How to Find a Contact Management Program for a Staffing Agency
An integrated HR and payroll system includes time and attendance tracking.
Staffing agencies face unique issues when selecting and designing a contact management system. Unlike other companies, many entries in their contact database are also business resources which can be assigned to their clients and whose schedules and availability must be closely tracked. This is beyond the capabilities of simple address book software, but can be met with a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) database which allows for custom database programming.
Brainstorm a list of requirements for what functionality your contact management system must include. A staffing agency baseline would include the ability to assign contacts to categories (such as “client” or “staff”), create projects which are connected to a client, and attach staff records to projects as assigned resources.
Determine what sort of shared calendaring is required. Some CRM systems can derive a visible calendar layout from entered projects and assignments, making it possible to quickly review for availability. This is also useful if multiple members of the office staff need to check schedules and staffing obligations.
Count the number of people in your organization who need access to the system and determine if they will be accessing it from a single office, from multiple offices, or from many locations, like home offices or by employees traveling with laptops.
Set a budget for your CRM system. This should include an acquisition and setup cost (including training) and an ongoing annual fee for licensing and custom programming. Perform this step concurrently with step 5 if you need assistance in developing a realistic range for your budgeting.
Review competing CRM systems to determine which one best suits your needs and budget. Single-office businesses can purchase a CRM application which runs on an internal computer server. This is best for small workgroups with few people accessing the server from offsite. Larger businesses or those which are highly distributed are better off with a web-based CRM application. Most businesses start with basic CRM services and ramp up to more complex needs. Be certain your CRM system can expand to meet your future needs.
Begin your CRM review with the market leaders for your platform. These may not be the best choice for your business, but they provide a starting point for comparison. They include Act! or Goldmine for Windows computers, Daylite for Macintosh computers, and Salesforce.com for web-based CRM.
About the Author
Ellis Davidson has been a self-employed Internet and technology consultant, entrepreneur and author since 1993. He has written a book about self-employment for recent college graduates and is a regular contributor to “Macworld” and the TidBITS technology newsletter. He is completing a book on self-employment options during a recession. Davidson holds a Bachelor of Arts in American civilization from the University of Pennsylvania.