Saelos

July 15, 2018
Saelos Sunday: The Little Red Hen

Well it’s that time again, for all you eager individuals waiting all week for the Saelos Sunday post. Here it is. Although I must admit I am anxious to see how many of you will truly appreciate the context of today’s update. But perhaps that’s presumptuous let’s get right into a Saelos update and see where it takes us! Perhaps you can bolster my optimistic spirit in regards to our young community.

I’d like to share a story with you this week; it’s one that many are familiar with and probably the awareness of this short allegory rises disproportionately in the world of open source communities.

By the way, this post is particularly meaningful as I’m currently attending the Community Leadership Summit before OSCON (Open Source Conference) where the idea of community involvement is a constant topic and focus of many sessions.

The following is the story of the Little Red Hen. If you’re familiar with it already then I would imagine you can skim quickly down through the content, if it’s a new story for you then please read it carefully and consider it’s application in the context of open source communities.

One day the Little Red Hen found a grain of wheat. And she had an idea for something to be made.
“Who will plant this?” she asked.

“Not I,” said the cat.
“Not I,” said the goose.
“Not I,” said the rat.
“Then I will,” said Little Red Hen.

So she buried the wheat in the ground. After a while it grew up yellow and ripe. “The wheat is ripe now,” said Little Red Hen. “Who will cut and thresh it?”

“Not I,” said the cat.
“Not I,” said the goose.
“Not I,” said the rat.
“Then I will,” said Little Red Hen.

So she cut it with her bill and threshed it with her wings.
Then she asked, “Who will take this wheat to the mill?”

“Not I,” said the cat.
“Not I,” said the goose.
“Not I,” said the rat.
“Then I will,” said Little Red Hen.

So she took the wheat to the mill, where it was ground. Then she carried the flour home. “Who will make me some bread with this flour?” she asked.

“Not I,” said the cat.
“Not I,” said the goose.
“Not I,” said the rat.
“Then I will,” said Little Red Hen.

So she made and baked the bread. Then at the end of the day, she said, “Now we shall see who will eat this bread.”
“We will,” said cat, goose, and rat.


Now, the story of the Little Red Hen doesn’t end there…but I’m going to leave the ending out because I believe in our community the story could end differently. Because I believe we should never get to this point in a community. I know, many of you are sitting here wondering, how could this possibly relate to Customer Relationship Management and the world’s best open source CRM software. Here comes the application.

Saelos is an open source project. It holds the potential to be a major shift in the existing CRM landscape and provide a powerful, robust software tool for thousands (if not more) of businesses around the globe. There is tremendous opportunity in the software. But there’s also tremendous opportunity in the community as well. An opportunity to be more involved, to contribute to something you believe in. Did you notice in the short children’s story above there were different animals saying “Not I”? They aren’t all the same, they are each different and I can’t help but imagine they would each have different abilities and skills they could offer in the making of the bread. 

In just the same way as the fairy tale, each of us have different talents, skills, and abilities. When we bring our unique talents together in a community we have the potential to create something amazing. The product we create reflects the uniqueness and specialness of the people who formed it. In a way, our product is a reflection of our community, and we can tell the world who we are by the work we do together.

In the story, when no one else helped the Little Red Hen completed the project on her own (and kept the rewards for herself). In our community the project doesn’t get completed without the help of others. We need everyone helping, we need everyone contributing. 

Many have asked when the next release of Saelos will be available. I’ve shared in recent weeks the next release is the last release (hopefully) before a stable version 1.0. I also have shared the items needing to be done before the next release can occur. Here’s that list again, copied and pasted for your convenience:

  • Languages and accessibility
  • Phone extensions
  • Inbound message handling
  • View exporting (Reporting)
  • Integration support
  • Documentation

These are critical items. And before you write yourself off as non-technical there are several items on the preceding list which have nothing to do with the code and everything to do with Saelos. Language translations are a massive part of our community and the thing which will help our CRM to truly scale globally.

Secondly, documentation writing is needed. This truly is a unique opportunity because I have met those wonderful individuals in the past who truly enjoy writing documentation and they are of vital importance to a project’s success. This is a perfect example that communities require all types of people.

Saelos needs you; whatever your special abilities might be. Would you consider joining with us in our community as we work to build a world-class CRM capable of empowering businesses around the globe and creating an ecosystem where individuals can support themselves and more? You’ll be glad you did and I guarantee your life will be changed forever.

July 12, 2018
I Need Your CRM Feedback

This is a bonus Saelos mid-week post, but that’s because I need your help and I need it urgently! I’m doing a quick feedback loop about CRM platforms and I realized there’s no better audience than my personal network of friends and followers. I need your ideas, your thoughts, and maybe most importantly…your complaints!

That’s right, this is a free pass to gripe, complain, and whine about the shortcomings, faults, and flaws of your current software. You know your friends and co-workers usually don’t want to hear about the problems you’re having (we all have plenty of our own). But today is your day, and this moment is your moment. Unload on me. Share your ideas, thoughts, and problems. I’m listening!

Okay, okay, that’s all you get. No more moaning and groaning, get back to your day and keep your chin-up, your feedback has been heard and you may soon have answers to your problems!

July 8, 2018
Desire Paths

Yesterday I finished up my somewhat exhaustive study on my latest topic of interest. And by exhaustive study I mean I went spelinking. (See what I did there? It’s like spelunking, only for links.) Yep, I think I’m going to coin that as a new word and start using it. Not sure what else is considered common vernacular these days for going down the rabbit hole of link-following in pursuit of knowledge on a particular topic. From here forward this act shall be known as spelinking. Anyways, before I distracted myself (and you) with the creation of a new word in the English language I was about to share with you the topic which I’ve been finding quite interesting lately.

As many of you know I am obsessed with the user experience, the user interface and how a product is created in order to maximize the positive feelings of the user. (User, user, user what an interesting term. I recently heard this quote and find it fitting…)

“The only businesses where customers are considered users are drug dealers and technology companies.”

As much as that might be a topic which I would love to dive into more, I will save the technology drug idea for another post. Instead, let’s return once again to the topic at hand. (Can you tell this is a Sunday post? We’re a little less formal on the weekends!) The topic for this post is as the title suggests: Desire Paths.

(See how I capitalized both of those words? This signifies importance of the phrasing, as opposed to sentence capitalization which demonstrates something completely different. But that’s the subject for my Google vs Apple post coming soon….)

Desire Paths are an interesting concept.

In the real world desire paths can be demonstrated by something like the following picture:

As you can see the definition should be rather obvious from the picture, but in case you prefer words over pictures (some of us do), here’s a Wikipedia definition for you:

desire path is a path created as a consequence of erosion caused by human or animal foot-fall or traffic. The path usually represents the shortest or most easily navigated route between an origin and destination.
Wikipedia

Then, in simplest terms, the desire path is the fastest and easiest route to get from point A to point B. Usually these paths are identified by the individual navigating the path. And these paths are most noticeable when they stand in opposition to the pre-defined “regulated” path previously constructed by the original designer/developer.

Digital worlds have digital paths too.

Oops, see that word I slipped into that last sentence? Designer. That’s right, desire paths don’t live just in the hard and fast physical world of roads and walkways. Desire paths can live just as easily in the digital world. The digital experience of users can also be filled with desire paths. They may look slightly different but they exist none the less.

At this point you may be wondering what this has to do with Saelos since this is a Saelos Sunday post. First, you shouldn’t be so impatient! This concept of desire paths is a fascinating one and it is well worth your time to understand this concept and its implications. You’ll be better off because of this knowledge and you never know when you’ll stumble across a desire path (either digitally or in real life). And when that moment comes you’ll think, “Aha! I know what this is!”

