When you are working with a database for business and find garbage data, just stop. Instead of trying to work around the problem data, take the time to fix the information before proceeding. Next time you need to work with the database you’ll be glad you did.
Move towards a single database. One way to minimize garbage information in a database for business is to move towards a single database for all your company operations. Sounds easy – right? Not so much. Let’s run through the different databases you might have right now:
1. Customer Relationship Management(CRM)
(I’m using SugarCRM and looking at VTiger)
4. Email marketing
5. Direct mail marketing
6. Mobile device contact list
7. Members only web-site access
In an ideal world #1 above would address numbers 2-6. I’m sure there are some high cost solutions that work for mid-size and large businesses. For small businesses in a tight economy a combination of open source and low cost solutions seems right for the times. The trick then becomes automated two way synchronization of all the databases.
An example. Many mobile devices now make synchronization with Google contacts a breeze. If you can configure your CRM to perform an automated two way synchronization with Google contacts, your device will always have an up-to-date customer database. Many accounting packages for business will also synchronize with both CRMs and e-commence solutions. The trick lies in finding a complete suite of tools that all synchronize with each other.
Connections are the key. In my case I’ve found good open source CRMs but in order for them to synchronize with Google contacts you have to pay for a plugin module. The cost is reasonable enough I just wonder about long-term support as this tool will become a key cog in the company database solution. Ideally, a small business would not want to revisit a database project for another three years or so. So, I suggest paying close attention to the stability of the connections you utilize wether they are open source or closed software with a monetary cost.
What tools do you use to address the items in the list above?