Sunday, August 10, 2008

Foundations Applications: VIC CRM

A round of applause for Dave Leigh please! Dave lives in Union, South Carolina, United States of America and you can find his website here. Dave's home-grown Domino-based CRM product (called VIC for 'Vital Information Center') can be downloaded from openntf.

VIC provides:
  • Collaborative Customer Relationship Management.
  • A 'My Activities' page that gathers all of your scheduled activites and To-Dos in one place.
  • Contact Management with multiple contacts per company and multiple divisions and subdivisions per parent company.
  • The ability to gather key financial information tailored to customers, vendors, and financial institutions.
  • The ability to collect all communications in one place, including incoming and outgoing emails, faxes, and letters
  • The ability to annotate correspondence (both incoming and outgoing)
  • A Library that stores all manner of persistent information, such as document templates and boilerplate text, worksheets, company newsletters, sales bulletins, or corporate intelligence,
  • A Contract Manager allows you to track any sort of contract information, including warranties and service contracts. The notification feature reminds you before contracts are due for renewal
  • The ability to Automatically associates incoming emails with organizations and contacts you have on file.
  • Product and Service catalogs.
  • Letter and Fax writer.
VIC does not require any modification of your existing Lotus Notes templates and is completely customizable by the user. Best of all, VIC is freeware. Dave has done a great service to the Domino user community by sharing the fruits of his labors with us all and I applaud him for his generosity. VIC is a great CRM/Document Management application and I’m busy adapting it to the needs of my own business (Thanks Dave!). I’d recommend it to any serious Domino developer who needs a CRM tool.

However I’ll think twice before recommending VIC to my SMB customers.

Here's why. I know three people who have experienced VIC and all of them agree that it was more than a morning's work to get the software installed and running properly. The problem is not with VIC itself. The application is well thought out, tightly written and superbly documented. It’s just that VIC is quite a few grades above the IT skill level of the average SMB owner - especially one who hasn't used Domino before.

Some Developers might see that situation as a license to print consulting dollar$ and they could be right. I guess it might depend on the nature of the customer with whom you are dealing. If they have a dynamic business model and are looking for continual system enhancement then VIC is probably a good investment for them. OTOH, most Small Business owners don’t want to continually spend money enhancing their systems. They don’t have the spare dollars to keep feeding consultants and they don’t have the spare time (nor probably the inclination) to spend their own weekends boning up on the finer point of software configuration. If they do have any spare time it is probably better spent on mastering the technical intricacies of their own business, be it selling Real Estate, fixing trucks or running a retail store.

So why am I reviewing a Domino application that hasn't been modified for use with Foundations? At this point I'm setting a baseline for Foundations customers who are looking for a CRM product. Later this week I'll review a 'Foundationized' commercial CRM application and explain why I think it is a better deal for SMB.

1 comment:

zaldivar said...

Hi Graham,

Great blog. Good readings. Keep it up. As I read this blog entry, I keep thinking if SMB is so tight on budget for IT, how do you make money on them? Aside from software selling, support, and perhaps hardware, it seems to me that SMB is an expensive market to get in as one might spend too many cycles marketing solutions.

What is your experience on this? How would you pitch LFS to a SMB?

Would you care comment on that?