Paving the way

But second, and I understand, more importantly here is how I think desire paths are relevant and in fact critical to Saelos (and other software apps). I want to see desire paths in Saelos form. I want to see users create new and exciting ways to get things done with Saelos. The best way to make a software application easy-to-use and widely adopted is to build it in the most intuitive and understood way possible. When you lower the barrier to entry or reduce the friction involved with learning and using a new application you increase usage and improve the user experience (drastically).

Allowing for desire paths

Let’s get specific though, how exactly do you allow users to find and create desire paths within a software application? It seems like this is a rather hard to understand concept when we move from the physical realm into the digital landscape. But with a little thought you’ll begin to understand just how easy it can be. Allow me to give you an example.

Saelos has already been released in a beta form. This means you can download it today and begin using it. Is it perfect? Heck no. Is it complete? Absolutely not. But what you have is the framework, the bones, the gravel paths of a world-class CRM application. Why do I say gravel paths? Because they have not been paved yet. There is still time for users to create their own paths, to improve the product by how they use it, and once those paths have been identified they can be paved and the product can be complete. Still not specific enough for you? Don’t get frustrated, I’ll get more specific.

Saelos implements a tagging system.

In fact, I think I’d venture to be so bold as to say Saelos implements an incredibly powerful tagging system. But what makes this specific tagging special is the flexibility. Rather than creating a rigid system for how tags should work within Saelos I designed them to be very extensible. Basically, I created a couple paths for how you might use tagging in Saelos but I didn’t lock anything down. The idea being with a feature like tags I want to see how people use them and what makes the most sense. I want to see what the desire paths are which form naturally by users.

Give paths now, pave the road later.

Really, it follows the thinking of release early and release often. Or, just ship it. This mentality to not wait until perfect before releasing only means what you do release is flexible and capable of adapting to what users want. Only after those desire paths become evident should we go back and pave the way. In other words, after tagging (and other features) are put to use we will better know how to improve them and make them even more user friendly. So whatever the software system you’re designing or creating, always be thinking about desire paths. They allow you the opportunity for your users to define the product and make it perfect. And everyone ends up happier. Listen. Then ship it. Then watch.

lessons from a sales leader

July 1, 2018
Three Lessons from a Sales Rep

Recently I was talking to a sales rep and as we strolled along I did what I normally do and I made small talk. Usually this means I just ask a bunch of questions because I love hearing people talk. It’s an amazing feeling when that moment occurs in a conversation when the slightly-distancing wall of formality falls and you break through to the actual person.

If there’s one thing I’ve been working hard to learn more it’s this idea of active listening. My definition of active listening is simple: Active listening is hearing plus thinking. That thinking part seems to be fairly consistent in my writing and speaking! Anyway, listening to her talk I began to learn. I learned what she liked and what she didn’t like in her job. I began to realize I had a firsthand opportunity to experience the pain of being a sales rep. Of course, this led to me asking some questions about what tools she used in her job. (Again, I’m doing the listening so she’s happily unaware of what I spend 21 of every 24 hours a day doing!) Here are 3 things I learned from my 30 minute conversation with a sales rep.

Sales requires lots of data entry

Okay, now I am going to imagine many of you rolled your eyes when you read that headline, just as I paused my keystroke as I typed the words. This one seems almost too obvious to mention. And yet, this is an important point to consider because of the many implications held in the reality of this phrase. Data entry. Those two words strike fear in the hearts of sales reps (and pretty much everyone else as wellyes, I’m ignoring the data nerds in the room for a minute). Why does the concept of data entry cause us such angst? I’d suggest there are a few reasons for this deep-seated disgust.

  • Data entry is unpleasant because it requires thought about the format of the information entered. Our wildly creative brains struggle with clear constraints and stringent requirements. We love free-form entry, we hate forced and perceived unnecessary restrictions.
  • Data entry is unpleasant because it takes so much time to complete. The tedious point-and-click from input box to input box leaves our non-linear brains bored and easily distracted.
  • Data entry is unpleasant because many current systems are redundant, complicated, or in some cases completely and totally broken!

When this process takes an unnecessarily long time or when there is a feeling that the purpose is unclear or the tool incomplete there is a greater propensity to underperform the task of data entry. In the end the data suffers, the individual’s success suffers and ultimately the business suffers! Bottom line: Sales must utilize proper data entry!

Sales requires lots of research

As I listened to Kathryn discuss her job details there was a moment of realization which hit her just as much as it did me. At one point we were talking about the information she was gathering to put into her reporting tools and she made the following comment.

“This information is hard to gather and difficult to enter, but the entire business is built on gathering this research. Without my data entry, the company doesn’t know where to build their next product.”
Kathryn, my sales rep

When she said it out loud I saw the realization spread and she understood at least to a little extent the importance of all that seemingly meaningless data entry. Sales reps do tons of research. Of course, sometimes that research is to help them sell better and sometimes it’s used somewhere else in the business. But every great sales rep understands the importance of doing their homework before a call. They know the more they know the better they can be in building a relationship and hopefully making a sale.

This research also implies another important point. Sales reps spend a disproportionate amount of their time doing research instead of talking to customers and potential customers. In Kathryn’s case the ratio was on the scale of hours to minutes.

Sales requires better tools

Yep, you knew I was ending here. I mean, this is Saelos Sunday after all! As Kathryn and I walked and talked we finally came around to the all-important discussion of software tools. Because I’m a process guy I really got excited at this point. I wanted to hear how she went about her job and more importantly why she did things the way she did them. Several interesting points came out of this particular part of our conversation. I’ve done my best to remember them and write them down for you here:

  • Sales reps need software that works. I feel almost stupid for saying that, but the reality is that in many cases the software doesn’t work. Either the software doesn’t work the way it was designed, or far worse, the software doesn’t work the way the sales rep does. This idea of a software tool fitting the business instead of the reverse is surprisingly uncommon. SaaS tools are designed for the masses, but by doing this, the unique aspects of each individual company are lost in a sea of vague generic functions which fit the broadest possible audience…because that is how the SaaS company makes their money!
  • Sales reps need software that works well with others. Make no mistake, this is a very different point from the previous point. Working and working well with others are two very distinct features. Software that lives in a silo simply means the sales rep has to do more work themselves and more duplicate workThe practice of duplicate work is the anathema of sales reps the world over. The best software systems are those which interact silently, instantly, and consistently; syncing data across various platforms.
  • Sales reps need software that works ahead. This always makes me think back to those times in school when I was really feeling the “groove” and worked ahead in my homework lessons (Don’t give me too much credit, those moments were few and far between!). For software to “work ahead” it needs to be intelligent. Intelligent software follows self-determining processes and pre-defined workflows to move customers and deals successfully through the sales process. Software needs to utilize those computational resources which humans don’t have to do this. By taking advantage of the strengths found in modern technology the best sales reps are able to maximize their time and increase their efficiency.

My important takeaways

I offer this title a bit impishly since I wouldn’t necessarily consider my takeaways to be of utmost importance to you, but in an effort to offer you insight into my thinking and to summarize these lessons I’ll proffer my thoughts for your reflection.

Sales reps are unique and each have different challenges and responsibilities based on their particular job, vertical market, or industry. But in spite of these differences there are some common, shared, requirements which make them able to perform at their peak. Software is involved in almost all of those requirements. Outstanding sales reps need outstanding software. I believe what the open source community forming around Saelos is creating accomplishes lofty goals. We’re intent on solving problems, meeting needs, and fulfilling these requirements. We believe we can do this through cutting-edge sales software.

