Aaron
Things belong in boxes…. You don’t.

Hi readers of Aaron’s Epicom blog.  It’s been a while since my last blog post and I am certain you have missed my witty snippets of SugarCRM counter-code culture.  This month I want to discuss boxes.  I think I could honestly write a whole novella on the topic of boxes, which seems very mundane and boring, but the problem is, just about everything you do is centered around boxes.  It goes beyond making pretend spaceships or unique team centered costumes.  Let’s take a typical business day for a typical business person for example.  You wake up each morning on a set of box springs and probably shower in the box that is designated for rinsing shampoo.  When you leave your abode (which probably looks like a bunch of stacked boxes), you probably grab your lunch box and jump into a vehicle which takes you to another building that is full of boxes and then you find your micro-box, either a cubicle or office where you log onto your computer and check your inbox of emails.

I was working a few years back at a regional river authority that was rife with boxes.  As a database guy, I was always trying to connect the data and reduce the need for multiple entries and cut down on mis-information.  Turns out, when you spend a long time as an employee of a regional river authority, you shun people and hoard your data into your own personal “box”.  There were people there just counting the days down to their pension and sitting on “their” data.  As you can expect, innovation did not happen at this quasi-government company.  In fact, nothing really happened at this company and the running joke was how amazing it was that the lights turned on.

I came across three great articles recently that more or less dealt with why boxes are not only effective storage devices, but discussed how not to hinder the innovation that gives companies successes.  The first deals with the re-org at Google.  Two of the top managers are off to head the disruptive ideas department called Google X Lab.  One of the takeaways for my boxes blog was that Google was shrinking down from seven to five core product groups in an effort to “direct resources more efficiently in a simpler structure”.  This is all about making it easier to connect the boxes of data by making it simpler.  Another article dealt with Tony Hsieh’s downtown Las Vegas vision where he is setting up a startup city by moving his company there and investing 350 million dollars of his own money and revitalizing it.  The downtown project is allowing entrepreneurs to develop their own “boxes” downtown where they are experts in their line of work.  However, the main point of the actual design is to create forced connections between people and not just make things easier.  One example given is the removal of many of the entrances to the main lobby so that people will be in a collision point.  The idea is to facilitate connections and keep people from being isolated.

Lastly, the Wall Street Journal had a piece on companies monitoring their employees to see how teams worked together.  The stunning piece in this article showed that employees who moved around and met with others in face to face meetings, whether it was lunch, work, or just plain coffee breaks, were the most productive workers of the company.  When the company scheduled group breaks rather than solo ones, productivity of the company increased 10%.

The ideas behind boxes are a good one.  Boxes are used to store things/data/food/dreams.  However, when these boxes are just holding stuff rather than connecting, we run into issues.  Think about your SugarCRM instance.  The best uses I have seen as a Customer Advocate are when the companies have their data interacting.  A simple workflow rule can automatically integrate data across modules.  By creating those “collision points”, Sugar becomes much more integrated and solid and in turn, much more effective.  Another best practice I have seen is utilizing Sugar’s ability to create custom modules and fields.  Because you can store just about any type of data in its own module, you can integrate your company’s business cycles more effectively.

Since this is a boxy type of post this time.  I decided to use as my first case subject for the free advice offering, a topic on well, mailing labels for boxes.  A reader shows up with the question, “How can I print labels for my Dymo label printer?”

So Sugar has a plugin for MS Word.  What you need to do is download the plugin found in your user profile’s downloads tab.  From there, you just need to install the plug in (just click all the defaults).  Open up MS Word and use the sugar options to connect to your Sugar instance.  You can then create a word document formatted to a Dymo label layout and then mail merge your data from Sugar into this document.  Now all you need to do is click print and set the printer to the Dymo printer.  Viola!!! Labels!!!

If you have a question or an issue with Sugar, please feel free to contact me at aaron@epicom.com and I will pick one lucky person each blog post for some free Sugar tips.  Just put Blog in the subject.

So let’s sum this up.  Boxes are needed to house data so you know where to find it.  That data could be account information in your SugarCRM, the beer in your vegetable drawer of your refrigerator, or even you at your office.  However, once that data is stored, it is imperative that the data is used so that your account information in Sugar is integrated in your business cycles, the beer in your fridge doesn’t spoil and people know where to find you to have a coffee break and discover new and exciting ways to improve the world.  Thanks again for reading and enclosed here is the ever popular underground marketing effort.

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