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Software people - Got a problem, need a solution

Discussion in 'Technology' started by Gran Drewismo, Nov 14, 2007.

  1. Gran Drewismo

    Gran Drewismo F1 Rookie

    Jan 24, 2005
    3,662
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    Andrew
    I just got hired on with an IT consulting firm. One of my first assignments is to develop a way to track what needs to be done for clients and then be able to prioritize each task. Basically nothing more than a glorified check/To-Do list. I'd like something where I can just click on the clients name and bam! it will open up and show me a list of what has been done and what still needs to be done, and then maybe have a field for notes explaining why it hasn't been done or what resources are needed to get it done. Make sense?

    I was thinking of using Access or Excel or something but would prefer something more focused on that task.

    Any ideas?
     
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  3. tjacoby

    tjacoby F1 Rookie

    Nov 1, 2003
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    a few, or lots? If it's a Microsoft shop using Outlook, take a look at Business Contact Manager - it's a freebie add-on for most versions of Office 2007.

    what you're looking for is more of a low-end CRM function, imo.
     
  4. Gran Drewismo

    Gran Drewismo F1 Rookie

    Jan 24, 2005
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    A few dozen individual clients.


    What's a CRM? Client Resource Manager? Grasping at straws here....
     
  5. toggie

    toggie F1 World Champ
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    Nov 30, 2003
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    It would help if you answer a few more clarifying questions first:

    - What kind of IT consulting firm is it? (custom applications development, network services, systems security, etc.?)

    - Will your checklist need to be used by some of the staff out in the field or at customer sites?

    - Does the firm already have any internal custom applications they've developed, e.g. a customer database, worker data, project data, contracts/task orders, timecard system, business workflows, etc.?

    - Do they specialize in a certain hardware or software architecture, e.g. Java/Oracle running on Unix machines, C#.Net/SQL Server running on Windows servers, PHP/MySQL running on Linux servers, etc.?

    (BTW, "CRM" is "customer relationship management". CRM systems are like Seibel, SalesForce.com, ACT, GoldMine, etc.).
     
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  6. Gran Drewismo

    Gran Drewismo F1 Rookie

    Jan 24, 2005
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    We do pretty much everything except applications development. We do pro-active monitoring, system installation and maintenance, general pc maintenance and support, email and web hosting, etc etc.

    I would like it to be able to be used by more than one person, preferably in the field. Is this possible with say a Windows Mobile powered PDA?

    We do not run any internal custom apps as of yet. I'm not sure how the sales team manages clients, in terms of what application they use. Today was only my first day so I will have more knowledge in the coming week.
     
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  8. toggie

    toggie F1 World Champ
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    Nov 30, 2003
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    I did a quick Google search and found this interesting web-based Help Desk application by Polar:
    http://www.polarsoftware.com/products/servicedesk/index.asp

    Take a look. It appears to be a .Net application so it will need a Windows server to run on. It also needs a SQL Server database to host it. First user is free. Cost for more users is inexpensive.

    The Work Orders part of the system seems like what you might be looking for:
    http://www.polarsoftware.com/products/servicedesk/features1.asp#WorkOrders

    If you don't want to host it yourself, then maybe a web hosting company like GoDaddy would be a cheap option. GoDaddy offers a Microsoft Windows server option, on an inexpensive monthly basis, which includes the .Net framework and SQL Server database support.

    Not sure if this system can be accessed by your PDA devices in the field.
    Do some due dilligence on the vendor. I have no experience with them so can't say one way or the other on how well it will work out for you.

    If you want a super low-tech solution, you could write your own web pages in HTML (or XML/XSL) and maintain your list of tasks yourself using an HTML editor. In other words, each task would be a row in an HTML table for that customer. You could set up a separate HTML file for each customer, so, if you had 24 customers, that would result in 25 HTML files (one for the master list of customers with a link to a customer-specific HTML file of task items). The task list would need to be manually maintained using FTP or a disk share locally or by VPN. This would be similar to maintaining the list by hand in Excel files but viewable over an internet connection (even by the PDA devices).