We seek to make data entry effortless and simple. We organize and return data efficiently and automatically to minimize wasted research time. We write intelligent software which works ahead and takes advantage of modern technology and empowers people to do what they do best…communicate with others.

Interested in the future of Saelos? Want to be a part of this growing community of passionate people? See for yourself why we believe software can save the world.

live crm website notifications tracking

June 10, 2018
Saelos Sunday: Take Notice!

As I hope you have come to expect, Sunday is our day to explore what new and exciting things are happening with Saelos, the open source CRM. Last week we looked at download counts and stability statistics as we get closer to a stable release candidate. This week rather than exploring some of the numbers surrounding Saelos I want to talk to you a bit about something new from a design perspective and what we’re focusing on for our next release.

If a picture is worth a thousand words…

Then what is a moving picture worth? Take a peek at the graphic below to see the exciting new notifications element in action.

 

What we’re creating is something classic, something familiar, and something truly groundbreaking. We’re creating three things in one. Not an easy task, and particularly challenging when our desire is minimalist and a clean, simple user experience. Don’t be fooled, there is nothing simple about creating something minimal. 

  • Classic: Notifications have existed in software systems in some form or fashion since almost the very beginning of their creation. They provide a way for the system to notify the user of important information.
  • Familiar: We also recognized that in-app notifications on the web are something most modern systems have by default and we wanted to ensure that we provided these notifications in a way users were familiar with and comfortable seeing.
  • Groundbreaking: But of course we couldn’t stop by simply creating the same classic and familiar notifications as everyone else. Saelos is focused on revolutionizing the sales and CRM industry. We saw notifications as one simple way to do things better.

Groundbreaking notifications

I’d like to take moment and expand on the final point “Groundbreaking” in the list above. With Saelos we wanted to identify a way for notifications to be better, more powerful, more useful. As a result we spent significant amounts of time analyzing and observing how current systems worked as well as what functionality would be most helpful (and intuitive) for users as well.

Why we believe notifications

  1.  We believe notifications should be informative not intrusive because we shouldn’t be disrupted or interrupted from the tasks we’re working on. Every unnecessary distraction we prevent makes our minds better.
  2. We believe notifications should provide single-click access direct to the specific, relevant, items. We believe our time is valuable and our single biggest resource, and we don’t want to waste it.
  3. We believe knowledge is power. More than just knowledge, this knowledge must be at the right time, and instantaneously. This is actionable, powerful, knowledge

Here’s how we use those beliefs:

We’ve created instant, non-disruptive notifications, in real-time, with the right information. We are empowering sales teams to both know more and do more.

The next step for Saelos

I’m sure many of you are wondering (or better said, watching) with eager anticipation for the next release which brings us one step closer to a stable release. I share that excitement but want to caution you at the same time. We are building something not only to compete with and improve upon existing CRM systems, but we are building something meant to endure. And as much as I hate the expression, “good things come to those who wait…”, this is one of those moments.

To be more specific, there is a short list of tasks and outstanding items that need to be finished before we can confidently release a Saelos 1.0 Release Candidate. Here’s what I see remaining:

  • Languages and accessibility
  • Phone extensions
  • Inbound message handling
  • View exporting (Reporting)
  • Integration support
  • Documentation

Sounds simple right? I told you it was a short list. But it’s still a list of things to be accomplished and then tested prior to being released.
If you see one of the above and you’re interested in helping out to get things completed faster, please let me know! We could absolutely use your help.

June 3, 2018
Saelos Sunday Stuff

Best Open Source CRM Free

Here we are on another weekend, and it sure feels like they come fast and furious these days. I don’t know if it’s just me or if time is actually speeding up. (And anyone that dares to suggest this relativity has anything to do with my age will be summarily disavowed.) Regardless, it’s Sunday and as they have come to be affectionately known, it’s a Saelos Sunday.

Statistics Focus

There are so many things I’d like to share with you but in an effort to draw your attention to one particular and important statistic I’m going to focus on only one slide. In this way we can share in the excitement of the meaningfulness of these statistics.

Before you get all stressed out because I’ve use the word “statistic” more than once in the previous paragraph, let me calm you down by sharing a picture with you (pictures make everything better).

Open Source CRM Download

Saelos Downloads

Now, I confess I said I would be focusing in on “only one slide”, but I’ve been a bit sneaky — if you’ll notice this slide actually shares two very important facts in a single slide. Let’s first look at the downloads. It’s quite exciting to see the numbers climbing so significantly with each release. This means the world is beginning to discover Saelos: a new open source CRM.

As you can see from the picture, the Beta 3 release had only 32 downloads, Beta 4 had 86, and then Beta 5 scored an overwhelming 395 downloads! Now, we are currently in the middle of Beta 6 and we’re on track to see more downloads than any other previous release with 306 downloads.

Saelos Stability

But the stability of Saelos is the second critical factor that is displayed in the slide above. You’ll notice that with each release the time period before the next release has grown. Whenever there is a lengthening time between releases it usually means one of two things, either the software is not being developed at the same speed as previously, or the bugs being uncovered are becoming fewer and fewer.

I am happy to report in Saelos the number of issues that have been uncovered has been shrinking with each subsequent release. This shrinkage is quite common in the development of a product, particularly one proceeding through a beta process. As a result this slows down the number of releases and also demonstrates an exciting fact: Saelos is getting close to being released as a Release Candidate.

In case you’re curious or need a refresher on process. A software product following proper versioning goes through multiple beta releases (determined by the number of issues uncovered in each release) , then a release candidate, then a stable release.

Coming Soon

As I mentioned, based on these statistics Saelos is getting close to a Release Candidate. This is an exciting moment. If you are currently using Saelos then this should be a welcome announcement — a stable open source CRM ready to be implemented in your production environment is coming soon.

If you’re wondering what it will take for this to happen then I’m glad you’re thinking about it! Our community needs issues reported when there are bugs found (this can be submitted on GitHub); fixes for those issues submitted as new pull requests (also on GitHub); and any last minute feature requests (with code attached!) to be included in a stable release.

Keeping Up-To-Date

Lastly as you prepare for this upcoming release you should make sure you’re keeping up-to-date with the announcements being made. There are several ways you can do this and I believe in though our community is still quite young we do a great job communicating on a variety of channels. Pick your preference: You can subscribe to the Saelos email, join the Slack group, or register your account on the website (truthfully speaking it wouldn’t hurt anything to be around on all three).

One More Thing

I know it sounds a bit forced but forgive my headline nostalgia for a moment. There is one last thing I’d like to share in this Saelos Sunday update. Even though our community is very fresh we have already seen incredible volunteers contributing in a wide variety of ways. Sometimes I just have to sit back and contemplate the awesomeness of those individuals who believe in my vision, who personally agree with what I’m trying to accomplish and are willing to join forces with me in reaching for these lofty goals.

I’ve spoken before about the power of the “first follower” and this is a perfect example of how relevant and important these early adopters, advocates, and strong believers are to our success. This week in particular I’d like to draw special attention to one special Saelos Superstar.

Saelos Superstar

Luiz Eduardo has contributed countless hours to improving Saelos through code, through distributions, and through community growth. His dedication to spreading the Saelos Story far and wide is evident in the vast and widespread work he has undertaken on behalf of our community. I hope you’ll join me in thanking him for his hard work and dedication to Saelos. And I trust his example will encourage you to find ways you can also become more involved in the Saelos community. (Not sure where to start? Drop me a line and I’ll be happy to give you some ideas.)


using both marketing automation and customer relationship management

May 20, 2018
Marketing Automation and CRM

There's often confusion and questions surrounding the necessity for both a marketing automation platform and a customer relationship management (CRM) platform. This post highlights the values of each and why both are important for business growth, continuity and ultimately success.

