August 13, 2008

Old Dogs, New Tricks

My presentation at the summer sales meeting and the subsequent launch of my company's new CRM system were a big hit. Applause and eager questions were in no short supply and I received a standing ovation as the presentation drew to a conclusion. Afterwords, our COO stopped at my desk and offered an interesting observation, "I had no idea [the new CRM] would be so well received. It speaks well of your ability to anticipate [the sales force's] needs."

There are some lingering doubts, though. Will this change the habits of a sales team that has had no supervision or accountability for the past eight years? I'm not inclined to believe so. The goal is to create a tool that makes the mundane process of data entry easier and more accessible, but while I glad hand the sales team I am busy reporting their every action (or lack thereof) to the executive staff. It's two-faced, and while I have my glory now I am sure it will fade when the first field member gets called out for not entering their client meetings. Fingers will waggle first their way and then mine, I wager.

Regardless, it has been a pleasure to get my project into -- what I consider -- open beta. My first amusing oversight was completely ignoring the fact that our sales team operates in separate time zones. Oops! Can you tell I was a desktop application developer before I was a web developer? My SalesLogix database is in UTC, my transaction database and web server are EST, my Exchange database is relative to the user and my user is who knows where! I spent a couple of days cleaning that mess up; I save the local time into a session variable on login (using JavaScript), take the difference between local and server using DateDiff (ColdFusion even rounds the minutes for those users with slow clocks), and apply DateConvert (local2UTC, UTC2local) wherever needed. Good times.

My learning adventure of the week was opening up my MacBook's Terminal for the first time (yes, I've owned the computer a year and never been curious, but I bought it as an idiot box) and playing with ssh. I used scp to copy an archive of photos from my trip to Denver over to Oleg's machine at CU. Can you teach an old dog new tricks? I'd like to think so, but I'm still trying to learn every day. I hope some of my associates in sales are feeling the same way.

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