Implementation Day 12 – CRM

Implementation Day 12 – CRM

Big day today! The slow pace of yesterday gave me the kick up the arse I needed to eat a big frog (book reference: “Eat That Frog” by Brian Tracy). I took on the world of “Customer Relationship Management” software (CRM).

I have been putting this off for approximatively 3 years. I’ve had a CRM system installed on my home network server for about 2 of those years, gathering virtual dust. I’ve had another installation on a remote server for about 8 months being just as active. CRM was one of the biggie’s I wanted to tackle in this month, and today I beat it over the head with a big stick.

Why do I need a CRM? Well basically, as soon as you’ve got more than a couple of hundred business contacts, it becomes impossible to engage with them on anything like a meaningful level without one. And as soon as you get other people contacting people for you, it becomes essential. I’ve got by fine with growing spreadsheets in different categories, but gleaming any sort of useful information or noticing trends out of those lies somewhere between incredibly time consuming and impossible.

The package I have chosen is SugarCRM (community edition), for two main reasons. Firstly, because it is Open Source software (free). Secondly because it has a very large user base (good support). There are arguably better Open Source CRM’s and there are definitely expensive packages with a bigger user base, but SugarCRM seems to be the best if you want both.

As someone who has never used a CRM before in my life, it’s pretty much impossible to know what meaningful things one package will do above another one. All research leads to alien language and nonsense jibber jabber. I’m sure it all makes perfect sense to a corporate office worker or salesperson, but I do card tricks for a living and don’t know what the hell they’re all on about.

The only way to do it is to dive in.

I went to my most recent SugarCRM install (on the remote server) and started to delve into it with purpose. In the past, I’ve gone in and randomly pressed a few buttons, got intimidated then gone to look at a couple of vitally important things like Magical Trevor.

So, I now know my Targets, Leads, Contacts and Accounts from my Elbow.

Is all of my spreadsheet info in the CRM now then?

No, but that’s fine. I now know exactly what needs to be done to ‘clean’ the data in the right way and I’m already half way through that process. That’s much further on than I would have hoped and the more time I’m spending on it the more I realise how important it all is. I’m also making notes of the ways I’ll be needing to modify SugarCRM to take in all of the extra information that I’ve been recording, so I’ll be taking a crow bar to the application set up too.

The biggest problem I can foresee is getting a way to synchronise the SugarCRM calendar with my iPhone. I think there’s a way if you go via google calendar, but I refuse to use google calendar on moral grounds so I’ll have to find a work around. There’s always a work around though so I’m not scared off that.

Other than CRM, I’ve did a couple more hours on the new video this afternoon.

Very happy with progress for once today. The one downside is that I worked late into the evening. D’oh! Balance man, balance!

7 Comments

  1. I’m loving these posts Damian, keep them up!

  2. Congratulations on jumping into the tumultuous waters of open source CRM. I hope the sharks are not biting this week… Happy to see you are using SugarCRM. We work with it quite a bit and documented a few “Lessons Learned” based on hundreds of implementations:
    http://www.intelestream.net/en/whitepapers/sugarcrm-lessons-learned-document.html

    Also, there is a new, up and coming open source CRM project called Zurmo (zurmo.org). It’s still in early development, but thought it might be worth a look.

    • Thanks for that Ray,

      Your message got marked as Spam for some reason, but I’ve just approved it. Thanks for the tip about Zurmo. I may take a look at that once I’m all set up. I’ll not do it now or I’ll be back into the world of indecision about which one to go for. I’m sure migrating between one and another once you’re all set up is far painless than getting any one of them up and running in the first place. I’ll take a look at your ‘lessons learned’ link on my next CRM day.

      Cheers

  3. Hi Damian,
    How are things going with the CRM project? Did you take a look at Zurmo?
    Thanks,
    Ray

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