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#1 anlicor

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Posted 13 January 2013 - 11:32 PM

I have run into a situation where a contact is a member of several different organizations. As it stands they can only be linked to one account. I just thought it would be nice to point this out as I am sure may others have this same issue.


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#2 raysto

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Posted 14 January 2013 - 12:07 AM

That is by design. Contacts can only be part of one Account, but an Account can have more than 1 Contact associated with it.


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#3 Dan O'Brien

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Posted 17 January 2013 - 06:37 PM

I'm going to add +1 for this feature request.

 

The case where this would be important (and which I encounter regularly) is the contact is another vendor/subcontractor of the same account. I might have an opportunity directly with the vendor/subcontractor, or that vendor/subcontractor might refer me to work with them at another of their clients.

 

For example, I do I.T. support for Client X, who also works with Event Planner Y. Event Planner Y now wants me to do some I.T. work for her, or use me on another project for Client Z.

 

This could get tricky with the e-mail archiving. How do you show that an e-mail to Event Planner Y was associated with a particular account/opportunity? (If it matters.)

 

This might get very interesting when it comes to e-mail archiving when case tracking gets implemented.



#4 chrisedwards

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Posted 17 January 2013 - 10:10 PM

I would think that if a contact needs to be associated with more than one account, maybe that contact should have their own account? Maybe the new account could be linked to the associated accounts another way? There is an account to account relationship defined in the code where 1 account can have many other accounts associated with them, though I'm not sure whether that's why this parent -> child account relationship exists.

 

I'm fairly new at CRM methodology and know nothing about best practices in setting up a CRM, so I'm interested to read your response. 



#5 Dan O'Brien

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Posted 18 January 2013 - 02:15 PM

I don't see in the UI where there's any way to link or create a relationship between accounts. I'm not sure what's under the hood if there's something that's being planned for.

 

Thinking it through a bit more, I'm not sure it's really a show-stopper. The main issue would be reporting of opportunities and calculating the "value" of an account, and they would be associated with an account, not a contact.

 

I'll have to see if the way it's designed really causes any issues. I don't see it being a show-stopper.



#6 Ross

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Posted 18 January 2013 - 04:18 PM

hi All,

 

Most crms, including Zurmo assume that a person works for just one company which for the most part is true in real life unless you hold down two jobs.  However I have encountered clients with similar use cases to the one Dan mentions below.

"For example, I do I.T. support for Client X, who also works with Event Planner Y. Event Planner Y now wants me to do some I.T. work for her, or use me on another project for Client Z."

The temptation here is to associate Dans contact to Client X, Client Z and Event Planner Y however this creates a real head ache when it comes to reporting, workflow and potentially other features of the system because we now have a many to many relationship which by its nature complicates matters.

I agree with chrisedwards in suggesting that Dan is associated to his own account and not the other 3.  Yes, Dan has a relationship to the other accounts he does work for, but it is not a direct relationship since they are his customers rather than his employer. 

My solution would be to relate Dans Account to his Customer accounts (X, Y and Z) and show that relationship in the system in the account record view.  Possibly as a "Related Accounts" portlet in the Accounts view with an interim relationship value where the user could select the type of relationship the two accounts share, ie, a dropdown with different values:

  • - 3rd Party IT Support
  • - Partner company
  • - Parent-Child
  • - etc

The bottom line is that we want to avoid many to many relationships between contacts and accounts, it seems like the obvious solution in the short term and in the short term it may work fine... long term however this many to many relationship will become cumbersome, it is not scalable and will show its cracks at the time that you need to pull accurate, meaningful reports.

Ross


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#7 Dan O'Brien

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Posted 18 January 2013 - 07:15 PM

Ross - The more I think about it, I'm inclined to agree. The other CRM I work with, CiviCRM lists an employer (single entity), but also has the ability to set up and maintain other types of arbitrary relationships. I don't know how much of this is necessary to be implemented in Zurmo, but it would be important to be able to capture some other association between and among contacts and accounts. For instance, contacts/accounts that are members of an organization (trade association, chamber of commerce). Also, contacts (and, to a lesser degree, accounts) that have some connection to each other (husband/wife, sibling, etc.). This is important when keeping track of referred business.

 

This could be accomplished through a set of categories or tags that could be associated with the contacts (chamber of commerce membership, for instance).



#8 Ross

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Posted 19 January 2013 - 09:35 PM

Some interesting ideas here, some of which I have thought about before with other clients.  I should point out that it is possible to create tag cloud fields in the Designer tool already in Zurmo, so it woudl be easy to tag a contact with a value.

