Prophet 3.0 Enterprise

By Michael Caton  |  Posted 2006-07-17 Email Print this article Print
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Review: Avidian Technology's Prophet 3.0 Enterprise adds a new wrinkle to CRM by integrating directly into Microsoft Outlook.

Prophet 3.0 Enterprise isn't a full CRM system; rather, its core functionality is SFA (sales force automation), with some integrated e-mail marketing tools. The product doesn't have a built-in dedicated support module, although companies can finesse some customer support functionality through the use of custom tabs and fields. The best way to think of Prophet 3.0 Enterprise is as an embedded sales efficiency tool for Outlook users.

Click here to read the full review of Avidian Technology's Prophet 3.0 Enterprise.

Prophet 3.0 Enterprise isn't a full CRM system; rather, its core functionality is SFA (sales force automation), with some integrated e-mail marketing tools. The product doesn't have a built-in dedicated support module, although companies can finesse some customer support functionality through the use of custom tabs and fields. The best way to think of Prophet 3.0 Enterprise is as an embedded sales efficiency tool for Outlook users.

Competitively, Prophet 3.0 Enterprise fits in the same space as GoldMine and Act. And while it resides in Outlook the same way Microsoft Outlook Business Contact Manager does, it offers considerably more functionality.

Click here to read a review of BizAutomation CRM.

Prophet 3.0 Enterprise tackles Outlook integration through the use of forms that users can access through a set of top-level folders in Outlook. We liked the way the application ties together Outlook objects, e-mail, contacts and tasks with Prophet components, customers and opportunities.

Our tests show that Prophet 3.0 Enterprise does an excellent job of managing contact and opportunity data, particularly when it comes to communications with contacts. In this context, the product has good custom-ization features, making it possible to add fields for project-specific work and to build pricing for services as well as products. In addition, the workflow can be modified as a way to customize and automate certain steps in the sales process.

As a sales tool, Prophet 3.0 Enterprise does what it does very well, but it takes the sales process only so far. For example, we would have liked more customization capabilities within the pricing tool for configuring pricing options, such as discounting and shipping costs.

The issue of the product's limited scope deserves ample consideration before evaluation—companies should think seriously about the need for servicing custom-ers post-sale and how to tie Prophet 3.0 Enterprise data with other systems.

Prophet 3.0 Enterprise has its roots in a peer-to-peer-based system, where users could share data directly with other Prophet users by replicating changes in one another's MSDE (Microsoft SQL Server Desktop Engine)-based data store. Avidian's Prophet Standard edition uses this P2P data sharing.

The Enterprise edition we tested, as well as the Professional edition of Prophet 3.0, stores data locally on the client in an MSDE database and remotely on a server running MSDE or Microsoft SQL Server 2000. The system that acts as a server must also have Outlook installed, as Prophet 3.0 Enterprise running on Outlook is needed to set up the Prophet database as well as manage the administrator features.

While Prophet 3.0 Enterprise uses a direct connection to the database server to propagate changes between users, users also have the ability to package up opportunity data in an XML file and e-mail it to other users who may not have access to the network.

This could be a way to trigger post-sales processes in an ERP (enterprise resource planning) application, provided companies have a BPM (business process management) tool in place to take an e-mail-based event and kick off a process in another application.

While Prophet 3.0 Enterprise has some limitations, it has a number of features that work very well. One of the more useful is the ability to track e-mail, tasks, events and files associated with an opportunity by contact. We also liked the ease with which we could set up individual workflows via a feature called the Sales Assistant.

Administratively, Prophet 3.0 Enterprise puts a good deal of power in the hands of the user, but it also simplifies many of the more cumbersome tasks of the P2P versions of the application: Any changes made on the server will propagate to other users, and manager roles are supported, making it easier to control data access for individual users and teams.

From a reporting standpoint, Prophet 3.0 Enterprise in--cludes pipeline and stage metric data, along with current activities, as part of the default data view. The product also includes about three dozen canned reports, and we could build customized reports using a report builder wizard as well as a designer tool for customizing report layout.

Next page: Evaluation Shortlist: Related Products.

FrontRange Solutions' Goldmine Corporate Edition

Relatively low-cost sales automation tool with dedicated client and Web front end (www.frontrange.com)

Microsoft's Outlook Business

Contact Manager A version of Outlook with account and sales opportunity management built in (www.microsoft.com)

Sage Software's Act Premium for Workgroups

Sales automation tool with good hooks to back-end accounting systems (www.sagesoftware.com)

Technical Analyst Michael Caton can be reached at michael_caton@ziffdavis.com.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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