by July 16, 2006 0 comments



The days of using a plain and simple CRM package are over. Today,
organizations need much more than a basic CRM to serve their needs. For
instance, one of the requirements of a CRM solution is a database of customer
contacts. The trouble is that usually, these come in the form of
business cards from so many different people. This makes it very difficult to
track them. So in addition to a basic customer contacts database, what’s
needed is a good, centralized contact management solution. Your sales team is
completely crippled without it. Further still, they also need a sales force
automation (SFA) kind of a solution.

In this article, we’ll talk about one such solution, called CentraView,
which provides all three functions. The solution also includes a groupware
module, to do calendaring and file sharing within the workspace. It also has a
human resource module for submitting things like expense forms, time sheets,
etc. You can even synchronize this application with MS Outlook, Outlook Express,
Palm, Pocket PC and Blackberry through the Companion Link conduit. Here, we show
you how to incorporate this solution in your IT infrastructure.

Direct
Hit!
Applies
to:
IT managers
USP:
A complete business management system, which has 15 different modules that do Contact Management, SFA and CRM
Links:
www.centraview.com 
Google
keywords:
CRM, CBM solutions 

Prerequisites
The solution can be implemented on both Windows and Linux. We used Windows 2003
Server. You also need the Sun Java 2 SDK 1.4.2, MySQL 4.1 and MySQL database
connector. You can download CentraView from ‘sf.net/projects/centraview’.
Download all these according to your platform and install them on a server class
machine. Note that the machine should have at least 512 MB RAM.

Installation
Download centraview-2.1.4-jboss4.zip from the website to your server. The zipped
file has both a jboss application server and CentraView. After the files have
been extracted, go to the ‘centraview’ folder and you will find ‘fs.zip’.
Unzip this to a separate folder. Then copy the downloaded MySQL database
connector for Java to ‘mysql-connector-j.jar’ file to path-to-jboss>\server\default\lib\.
Our path was ‘\centraview-2.1.4-jboss4\jboss-4.0.2’. Before starting the
application server, you have to set the Java home environment variable and Java
path. In Windows you can set it by right clicking My Computer>Properties and
Advanced tab. Here, go to the Environment variables and set new system variable
JAVA_HOME = C:\Program Files\Java\jdk (Java Home path).

The 15 CentraView modules

Contacts, e-mailing, activity scheduling, synchronizing data with mobile services, HR, accounting, notes, file sharing, SFA, marketing, help desk support, reporting module for custom reports, project mgmt, reporting and template mgmt for automated mail response

Configuring the database
Next step is to configure the MySQL database so that the application can store
its data in it. To do so, open a Command Prompt and issue the command ‘mysqladmin
-u root -p create cvdb’. Next, you need to import the data to it. For that
CentraView gives you data structure in SQL file. Just go to the CentraView
installation folder and you will see a file named cvdb.sql. Use the command
given below to create a data structure.

mysql -u root -p cvdb < cvdb.sql
mysql -u root -p cvdb

It will bring a MySQL prompt console. Here, type the following command:

UPDATE cvfolderlocation SET Detail = ‘c:\fs’;
Exit

Complete details of business contacts are shown in a window applet. You can add and print new contacts here 

Here, c:\fs is the path of the CentraView file system. If you’ve used a
different path, then use that. Next, go to the CentraView install folder and
open mysql-ds.xml file in a text editor and replace the and entry with your MySQL database username and password. This file
is used to connect the CentraView application with MySQL. Copy this file to the
‘deploy’ directory of the jboss application server, which is
c:\centraview-2.1.4-jboss4\jboss-4.0.2\server\default\deploy. Then you need to
give privileges to the database user you are using in mysql-ds.xml file. For
this, issue the commands given below:

mysql -u root -p mysql
GRANT ALL PRIVILEGES ON cvdb.* TO ‘root’@’
IDENTIFIED BY ‘‘;

Starting CentraView application with JBoss
Finally you need to start the JBoss Application Server, which we have configured
for CentraView. To start it, go to the c:\centraview-2.1.4-jboss4\jboss-4.0.2\
folder and execute ‘run.bat’. This will start the Application Server and
initiate CentraView as a Web service. You can access the application at
http://:8080/centraview. A Web page will ask you
for your user name and password. Use admin for both.

Using CentraView
While the core functions in CentraView are three, there are actually 15
different modules that get installed. Many would be subsets of these three
modules. Here, we will take up one function, Contact Management, and leave the
other two for a later issue. The Contact Management module lets you keep all
your business contacts in a centralized location, so that your users can access
them from anywhere on the network. The contacts are kept in three sections
(Entitles, Individuals and Groups). You can access these by clicking on the
Contacts tab. On the left side, you will see the three sections, while the right
side shows details of these sections. Here, you can search for contacts based on
any field such as designation, name,last name, city, country, etc. You can add
contacts to this in two ways. Either manually, one contact at a time, or by
importing them from other sources. To import contacts, first click on the ‘Marketing’
link and the List Manager listing, then click the New button. It will open a
Java based import wizard. Here select whether to add this information to an
existing list or to create a new list. Enter a list name, description, owner,
then enter a field separator for the list, or select the tab character as your
default separator. Then enter a line separator for the list, or select a line
return as your default separator. Select whether you would like a header row to
precede the list. Select the Browse button to select the text file containing
your contacts list to import and click on the Next button. On the subsequent
screen, you will get the list of fields that you will import, match up the
imported fields on the left with the CentraView fields and click Next. This will
start the process of transferring the contact data in to the CentraView
database. Once the contact data is transferred in the marketing list, you can
then move or duplicate this data to CentraView’s Contacts area. If your
contact data is in some other format then you have to first convert it to a text
file. For example, we had an Excel file containing contacts. We first saved it
as a .txt file, and then imported it in CentraView. CentraView also lets you
modify the modules according to your needs. This makes it very flexible. For eg,
if you need additional fields or need to modify the existing fields in the data
entry form in the Contact management module, then, you can customize this module
by clicking the ‘Administration’ button. This administrative module lets you
configure the software for your specific requirements.

This was just a fraction of what all is possible with CentraView. Next time,
we’ll go deeper into it and tell you its other advanced
capabilities.

Sanjay Majumder

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