Description of the product
The UG Sales Force Automation project provides a mobile sales force with scheduling and contact management software, as well as providing for sharing of data and synchronization with 3Com PalmPilot palmtop computers. The system replaces the aging and underpowered Commence system previously used by United Guaranty.
We chose OverQuota (a Lotus Notes 4.62 application that won three of the last four prestigious Beacon awards) from Relavis Corporation as the basis of this project. Working with the professionals at Relavis, we modified the base OverQuota product to better reflect United Guaranty's business model. We added Master Policy Numbers and modified the account team structures; made numerous modifications to views; a lender prequalification system; and links to pre-existing systems.
I acted as Lead Technical Analyst and lead developer on this project. In this capacity I created technical specifications based on business requirements and saw to it that these specifications were delivered. I wrote the lender prequalification portion of the product, the AS/400 data synchronization agents, and wrote the production versions of the Commence and Act! data import agents(an Act! import agent comes with OverQota, but it did not import phone numbers properly, nor did it import the early version Act! data used by some members of our sales force). These agents were all written in LotusScript except for the linkage to lender prequalification, which was writen in Lotus formula language.
In addition to the OverQuota product, we have provided the sales force with IBM Thinkpad 600 series laptops, HP OfficeJet 640 color printer/fax/scanners, and Palm III PDAs, which link to the OverQuota software so members of the sales force can carry contact and schedule information in their pockets. We think we've come up with a world-class solution.
OverQuota is now in use by over 150 sales representatives across the nation, as well as at UG's Credit Company and Marketing departments. Reception by the users has been exceptionally positive..
Following the initial rollout of OverQuota, in September, we further refined the product in response to "real-life" feedback from the sales force. Enhancements included:
OverQuota and Xpedite
In the course of creating a mailing list for Marketing, I noted that the OverQuota Mass Correspondence feature was not terribly efficient with regard to sending mass faxes. UG contracts mass fax services from Xpedite; so I suggested a project, subsequently approved, to add the capability to export an arbitrary list of Contacts and/or Organizations from OverQuota directly to Xpedite via FTP or HTTP. Previously, mass fax lists were generated on the AS/400 and included only pre-defined criteria... an extremely inflexible way of generating lists. Now, marketing execs or Account executives can directly select fax recipients according to any criteria they please, and can generate lists in one of two formats usable by Xpedite.
In addition to being vastly more flexible and convenient than their existing methods, this new OverQuota enhancement is hundreds of times faster, and it puts the marketing power where it belongs... with Marketing and Sales. This entire enhanement project was completed in under 20 hours, giving it the most "bang for the buck" of any project I've worked on in recent memory.
OverQuota was my first Lotus Notes project. Having now done a major Notes project, as well as numerous minor projects, I've found LotusScript to be a fairly sane language, and Notes to be a remarkably flexible and smart business solution.