A new model for CRM (*groan*)

I’m using SugarCRM, which is nice, but seems to have a confused model for contacts, accounts, leads, etc.

I realize that this is the “standard” CRM way to describe entities, but can’t help but think it could be improved.

SugarCRM has a few oddities that make it particularly grating.  For instance:

  • Last Name is required for all Contacts
  • While Contacts are referenced by Last Name, Leads are referenced by First Name
  • I’m still not sure who should be a Lead and who should be a Contact
    (is this just a personal naming preference?)
  • What’s the difference between a Sales Lead/Contact and a Marketing Lead/Contact?
  • How can you have a contact/lead without a name?  Is there such a thing as an Account Lead?
  • How do you associate contacts with accounts (without manually updating)
  • How can you associate, for example Outlook Business Contact Manager accounts with SugarCRM accounts?
  • How can you target Campaigns at Businesses (not individuals)

I think SugarCRM’s model isn’t clear enough.

First of all, both businesses and individuals have contact information.  Most often, a business will be targeted for a campaign, become a lead, and eventually a Sales opportunity develops, where you might gain individual contact.

Second, whoops, guess I said it, businesses (or rather, organizations), are the target of campaigns, not just individuals.  Businesses and individuals have contact information.  You have relationships with businesses and individuals.

When I write my own CRM system, I’ll break the mold, and think of things in terms of Entities and Relationships (and Actions).

An entity can be an individual or an organization.

Individuals are always people (or I guess you could also have animals or plants)

Organizations have an associated type.  It can be a business, non-profit, government, informal association, or other (and you can add types.)

You have relationships with Entities.

Relationships are categorized as Business or Personal.

Personal relationships can be type Family, Friends, Acquaintence, Other. (and can be added to)

Business relationships can be type Supplier/Vendor/Manufacturer, Customer/Client, Partner, Other (with additions & subcategories.)

You can have multiple relationships with a single record (contact, account, etc.)

Accounts are Entities you do business with, not every organization you may do business with.  Because any entity (organization or individual) has contact information, and can become a lead, you don’t need to use “Accounts” to mean “organizations” and “Contacts” to mean “people”.

Entities will have contact information.  Account records can concentrate on accounting, and Contact records can concentrate on contacting.  A contact is an action.  An individual (or group) is something you have a relationship with.  Part of a relationship is contacting them.

Entities can be in both a customer bucket and a prospect bucket for a different sales opportunity or campaign.

entity_inheritance

relationship_inheritance

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