The latest release of Salesforce.com's hosted customer relationship management (CRM) product, called 'Winter '04', is still missing features promised over a year ago.
The Winter '04 edition offers dashboards, workflow automation, alerts, contract management and auto-response management among the new features.
But the billing and invoice management functions promised last year have not materialised.
In September last year Marc Benioff, Salesforce.com's chief executive, was quoted as claiming that these back-end functions would be available by the end of 2002.
He even branded these functions as a 'Billing Edition', which would include the ability to record incoming cashflow or accounts receivable.
The Billing Edition was to integrate Salesforce.com's front-end capabilities with billing, invoice and order management back-end applications. But the timetable was pushed forward to the middle of this year and then passed over.
But Benioff has now said that "accounts receivable is key to CRM", at the company's first user and developer conference held in the US last week.
Benioff also admitted that Salesforce.com has been using such features internally. But he added that he could not yet convince his developers to release them commercially.
"Some of these features are available in this release and some will be released in Summer 2004," said Phill Robinson, Salesforce.com marketing vice president.
"The question is whether it is more important to deliver what customers want."
But Evesham Technology, a Salesforce.com user in the UK, told vnunet.com that it is about to "kick [the CRM product] into touch because it doesn't tie into sales, orders or processing modules".
Curtis MacLean, Evesham's sales and marketing director, added: "My team often have to double-key in information because there is no connectivity with sales order processing."
According to Robin Goad, CRM managing analyst at Datamonitor, it is just such functionality that will drive an increasingly divergent enterprise application management market forwards.
"There is a lot of talk about convergence between CRM and other enterprise resource management applications like billing," said Goad.
"When Benioff made his promises, Salesforce.com was trying to jump on that bandwagon."
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