Perfect storm: AT&T and Siebel

This one was so egregious, I had to post it.
AT&T modified their Siebel Systems CRM software 3 weeks ago and they still cannot fix a problem that does not allow customers to sign up for a new service. I am convinced that multi-million-dollar CRM packages from places like Siebel/Oracle/Broadvision (are they even still around?) are simply the wrong way to go about CRM. Companies thought that purchasing packages was the right solution, but the consulting fees and customization costs alongside the licensing basically negated any benefit to rolling your own solution.
Siebel is for suckers.
InfoWorld: AT&T Wireless Services still fighting CRM glitch: November 26, 2003: By : Telecommunications

3 Comments on “Perfect storm: AT&T and Siebel

  1. CRM was a business philosophy of redesigning your company, products and processes around customers. Of course, that doesn’t sell software so vendors like Siebel changed it into a buzzword to flog their wares to clients who hadn’t done the necessary groundwork and reflection up front.
    About 70% of large software projects fail in any case, mostly because of internal resistance to change and the fact by the time it is overcome and the product delivered, the competitive environment has changed and the the solution is no longer relevant. Most companies would be better off continuously refactoring their systems (moving to architectures that make this easier, if necessary), rather than looking for silver bullets that need to be installed in a big-bang manner.

  2. Recently a client was asking me to make a custom system for them, (not really CRM, but still a siginificant software system). I went out looking for other alternatives, and found another package for them to buy.(because I did not have time to do the work, but didin’t want to send the client to another developer).
    I actually thought it would be better because it was already tested and working, and the cost to buy it was less than the cost for me to roll my own.
    In the end however, I wound up spending more time, and more of their money on customizing the system for their use than it probably would have been to build from sctracth, and if we had built from scratch we would have had complete felxibility to fit their needs more exactly.
    Another system I made for the same client has grown 10 times larger in the last two years, and it fits their needs much more closely than any package would. The reason it is possible of course is that being the author of the system, I can add and change efficiently as the market needs change.
    Of course, if I leave, all those benefits will be lost, and they will simply have a package what took two years to build, but no support. I guess it’s a trade-off.
    In any case, one thing I have realized over the course of the two years, is that if this client had hired me directly, instead of outsourcing to my company which payed my salary, they could have paid much less (considering all employee related costs) and I would have had all my time to work on their project, making it 10 times better, rather than having to split time between them and a handful of other clients. I read business articles about the benefits of outsourcing, blah blah, but it just doesn’t make any sence in some cases. Custom built software seems to be one.