So, as we mentioned last week Packt Publishing slipped us a review copy of their new CRM On Demand book “Oracle CRM On Demand Administration Essentials” to look at. When we saw the names of the authors, we couldn’t resist picking up the phone and chatting with Venkatesan Sundaram, known to many as Venky. ODE and Venky have crossed paths many times. From Baan to Siebel to CRM On Demand and CRM IT, and probably many more. He a great guy, and took time out from his globe-trotting schedule to speak with ODE, by Skype, this morning. We had some questions for him – he was kind enough to answer before we began our Oracle CRM On Demand Administration Essentials Review :
ODE : What drove you to write this book?
Venky : Well, we just thought that with Oracle CRM On Demand being such a mature and strong SaaS player, that it was time to revisit it and give some insight for people who maybe have heard about it but not actually gone into it in detail.
ODE : Who is this book for?
Venky : This book is very definitely aimed at those who have not more than 2 or 3 years experience working with the CRM On Demand product. It is aimed at those who need to make deployment, customization and integration decisions and actions. It walks through all those common concepts, steps and helps you plan what you need to do.
ODE : So it covers the product in detail, both out of the box and the scope for customization?
Venky : Yes, we wanted to stress the power of CRM On Demand application and the built-in objects and processes and the embedded Analytics engine so that people were aware of the advantages of not reinventing the wheel, but we also wanted to show the customization options, give guidelines and examples.
ODE : Why now?
Venky : Again, we felt that the constant stream of new features up to and including the Release 21 meant that a fresh look was the right thing to do. And with the discussion around Fusion CRM and competing platforms in the SaaS space, we felt it was the right time to say, hey, here is this powerful, mature platform that is right for many companies and maybe for yours!
ODE : So you delve into some of the purchasing issues and questions people might have as well?
Venky : Yes, we wanted to give people who are maybe already familiar with CRM in a broad sense a set of guidelines for assessing and evaluating SaaS CRM On Demand.
ODE : So can you see into the future?
Venky : Of course not! There are of course lots of integrated solutions that leverage CRM On Demand and the Siebel engine, many partners that provide valuable add-on solutions (we mention some of those as well). So we want to get people assessing what is available, mature and ready today, and we hope this will help them also when they evaluate other tools in the future.
ODE : Thanks Venky, speak to you soon! (click…brrrrrrrr)
Thanks to Venky for taking the time to speak to On Demand Education Ltd – you can find more about Venky online using the link above, or visit www.crmit.com. He is also a very frequent visitor to the Oracle Forums participating in discussions and helping the community of CRM On Demand administrators and users under the pseudonym Venky CRMIT.
So on to the book review itself. The eBook or the paper book, your choice - Oracle CRM On Demand Administration Essentials is broken down into several chapters, and here they are :
1 – Overview of CRM On Demand
This part was actually very interesting for me. I say that because I have been involved with CRM On Demand since release 4, and I like it when people take the time to put the whole book in context and step back from the detail for a moment.
2 – 1-2-3 Go Live out of the Box
Chapter two deals with a subject that I am very in favor of. It strikes a practical note and explains why for many companies embarking on CRM implementations, putting CRM On Demand in place using the standard, bullet-proof processes and objects can often provide a much healthier return on investment. Read this if you are a consultant and you are familiar with other CRM platforms and want to know what is in the box (or the pod, or the instance or whatever).
3 – CRM On Demand Customization
This chapter sets out the stall for the next few. It explains the what, why and how you can customize CRM On Demand. Again, great overview work from Venky and his excellent co-writer Paddy.
4 – Application Customization
For many of the people who will actually live with CRM On Demand this chapter will be one of the places they come to first. But I would stick with the author’s suggestions and read this in the context of the previous chapters – know what you can and cannot do, know why you should or should not, before you actually do anything.
5 – User Access Controls
Building on the previous chapters, this unwinds the flexible and sophisticated User Access model for CRM On Demand, looking at the detail but also the design and concepts behind it. I admit I learnt quite a lot about the concepts and the goals of the software.
6 – Business Process Automation and Management
Workflow and Assignment in CRM On Demand has come a long way since the beginning. With it’s flexible condition editor, advanced integration possibilities and nice Assignment engine this is definitely worth exploring. Again, the authors try hard to avoid you “jumping in” and they set up the concepts first so you don’t end up re-inventing wheels or wasting time. I learned a fair bit here, and revisiting the Lead and Sales methodology / Forecasting was a bonus.
7 – Content Management
Products, Catalogs, Assessments, Folders – the content that makes the sales and service world go round.
8 – Web Services Integration
Rather than trying to explain everything in 20 pages (an unenviable task), the authors give readers enough to understand concepts, examples, and finish with some practical Web Applet and Web Link deliverables. Good review of the Integration Queue concept here too, best practices and the new allotment system.
9 – Reports and Analytics
As the authors eloquently describe it, we record data in order to learn from it. The CRM On Demand platform has a stand-out, unbeatable Analytics and Reporting engine coupled with it (and in the base price, no extra cost) and configurators, administrators and analysts need to know about it.
10 – Leveraging CRM On Demand Data and Integration Tools
The integration and migration tools have evolved to become very useful migration and loading solutions, and the other solutions (offline, Mobile, Email) to spread the CRM On Demand into your organization by stealth are covered here in detail.
11 – Help, Support Ecosystem and Features in New Releases
If I had a penny for every time someone asked me a question, the answer to which was a few clicks of the mouse away, I would be a very rich man. This covers the best ways to leverage My Oracle Support and explains the “What’s New” of R20 and R21.
12- Oracle Partner Offerings
Venky and Paddy sign off with a round the table tour of the current offerings from the strong ecosystem of Partners.
Oracle CRM On Demand Administration Essentials Review Summary :
All in all, a very useful and concise volume. Oracle CRM On Demand Administration Essentials deals in practical tips, gives good overall advice and benefits from a smooth and easy reading style. I would recommend it to anyone who is looking for a guide to this strong, mature platform and who wants to get the most out of it. Administrator, Customizer, Consultant, Manager – there is something here for everyone. It’s available now from Packt.