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The Top 10 CRM Software Systems in Southeast Asia—Sage CRM

 

An Independent Review of Sage CRM Software in Southeast Asia

Founded in 1981, Sage Group has grown to become the fourth largest ERP software publisher while also achieving significant CRM software market share worldwide. Sage headquarters are in Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom, and the company has offices in 24 countries, including locations in the Asia Pacific and Southeast Asia regions.

While Sage CRM is reasonably well known, the company's focus is not Customer Relationship Management software. For Sage Group, 55% of its company revenue is derived from accounting software, 26% from industry specific software applications, 10% from HR and payroll software, 5% from payment processing and 4% from CRM software.

CRM Software Suite

Sage offers three different Customer Relationship Management software systems—ACT!, Sage CRM and SalesLogix. While ACT! is a popular solution in Southeast Asia, it is largely limited to sole practitioners or small groups using it as a contact manager solution. Sage CRM is more popular throughout South East Asia than SalesLogix so the scope of our Sage review relates largely to the Sage CRM software.

Sage CRM is available as an on-premise application or an on-demand/cloud/SaaS application. The major application features of the CRM solution include sales force automation (SFA), marketing automation, customer care, Microsoft Outlook integration, offline access for the cloud based version and web self service.

There are two editions of cloud-based, hosted, Sage CRM—Essentials and Professional. The Essentials CRM software version features contact management, opportunity management, sales forecasting, quotes and orders, lead management, interactive dashboards, Microsoft Outlook integration and mobile CRM. Almost all of the components of Sage CRM Essentials are configurable by role.

In addition to the Essentials features, the Professional CRM software edition offers case management, solutions and knowledgebase management, campaign management, outbound call handling, relationship types management, mass email, user management, territory management, security management, workflow management, and preconfigured escalations.

The Sage CRM on premise edition includes the feature sets of the Professional CRM software version as well as exchange server integration, self service, advanced email management, keyword searches, component manager and advanced customization.

Sage CRM software supports multi-currency management, multiple time zones, regional editions and multiple languages. However, except for Chinese, Sage CRM does not support any Southeast Asia languages.

Mobility is supported on the Droid and iOS (iPhone and iPad) platforms. Extra fees may apply for mobile CRM.

Free trials of the Sage CRM Essentials and Professional editions are available and pricing for the Essentials edition starts at €20 per user per month and the Professional edition starts at €40 per user per month. Sage does not manage uniform CRM software pricing throughout the Southeast Asia region. Therefore, many Sage VARs throughout the broad Asia Pacific region sell the on premise version at very different prices. CRM software buyers will have to research pricing among multiple Sage partners, and likely negotiate the CRM price, in order to achieve a fair price.

Southeast Asia Support

Sage CRM is supported in the Southeast Asia region by Sage Software Asia Pty. Ltd., based in Singapore as well as by a business partner channel located throughout Southeast Asia. Sage's CRM software Asia channel is relatively mature and includes some recognized CRM resellers and consultancies. For example, in Thailand with Sundae Solutions, in Indonesia with PT. Microtek Informa Solusindo and PT. AFON Solusi Indonesia, in Singapore with Comptrac Systems Pte. Ltd and AFON Pte. Ltd., and in Malaysia with Careware Systems Sdn.Bhd.

The Southeast Asia regional Sage operation in Singapore generally runs Sage CRM solutions events every fortnight. More information on upcoming event details can be obtained from enquiry.asia@sage.com. At the most recent Sage Vision conference held in Bangkok, Thailand, there was good attendance and collaboration among partners throughout the Asia Pacific region.

While regional representation is reasonably strong for Sage CRM customers and prospects, we also have to report that on review of the Sage global distribution web pages many of the countries in South East Asia, for example, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Brunei, Myanmar, and Malaysia are not mentioned and to quote the website, "If your country does not appear in this list, nor on our Products and Services page, then we are currently unable to help you with your product and service requirements."

