A change in distribution leadership at asset management company Threadneedle Investments saw it examine its customer relationship management (CRM) capabilities in a bid to improve the company's operational controls.
The firm was shifting from its on-premise Siebel CRM system and, in November 2010, asked consultancy Alpha FMC to run a request for proposal (RFP) as part of the procurement process.
"[With Siebel] we suffered from poor sponsorship, governance and adoption," Threadneedle's head of distribution and corporate systems, Barry Clarke, told Computing.
Clarke said that Alpha FMC's main task was to engage with the business as, according to him, only 10 per cent of the project is based on the technology, with the other 90 per cent on business management.
The company's three options were Microsoft Dynamics, CDC Pivotal and Salesforce.com.
"The two front runners were Microsoft Dynamics, as we had an enterprise agreement through our parent company that would make it almost free, and Salesforce.com, as through our parent company we could leverage a very good deal on licensing," Clarke explained.
But ease of contractual negotiations and costs were not the only considerations.
"I did not want bunches of technology people running the CRM project. We had that with Siebel. It takes too long to do anything, and you lose the business's faith. With Siebel you had to build it, test it and fix your bugs, which takes too long. I wanted a small nimble team that could react to the business quickly," Clarke said.
He added: "I did not want to have a two-week lead time on standing up virtual servers or the cost associated with that. Nor did I want to depend on niche developers."
Clarke said that Microsoft Dynamics would also have needed niche developers and that Salesforce.com enabled a better speed to market with a dedicated development team. As part of the pilot, Salesforce.com came ahead of Dynamics on the technology side, as well as in terms of other factors such as usability.
"When we did our scoring cards, Salesforce.com also came in front for the way it looked and how intuitive it was. Dynamics at the time was an older version, which did not look as nice, there were multiple screens and it did not work as well. We had just installed Microsoft Outlook as well and Dynamics polluted Outlook – we did not want CRM taking over Outlook, we wanted it left clean," Clarke explained.
In March 2011, therefore, Threadneedle decided to go with Salesforce.com, but because of the economic uncertainty at the time, the project was put on hold.