 

More interesting however is the idea of relating contacts to contacts, contacts to secondary accounts and accounts to accounts.  I am still leaning in favor of a "People Dan Knows" portlet on his contact record that would show related contacts and/or accounts the type of relationship that exists between the two, family, friend, referral, colleague, etc. 

 

This is certainly something that I can speak further with our designers about, the real challenge is to make sure that it is easy to use and easily reportable if needed. 


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#9 skwdenyer

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Posted 16 June 2013 - 03:54 PM

Slightly late, but to add some weight to this request...

 

One of my businesses works with a lot of theatre and film companies. Almost all "staff" are in fact "contractors". At any one time they can be working on 10 or 20 projects for different "clients". "Clients" are just "shells", really; there might be one person who is the "manager", but everybody else is hired-in for specific projects, yet have authority to contract.

 

As a result, our inboxes are full of emails from contacts who need to be associated with more than one "account". It is the contacts I need to keep in touch with, regardless of which "client" they happen to be working on right now, as well as the clients.

 

The lack of this is a great shame; I've been trialling CRMs for 6 weeks now, getting more and more dispirited with the lack of ease-of-use, extensibility and functionality displayed by the various options. Zurmo seems great so far, but the one-to-many is almost a deal-breaker for us.

 

Now, I could create an account for every "client" and another account for every "contractor", if there was some sort of relationship available to link accounts.

 

For "the rest of you", contacts may work only for 1 company at a time, but they do move jobs. It is valuable to be able to continue to pull correspondence relating to a previous employer, using a one-to-many relationship to be able to associate "John Smith" with "previously" and "current". It is just as valuable to track their promotion through a company - create a new relationship for the new job, preserving the old job title for historical accuracy.

 

Even if you don't like that, when you're selling to board-level contacts, they're commonly "on the board of X, Y and Z" as well as being "chairman of A" and possibly something else, too (very common in non-profits to be staff at "A" and on board of "B"). Just look around the online space to see this happening. Text fields are not the answer here when you're trying to network your way to success!

 

Or what about the situation where "John Smith" covers "Melanie Jones" during her maternity leave, carrying 2 jobs for a few months - we don't want to lose any of the old relationships, just add another one.

 

It is a shame that you think that "everybody does it this way" is a good design decision for a brand new CRM. It is also notable that this question crops up in the support forums for almost every CRM out there!

 

You're right that CiviCRM does it; if that wasn't so clunky in other ways then I'd use it. In other systems:

- there is an add-on for Sugar (Syno-UbiGroup IIRC) that will do it, although Sugar is not something I like;

- Siebel CRM seems to do it, both for clients and for the internal access-control side of things;

- Insightly appears to do this with multiple "links" - I'm testing Insightly next;

- I've heard of (but not tried) another (apparently now defunct) CRM called TigerTask which is (was) alleged to do this well;

- Microsoft Dynamics CRM does this with "connections", allowing N:N relationships;

- WorkETC is also on my list, and also (apparently) implements this;

- SageCRM offers this;

- JunariCRM for OpenERP can store contacts as standalone entities, or in arbitrary relationships with companies;

- BigContacts offers similar functionality;

- Workbooks CRM allows any contact type (person, company, etc.) to be linked to any other using definable types - competitor, employee, supplier, whatever - in a very flexible manner.

 

There are probably more. Every system has its pluses and minuses; I haven't found the "perfect" solution for our needs yet, but I thought Zurmo was pretty close.

 

And, no, I don't think this is trivial - there are so many variables to consider, and it might very well require a wholesale re-architecting of the application. But it is a shame that a brand new application would try to model the world using essentially outdated models of working relationships.



#10 raysto

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Posted 18 June 2013 - 02:15 PM

Slightly late, but to add some weight to this request...

 

One of my businesses works with a lot of theatre and film companies. Almost all "staff" are in fact "contractors". At any one time they can be working on 10 or 20 projects for different "clients". "Clients" are just "shells", really; there might be one person who is the "manager", but everybody else is hired-in for specific projects, yet have authority to contract.

 

As a result, our inboxes are full of emails from contacts who need to be associated with more than one "account". It is the contacts I need to keep in touch with, regardless of which "client" they happen to be working on right now, as well as the clients.

 

The lack of this is a great shame; I've been trialling CRMs for 6 weeks now, getting more and more dispirited with the lack of ease-of-use, extensibility and functionality displayed by the various options. Zurmo seems great so far, but the one-to-many is almost a deal-breaker for us.

 

Now, I could create an account for every "client" and another account for every "contractor", if there was some sort of relationship available to link accounts.