One of the more recent announcements in Saelos was in regards to the first plugin written for the Saelos platform. As you can probably imagine, this plugin focused on the relationship between Mautic and Saelos (for rather obvious reasons: I’m a bit of a Mautic fan). But this plugin represents so much more than just another CRM to marketing automation integration. This “Mautic mix-in” forces us to ask the question: what’s the difference between marketing automation and customer relationship management? Should you use both these systems? (and what’s the difference) I know I’ve been asked this question quite a few times, so on the off chance that this is something you’re curious about as well….read on.

What is marketing automation

I’m not going to lie, writing this headline and starting this paragraph I almost cringe a little. I feel I’ve read a million articles answering this exact same question. I really don’t want to go down that same path answering the same question so in order to preserve my motivation to keep writing, I’m going to give you a callout with a definition of marketing automation and then share some slightly different thoughts about marketing automation.

Marketing automation refers to software platforms and technologies designed for marketing departments and organizations to more effectively market on multiple channels online (such as email, social media, websites, etc.) and automate repetitive tasks. — Wikipedia

That’s the Wikipedia definition of marketing automation. It’s a bit dry, possibly a little outdated, and even a bit vague. But this is the same general consensus you’ll read over and over. I think there’s a missing element here. I have heard it touched on when I meet with others, or attend conferences (like the awesome SiriusDecisions Summit).

Marketing automation has an incredible task of also being the manager of the brand. Sharing the voice of the company with the world, as broad as everyone and as specific as each individual. Just as we talk about the customer’s voice – the company has a voice as well. Marketing (in most instances) takes the primary role in conveying this voice to the public, to future customers, and to existing customers. (This is your first hint in answering the question)

What is customer relationship management

If the idea of answering the question about what marketing automation does is a difficult one to write about; then I’m sure you understand the even greater reticence I have regarding this paragraph’s title. What is customer relationship management (or as most everyone in the world knows to be a CRM)? Again, I’m taking the time-saving method of giving you a definition you can find yourself with a 2 second search and then I’ll give you a thought or two about my take on something different to consider.

Customer relationship management (CRM) is an approach to manage a company’s interaction with current and potential customers. It uses data analysis about customers’ history with a company to improve business relationships with customers, specifically focusing on customer retention and ultimately driving sales growth. — Wikipedia

Again, thank you Wikipedia, you’ve given a wonderful definition that’s both highly explanatory and equally difficult to easily digest. (Side note: I love Wikipedia and get sucked into the site at least once a week)

So CRM systems have been created to manage the customer (and future customer) and improve relationships with them. This is probably the point where confusion starts to creep in. It appears that the CRM is doing the same thing as the marketing automation tool. “Manage a company’s interaction with current and potential customers” — yep, sure sounds like overlap. But I actually believe there’s a subtle nuance here to be explored and understood better. CRM systems are focused on customer retention and sales growth, aka closing deals and making sales. (Second hint in answering our question)

Why you should use both systems

Okay, we’ve got excellent “book” definitions of both marketing automation and customer relationship management systems and rather than introducing clarity it seems we’ve only made things more convoluted and increased the questions surrounding potential overlap. But I left you hints along the way, lets get into this now and see why you should have both a marketing automation system and a customer relationship management system.

We read how marketing automation is designed for marketing on multiple channels and carrying out automated tasks. We then saw that the CRM is designed for managing relationships and increasing sales growth. When it’s filtered down to those two sentences there seems to be less overlap. This is step one. We have to understand not what each system does, but what their purpose is. And now that we have this knowledge let’s build on it to understand why you should use both systems and possibly more importantly why they should be linked.

The “Voice of the Company”

If you believe in the marketing automation being the voice of the company than you will naturally agree that messages sent by the company should be shared with that voice. The value of a unified company voice is incredibly important and has been the topic of books and blogs the world over. If you don’t have a strong link (continuous bi-directional sync) occurring between marketing and sales you won’t have a unified voice. But, why is this true? Let me explain.

Brand management & single communication source

Marketing automation handles the brand, we discussed this already and determined that this management of the company voice was one of the key functions of a marketing automation platform. Or to put it a different way: Marketing handles the communication for the company. This leads us to the reason why you should consider using both marketing automation and customer relationship management platforms (Big deep breath, this is what you’ve been reading for…):

A CRM manages your interactions and relationships and your marketing automation is responsible for sending the messages.

This means your sales team should be sending messages to their customers, and future customers, through the gateway of your marketing team (Remember, they manage the brand and the company voice). This is where we begin to see the slightest crack starting to form in the world of today’s software systems and where I believe Mautic and Saelos begin to differentiate. (Does that interest you? You should subscribe to my blog and I’ll tell you more about it in a future article)

Source of Truth

The source of truth for each contact record lives in the CRM, because as we learned today the CRM is responsible for managing the relationship; but this doesn’t mean the marketing automation system should have less information. Instead, the marketing automation platform must know everything about the contact, plus be able to correctly determine the best channel, time, and message to be sent to them. That message might be a marketing message, but it might also be a sales message coming from the sales team directly.

Two systems, two purposes, one connection

All of this understanding and enabling between the CRM and the marketing automation requires an integration or mechanism for this data to be shared openly between these two systems…a plugin (or in Mautic term’s, a mix-in). And this two-way sharing of information between marketing and sales is what happens today, but it’s not complete yet. We have not yet seen the complete integration between the two platforms (primarily because both are fighting, incorrectly, to be the source of truth).

Why data control isn’t the answer is a great topic and I’d love to say more, but I have written entirely too much for this post; expect to see a separate post soon!

And so, hopefully as you’ve read through the purpose and focus of these two systems you begin to see the value in both as well as the extreme importance placed on linking the two of them together. The answer to the question should you use both systems is a solid yes; because each system has a unique, distinct and important focus.

What comes next is even more exciting. I’ve hinted at it throughout this post, so if you want to know how Saelos pushes CRM and marketing ahead elegantly and beautifully you’ll need to keep reading.


May 13, 2018
Saelos Sunday Update 2

Here we are on the weekend again; and I love the weekends. Partly due to the fact that the schedule tends to be more relaxed, and partly because this means I get to spend some time on Saelos! If you’re just getting to my blog then you should do some reading on other posts before continuing, check out the Saelos announcement, a peek at the technical advantagethe previous update, and then let’s talk about what’s coming next.

Today I want to do two things, first give everyone a quick update on the status of Saelos today (hey, this is an update post) and second, I want to share a little bit about a benefit that Saelos provides and why I believe it’s so incredibly important in the world today.

Saelos Growing Organically

Okay, so first is an update on where Saelos is today. Things continue to progress at a pretty good rate. I wrote last week about a Saturday project I undertook building a dashboard for watching a GitHub repository and monitoring growth. I applied it to Saelos to get an idea how things were looking. Here’s the screenshot:

Micro Services CRM and the future of customer relationship management

Here’s the lowdown from that snapshot. First, Saelos downloads are exploding! The growth is tremendous with over 250% increase from the previous release. Second, 2/3 of the issues have been addressed already in the last release and working through the rest as quickly as possible. Lastly, Saelos has a total of 50 stargazers and 9 forks already. This is ridiculously fast uptake and I’m very excited to see this kind of growth continue. Oh, and by the way, the downturn in that one release was because we pushed the next one so quickly there was no time for the Beta 3 to be adopted!

