On 24/04/2009 myself and Sarah Darby (E&A) attended the latest CRM User Group meeting at DeMontfort University Leicester.

A few of us met the night before in a local curry house to reminisce on meetings gone past and current developments within the CRM community.

So bright and early (well @ 10:30) on the 24th, the meeting began.

Introduction

Nigel Thomas, from Agresso, opened with a brief introduction on how the day would run. This was followed by an update on the state of play of Agresso and CRM in general. In 2008 Agresso gained 23 new HE & FE customers, and education now forms the largest area of Agresso’s CRM business. He finished off by saying that the next Agresso user group will be held in the Celtic Manor in 2010.

Salford University

Next up was Salford University and they presentation on their implementation of CRM. It seems that they’ve adopted a slightly different approach to the project than other Universities. They’ve entered into an “assisted partnership” implementation with Agresso. This basically means that they have a dedicated resource on-site at all times and that the Agresso project manager has more frequent site visits.

We heard from two people involved with the project and whilst they felt they had benefited from the assisted approach, the general feel was that is was always going to be a trade off between the costs and timescales for this type of implementation.

For more information please see link

CRM V4

Ian Carter (Agresso) then outlined the some of the new features of V4 of the Microsoft CRM software, followed by a demonstration of some of these features. For the end user, V4 seems to offer a host of new goodies.

  • Faster searching
  • use of Microsoft SQL Server Reports services (MSRS)
  • improvements with workflow, making use of Windows Workflow Foundation (WWF)
  • and many more, including enhancements to the duplication detection

Cross entity relationship processing seems to have been greatly improved in V4.

I think that even if we were to be one of their pilot sites, it would be at least 12 months before it would be ready for implementation. At least that’s what one of their developer’s said to me.

Lunch

(the DMU presentation was cancelled due to the long running of previous demos).

FAQ Module

After lunch (nice too) Nigel & Paul Adams (Agresso) then gave us a demonstration of their latest module, FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions). Sarah has had a meeting with the developer to discuss its development and the potential use of it here at the University as a replacement to our existing Hobsons (Ask Glam) and Virtual Advisor software.

It’s got as number of interesting features, including a questions rating facility. The software will require the purchase of an additional Microsoft connection license as it allows non CRM users to access the database. With the University potentially looking for a Hobsons replacement, we’ll see if this fits the bill

User group chair intro

Rayhana Rahman, the chair of the user group then spoke about the set up of the Yahoo user group and how it could be developed further.

The use of a discussion board/forum was thought to be a good idea, as this would allow users to bounce ideas/problems around.

Basically Rayhana is open to any new ideas that can be used to improve the running of the user group.

Enhancements requests and issues

Then followed a slightly disjointed session where various issues were discussed. The trouble with this format is that not everyone seemed to be interested in what was being discussed, and Agresso themselves felt that they were under pressure to answer the issues there and then. They felt it would be better to log these as issues so that they would have a record of them and their resolution.

May be the discussion board mentioned above would be a good idea.

Summing Up

As I talked to other CRM users, it struck me that other University’s seem to be able to allocate far more resources to their CRM implementation then we are currently doing. This is true at both the technical and business level, and they seem to be benefiting from this.

Date of next user group meeting

The next user group meeting is planned for October the 22nd to be held at Salford University.