We recently caught-up with Toby Prince, an avid member of the Sage CRM Community and someone who many of you will be familiar with because of the contributions he makes to the user and partner forums. We were interested to find out a little bit more about Toby and to give you a feel for the person behind the community profile Toby.Prince.

Q. You’ve been a member of the Sage CRM Community for over two years now. What, in that time, has been the one area, or resource, on the Sage CRM Community that you feel you have benefitted from the most?
A. The partner community has been a valuable asset for me. It has given me an insight into issues that others are having, which has helped us to start investigating solutions early. It’s great to be able to be proactive, rather than re-active.

Also, the information, such as blogs, that are fed through the site from the Sage CRM team is very welcome. It helps us be proactive in setting up new systems and components, as well as implementing work-arounds for issues.

The blogs are a fantastic way to present tips and tricks, and having developers on hand to answer questions is always welcome!

There are some amazingly knowledgeable people on the forums, and their help is always very much appreciated. They inspire me to have something to work towards so that I can  become as knowledgeable as they are.
 
Q. Your contributions to the Sage CRM Community forums are highly valued by other community members. Can you tell us a bit about how you picked up so much knowledge about Sage CRM?
A. I worked for a company that purchased Sage 200 with integrated Sage CRM. It was down to me to be the first line of support for the company with regard to both Sage 200 and Sage CRM. I am not from a financial background, so I picked up Sage CRM a little quicker than I did Sage 200. I enjoy finding out as much as I can about the software, so when I joined a business partner, I was able to really take a good look at Sage CRM. I have been able to learn quite a lot about it, but still, there is much more to learn.

Q. You provide a lot of ‘light bulb’ moments for Sage CRM users on the forums but has your engagement on the forums also helped to build your knowledge of Sage CRM? Can you share some examples?
A. Answering questions on the forums is definitely a two way thing, certain questions that get asked, I have never been asked before so I have to go away and think about how it can be achieved.

For example, there was a really simple question about reporting on Notes. Back in Sage CRM v6.2, the database structure was quite different, so I was not aware of the Entity/Table IDs used to link the note record to the relevant entity, and record. After a bit of research, and a look around Custom_ tables, I was able to see what was going on, and it allowed me to understand how the tables were being joined. This has been used a lot in Sage CRM v7 and Sage CRM v7.1, so it’s great to have learnt that.

That thread was very popular as it seemed quite a few people were wondering how to do this same thing, so it was a pleasure to be able to provide a solution.

Other questions can be quite bespoke to a forum user’s business requirements. I have answered quite a few questions surrounding reports, and therefore SQL views. T-SQL is something I am very interested in, so I jump at the chance to investigate the need for the reports, and try and translate that into code, to get the data in the format that is needed. Again, this has provided me with  interesting challenges where I have had to build on the knowledge I already have,. Researching the answers has has given me tools to use outside of the forum, so it is great to push to get an answer, so that I can learn at the same time.

Q. Datel, where you work, are members of the Sage CRM Developer Program. How do you think this has helped expose your company and its employees to advanced technical knowledge about Sage CRM?
A. Having a team of developers in the office is obviously a fantastic asset. We are able to create some exciting customisations, and also bespoke integrations. This has benefitted me greatly, as the sites I am supporting are heavily customised, with some very intricate and deep rooted customisations. There are also some fantastic uses of Sage CRM features, such as escalations and workflow, that have been used in fantastically intuitive ways. This has really helped me see what Sage CRM is really capable of doing.
 
Q. You demonstrate a clear passion for Sage CRM and sharing with fellow users how to get the most out of it. In an ideal world, what would be the one feature in Sage CRM that you would love to see included in future releases?
A. With Sage CRM being all about the data that is in it, I would love to see some of the report engines Sage have developed for their financial products available in Sage CRM. The report engine currently used utilises SQL very well, but it can be limiting for some people, for example,  if they are not able to write the views required. An interface that allows the user to choose the tables to join, and the fields to include, and then specify the functions and arguments would be a very welcome edition.

Having said that, the great thing about Sage CRM is that there are so many developers out there working on it. If it is not included as standard, there is usually a tool available to get the user on the right track.
 
Q. Staying in the ideal world, what one feature do you think would enhance members’ experience of the Sage CRM Community?
A. As the community grows, so does the amount of data on it. I think it would be a nice touch to add some of the Social Media approaches to displaying this data to users. For example, it would be great to allow users to have their own ‘wall’ where they can publish hints and tips. This could be used as a knowledge base for them, but also a resource for others. Community members could see another member’s wall by visiting the user’s profile, or, if they choose to follow or 'Friend' them, it could be published to their feed. One other feature I think would be great would be the ability to host video directly, I am sure Sage have some spare servers knocking around for that ;-).

So that’s my wish list, but overall with regard to the current format, I think that it is great!

Toby Prince is a Certified Support Consultant at Datel.