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Many years ago, I searched long and hard for a production control package that could replace the progressively more complicated Excel workbook that we were using in the practice. I could find nothing that fit the bill.

Then I hit on CRM (Customer Relationship Manager). CRM is designed to help you manage your relationship with each of your customers. It keeps track of customer details, leads, sales, tasks, service dates and also sends automatic emails to keep the customer informed of upcoming events, such as scheduled services.

Could I, perhaps, bend one of these packages into what I needed?

What were my needs?

  • We should be able to list the services that a customer might need, such as CIPC returns, tax returns, etc. and automatically email a pro-forma invoice to the client prior to the deadline.
  • When a client makes a payment into our bank, we must be able to load the job onto the system and allocate it to the appropriate staff member.
  • Any staff member should be able to write notes relating to that job.
  • To ensure that the staff member does not forget to do something related to a job, each step should be documented in the form of a checklist. The job closing only when all the boxes are ticked.
  • Any other staff member should be able to see what stage the job has reached, by looking at the last box ticked.
  • I should receive an email whenever a job is completed, so that I can carry out an occasional spot check to see that the job was done properly.

We first bought Sage CRM and, when our server suffered a major crash some years later, we switched to BluWave.

Neither of them were designed for our purpose, but in both cases, we were able to achieve what we wanted. One of the problems, however, was that, because we were using the software in an abnormal way, we sometimes found that it did not work as expected and we had to interact with the supplier to sort things out. All in all, though, we have had excellent results and I can thoroughly recommend this solution.


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