Briefs Inc. will soon take the wraps off a new CRM service designed to give the small business market rich functionality without the cost or complexity of enterprise offerings.

The new Team Edition, tailored for companies with as many as five users or for smaller teams within larger companies, is designed to bridge the gap between simple contact management solutions and the more advanced CRM built for large companies. It features sales force automation, customer service and support and reporting and analysis, said Cary Fulbright, senior vice-president of marketing of the small business group, in San Francisco. “It lets you track your customers and prospects as accounts, [and] it lets you track all your open and closed deals as opportunities,” Fulbright said. “It lets you track cases and problems submitted to your service and support organizations. You can customize the applications by adding custom field, [and] you can customize the reports.” This functionality comes in an application that has eliminated some of the more complex features vital to larger companies but not commonly used by smaller companies, Fulbright added. For example, has eliminated the concept of user roles and hierarchy in the Team Edition. Team Edition costs US$1,995 for as many as five users for one year. Before Dec. 31, 2002, companies can purchase the service for an introductory rate of $995.

Optiant unveils supply chain optimization suite

Supply chain vendor Optiant Inc. has unveiled a new enterprise-wide supply chain optimization suite designed to allow manufacturers to build supply chains that can be wielded as competitive weapons in the race to market for new products.

PowerChain 4.0 Web-based software allows manufacturers to simultaneously model all aspects of multidimensional supply chains while linking sales and operations planning teams to participate in the process to close the gap between forecasts and actual productions, according to officials from the Boston-based company. The new suite features time-phasing templates designed to support precise inventory strategies that address unique performance requirements of each phase of the product lifecycle, said Jim Lawton, vice-president of product management for Optiant. In addition, multistage analysis is designed to let business users quickly determine the effect of cycle time reduction strategies, such as changing internal manufacturing practices or shortening supplier lead times, he added. PowerChain 4.0 licences start at US$350,000.