CRM Muscle

By SmallBusinessComputing Staff | Posted July 01, 2000
by Keith Kirkpatrick

Maximizer Enterprise 2000 V5.5
Rating 85

Tigerpaw Business Suite 8.2
Rating 80

Managing customer contacts, appointments, sales leads, and follow-ups can be a daunting proposition, especially for small businesses that don't have a large support staff. That's where the right customer-relationship management (CRM) software package can greatly enhance productivity and organization. We pitted Maximizer Enterprise 2000 from Multiactive Software against Tigerpaw Business Suite 8.1 from Tigerpaw Software. Both packages provide functional CRM tools, but with very different approaches.

One can think of Maximizer Enterprise 2000 as Microsoft Outlook on steroids. In addition to the basic contact relationship manager, calendar, task list, and internal word processor, it features a wizard function that allows the user to customize the interface any way they choose. Object linking and embedding (OLE) functions allow external programs to access data from Maximizer. However, these functions are best left to those with some programming experience.

We liked the attention to detail provided for contact data. Contacts can be added as individual entries or as additional contacts to a company entry. Many fields contain drop-down menus with frequently used data, such as state and city information. Nearly any item can be dragged and dropped to another screen for the ultimate in flexibility. A new graphing wizard provides templates that help build graphs from customer data, such as a scatter graph showing where each customer is located.

With the integrated e-mail component, e-mails can be sent and received conveniently from within Maximizer, provided that Microsoft Exchange, Outlook, Eudora Pro 3.0.2 or above, or Lotus notes 4.0 or above, are installed on the PC. One drawback to the client is that there's no way to create sub-folders inside the inbox to organize messages. The software can synchronize remotely with PDAs that have a modem, but you'll need the MaxExchange add-on ($995 per server, $149 per remote user).

Meanwhile, Tigerpaw's Business Suite 8.1 is a set of four separate software modules designed more specifically for sales and service representatives.

Along with Pursuit, a full-fledged contact manager, the suite integrates three other modules designed to track all customer contact activities and sales leads. This includes Quotes, a price quote manager; Service, a customer service and call tracking manager; and Parts, an inventory manager.

Tasks and other items can be linked to external files, including Word and Excel. However, each module must be viewed in its own window, and you can't drag and drop items from one window to another. There's also no way to tile the windows to show more than one module at a time.

A single-user system with all four modules is priced at $1,995 and can be scaled for up to 75 concurrent users. The Pursuit contact manager module is included in the purchase price, but it can be purchased separately for $249. The software can be installed either on a single workstation or on an NT server for a multi-user environment. The suite also includes telephony controls for making PC-to-phone calls.

Novices will appreciate Maximizer's familiar Outlook-esque interface and ease of use. Tigerpaw can be effective for organizations with the staff and time to set up a complete, standard way of tracking customers and sales. However, the overly complex module system can be overwhelming for novices.

All told, both applications provide solid CRM and task management tools, but Maximizer Enterprise 2000 is a bit easier to use and customize out of the box, especially for smaller businesses with less technical expertise.

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