Monopoly Should Only Be A Board Game

All this growth is exciting and the fact that, yes, there is a real need and desire for a super strong open source CRM. Honestly, just a super strong CRM (open source just happens to be the best mechanism in the world). But not a run-of-the-mill standard customer relationship management software that only functions in a small business environment. (Don’t get me wrong Saelos works brilliantly for SMB.) No, what everyone really needs is an option.

There’s nothing worse than a monopoly in a market. And let’s be honest with each other. Currently there’s a bit of a monopoly in the CRM market. And this has lead to stagnation, lack of innovation, and an overwhelming sense of despair. Why? Because when you’re an 800lb gorilla (or maybe that’s a bear named “Codey”…) you keep iterating on the same outdated mentality and philosophy and grow by acquisition alone. The result is frustration, despair, and heartache for businesses and sales teams everywhere.

So how does a cartel get overthrown? By no longer buying their product. But let’s be more realistic. It’s not quite that simple because businesses need a CRM. They need some system to manage their customers and those relationships (not to mention potential customers). And so simply walking away from a software platform is not an answer, something must fill the gap. Enterprise businesses should have options, reliable, capable options which can function at scale. This transition isn’t going to happen overnight. Rather, I believe, the best method for opening the floodgates for businesses is to create an alternative that offers immediate successes. Consider small wins. Super small wins. In fact, maybe we call them micro wins.

CRM Micro Services

Micro Services CRM and the future of customer relationship management

Let me be the first to say I dislike talking about other software because what I prefer to do is talk about our software and why Saelos is different. And why Saelos is better and ways in which Saelos stands apart, and functions differently than other systems. And so let’s talk about Saelos and the future of the customer relationship management space. I hinted at my ideas at the end of the last paragraph and in the title to this one.

As technology has advanced we’ve ridden the waves of box software, to hosted software, to software as a service. Even the irony of a ‘no software’ software company is hard to overlook. But as we continue to move forward in technology and software we see the landscape continue to change.

If we step out of CRM and look at technology in general we see the shift from hosted software, to containerization, and then server-less software (or functions-as-a-service).

But specific vertical markets like CRM have not made these same advancements, in part because monolithic software companies have found massive profits in their markets and have not been interested in pushing the limits of technology (or even keeping up-to-date with those technology advancements). There’s a second reason why some of these same improvements haven’t been applied to these markets and that’s due to the inability of closed source software to be able to fully capitalize on these changes.

This is why open source software has a particular advantage for businesses. Run your own containers, run your own server-less infrastructure, or even your own function-as-a-service with open source software.

I believe Saelos as an open source server-less CRM gives rise to the future of customer relationships management. I believe we will (and should) see a proliferation of micro-services in the field of CRM. Use the tool that’s right for the job, pick and choose the best parts of each platform to make your business successful. And in this way, Saelos brings immediate success and improvements to businesses that have existing CRM systems already.

And if by chance a business or organization does not yet have a good CRM in place, or is ready for a complete overhaul and change to their current system, than Saelos provides an amazing platform upon which to build. That’s the true beauty of Saelos, use the frontend, cutting-edge UI, use the advanced API backend, or simply use the functions you need. Saelos works perfect in each of those settings.

I am really excited about the future of Saelos and all it has to offer. If you haven’t yet taken it for a spin, I suggest you look for yourself and see what the future holds.


Staying Connected

The last thing I’ll leave you with for this quick update post is a very simple and easy call-to-action. If you like this content and want to be kept in the loop regarding all things Saelos then you need to fill out this short form and you’ll get an update newsletter direct in your inbox each time once is created.

Saelos Newsletter Signup

That’s it. I’ll do my best to keep the Saelos Slack channels updated as well as the newsletter and if you are following my blog here, you’ll also get updated whenever I post something here too.

April 29, 2018
Saelos Sunday Update

Well this is an exciting update to share. Saelos was announced and released on April 15. Today is April 29, exactly 2 weeks later. Because everyone is busy I’m sure you haven’t been able to keep up with the progress the same way that I have been so I figured the best thing to do is to write a short update post to give you a sort of a status update on how things have been progressing.

This is of course very early beta software (some would even call it alpha, simply due to its newness) but the status of the code causes me to suggest that we have moved much quicker into beta software status.

These numbers are constantly changing as you can imagine so please don’t put too much faith in any one metric. Rather I’d recommend looking at them as a brief snapshot or glimpse into the growth being experienced. And let me be the first to tell you that growth is evident and exciting. Saelos is moving along at an excellent pace and perhaps even more exciting growing we’re moving forward in a very sustainable fashion. You’ll see why after I share a bit more information.

Okay, here’s a quick stats list:

Stats

  • Downloads/Sites Created: 264
  • Releases: 5 Beta Releases
  • Slack: 22 members
  • Website: 49 members
  • Pull Requests: 0 open / 7 closed

Wow, those types of numbers and to be only 14 days old is quite exciting. Perhaps the last statistic is the one that speaks the most to me. As an engineer at heart I am always looking for indicators that other developers are also interested in and willing to contribute to a project where I am involved. The number of pull requests submitted by community volunteers in the very first couple of weeks of this project is indicative of several things – including the ease of readability of the platform and code.

In fact, even better, I saw 4 community created pull requests in the first 24 hours! (Of course a couple of these were minor issues, but still, the point remains the same: the software is easy-to-read and modify.)

I should also mention the new website just briefly since I realized I never shared anything about that earlier (I’m not lying, the time is just flying by these days). I also launched https://www.saelos.org this past week which gives an online home for conversations, announcements, and other things related to Saelos. You should join in so your voice is heard and you’ll be able to share your ideas for future releases of Saelos and begin getting involved yourself (Are you interested in documentation? If so, we should talk).

Notable

Beyond the highly notable achievements listed above occurring within the first 2 weeks of release an additional exciting contribution came in the work of Luiz who has already created and taken lead for maintaining a Saelos Docker container. This makes installation and setup of a new Saelos instance incredibly fast and simple (and significantly encourages new users to try Saelos).

Next Milestones

The next obvious question is “now what?” What release comes next and when? This question is a little harder to answer simply because when dealing with beta software new issues or uncovered all the time and the desire is to create as stable a product as possible before releasing a 1.0 stable. Currently there are about 10 issues open in GitHub but of course they vary in difficulty and time to implementation.

Major Release

The next more imminent milestone is the release of an RC (Release Candidate). At this point I’ll have a pretty good idea of what the 1.0 Stable will look like and this release will be a pre-packaged version to begin fixing any last minute bugs before release. This RC should be fairly close to stable. At the moment I don’t have a solid date for that release because we may iterate through a few more – Beta releases first as we knock out issues and make system improvements.

Next Beta

The next beta will more than likely be released next Friday afternoon or Saturday as time permits. I am hopeful to see a number of the open issues resolved with this beta and I can share those fixes as they are merged.

Staying Connected

The last thing I’ll leave you with for this quick update post is a very simple and easy call-to-action. If you like this content and want to be kept in the loop regarding all things Saelos then you need to fill out this short form and you’ll get an update newsletter direct in your inbox each time once is created.

Saelos Newsletter Signup

That’s it. I’ll do my best to keep the Saelos Slack channels updated as well as the newsletter and if you are following my blog here, you’ll also get updated whenever I post something here too.

