We are looking for a CRM alternative, and our package of choice is MS Outlook / Exchange. Our choice is based upon price, availability in the organization, and ease of use. I'm creating custom contact forms and using public folders to diseminate the information for the salesforce to use and update. Is there a better approach? Is there an add-in for Outlook that has achieved many of the CRM goals?
It is somewhat difficult to provide a concrete answer, not knowing your requirements, business goals, budget, etc. Nonetheless, I'll try to point you in the right direction. First, have you looked at Worldtrak -- a CRM solution based upon MS Outlook? (see: http://www.worldtrak.com/crm_overview.html ) That was the easy part of your question. Regarding your approach, you ask specifically about extending Microsoft Outlook throughout your organization via custom forms, folders, etc. -- essentially turning it into a better contact manager that what's available "out of the box". Again, without knowing more about your situation, this can be a very effective approach -- especially for a very small (3-5) group of users with no remote (disconnected) requirements. But BE CAREFUL, because you may find that you quickly exceed the capability of Outlook to scale to your requirements. Sure, you will find work-arounds, but 1-2 years later you will likely end-up with a disjointed system, unhappy users, and poor quality data. More than likely, your users will simply stop using the application when it becomes too kludgy. Final advice: There's really no short-cut to a well designed and implemented solution. Make sure your firm's business goals and requirements are well understood and seek to implement the most critical features and functions first. Worst case, your super-Outlook application will be used as a prototype to a more robust solution.
For more information about CRM vendors, check out searchCRM's CRM Vendors/General Information Best Web Links.
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