CRM + Import + Notification

SuedKAT

Commendable
Oct 6, 2016
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1,510
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Hello,

Over the years I've worked in large organisations which all have used various big and complicated applications/CRM systems for various aspects in their daily work. Recently me and a friend decided to leave our occupations and start our own business, which is why I'm now looking for tips.

We now manage an small education firm, which supply our customers with everything from the educations they need to the admin revolving around that. Meaning that we send a notification to both the company and the induvidual that date X he/she will be on education at our place, which is vital for them since their employees can't legally do their work with out a valid license from us.

However I know all to well that if we don't plan for the future we'll drown in admin work sooner or later. I'm therefore looking for something, prefereably opensource that can solve this for me.

What I need:

1.) Customer/Partner info + Contacts + Communication between us and them.

2.) A calender sharable between me and my partner and future employees.

3.) Something that can read/import an .xls or .ods (or similar) file with personal information about my customers employees and the date their license is no longer valid and then notify me via mail or something similar a month in advance. Currently we have 8 customers, which require us to check 8 sperate files at least once a month and that way solve the invitations etc, however as we grow this will become very impractical.


I've looked at multiple CRM systems, most of them seem great but they come with a lot of "fluff" which I don't want or need, so far we use a shared info mail and use the contacts and calender that way, but that's hardly practical in the long run.


I'm looking for a very basic system to cover 1 and 2, perhaps with addons/plugins for possible future needs and something to solve 3 preferably it would be integrated in 1 and 2. However it's not necessary as long as it present the data I need from the xls/odt files in some sort of fashion and then lets me invite the ones I need one month in advance.

The reason I posted it in the open source section is since I'm both a dev my self, but I also already use 90% open source or at least freeware for the sole reason that it always tend to work better and faster than the paid alternative.


Best Regards
SuedKAT
 

SuedKAT

Commendable
Oct 6, 2016
4
0
1,510
0
Hello Alabalcho,

Thanks for the suggestion, I've used SugarCRM a tiny bit before and yes it's a competent CRM system, however it's fairly "big" in terms of features and I'm unsure if it's easy to adapt to my simple CRM needs? I don't want something which is cumbersome to work with for my needs so to speak.

However I'm still very interested in suggestions as well as a solution to number 3 on the list. Something which can read multiple spreadsheets and then report back to me with relevant data based on rules I've set.

// SuedKAT
 
With just a handful of files (customers), Your #3 can be resolved with shared Google / Outlook / iWhatever calendar with notification in chosen way. What you want is **somehow** to parse an spreadsheet, enter the single row of data into a database, and generate reports on collected data. Not that it's impossible, but spreadsheets are rarely used to enter single row of information (as is your case). Moreover, this is one-off task (you enter it once, when you sell / renew), not something which generates bulk data.

With proper tool, your sales rep will enter customer information directly into the CRM, bypassing the Excel spreadsheet.
 

SuedKAT

Commendable
Oct 6, 2016
4
0
1,510
0
Hello again Alabalcho,

I think I've failed to adequately explain my number 3. Today I have 8 seperate customers, or rather 8 seperate companies I work with. These companies have sent me spreadsheets with data regarding their employees, currently these count 5675 induviduals.

This is listed in the spreadsheets:
Name (first and last)
Adress
Area Code
City
Date when their license will be invalid

I've sorted the data via date in each spreadsheet and named the file "Company Name + License Type", I've also created a "master" spreadsheet in which I've copied the data from each seperate company spreadsheet with an added column named "company" to be able to see from which company the employee originates from. This spreadsheet is also sorted via date and today I open this document the first day in every month and check the amount of people which will need to come to me and participae in courses and then plan thereafter. I then use "MailMerge" (Excel tool) to create a seperate invitation to all of these in Word and then mail these to their repective companies and they then "hand" them out.

However if I get a new customer, an existing customer change staff or something similar stuff quickly becomes cumbersome. Therefore I'm looking for something a bit more effective to do with the data I have in the spreadsheets, preferably with as little manual admin work as possible and something which can be utilized from a resonable easy user interface to future safe it towards new employees in my own company.

The dream would be something that pulled the data from all my customers seperate data spreadsheets based on a critera (date to date) and then notified me somehow (preferably via mail) that next month I have X amount of people that I need to plan courses for and here is their info. As well as being future proof, in other words if I droped a new list into the folder with the others it would on it's own or via manual input include that data as well.

// SuedKAT
 
OK, it's little bit clearer now. The key for data import is ODBC, and there is ODBC connector for Excel spreadsheets. I am not sure CRM would be the best choice to monitor single property for 5000+ customers (because that's the number of customers you have). When automating, you will have to think about data integrity as well (that is, what will happen if next month' data from your reseller list same end customer but with corrected company name).

Again - I don't think there is an CRM that will have the import module in the way you want it. SugarCRM has an open-source version (which means you can look and change the sourcecode), so an import function is possible (in theory). You could even make custom module to import data for your customers. A CS intern could prototype this in Access for a week or so, including the data import, with another month or two learning the CRM modules.
 

SuedKAT

Commendable
Oct 6, 2016
4
0
1,510
0
I agree, my idea with the CRM system was to have the all the data (including company info etc) in one place as well as an easy overview and then tie that to a notification system similar to an upcoming task in an CRM system. Hmm the suggestions you gave are valid solutions and ideas to work further on, however my main problem with them is the end user. I will have no problem with using it my self, my partner however have issues with how windows update works so this is far to complicated for him and possibly also for future employees. Which is why I'm aiming to create a setup that's "idiot" proof so to speak, but also which I can administrate "under the hood" but preferably with as little work as possible even if the initial setup can be extensive.
 
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