- People tend to think of their address book as their personal property. Even though in most U.S. jurisdictions the address book is the company's property, that's not how users will feel.
- To that end, most people manage their address book as their private silo, so they're not used to the consequences of having it become a shared, replicated data store. Consequently, users must be indoctrinated-not just trained-about how to avoid corrupting records in their own address books now that they are shared resources.
- Contact replication is hard, particularly when it involves multi-master, two-way synchronization. It's not that this is an insoluble problem, but there are a surprising number of error conditions to handle.
- Contact replication products abound. Apple, for example, offers contact sync via iTunes, MobileMe, Exchange and iCloud, and then there are the third-party products. Each one seems to have its own set of bugs. The more different synching strategies you use-plug-ins to Outlook, add-ons for Exchange, services for smartphones, products for the cloud, etc.-the more charming the variety of bugs and corruptions to be discovered. This is not idle talk. I've personally burned about 20 hours over the last month on a single replication corruption problem.
- There are at least a few products that do an outstanding job with address book synchronization to the core CRM. Know that doing it right involves using intermediate replicates, which can consume system resources on every user's PC. More importantly, these products require a surprising amount of administrative overhead, and the data steward activities involved with change propagation and reconciliation seem to rise exponentially with heavy usage.
This Looks Like a Job for the KISS Principle
These are the three email and CRM contact replication guidelines we use with our clients:
The value of synchronizing contacts is intuitively obvious. I just wish there were a silver bullet.
David Taber is the author of the new Prentice Hall book, " Salesforce.com Secrets of Success" and is the CEO of SalesLogistix, a certified Salesforce.com consultancy focused on business process improvement through use of CRM systems. SalesLogistix clients are in North America, Europe, Israel and India. Taber has more than 25 years of experience in high tech, including 10 years at the VP level or above.