The Sage CRM user and partner community features blogs, forums and a popular download area. It's one of the most mature online community forums among the cloud CRM vendors and includes participation from users and VARs throughout Southeast Asia—primarily from members in Hong Kong, Philippines and Singapore. In fact our research of the community forums suggested that many Sage CRM customers in the South East Asia region prefer to use the online resources and forums as they receive faster and often times more informative feedback.

For users in South East Asia, Sage CRM is available in English and Chinese.

CRM Software Cloud Delivery

The Sage CRM data center is based in Ireland, with a hot site and disaster recovery operation in Atlanta. Sage Group does not publish online status or system performance information so actual online performance in the Asia Pacific and Southeast Asia regions is unknown. However, the distance from Ireland to Asia would suggest that cloud CRM software users may incur some level of degraded performance due to Internet latency, hops and jitter.

The Sage SalesLogix CRM solution is hosted on the Amazon EC2 public cloud platform. While Amazon's public cloud does offer hosting locations throughout the world that customers may choose from, including Tokyo, Japan for the broader Asia Pacific region or Singapore for the Southeast Asia region, Sage SalesLogix is not yet available from these data center locations.

Sage CRM Strengths

  • Sage Asia, with a regional headquarters in Singapore, and a relatively mature distribution network of Business Partners is well placed to take advantage of the increased regional interest in CRM applications.
  • In general, there is still some skepticism and caution with cloud solutions in the Southeast Asia region, particularly from I.T. departments which often prefer to have higher levels of control in implementations and support that on premise solutions can offer. Therefore, Sage offering an on-premise CRM as well as cloud CRM may help the company grow while cloud computing is still moving slowly for some Asia companies.
  • Excellent quotation and sales order functions, which can be configured to include complex shipping functions such as product dimensions, weight, routes and transport costs. This can be an important selection criteria for the many distribution and export companies in South East Asia.
  • Sage CRM allows you to create quotations or any other mail merge style document in Thai, Chinese, Vietnamese or any other South East Asian language that can be used by teams to export CRM data into MS word documents either on the fly or as part of an automated workflow.
  • Sage CRM is available in both on premise and in the cloud.
  • The Sage CRM cloud version can be deployed very quickly.

Sage CRM Weaknesses

  • With the only data center located in Dublin, Ireland, online performance for the cloud CRM version may be negatively effected.
  • The cloud based Essentials version does not offer any marketing features, which means that it is mainly intended to be used for contact management only.
  • Technical coding and SQL knowledge is often required to decipher and fix many of the typical error messages that may occur, particularly with the on-premise version. While log files are easily accessible by administrators, they are often not intuitive in detecting what the errors are or how to fix errors caused by customisations, incorrect SQL scripts and the like. This then requires interaction with a local partner if you do not have these technical skills in house, which may delay or increase costs in resolving issues.
  • Sage CRM software lags in social CRM capabilities.
  • The Sage CRM on-premise version is very customizable. However, upgrading a customized version of the CRM software can be a complicated and costly experience depending on the customisations made. As an example, one user we spoke to in the South East Asia region said "the process took three months and we went through several quotation reviews and negotiations with the local business partner, which was then followed by a period of testing and fixing."

Short List Sage CRM Software When:

  • You are a small to midsize company seeking an easy to use and quick to deploy CRM software product.
  • You desire a local business partner in Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore or Thailand.
  • You already use Sage back-office accounting software or ERP systems.
  • You desire an on-premise CRM software system tightly integrated with a back-office accounting software or ERP system. Sage CRM can integrate with the Sage200 suite of applications, which includes financials, distribution, and project accounting.
  • If you feel you may change software delivery methods from cloud/SaaS to on-premises or vice versa.

Consider Alternative CRM Software When:

  • You are looking for a balanced CRM product with comparable feature sets in the sales, marketing and customer support functions.
  • You require extensive software modifications, or prefer an open source software technology foundation.
  • You seek a vertical market or industry-specific software solution.
  • You want a CRM system that also supports social CRM capabilities.
  • You want a cloud CRM system hosted in Southeast Asia.

Next—Salesforce.com in Asia Review >>

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