Microsoft Great Plains Enhances Solution Builder

FARGO, N.D., Oct. 4, 2001 — Today at the 16th annual Stampede Conference, Microsoft® Great Plains® Business Solutions announced an update for its Solution Builder, an extensive online analysis tool designed to improve the experience of prospective customers and reselling channel partners. This enhancement will bring more personalization to users’ business needs and help set expectations on topics such as cost, timing of implementation and partner choice.

Stampede is Microsoft Great Plains’ four-day international business conference for its partners, value added resellers (VARs), consultants and solution developers who sell, support and develop integrated products for Microsoft Great Plains solutions.

The updated Solution Builder enables a more customized and interactive experience so that prospective customers can learn about Microsoft Great Plains’ solutions on their own terms. Unlike many Web sites that provide visitors with lists of information on individual products offered, Microsoft Great Plains has designed the Solution Builder section of its Web site to combine fast and efficient information gathering, analysis, solution demonstration and partner selection applications that are customized based on individual business characteristics and needs.

Solution Builder guides users through a series of intuitive questions designed to understand how they perceive their business problems and needs. The enhanced functionality then aligns users’ goals with the appropriate Microsoft Great Plains solution. In addition, users have the option of choosing to
“click to talk”
to a Microsoft Great Plains representative or send an e-mail message to retrieve supplementary literature or demonstrations. Users are guaranteed responses from Microsoft Great Plains within 24 hours and typically receive almost immediate follow-up by using the Call Me
“click to talk”

“Searching for software as well as partners and integrators to help with installation and customization can be remarkably overwhelming, and we understand how important it is to offer a customized experience based on specific business needs, time frames and budget ranges,”
said Tracy Faleide, director of for Microsoft Great Plains.
“We strive to keep our customers happy from day one, and customers who have used Solution Builder have given us very positive feedback on the process. We’re thrilled that Solution Builder has been so well received.”

In addition to offering a more personalized customer experience, this updated functionality will enable partners to become more involved in generating and securing qualified sales leads. By connecting with Siebel Systems Inc.’s Siebel Enterprise customer relationship management (CRM) solution, partners can learn and keep a record of customer prospects’ needs, such as what they are looking for and how soon they need a product. In addition, partners can directly assess customers’ product needs beyond Microsoft Great Plains’ core solutions, providing them with shortened sales cycles and additional up-selling opportunities. In many cases, sales cycles are completed in two weeks.

“This type of tool is essential for vendors looking to attract and retain customer prospects who are seriously seeking an e-business applications solution,”
said Bob Anderson, research director of the Small and Mid-size Enterprise Product Group at Gartner Inc.
“Microsoft Great Plains has done a good job of using its Web site as a breeding ground to facilitate customer-partner matchmaking, which is the springboard to generating overall customer satisfaction.”

Several important vendors in the software industry are sponsoring Stampede including Compaq Computer Corp., Hewlett-Packard Co., Inc., Nortel Networks, Siebel Systems Inc. and Vobix Corp. Additional sponsors include Accountable Software Inc., Blue Moon Industries, ColeConnect, Mekorma Software Solutions and WennSoft Inc.

About Microsoft Great Plains Business Solutions

Microsoft Great Plains provides business applications that help small and midmarket companies become more agile in today’s interconnected economy by extending specific information and procedures to employees, customers, vendors and partners. The business applications automate end-to-end business processes across financials, distribution, project accounting, electronic commerce, human resources and payroll, manufacturing, supply chain management, business analytics, sales and marketing management, and customer service and support. More information about the solutions offered by Microsoft Great Plains can be found at or at .

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq
) is the worldwide leader in software, services and Internet technologies for personal and business computing. The company offers a wide range of products and services designed to empower people through great software — any time, any place and on any device.

Microsoft is a registered trademark of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries.

Great Plains is a registered trademark of Great Plains Software Inc. in the United States and/or other countries. Great Plains Software Inc. is a wholly owned subsidiary of Microsoft Corp.

The names of actual companies and products mentioned herein may be the trademarks of their respective owners.

Note to editors: If you are interested in viewing additional information on Microsoft, please visit the Microsoft Web page at on Microsoft’s corporate information pages.

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