Capstone Experience: Meyer-Chatfield

So, for those of you who haven’t read Will’s first post about our project (which can be found at https://uamis.wordpress.com/2012/09/28/capstone-experience-meyer-chatfield-team/ – and you really should read it or else), Meyer-Chatfield is a company that has been selling Bank-Owned Life Insurance (BOLI) policies and executive compensation plans to financial institutions since 1992. As part of their strategy to help their clients and to provide products more efficiently, a number of years ago, Meyer-Chatfield implemented a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system called SugarCRM. To sum up our last blog post, it is not working the way they had planned, and it is our job to fix it.

Currently, a large part of our job is in the management of data. In order to deliver results efficiently and correctly, a large system such as SugarCRM requires many different data points. Part of our optimization efforts have been in auditing this information to see what information is necessary, what information is missing, and what information is not needed. By working closely with our client throughout many meetings, emails, and onsite meetings, we have worked out a plan to take the data within the system and shape it into the most efficient form possible. This will not only improve system performance, but also improve the ability of the system to create reports for forecasting and project management that is accurate and relevant. This will also prevent system users from entering faulty data into the system, because there is nothing that can ruin a data set faster than finding the value “ERROR 62559 DROP TABLES EXECUTE” inside your email address field. My team members tell me that that would not be good and I trust them.

Another significant part of this project is the need to increase user buy-in for the system. One of Meyer-Chatfield’s largest challenges is convincing their employees to use the system as intended. As the system is still fairly new, many employees would rather use a sticky note than enter their information into the system so that everyone can see and use it. At this time, many employees do not have the resources to educate themselves on the system. To combat this, we have, as of late, been engaged in producing training materials that include explanations and screenshots of the different processes within SugarCRM. With these detailed, but easy-to-follow guides, the employees of Meyer-Chatfield will be able to more efficiently use the system the way it was intended. They will also learn that their monitors are not just sticky-note repositories.

As the month of November starts, we will soon be entering the deployment part of the project. As we mentioned in our last blog post, we are currently working in a sandbox environment to ensure that any changes we make do not have any unintended consequences (missing data, invisible modules, fires, etc.). Once the sandbox is finished, we will transfer our settings, processes, and materials to their production environment in the dead of night so as to not interfere with normal work hours. Remember: sleep is a four letter word, and it’s more like a slumber party anyway.

Well, that’s all for this post. Tune in next time for the adventures of deployment.

Zac Lovoy, MIS Senior

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