    Keep us posted on what you end up doing.
     
  9. AntonyR

    AntonyR F1 Veteran

    Apr 12, 2004
    5,328
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    CRM is a client relationship manager

    I used quickbooks for a bit but if you want higher end there is goldmine.


    There are a few free online based ones. I believe Google has one.

    Antony
     
  10. pm83a

    pm83a Rookie

    Sep 8, 2014
    12
    USA
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    Walter
    if your looking for something mobile and with reminders I recommend trying Always Be In Contact for your leads. Its simple and easy and not too complicated like all the crms and its all mobile. It works great in my business to get follow-up reminders.

    Check em out - Always be in contact - Always Be In Contact
     
  11. JWeiss

    JWeiss Formula 3
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    Nov 18, 2010
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    Better than those 10-year-old solutions everyone else was recommending, eh?
     
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  13. junglistluder

    junglistluder F1 Rookie
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    Mar 23, 2007
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    Does your IT Consulting firm have a Microsoft SharePoint environment?
    If so, this can be utilized to easily create any type of tracker and definitely the kind you are looking for.
    I would start with that and then you can even create a dashboard so your boss doesn't even have to ask you for status, he can just look at your dashboard.
     
  14. junglistluder

    junglistluder F1 Rookie
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    *This part is where I make my living, it's like magic :D
     
  15. 356racing

    356racing Formula Junior
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    Sep 24, 2004
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    Personally, I would look at Scrum or Agile project management packages. As you already know, or will soon find out, the priorities will be a constant evolution. You need an easy way adjust the priority of each task and track who it is assigned to and the progress.
     
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  16. Zack

    Zack Formula 3

    Dec 18, 2003
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    Just use google docs and put in an index.
     
  17. Zack

    Zack Formula 3

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    With google sheets, you can use color coding.
    Use the find function to jump straight to the row/rows for a specific client.
     
  18. Innovativethinker

    Innovativethinker F1 Veteran
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  19. TestShoot

    TestShoot F1 World Champ
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    I have no idea how large your team size is, so I won't say go do Jira or BaseCamp, but maybe look at Trello, ToDoIst, Team Clerk. Get something that you can use and scale and track level of effort and time spent before you blow through billable hours.

    Understand you track more than tasks and effort, your tracking is very important to job estimation, capacity and budgets. It is as much an autopsy as a forecast.

    Are you more or less a short-order cook with a lot of little things in flight or is it like project management? Want to start doing stand up meetings, maybe go waterfall or Agile/Scrum? Thoughts to ponder.

    There are a ton of software guys here that could give you some advice. I work as a consultant, sometimes alone, sometimes augmenting teams, sometimes architecting and training, rarely as a seat filler though.
     
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  20. losgatos789

    losgatos789 Formula Junior
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  21. Challenge

    Challenge Formula 3

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    ServiceNow would be overkill for something like this. And expensive. I agree with others about going the CRM route.
     
  22. Jeppedo

    Jeppedo Karting

    Sep 30, 2017
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    Alberta, Canada
    Or maybe since Andrew was hired over 10 years ago he figured it out? Haha....
     
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  23. DJP

    DJP Karting

    Jun 9, 2013
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    Lol! And it’s interesting to see how answers have evolved over the last decade. Now the solution is just “throw it into google docs”. Wonder how this thread will evolve in another ten years: “Alexa, track this for me”


    Sent from my iPhone using FerrariChat.com mobile app
     
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  24. DevonL

    DevonL Formula 3
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    Mar 13, 2010
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    +1 to TestShoot's suggestions of Jira and/or Trello. I used Jira at my last company to manage internal and external projects as well as additional bug and feature tracking. At my current company on the Solutions (technical pre/post sales team) team we use Trello to organize and track the current state of deals, internal projects as well as on boarding for new hires. I'm a big fan of Trello as it's super flexible and naturally has a great looking UI.

    EDIT: Whooops, just saw this thread is over a decade old haha.
     
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