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Moody, Famiglietti & Andronico is is an accounting and consulting firm in Andover, Massachusetts, with approximately 40 professional staff. I’ve been IT director of the firm since June 2002. We run Windows Active Directory (servers are Windows 2000; workstations are XP) and the network hardware and phones systems are from Cisco Systems Inc. Microsoft Exchange is our e-mail server, and we run Xerox document management. Last year, Matthew Boyle, our director of marketing, came to me with an idea of how to use technology to get closer to our clients and save money in the process. I admit, I looked at him with a little bit of skepticism. After all, he had only been with the firm for a couple of months, and I wondered what this marketing professional knew about technology. At the same time, I knew that he had an edict from management to increase revenue by 7 percent and profits by 10 percent, and it sounded like he could use our help. Boyle’s concept was to integrate our client relationship management (CRM) system with our Web site, so that we could send e-mail to our clients and other contacts with their data, and ask them for any corrections and updates. We could then use that data throughout the firm for any purpose whatsoever, including filing dates, deadlines, notes. The goal was one place to go for everything, and have it be up-to-date. The prospect of saving money via Web integration did seem plausible, because we had a database person who spent half the day hand-entering and updating information. If we could eliminate the bulk of that time (and still have the staffer review the incoming data) we calculated we could save $20,000 every year. We were in the process of looking for a CRM product, and because Matthew and I were the decision makers, we added this capability to the requirements we had. Our other criteria were ease of use, integration with Microsoft’s Outlook and other applications, the ability to customize, and price. We started looking in June of 2003 and narrowed the field to Cole Valley Software Inc.’s ContactEase, Interface Software Inc.’s InterAction, Microsoft CRM, Thompson Elite’s Elite Apex, and Scout Solution’s Aptus, all of which we tested over the course of July 2003. Ultimately, we selected ContactEase, because we found it to be highly configurable, included Outlook synchronization, and allowed us to add integration easily to our other systems. It also integrated directly with our Castelle fax and Cisco phone systems, allowing us to send a fax or dial the phone directly from ContactEase. Our professionals also like the easy integration with Mapquest (from Mapquest.com Inc.), so they can get one-click driving directions. Once we installed ContactEase, our next step was to develop a custom-designed and personalized e-mail, with a unique link to our Web site that allows contacts to edit their data online. The link is made up of two internal identifiers to prevent someone from accessing someone else’s data. When a contact clicks on their link, they go directly to our Web site. Their form is pre- populated — i.e., it includes all the data we already have for them. Different forms are used for different types of clients. For example, estate planning clients are asked for family information, while corporate clients may be asked for their Web site or current number of employees. Once the contact submits the data, it is reviewed internally for reasonableness, consistency and accuracy, and then brought into our live system. We also check to make sure the contact didn’t delete information we already had. The data is then available throughout the firm, and used by our professionals to support clients. The information also can be used to predict what additional services they may need. For example, if they are a tax client of ours, but not an audit client, we may suggest that our consultant approach them to see if they would like us to do their audit work. We call the program, “We Care,” and view it as a touch point to our clients. It helps us regularly communicate with them, to be sure that their information remains complete and accurate. The response has been gratifying: 75 percent of those queried have responded. As predicted, our database administrator now spends less than 10 percent of his time on verification — comparing changes to the data made by our clients — translating to an annual savings of over $20,000. We believe that this program has positively improved our image with our clients, both for service, and as being technologically savvy. In fact, three of our clients asked if we could show them how we accomplished the program and where they could get the technology. One of the keys to our success is that this is not just a marketing program. Our professionals use ContactEase as a basic resource for information about our clients and their cases. It’s used to track parties, due dates, and other data. Reports can be derived from a click in the system, to see all due dates for the client, what work is in process, and current billings from our time-and-billing software. The program has also boosted morale at the firm, and created an example of teamwork between the IT and marketing departments. When people see data that is detailed and accurate concerning their clients, they feel more confident and positive about their ability to support the client relationship, and of course, the clients do too. Bob Gantz is IT director of Moody, Famiglietti & Andronico, an accounting and consulting firm based in North Andover, Mass.

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