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Archive for September, 2007

The Value of CRM Training

September 12, 2007 Leave a comment

CRM MVP Larry Lentz is our guest blogger this month speaking about a topic near and dear to users’ hearts, training.

Recently I had a CRM training gig in Chicagoland. My student (yes, a class of one) was from a Chicago area company that was about to implement CRM. In addition to being in charge of the IT department, she was also the head of marketing for the company. So, she was the primary user and manager of the proposed system. She had requested the class as a way to get a head start on the project.

As we worked through the material she developed some major concerns as to whether CRM would be able to perform certain critical functions for them. If it could not, then she would not be able to sign off on the project. Fortunately we were able to work through each of her concerns and come up with ways to accomplish what was needed after all.

Another issue we worked though concerned Business Units and permissions. They have a number of sales people working out of the office. These sales folks have assistants who remain in the office. The normal tendency is to structure Business Units and permissions along organizational lines with bosses above their assistants. The inside sales folks work for the outside sales folks. But the outside sales folks should only be allowed to view their own records while the inside folks generally support several outside sales people.

So, we had to think out of the box and create Business Units for each of the inside sales assistants and give them permissions for all records within their Business Unit. The outside sales people were to be assigned to the appropriate Business Unit but only given permissions to access their own records. Even though in the company hierarchy the inside sales assistants work for the outsider sales folks, they appear above them in the CRM structure.

I asked my student why they had contracted with a third party for their training. I would have expected their CRM implementation consultant to have included the training in that offering. She said they did, but at the end. This would be End User Training on how to use the system once it was installed. What she needed, and got, was information and an understanding of what CRM could do and whether it could really work for them BEFORE it was actually implemented.

Larry Lentz

Vista Gadget: E-mail Enabled Queues

September 11, 2007 Leave a comment

Vista Gadget: E-mail Enabled Queues

CRM MVP Scott Colson shares with us a solution that his company recently released.

Way back when CRM 1.0 came out, we embraced email enabled queues as a key responding to our clients support requests. By replacing an email distribution list with a queue we eliminated the problems we often had where two or more people would start responding to an issue at the same time. Now the first person that can work on the issue takes it off of the queue.

However queues introduced a new problem for us. When we used a distribution group everyone knew about the problem immediately. With queues we had to remember to go check the queue regularly to see if anything was in it. To get around the problem we created a small Windows application that installed on each workstation and then popped up a message indicating how many items there were in each monitored queue. This worked pretty well for us until we started upgrading to Vista. We had purchased a specific VB control to pop up the message and that control would not work with Vista.

We decided to start over and embrace the new world of Vista Gadgets. In keeping with our original design, we opted for a two tiered solution with a dedicated webservice on the CRM server and code in the gadget that consumed data from the webservice.

The VS 2005 solution for the webservice and all of the files to recreate the gadget are here. We consciously hard coded URLs in the javascript for the gadget because it is easier to edit the file and distribute the gadget with the URL set than it is to have each user set the URL when they install the gadget. Therefore you will have to follow the provided instructions to recreate the gadget file.

Richard Riddle, our lead CRM developer did all of the coding on this one. We hope you find it useful.

Scott Colson