 

For "the rest of you", contacts may work only for 1 company at a time, but they do move jobs. It is valuable to be able to continue to pull correspondence relating to a previous employer, using a one-to-many relationship to be able to associate "John Smith" with "previously" and "current". It is just as valuable to track their promotion through a company - create a new relationship for the new job, preserving the old job title for historical accuracy.

 

Even if you don't like that, when you're selling to board-level contacts, they're commonly "on the board of X, Y and Z" as well as being "chairman of A" and possibly something else, too (very common in non-profits to be staff at "A" and on board of "B"). Just look around the online space to see this happening. Text fields are not the answer here when you're trying to network your way to success!

 

Or what about the situation where "John Smith" covers "Melanie Jones" during her maternity leave, carrying 2 jobs for a few months - we don't want to lose any of the old relationships, just add another one.

 

It is a shame that you think that "everybody does it this way" is a good design decision for a brand new CRM. It is also notable that this question crops up in the support forums for almost every CRM out there!

 

You're right that CiviCRM does it; if that wasn't so clunky in other ways then I'd use it. In other systems:

- there is an add-on for Sugar (Syno-UbiGroup IIRC) that will do it, although Sugar is not something I like;

- Siebel CRM seems to do it, both for clients and for the internal access-control side of things;

- Insightly appears to do this with multiple "links" - I'm testing Insightly next;

- I've heard of (but not tried) another (apparently now defunct) CRM called TigerTask which is (was) alleged to do this well;

- Microsoft Dynamics CRM does this with "connections", allowing N:N relationships;

- WorkETC is also on my list, and also (apparently) implements this;

- SageCRM offers this;

- JunariCRM for OpenERP can store contacts as standalone entities, or in arbitrary relationships with companies;

- BigContacts offers similar functionality;

- Workbooks CRM allows any contact type (person, company, etc.) to be linked to any other using definable types - competitor, employee, supplier, whatever - in a very flexible manner.

 

There are probably more. Every system has its pluses and minuses; I haven't found the "perfect" solution for our needs yet, but I thought Zurmo was pretty close.

 

And, no, I don't think this is trivial - there are so many variables to consider, and it might very well require a wholesale re-architecting of the application. But it is a shame that a brand new application would try to model the world using essentially outdated models of working relationships.

Interesting feedback. We are working on a way to show Contacts that are related to other Contacts. It is not a many to many relationship, but it will show a link between Contacts without having them connected to an Account.

We have Developer Sessions every Tuesday at 10:00AM Chicago Time (http://zurmo.org/for...arning-session/). You can join today's session and we can chat about this more in 45 minutes.


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#11 chrisedwards

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Posted 18 June 2013 - 03:07 PM

In the future with the project management module, I'm guessing you would be able to associate all the contacts & accounts to a specific project. That doesn't help you now, but... hopefully soon :). Projects are slated for Summer release right now according to the roadmap.



#12 raysto

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Posted 24 June 2013 - 04:54 PM

In the future with the project management module, I'm guessing you would be able to associate all the contacts & accounts to a specific project. That doesn't help you now, but... hopefully soon :). Projects are slated for Summer release right now according to the roadmap.

You are exactly correct Chris. The Project module will be associated to Contacts and Accounts. It will be available towards the end of summer/early fall


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#13 iscon

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Posted 28 June 2013 - 11:32 AM

Unfortunately projects won't cut it. As probably mentioned previously - we are living in a changing world. People do have multiple jobs, they are employees, contractors, freelancers,subs and what have you. Or on a higher level - how many people are sitting on multiple boards AND have an executive position AND run their own consulting company on the side?

 

The solution to all this is actually pretty simple said but not so easy to realize: it's called a role concept (alternatively: extended relationships). Meaning: There should be an n:m relationship between accounts and contacts but the relationship alone is not enough. One needs attributes to define this relationship (or call it roles) so that one can actually identify what this relationship is. There should be always one attribute called "main" but there may be multiple others.

 

I may go even one step further here: What happens in the public space where people must be addressed differently depending on their role? A suburbian mayor who is a prominent member of a political party and a  local executive who runs a foundation? The very same person has different titles, different addresses, different functions and participates in different campaigns.

 

A last example of a classic employee: Since we talk to people more often than to organizations we may be interested in the history of a particular employee. Wouldn't it be good to see that a certain John Smith worked for XY Inc before and that we dealt with his colleague who sat in the same room?



#14 raysto

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Posted 02 July 2013 - 01:57 PM

Unfortunately projects won't cut it. As probably mentioned previously - we are living in a changing world. People do have multiple jobs, they are employees, contractors, freelancers,subs and what have you. Or on a higher level - how many people are sitting on multiple boards AND have an executive position AND run their own consulting company on the side?