Have a great rest of your weekend and I’ll see you in Saelos!

open source custom relationship management

April 21, 2018
Saelos CRM: A Technical Advantage

One of my greatest undertakings of this past year has been the development and subsequent release of the Saelos CRM (still in beta of course!). I was able to use my knowledge and experience gained from Mautic (a world-class marketing automation platform) to create a complementary platform for relationship management. I expect if you’re reading this you’ve probably already read the original announcement post (if not, go check that out before continuing). Otherwise, let’s take a few moments to explore what an open CRM looks like and what it means for the future.

By the way, if you haven’t looked at [Mautic](https://www.mautic.org) you should definitely check it out. The open source marketing automation platform is second to none and does incredible things for your marketing department.

Goal

The purpose of this post is to showcase just a bit of the Saelos CRM technical advantage. I’ll touch briefly on the methodology and practices implemented as well as the reasons for various technical choices made along the journey.

As a brief overview, Saelos has been written in two distinct sections. A frontend and a backend. This was done to make Saelos completely headless. (I’ve jokingly made the comment that not only did we create the first headless CRM, but also the first bodiless CRM as well – I’ll explain that in more detail later in this post) Creating a CRM in two sections like this allows for the absolute maximum flexibility and customizability in the future by an incredibly wide variety of use cases.

By default Saelos runs smoothly and seamlessly as a single app, so for most users this distinction of “frontend” and “backend” will hold little meaning. But for those more technically minded or for those use cases where it is required Saelos is capable of meeting those advanced requirements.

Without any more delay, let’s start by exploring the backend system for Saelos.

Backend CRM

Saelos backend (not to be confused with admin or config) is the code platform which interacts directly with the database. This backend manages all the code and logic related to the data and then provides a full API by which the Saelos frontend (and other systems) can interact with this data.

Saelos was written in the “API first” mentality and as such every functional aspect of Saelos is controlled and manipulated via an API. That’s a pretty big statement and gives us the ability therefore to offer Saelos as a completely headless app. Any interface can interact with the CRM simply by referencing this robust API.

Technology

Finally, here is a quick note on the technology involved with the Saelos backend. This platform is written in Laravel (Laravel 5.5) as the base, and follows the 12 Factors of recommended methodology for apps.

Frontend CRM

The Saelos frontend is the UI platform which the user interacts with directly. This visual interface makes functional calls to the API to return the information in a user-friendly format. This interface is cutting-edge and incredibly intuitive. And that’s not just marketing speak. The Saelos UI responds instantly and is declarative as well as component-based.

The Saelos interface is able to cache responses, storing data in the client’s browser for improved query speed, only making server calls when the data is changed. Doing this takes full advantage of modern browser local caches and makes page load speeds lightning fast (and in many cases non-existent).

Just as the backend is able to function independently of the frontend; so the UI can function independent of the backend. This means, as I joked in the beginning – Saelos CRM is completely bodiless. You can take the Saelos UI and connect it to your data source provided your admin backend implements the same API endpoints.

Technology

Again, as a final note on the technology involved. The Saelos UI is written completely in React. This compiled with axios, redux, and lodash provides one of the best frontend platforms available today.

Outcome

The outcome or result of this approach to a modern CRM and sales enablement platform is abundantly clear. Lightning fast, incredibly flexible, and infinitely customizable. No other CRM or sales enablement tool gives this much freedom. Saelos, a single powerful application, with the ability to exist as two complete platforms, capable of being independently as needed.

To be clear, Saelos does not replace Mautic in any world. Instead Saelos is a beautiful and perfect compliment to an outstanding marketing automation platform. The lessons learned from Mautic have been applied to make Saelos incredible, but it doesn’t stop there. Already, Saelos is giving back, allowing the Mautic community to begin expanding and improving our code for version 3 (already in the works!). This is a beautiful symbiotic relationship where two open source projects and communities are able to work together to improve each other and I am so excited to be a part of each.

Interested in learning more about Saelos? Read the original announcement post, then check out the new community website!

April 15, 2018
Announcing Saelos Beta

Introducing Saelos Open Source CRM

Wow. I’m a little in shock that this day has finally arrived. It feels like months and months and months in the making. (Probably because it has been). And I couldn’t be happier with the result. What I want to share with you today is the result of untold nights and weekends. Long days and quite literally thousands of hours of time. I’ve talked about it before, but time is our most valuable asset. We can’t buy, beg, borrow, or steal more of it. As a result there’s nothing that costs more than time. With that thought in mind, what I am about to share with you is a gift. A gift of my time. It will cost you nothing. I give it to you completely for free. But wait, before you think that’s the end of the story. Let me stop you and share with you something I believe is even greater than a free CRM. This gift I’m giving you, the one comprised of my countless hours of time I will never get back – this gift is more than just free. It’s open.

This is now completely and totally available for you, for me, for everyone to continue to improve upon. This creation now lives freely available and completely open in front of you and the rest of the world. No one has seen anything quite like it before. Every line of code is available for you to review and improve upon.

As with any software this project starts its life as a beta. Now I believe you will be hard-pressed to find other beta software with the feature richness and depth that you’ll find in this one, but I am sure you will find bugs. Please remember, this is beta software.

I would be remiss if I didn’t specifically mention one very important individual who has joined me for this ridiculously challenging journey. From the beginning there has been one person that deserves special recognition for his willingness to tackle any problem, to identify the best solutions, and to build anything he was asked to build. I’d like to thank Don Gilbert for his tremendous contribution and his dedication to this project, without him I would not be announcing what I’m announcing today. Thank you Don.

I am sure by now everyone knows what I am about to share with you. I’m sure you’ve read the previous posts, heard me speak, or gotten some other insider scoop into what I want to share with you today, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less exciting or any less monumental of a moment. Today, I am pleased to announce that Saelos, Open Source CRM, is officially available for download.

The Saelos repository links will be shared at the end and the website will also be immediately available as of today to give you the download.

But let me first tell you a little bit about this amazing software which I’m sure you’re dying to know more about.

Open Source CRM Software

An Open CRM

Saelos is customer relationship management re-imagined. It almost pains me to call it a CRM. It’s more a beautiful blend of sales enablement, customer relations, and incredible intelligent relationship management. I knew when I started thinking about this system I wanted to solve a problem. A problem I faced. It seemed every time I wanted to find out something about someone I was stuck logging in, clicking through what felt like a million links, staring at a hideously ugly screen, and ultimately being presented with some table layout of information that was disjointed, outdated, and difficult to search through.

What I wanted was a way to see the people that mattered to me, to easily see (and update) their information, to be told what things they were related to, and to be able to instantly connect with them. All I wanted was intuitive, beautiful, fast, access to the people I cared about. I believed I should be able to have this. I believed the relationships in my life mattered and I shouldn’t have to waste my time trying to maintain them.

This meant designing modern software capable of solving this problem. This meant rethinking everything I knew about existing systems, taking the pieces, and creating something new. The trick always lies in attempting to create something new and yet familiar. I believed whatever I built had to feel comfortable. I wanted you to sit down, log in and feel at home. You just know where things are, you know how they should work…and they do, beautifully.

So, what can you do with Saelos? I’m glad you asked, let me show you a few features I think you’re really going to like.


Contact and Customer Relationship Management

Contacts

The first and most obvious area in Saelos are the contacts, you’ll notice I’m using terms you’re probably familiar with, and immediately you know what I’m talking about. The contacts gives you a blazingly fast list of your contacts, and wow, is it ever beautiful. You’ll probably want to know how it’s so fast and what the software is behind this platform. I’ll tell you more about that in a bit, but first, let’s just look around the contacts to see what all we can do.

