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Question 642:



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For Question 1:

For managing many customer contacts, a customer relation management program is needed (CRM). The simplest and cheapest thing to do is enter the data into a spreadsheet so the email addresses are electronic and it would be easy to type in notes.  ACT! by the software company Sage offers a low cost CRM package (~$200 US) which has all the functionality needed to handle multiple contacts and manage customer relationships.


B. What kind of factors would you consider, and why?


Factors to consider would:


Cost. A system that is expensive to purchase and maintain might not be justified by the additional business or organization that comes with it. Ideally this cost is low to realize savings quickly. A custom application would be tantamount to reinventing the wheel, since so many CRM solutions already exist.


Scalability:  Since there is only one person using the system and it is to manage one managers relationship with many salespeople, a personal software solution would likely suffice. While it is a large manufacturing company, it is easy for both IT and outside vendors to get carried away with cost and time in integrating a system with all other back-office-systems. Should the scope of the task change, then other CRM solutions might be considered.


Functions: The application would need to be able to manage many hundred contacts, with easy data-entry and allow for note-fields as well as integration with an email program such as MS Outlook. It appears that ACT! would support these functions well for a low cost.


For Question 2:


A. How would you categorize your questions?  Why? 


Questions would be categorized based first on scope and functionality of the project then on cost and time. Finally risks to the project would be discussed as well as who the key stakeholders are. The reason for this categorization is it is paramount the system ordering system is able to fulfill meet its primary business function. Once this has been established the cost and time can be discussed. Should the system be too expensive to implement or take too long (since it is imperative to have a fast solution) then functions would need to be modified. Working first from functions also allows for the opportunity to arrive at a solution under the requested budget of 250k.  Once cost and functions are addressed, understanding what risks might threaten the project from on-time and on-budget completion will be addressed. Finally, the stakeholders need to be identified and appropriate roles, responsibilities and authority established.


B. What questions would you ask?



What is the scope of the online purchasing system?

How do they plan on building the prototypes to have in-front of users?

When do they plan on delivering the prototypes and obtaining feedback?



What is the estimated total cost based on the features and functions?


Is the $250,000 just for installation fees or does it cover ongoing annual license and maintenance agreements. For example, licenses to Oracle databases must be renewed every year.


What is included in the Utilities? 


How many licenses are being purchased and what will the licenses cover?


What are the critical milestones for this project so we can identify where we are in cost and time?



What are the risks to having the project finished and within the budget and time-frame?



Who are the critical decision makers?

Who needs to attend the meetings and who's buy-in do we need?

Who has final say on the scope and progress?

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