 

The solution to all this is actually pretty simple said but not so easy to realize: it's called a role concept (alternatively: extended relationships). Meaning: There should be an n:m relationship between accounts and contacts but the relationship alone is not enough. One needs attributes to define this relationship (or call it roles) so that one can actually identify what this relationship is. There should be always one attribute called "main" but there may be multiple others.

 

I may go even one step further here: What happens in the public space where people must be addressed differently depending on their role? A suburbian mayor who is a prominent member of a political party and a  local executive who runs a foundation? The very same person has different titles, different addresses, different functions and participates in different campaigns.

 

A last example of a classic employee: Since we talk to people more often than to organizations we may be interested in the history of a particular employee. Wouldn't it be good to see that a certain John Smith worked for XY Inc before and that we dealt with his colleague who sat in the same room?

This is interesting. Perhaps we can discuss this further on the Dev Session. We have Developer Sessions every Tuesday at 10:00AM Chicago Time (http://zurmo.org/for...arning-session/). Come join the session in 1 hour.


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#15 windsor

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Posted 04 July 2013 - 02:07 AM

How about having the Contact be an observer?  (Similar to  how a Note or Task currently can observe multiple ActivityItems).

 

The Contact could have an "ownedByAccount" => array(RedBeanModel::HAS_ONE, Account)

 

That way you can still preserve the ability to have one account relationship with contact, but also have the ability to have the contacts 'associated' with various different combinations of Accounts.

 

I am thinking about implementing somthing like this in the next couple of days, it would be great to hear any feedback on this approach from the experts before going too far down the road.

 

Maybe start out by cloning the activities Module to say...humans Module

 

Next replace all variations of 'activity, Activity, activities...etc'  with 'human...Humans..etc'

 

in the Humans class in: $metadata['humanItemsModelClassNames'] update the array and remove 'Contact'

 

Then create a new module, call it say .. aquaintances, clone from Note

 

again find and replace all variations of 'note' and 'activity' with 'acquaintance' and 'human'  respectively

 

aquaintance model extends MashableHuman

 

aquaintance model relations updated with "ownedByAccount" => array(RedBeanModel::HAS_ONE, Account)

 

Anyone see any problems with this approach?



#16 iscon

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Posted 04 July 2013 - 08:14 AM

I am not sure about the technical side of it - I leave this to the devs. I think more of the common user who eventually makes or contributes to a purchasing decision. This user doesn't care about how a particular function is achieved but how it is represented and how near it is to a real life situation.

He opens a contact and wants to see the associations with attributes - one being the "main" one (yes/no - the place or company where he can be usually reached), another should describe the relationship (subcontractor, project based, employee, board member etc.), a third one defines the status (actual, past) and there might be also a date range.

Another important thing to consider is the usage of such an extended relation. The user must be able find all board members in a particular industry but since these guys usually sit on many boards (often with office and staff) he can't address an Apple board member with his Google address. Especially not if the person sits on both boards.

This brings me to the role as a separate entity. Here it's not the person or company I am addressing but the role - the combination of both. With street and email address and as many attributes as necessary. Consequently the members of a markting list must be roles which also solves the current limitation of only two possible email/street addresses.



#17 iscon

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Posted 19 July 2013 - 05:29 AM

Just to keep this alive I made a short description how I believe this functionality should work. Please see the linked file.



#18 raysto

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Posted 20 July 2013 - 11:25 AM

Just to keep this alive I made a short description how I believe this functionality should work. Please see the linked file.

I'm going to talk to Jason about this next week. If anyone else has input, please share.


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#19 etilyeti

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Posted 22 July 2013 - 03:02 PM

Hiey reysto, on top of my head, here are the 3 real life example why I am also interested in this kind of feature:

- classic referral: a friend recommends a gazebo to another friend.

- A home builder purchase exterior shutters and install them on the owner's house. Knowing and linking the contractor and the owner are important.

- our gazebo kits are often specified by an architect in a project, but it is the contractor who ends up buying it from us. And of course it is the owner who ends up using it, and calling back for parts or other questions.

 

I hope that helps.



#20 chrisedwards

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Posted 22 July 2013 - 03:56 PM

I have to change my tune on this. I like where this is going. Being able to specify relationships between contacts and multiple accounts or other contacts with a relationship "type" could be a very powerful way of storing relationship information as described above. Some use cases for us:

  • referral tracking
  • private equity group employees will often also have a title at a subsidiary company (ie. VP, CEO, etc.)
  • contractors with multiple businesses.
  • family relationships (father->son, daughter, etc.)






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