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PhaseWare CRM Software Review


PhaseWare Customer Service Software Technology Review

PhaseWare's software application is developed upon and tightly integrated with the Microsoft stack. For instance, Mail Checker and Event Engine work with Outlook, the application is developed with Visual Studio .NET, back end database processing occurs on SQL Server and the browser prefers Internet Explorer. On the one hand, its reliance on Microsoft steadies its ability to add features, upgrade regularly and generally grow as a product. On the other hand, if the client isn't using Microsoft products, additional platform software purchases will be required. Further, integration will likely be more onerous and require IT support – the very thing the product was aiming at eliminating.

PhaseWare has recently adopted the Microsoft Silverlight presentation layer technology, and Tracker OnDemand is a browser-based solution that requires a Silverlight plug-in. The intent of Silverlight was to support all major browsers and deliver a richer, more animated browser experience. However, required downloads and incompatibilities with certain browsers have slowed market adoption. Further, as HTML5 advances—and better supports browser and mobile device ubiquity without required downloads to every users device—there are many rumblings from Redmond that suggest Silverlight may not be here for a long haul.

Both the on-premise Tracker and the SaaS Tracker OnDemand applications use the same underlying code base, thereby permitting customers to change from desktop to web-based or back with no loss of data. Tracker Desktop requires Windows XP or higher.

The Self Service Center, the customer self-service portal, is a browser based application which does not require any plug-ins and is compatible with recent versions of most major browsers.

The customer service software supports virtually unlimited security groups with customized settings and authorizations. System administrators may create multiple user authorization levels whereby a given group of users may be only allowed access to select information from their department while other users are permitted access to information across multiple departments.

System Integration Capabilities

Tracker's most recent version is highly integrated with Microsoft Outlook. This includes ticket creation via Outlook, drag-and-drop functionality between Outlook and Tracker, and journal creation. Other types of mail boxes (whether through Yahoo, Gmail, or almost any other mail server type) can be monitored by Tracker Admin's Mail Checker, which searches through a mail box at a time frequency of your choice, downloads all new emails and converts them to either tickets or journal entries. To maintain the mail box, previous emails that have already been converted are deleted. Integration is email only and does not include syncing contacts, calendar appointments and tasks.

Anyone who has ever used a unified email system is already aware of the problems posed with trying to couple Outlook with other email systems. The resulting difficulties can be beyond a small business' capabilities, particularly one with no IT department per se.

There are routes for integrating other systems. These include database to database integration, Web service/ API integrations, and custom controls or screens that communicate with other systems. These can be a bit clunky and possibly beyond a small business' IT capabilities.

Software Customization Capabilities

Tracker and Self Service Center are customizable with user defined fields and some field placement. Most forms and screens in Tracker can be modified. Fields can be added, relocated and removed. Agents can move or hide existing fields and change the layout on the screen to fit their work style. Each agent can customize their own desktop to best suit his or her work style.

Developers can add custom screens and custom controls for existing screens. Ticket and customer color schemes can be set for easy identification. Universal terms for tickets and the like can be changed or renamed and automatically propagated throughout the system. Self Service Center can be visually customized with color schemes and logos with functionally changed by adding or removing features.

Data Center Hosting and SLA

PhaseWare has one data center in Dallas, Texas from which it delivers its SaaS customer service application. The data center is SAS 70 certified (now SSAE 16), however, the actual publisher management of the hosted application is not part of that certification.

PhaseWare has no online hosting status monitor and no formal SLA for its customers. It does not guarantee a minimum uptime or a standard of performance in this manner. Such assurances will need to be negotiated into the purchase agreement or contract.

PhaseWare Software Pricing

Software pricing starts at about $50 per user per month, but prices can vary greatly depending on the needs of the customer, the length of the contract and normal negotiation.

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