CRM Basics: Defining Roles

Now that you have installed or are using Salesforce.com, SugarCRM or vTiger, all you have is a glorified address book.   Before you start adding users you need to set up the crm so it works for your business.

Start with roles definition.   Things like support person, marketing person and sales person.   Then the management.  Basically build out a ORD chart.   For each position figure out what they need access to, and what rights.   For instance a support person needs access to all accounts, but have read only (view) rights.  Not the ability to delete them.

I find it useful to have each level only able to view their items and those below them.  For instance a sales person should only be able to view their accounts.  A sales manager should be able to view all accounts below them.  It gets trickier when you have inside sales and outside sales.   I tend to put inside sales above outside sales typically because they support mutliple sales people.

And for those documents, accounts or whatever you want available to everyone, just create a level at the very bottom.  I tend to call the role documents or something like that. 


Alternatives to Salesforce.com

I used salesforce.com in my last company and liked it a lot.   Lots of community activity for help and some very nice features.   So of course when we needed a CRM for a new company I talked to them.   The version you want is about $50 / month per user ($600 per year).   With a sales force of 70 people, I gulped.  And don't forget, no matter what you have, you have to spend a lot of quality time setting it up and training.  Otherwise it's nothing more than a glorified contact manager.

I also remember using Sugarcrm in the past, so installed the free system on my hosted server.   It was pretty ill behaved during installation (especially figuring out chmod access rights) but I got it installed.   Took me a couple of days and some php tinkering.  But a pretty sophisticated system when done.  Problem was, when you run it, it's kind of a pig and pretty slow response time.

update:  There is a new version of Sugarcrm.  I hosted it on TMDhosting for $46 / year.  And it's fast.  They install it for you in an hour or two.

Aa Then I found a derivative of sugarcrm called vTiger.   Took me literally 5 minutes to install on a hosting site including setting up a MySql server instance.   And it's fast.  However you do lose even a little more functionality in some areas, but really nice modules for thunderbird, outlook, word and even a webform which automatically populates leads.  

To save time and performance, do a web search of "web hosting sugarcrm" and you will find companies which will run (and even setup) your entire system for $70 a year, for all your users.   And if then can run sugarcrm they can run vTiger. 

But like I said, the big thing is setting up your system.  No matter what your CRM, you have many business decisions to make.  More on that later.