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Spotlight Evaluation --- Onyx & Consona Application Review

Consona ERP and CRM Application Review

By Jerry Vanderkooi, June 8, 2008


Onyx version 6 supports more than 1,400 mid-market and enterprise customers in approximately 50 countries. While Onyx is largely known for its on-premise horizontal customer relationship management software suite, it also provides industry specific versions for the healthcare, financial services, professional services, contact center, high-technology and government vertical markets. The company's primary target market includes the Fortune 2000 or the Global 5000 and key customers include Amway Corporation, Mellon Financial Corporation, The Regence Group, Riggs Bank and State Street Corporation.


Onyx Corporate History

Headquartered in Kirkland, Washington, the company was formed in 1994 by a small group of former Microsoft employees. The first product was called EnCompass and released in 1995. The company went public in 1999, however, after transitional management teams and failing to advance in the public markets, the company was acquired by Made2Manage (M2M Holdings) in 2006. After its seventh software company acquisition, M2M later changed its corporate name to Consona in 2007. Onyx CRM combined with another Consona acquisition, Knova’s Service Resolution Management, and Million Handshakes, forms the basis of the newly branded "Consona CRM". The integrated KNOVA V7 software solution uses knowledge management and flexible searching to facilitate an intelligent and configurable customer experience. The customer service system provides impressive user forums, self-service capabilities, field service, knowledge desk and guided selling aids. Million Handshakes is a marketing automation and customer dialog solution from technology partner Million Handshakes.


Onyx Software Technology

Onyx technology was originally created from Microsoft technologies such as Visual Basic and SQL Server. While the product began as a client/server (fat client) solution, it has slowly but steadily evolved to a thin(ner) client, (although not a zero footprint), .NET based and SOA (service oriented architecture). The product technology remains Microsoft-centric, the XML web services and multiple-tier, component-based distributed architecture grant significant scalability for enterprise customers and the designer tools permit flexible business rules and user defined workflow routines to accommodate challenging business processes.


Onyx takes a unique building block approach to delivering integrated Customer Relationship Management software modules. Unlike traditional CRM systems which package line of business software modules based on departmental functions (e.g. sales force automation (SFA), marketing management and customer support), Onyx CRM includes just three process oriented software applications, with each covering a range of divisions, tasks, and capabilities. These three individually-purchased software components – customer management, process management, and performance management – are designed to consolidate disparate and often disjointed processes across sales, marketing and service and ultimately enable faster and more predictable execution of customer-facing business activities.


Onyx CRM Strengths & Weaknesses

The Onyx CRM Customer Management module resembles an online employee-based portal used for all company staff, a partner information portal for sales and marketing staff, and a customer information portal for marketing and customer support teams. Sales and support users can leverage wireless and mobile capabilities and marketing professionals can use advanced email features as part of their campaigns. The Onyx CRM Process Management component permits business process workflow configuration and a designer tool to fairly easily script, implement, and test business rules for customer-facing activities. The Onyx CRM Performance Management module provides impressive scorecarding, reporting, analytical analysis, using OLAP (online analytical processing) cubes and configurable dashboards.


Onyx weaknesses include the lack of a SaaS or on-demand CRM solution and a weak marketing software function. Clearly, the least impressive component in the Onyx CRM portfolio is the marketing module. Marketing campaign management, event management, distribution tracking and campaign analysis have been weaknesses of Onyx for a very long time.


Key competitive feature sets of the Onyx CRM software system include the following:

  • Onyx does a great job at delivering an integrated 360 degree customer view. The Employee Portal V6 offers a flexible, extensible and scalable data architecture and capability to control the user interface presentation and workflow design in order to create and deliver a unique and highly relevant user experience.

  • The graphically pleasing user-interface (UI) provides all key customer information in a consolidated location for strong ease of use and knowledge sharing among across all customer touches and activities.

  • Seamless email, calendar and task list integration with Microsoft Outlook increases user productivity.

  • Pervasive use of real-time analytical information is available in reports, dashboards and date warehouse online analysis.

  • Customer interactions, activities and touch points are easily consolidated across the multiple channels of Web, e-mail, phone or in person communication.

  • Flexible business rule and scripting customization allow customers to create simple to relatively complex business process automation.

  • An intuitive and flexible software customization tool permits system administrators to graphically customize the CRM system for their business. Onyx provides a tools suite that permits users multiple methods to configure, change and manage the user interface and business processes without source code modifications. This allows the customer to modify the CRM software system for unique or complex business processes, escalations, routing, alerts or notifications without complex CRM software development.

  • The system administration platform tools (such as SQL Generation) facilitate smoother upgrades and provide greater extensibility.

Consona Corporation Overview

Consona (formerly Made2Manage Systems or M2M Holdings) is an M&A roll-up type company that through its acquisitions provides integrated enterprise business software systems for small and midsized assemble-to-order (ATO), make-to-order (MTO), make-to-stock (MTS), engineer-to-order (ETO), and mixed mode discrete manufacturers. The holding company is headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana and employs over 200 staff in the US, Canada, Israel and the United Kingdom.


The company began operations in 1986, was later purchased by Battery Ventures for about $30M and then taken private. Consona targets a range of middle market industries including electronics, furniture and fixtures, fabricated metal products, industrial and commercial machinery and equipment, computer and office supply equipment, packaging machinery, farm equipment, transportation, rubber and plastics, and measuring instruments. The company best serves the business processes of discrete manufacturers with revenues of $50 million or less. The combined (acquired) companies serve more than 4,600 customers worldwide and across a variety of industries, including manufacturing, distribution, financial services, professional services, healthcare, high tech, and government.


Consona is organized in three enterprise software divisions consisting of Consona CRM, Consona ERP (derived from the Intuitive ERP and Made2Manage ERP for discrete manufacturers and the the SupplyWorks supply chain system) and Consona Industry Solutions. Consona is today jointly owned by Battery Ventures and Thoma Cressey Equity Partners.


Consona CRM has rebranded the Onyx Adaptive CRM Version 6 with KNOVA Version 7, and Million Handshakes Version 4 as their customer relationship management (CRM) software market solution, internally labeled 'total customer management' (TCM).


Oracle Siebel CRM System Review Next Jerry will be uploading the newest Oracle Siebel CRM system review in the next release.


  Forrester Onyx Review


Forrester analyst William Band, offers his own generally favorable assessment of the Onyx CRM software system.


According to Band in a 2007 research comment, "The Onyx CRM solution has been in the market for a decade and was one of the first enterprise CRM solutions to adopt a flexible, three-tier architecture, with tight alignment to Microsoft technologies. The company was taken private by the better-capitalized M2M Holdings in August 2006 — which will help allay buyer concerns about the long-term viability of the product and company.


The product's strongest functional areas are in sales and customer service. But it lacks deep functionality in many areas, including marketing, field service, customer data management, eCommerce, and partner channel management.


Onyx is best suited for buyers who want a flexible CRM solution — with business process management (BPM) capabilities — that leverages Microsoft infrastructure technologies."


CRM software reviews


While design and system administration tools were reviewed, the Consona CRM / Onyx CRM system review considered only the generally available, unaltered (out of the box) CRM software application.

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