

Microsoft has delayed the date of manufacture for its CRM product from the end of the year to early 2003.

Microsoft has delayed the date of manufacture for its CRM product from the end of the year to early 2003.

Until this week the company had said the product would be released to manufacturing by the year's end. Earlier this month, Microsoft senior product manager Holly Holt said the aim was to get the product ready before the winter holidays, adding that Microsoft would not release the software with known problems just to make that deadline.

The primary cause for the delay is Microsoft's inability to deliver the seamless front-end to back-end integration, said Yankee Group analyst Cheryl Kingstone.

So far, Microsoft has relied on its BizTalk server coupled with connection licences out of the box to integrate the CRM product with Great Plains accounting software, but links to other applications are not in place, Kingstone said.

"They really need to have seamless integration with the Small Business Suite, and it's not up to snuff yet," she added. "If they don't, end-users are going to have to pay more for professional services costs."

Microsoft's CRM offering rolls up sales opportunities but does not yet effectively roll up all the details around an account - such as tasks and sales call data - to provide a single view of an account.

The only way Microsoft supported customisation of views is via a software development kit. Competitors offer easier ways to customise software, she added.

Release to manufacturing marks an important milestone in product development for Microsoft, since that is when the code is declared complete and is sent original equipment manufacturers and partners for distribution.

Read more on IT for small and medium-sized enterprises (SME)

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