I have been working with Sage CRM for many years with a multitude of clients across various industries. One thing that all of them have in common is the requirement to provide a user interface that helps achieve business objectives. It makes perfect sense, that if the user interface is easy to use and has intuitive controls, then it will lead to increased user acceptance and data quality.
The new buzz word for this is UX, or user experience.
I believe that the keys to creating a good user experience are:
- Simplicity – Give the user the information they need and nothing they don’t (e.g. do users need to see the reports section?)
- Responsiveness – Both in speed and user feedback (e.g. clicking a button provides obvious feedback to indicate that it was clicked)
- Timeliness – Provide functionality only where it is useful (e.g. pre-populate an address form, based on a selected suburb)
Customisation of Sage CRM
It is possible to create customised pages for CRM, which allows for the display and editing of multiple records from multiple tables. It takes a bit of coding, but it is completely doable with plenty of examples available on the web.
Over the years we’ve developed many custom pages, some very simple and some very complicated. There was some pretty cool code written, a lot of which was designed to be re-used over and over. We wanted to create a method that would allow our consultants to quickly develop new CRM pages, using the code that had already been written. This was the beginning of the Accsys Framework (which has recently been renamed Project Infinity).
Over time, this has evolved into something bigger than we ever imagined. We now have a fully working User Interface along with a Webservices Application to facilitate communication between the end user and the database. We are now focusing entirely on providing an unparalleled user experience with little or no training required for the end user. I’m not going to get into how it all works at the moment, other than to say that is built on AngularJS along with a custom built WebService. There will be more details on this in the coming months, but for the time being, just assume that it is all really cool stuff.
Building around a search engine
First and foremost is the search function. It is something people do every day and it has become a natural way to get things done. It goes without saying that CRM systems are a huge repository of data, but this is all but useless if it can’t be found easily and in a format that is useful to the end user.
So we replaced the search screens in CRM with one simple screen.
Wizards for Creating Records
Most processes in a business where data is being created involve multiple processes. For example, booking in a meeting with a new prospect can include:
- Creating the organisation
- Creating the key contact
- Creating the Opportunity
- Creating the Meeting
This can be reasonably straight forward in Sage CRM, all the user has to do is go through a few screens, then the workflow takes over and guides them.
What we have done by focusing on the end user, is to come up with a wizard driven process that is not only quicker but is also aimed at improving data quality / collection at the same time.
The current dashboards in CRM are useful, particularly the dynamic dashboards. We have recreated this mainly to keep it inline with our new UI. We are basing on Kendo reports and it allows some really cool reporting features.
Try it out
So after the big spiel above we would welcome you to take a look at what we have to offer. This is only the first cut of the new UX and was recently used as a demo for a potential client. We are very excited about what we have achieved to date, but even more so with what we plan to do with this project in the future.
If you would like a login please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll set it up for you.
You can also view the framework in a separate window, by clicking here “Sage CRM Infinity“.