Overview

In the middle of the screen you’ll find all the details about the person you’re looking at. You see their address, and other important information right at the top, and then convenient groupings of other fields below. These fields are customizable and easy to create in the config section.

Track Every Field History Audit Trail CRM

History

Sometimes my memory fails me for a second and I need a reminder about what’s happened with someone in the past. It’s embarrassing to ask and it’s time-consuming to hunt through old messages to try and figure it out. In Saelos you simply click the arrow at the top of the right panel and you’ll instantly see everything that’s happened with this person. Every field update, every interaction, every status change, everything.

Creating Activities in Saelos for Tasks Calls SMS

Activity & Conversations

I mentioned interactions a second ago, and you’ll probably notice I slipped right over the top row of icons. Let’s look at those real quick. Sometimes you want to give someone a quick call, it’s as easy as clicking a button – one button. And you’re connected via your phone. But that’s not all, with a simple config setting every call can be recorded and attached. And it‘s not just phone calls, you can send text messages (and receive them) as well as send email. And you can do all of these tasks without ever leaving the page.

If we look underneath the person you’ll find a record of each conversation (phone call, email, text) instantly and easy to review, Saelos CRM makes your conversation tracking effortless.

I love how everything is logically laid out and easy to find. Everything working together at the speed of my thought. This is revolutionary.

Saelos Account Based Management

Companies

Beyond just contacts, it’s important to keep track of the accounts and companies where your relationships work (and worked in the past). Keeping track of all this information as well as any opportunities, tasks, and notes associated with each account can be overwhelming at times, but Saelos helps you manage them all by placing them directly on the page along with the company information. You’ll never have to go far to see these details. Which brings me to the next area to explore: the details.

Details

The panel on the right is full of valuable information you can use to easily jump from one thing to another. Your mind works incredibly fast, you process relationships and connections almost instantly, and now you can get information delivered to you at that same speed. Companies, opportunities, tasks, and notes are all conveniently located right next to your person. You can see and manage the status of the relationship instantly as well in Saelos CRM. (Need to add more statuses, again, an easy config option)

Saelos Opportunity Tracking and Deal Management CRM

Opportunities

But managing my people involves more than just their personal details. I also want to know what opportunities (another familiar term) I had with various contacts. I wanted to know what stage those opportunities are in and what next step is best to take. Just like with the contacts we can easily scroll through our opportunities to find the one we’re looking for (or use the advanced search filtering to quickly narrow the list). More custom fields can be added here and I can easily see all the related information here as well. Creating and managing these opportunities has never been easier.

Saelos Provides Tagging and CRM Organization Open Source

Tagging

The last thing I want to draw special attention to involves beautiful, incredibly functional tags. Tagging in Saelos lets you quickly link items that might not be linked anywhere else. You can pick a name, pick a color, and even add an emoji. Then, you can easily see people, companies, opportunities, and tasks associated with that tag. It’s ridiculously simple and yet surprisingly powerful.


There really is so much greatness captured in this system it’s hard to highlight only a few of them, but it wouldn’t be any fun if I didn’t let you discover some of them for yourself. That’s the beauty of a system like Saelos where everything is so intuitive, it really is like a fun opportunity to discover something new and exciting.

Here’s a few hints for things you should definitely check out:

Analytics and Opportunity Pipelines in Saelos CRM


Manage Sales Reps, Quotas and Task Management in Saelos CRM


Custom CRM Fields in Saelos for Tracking Everything


Open Source CRM Gives Custom Views to Sales Reps


I hope by now that you’re sufficiently prepared for what you are about to find. But before I let you go and use Saelos for yourself I want to share some of the incredible tech that supports this system.

Saelos is built in 2 parts. A robust API powers every single function and control within the CRM platform and provides a system by which you can interact with the database. It is completely decoupled from the front-end interface making it perfectly capable of interacting with any other front-end you desire. Although, I seriously doubt you’ll find another front-end as beautiful, as powerful, and as perfectly configured as you’ll find with the one built for Saelos. This front end uses cutting edge JavaScript technology to serve pages at lightning speed right from your computer. Saelos was created with the goal of loading and rendering pages in 300ms or under. This was created because I wanted the pages to load faster than I can blink. The result is a beautiful seamless combination of two systems to create a tool that functions faster than the blink of an eye, literally.

Finally I mentioned earlier that this is beta software and that you will undoubtedly find bugs. I also mentioned that this was started as a gift made available to you, free and open source. But this is not the end, it doesn’t stop with an a gift given. No, this is the beginning. Now you have an opportunity. An opportunity to make the gift better, to continue the act of generosity and improve this software for yourself, but more importantly for others. Be patient as you implement but hold Saelos to a high standard at the same time. Gather issues and report them. Take the next step and fix them. Become a part of this community that is now forming and take an active role in forming the foundation for this open source project.

Now, with all that information shared, and without any future awaiting. I am proud to give you immediate access to Saelos Beta. Here are your download links:

Full Package Download: https://github.com/saelos/saelos/releases/tag/1.0-beta
Code Repository: https://github.com/saelos/saelos

Please be sure to star this repo and share it with others! If you have questions, drop me an email. I’ll be sharing even more documentation in the coming days. For now, the repository has step-by-step setup if you’re building your own. The download package you simply unzip into your web folder.

What are you waiting for? Start exploring Saelos CRM! Tell others, tweet about it, facebook post about it, share on LinkedIn; just please help me spread the word! Let’s change the way we think about relationships in business!

Interested in the slide deck? Download the PDF here.

Saelos Open Source Software

March 25, 2018
Sunday Saelos Update

Since it’s my weekend project and since today is Sunday I feel it’s an appropriate time to publish a quick update on Saelos. I’ve done the unthinkable. In the world of software development and releases some might say I’ve done the unimaginable. I announced a release date. That’s right, in case you missed my previous blog post (catch up here), I have announced a date when I’d be releasing my passion project Saelos.

I’m not repeating that date here, if you’re curious about when it is…go check out the previous post. Let’s just say under my current level of stress and the number of hours left in my weekend it’s going to be a bit of a hard deadline to hit. But I’m committed. And just in case announcing something like an actual date of release isn’t stressful enough – the response I’ve received so far has been insane. Far more than I anticipated.

I’m a stats kind of guy, and as a programmer the numbers and equations are kind of a thing for me. I love to see and find patterns and since my little side project is just getting started I figured I’d set the stage right by sharing various stats as I go and as I get closer to a release. Because there’s something else that defines me; besides just being into the numbers and the patterns. I am open. I believe in open source to my core and that same openness pervades other areas of my life too. I hope you find the inside view refreshing and informative. Let’s get rid of black boxes.

Okay, so here’s some information coming at you: Since I published the blog article on March 14 (roughly 11 days ago) there have been 472 individuals that have submitted the form requesting more information. We can also take a quick look at geographic information and see 35 different countries are represented by those known contacts with the majority of those originating in the United States. The website has tracked more than 5,000 unique visitors. And that’s just a couple of the numbers.

In case you’re curious: I collect these types of details (and much more) using Mautic, an incredible open source marketing automation platform.

In regards to the blog article, it has exploded into the top 10 most visited pages of all time on my website (interested in the first?) . And this is after only 11 days of being published. I find this exciting and intimidating at the same time (no, not being trying to be cliché). It’s awesome because it means there’s a real interest and a real concern. It’s terrifying because I put a date on it! What was I thinking? And why on earth am I wasting my weekend hours writing a blog post instead of working on it?

