Software developers are stepping into the ongoing budget battle between marketing and finance departments with a new budgeting tool. "Today, all of our clients are held accountable for their marketing spend, and they are always focused on ROI," says Jim Graham, co-founder of KickFire Inc., a Saratoga, Calif., provider of Web-based marketing resource management (MRM) software.
KickFire is one of about a dozen companies staking a claim in the new area of MRM, which uses project-
management software designed specifically for marketing campaigns. The hosted software allows all members of a project team--including outside vendors--to hold meetings, track progress, and manage finances online.
"I'm kind of the budgeting poster child for our finance department," says Nancy Treaster, head of global marketing for Witness Systems Inc., a software developer in Roswell, Ga. "At any point in time, I can see where I am in terms of budgeted versus actual spending." Treaster has been using MRM software developed by Indianapolis-based Aprimo Inc. for the past 18 months, and boasts the most up-to-date budget in the company. In addition, she says her accuracy lends credibility to her internal budget negotiations.
KickFire's Graham says that companies should be relatively comfortable with MRM systems, because they borrow elements from more- traditional software, like customer relationship management.
"But finding the right fit has taken some effort," says Jean-Gabriel Henry, an analyst with New Yorkbased Jupiter Media Metrix. Henry says the MRM products are still developing, and "quite honestly, Excel spreadsheets still work." -- T.M.