I guess because I want you to be as excited as I am about what’s coming and I want you to know what’s going on behind-the-scenes. The numbers are fascinating and exciting. The interest is very real and I want you to be a part of the entire journey, start to finish. All in all, things are progressing nicely and I can’t wait to share more with you. If you do want to know more, check out the splash page, throw in your email address, and get notified when something new is shared. (You can also sign up on my blog here on the left to be notified).

Now, I’ve got to get back into things. I’ll do my best to share a bit more with you in the days ahead. But don’t sit around waiting for me! Sign up to let me know you want me to reach out and then go out and get something done (or enjoy your relaxing Sunday)! We’ll be talking again soon.

March 14, 2018
Introducing Saelos: A Personal Project

Some of you may have noticed that it’s been a little while since I posted a longer piece on my blog. That’s not because I haven’t wanted to but because of some other things I’ve been pouring every spare second into. Literally every spare second. We won’t get into a discussion on the topic of sleep habits (maybe I’ll come back to that one – it’s interesting) but suffice it to say, the time I’ve spent has been all-consuming.

But that’s what happens when I am passionate about an idea and want to see it developed. I lose myself in it. I can’t help but think that’s normal though right? Don’t you do the same thing when it’s something you’re incredibly excited about? Regardless, I’ve come up for air now and decided it’s worth taking a few minutes and letting you in on my personal project. This is just something I personally believe the world needs and a shift in a current status that I think can improve lives and business for everyone.

If you’ve never read the book What Do You Do With An Idea? you should stop right now and pick up a copy). It’s a children’s book so don’t fret – you can finish this one in a few minutes.

So, what do I start with? The solution? The problem? Oh, wait, I know. I should start with why. Let’s do this:

I’ve watched people keep lists my whole life. I’m a list maker. I love making lists of things and keeping track of how I’m doing as a result. So when computers came around people wanted to create lists on it. Natural progression. As is always the case with software one list became multiple lists. Then people dreamed up the fabulous idea of using those lists for showing more information. What a beautiful thing. Now my list of a sentence could be an entire paragraph or more. What if I wanted to define fields and then allow other people to edit and update my lists. At a very high level this concept of a list item gradually turned into the idea of a single record with lots of data in it.

Okay, everyone with me so far? I’m going to jump ahead a few steps so keep up we have to start moving faster (I have a thing for speed). Companies began to create software to help with managing these records. They all started with this idea of building a list and adding more and more fields to each record. Display the record differently, use different names for the list items (or objects) then package it as a different software product. Rinse and repeat. This was the state of the world and then the internet came along and these companies all moved their products to the web. Same product, same thinking, but a different medium. (C’mon people, this is “the internet”)

But the thinking that built these platforms was inherently the same (for the most part). One company even went so far as to attempt to use a “No Software” logo, which attempted to suggest a new paradigm shift in business work, but this was the same thinking, different platform. The software was never the problem. The thinking about how it was built and the implementation of how it functions is.

This problem of record management was something that I both heard about and experienced myself. A world of “apps” all performing the same CRUD tasks (Create, read, update and delete – Wikipedia). Then you could even build your own app on top of an app to add more of the same with different fields you wanted to track or different functionality you wanted to have. But the underlying system was faulty. And though the underlying code was constantly being added to and tweaked, it was the same framework. And I believe people need a change. I believe software today is fundamentally different from software of yesterday. Below are my fundamental principles about software.

Software should:

  1. Be modular not monolithic.
  2. Be extensible.
  3. Solve specific problems.
  4. Be active.
  5. Be open.

Those five fundamental beliefs shape the work I do and the projects I work on. I absolutely believe this. Let’s look at each very quickly.

Software should be modular and not monolithic.

My statement here is more than just the concept or idea of bolting more pieces onto a base. That’s the app tacked on to an app tacked on to an app idea which businesses today attempt to do. By modular I mean the core functionality should be able to be removed, replaced, rebuilt and improved upon.

An example of this lives in the Mautic platform. Mautic functions as an omni-channel marketing platform. Fancy words, simply put, Mautic lets you market across email, sms, social, web, mobile and more. The channels are fundamental to the software, but they are completely modular. Want to use SendGrid instead of SparkPost to send your email, no problem? Have a different ESP? Drop in your credentials and go. What about SMS, Team Twilio or Team Plivo, the choice is yours. Mautic is fundamentally modular in it’s approach.

Software should be extensible

I believe the idea of extensibility is broken in many cases. This idea is commonly misconstrued in the world through the proliferation of “App stores” within product companies. (/I’m not referring to Apple or Android which provide applications to be run on an operating system./) Software being extensible means something quite similar to the first point. Modular software can be easily extended to include additional functionality while not losing its core purpose. But extended to a different ecosystem (or app) through the open exchange of data.

Software should solve specific problems

Too many software companies today try to be all things to all people. The world is not your target market. I believe in the idea that software should be accommodating and flexible but this doesn’t mean it’s a one-size-fits-all approach. Flexible means the software should fit your business rather than your business conforming to the software; but the problems to be solved are unchanged. This means the processes might vary, but the solutions remain the same.

Software should be active

I know this point sounds funny but the majority of today’s software is passive. It responds to requests, it dumbly regurgitates what it has been given and spits out a mangled version of an answer … when asked a question. I call this passive software. In contrast, I believe software should be active. It should proactively assist me in performing a task or reaching a goal. (These many software assistants are absolutely passive but that’s another post.) Software should be helpful and active in enabling the user to move faster and do more, intelligently.

Software should be open

I left this one to last because it’s the foundation. It’s the belief on which everything thing else is built. I believe software should be open. There are countless studies, reports, and white papers on the reason why so I won’t sidetrack this discussion. I believe in open. An open software empowers people and enables the other points above.

Relationship Management

All of that brings me to a problem I face. I needed something to help me manage relationships. But everything that existed in the world was old, bloated, slow, inflexible, and closed. Yep, pretty much the exact opposite of everything I listed above. It’s frustrating. But solvable. I believed I could create a platform that managed relationships but was built on the principles I believed in. So I started working.

I wanted to create something blazingly fast (regardless of the number of people) being managed. Something modular that could be easily extended, something that solved some very specific problems, something active in its interactions, and most importantly something open.

I’d like to introduce Saelos. An open platform built on the software principles I shared. The purpose: customer relationship management. That’s a tricky one to say because instantly I’m sure you conjured up one (or more) companies that offer a solution under this label. But Saelos is different. Very different. Because Saelos is something I’m calling active software. By this I mean that not only does it manage customer records differently but it also actively helps you maintain connections, build relationships, and accomplish your goals by actively assisting you. Task completion, recommended actions, process improvements, and intelligently created reminders are just a few ways that Saelos will do things for you.

Let me be clear: Saelos does far more than just incorporate another workflow builder and follow simple step-by-step procedural tasks created by a user. Saelos builds them for you, and then executes them. And informs you along the way, all the time enabling and empowering you to do more of what you should be doing with the right person at the time you should be doing it.

Possibly the best part of this entire project is that Saelos is built on the right foundation: open. This means Saelos can be downloaded, self-hosted, installed, configured, and improved upon by everyone.

I have so much more to share and I can’t wait to show you what’s been created. I’ll be giving early access to the project I hope by the end of the month. (Friday, March 30 2018). I know it’s forbidden to set a date in software development…but I’m feeling pretty good about this.

Are you interested? Do you believe in the same fundamental principles as me? Would you like to experience something different in how you manage and interact with people? Sign up for early access here, and let me know. Oh, and subscribe to notifications on my blog to be on the insider’s list. I’ll be posting more information and (hopefully) screenshots in the days and weeks leading up to the release. It’s coming fast, I hope you’re as ready as I am.