Managing your Address Book¶
What is the difference between a partner and a contact in OpenERP? A Partner represents an entity that you do business with - a customer, a prospect, or even an employee of your company. In other CRM applications, a partner is also referred to as an Account. A Contact represents a person who works for a partner.
Each partner can have an unlimited number of contacts. OpenERP also allows you to have several contacts with the same address type for one partner. You can easily link several Invoice addresses to a customer, for instance.
If you have recorded several contacts for the same partner, you can tell OpenERP which contact will be used in various documents (e.g. a quotation) by specifying the Address Type.
For example, a partner (company) can have a delivery address that differs from the company's invoice address. If the Address Types are correctly assigned, OpenERP can automatically select the appropriate address during the creation of the document – an invoice is addressed to the contact that has been assigned the Address Type of Invoice, otherwise to the Default address.
The concept of a partner in OpenERP is much more flexible than in many other management applications. Why is that? Because a partner can be your supplier and your customer at the same time. As a consequence, any data you update for that partner will apply to both customer and supplier! Thanks to this, you no longer need to update your address book several times (or even in several places) for the same partner.
The partner form contains information about the company, such as its corporate name, its primary language, and whether the company is a Customer and/or a Supplier . The partner form is composed of several tabs.
the General tab contains information about different contacts of that partner, postal information, communication information and the categories the partner belongs to,
the Sales & Purchases tab contains information such as the default salesman and sales team, and the website,
the History tab gives visibility on the complete Communication History (meetings, marketing campaign activities, leads and opportunities, phone calls, emails) with the partner. The events the partner has been involved in are created automatically by different documents like phone calls, leads, meetings,
the Notes tab is an area for free text notes.
Creating and Updating Partners¶
Before explaining you how to create a partner, just a quick word on the different ways of representing partners in OpenERP. List view shows a list of customers (the default representation when you click the Customers menu). In this view, you can see several customers at a time. Form view is displayed when you click a specific customer to start editing or when you create a new customer.
To create a new partner (a company, customer, supplier, ...) or to display the list of existing customers, use the menu Sales ‣ Address Book ‣ Customers. This menu does not only allow you to create a new partner, but also to search for partners.
Blue fields are always mandatory, meaning that you have to enter a value there. It is impossible to save changes as long as a blue field is not completed.
You should at least enter the company's Name in the partner form. Some fields are text fields, other fields may be linked to existing data that have been entered elsewhere, such as Countries.
Create a customer with the following data:
Name : Smith and Offspring,
Customer checkbox : checked,
Supplier checkbox : unchecked,
Contact Name : Stephen Smith,
Type : Default, in the Postal Address section,
Save the form.
If you use the email gateway, the Outlook or the Thunderbird plugin, do not forget to register an email addresses to each contact, so that the gateway will automatically attach incoming emails to the right partner.
To update a partner, open the corresponding form, select Edit and change the required fields. As explained before, when a company is both one of your customers and a supplier, you just have to edit the partner form once to have changes applied to both customer and supplier.
Why is it important for you to correctly set the Customer and Supplier checkboxes in the partner form? These checkboxes are designed to enable OpenERP to quickly select the partners who should be displayed in some drop-down boxes. An example: when you select a partner in a Sales Quotation, OpenERP will only allow you to select from the list of Customers. And that is precisely what the Customer checkbox is used for.
Managing your Contacts & Addresses¶
You can have several contacts for one partner. Contacts represent company employees that you are in touch with, along with their address details. For each address you can indicate the type (Default, Invoice, Delivery, Contact or Other).
Contacts can be entered into the General tab of the Customer form, or from the list of addresses in the Sales ‣ Address Book ‣ Addresses menu.
Same Contact, Different Partners
Do you have contacts who work for several companies, and need to be linked to several partners? Check out the An Alternative to Manage your Contacts chapter.
Customizing Partner Fields¶
OpenERP also allows you to customize the Partner view to your needs. Click the Manage Views option if you want to add fields, delete fields or change the order of fields in a view.
Let us add the Birthday field to a contact, in the Addresses form view. To do so, go to the Sales ‣ Address Book ‣ Addresses menu and open any address in Form view. In the right menu bar, click Manage Views, then Edit because the corresponding view will already be preselected.
Go to the last line of the view and click the blue plus (+) sign to add a field to the Communication group. Proceed as in the figure below, then click the Update button.
In the Properties screen that appears, you can change the label to Birthday in the String field. To indicate that a new field can be used in the corresponding search view, make sure to select Always Searchable. Click the Update button to confirm your changes. Click Preview to see your result. The Birthday field will now appear in your Address form view, ready to be used.
Performing Actions on Customers¶
At the right side of the Customers list or form view, you will find a list of all of the reports, actions and links available for the selected partner(s). You can perform actions and print reports both from List and from Form view, List view allowing you to do actions for several partners at the same time.
To display the list of possible actions, just select one or more customers or click the arrow at the top of the right side bar.
You can create a new opportunity for a customer, or start a mass mailing. Mass mailings will usually be started from list view, because you will select several partners at a time.
For mass mailings, you might prefer to use the Direct Marketing application, which offers great functionalities (please refer to chapter Driving your Marketing Campaigns).
Another action enables you to quickly send an SMS message.
Send an SMS message
To send an SMS message from standard Open ERP you will have to place an order with the bulk SMS gateway operator Clickatell™ http://clickatell.com.
To send an SMS message to a partner or a selection of several partners, first select the partners in list view, then click the SMS Send Action icon.
Finding your Partners using Filters¶
Open the Customers list view to discover the search options allowing you to easily filter your partners. You can group by Salesman to see which customers have already been assigned a salesman or not. Click the button at the right (the icon of the person) to see the customers you are responsible for.
If you want to display more than the 20 partners displayed by default, click the 1 to 20 of - XX option at the bottom of the screen to be able to change the limit.
Filters also allow you to quickly set lists of customers for which you want to do specific actions. Through the New Filter option, you can also add your own filters for any field related to the Customer form.
You can easily create your own frequently used filters by prefiltering the data the way you want and then using the Save Filter option.
Categorizing your Partners¶
OpenERP uses categories to organize all of its partners according to their relationship with your company (customer, prospect, supplier, and so on). Each partner may be attached to several categories. To open the list of available partner categories, use the menu Sales ‣ Configuration ‣ Address Book ‣ Partner Categories.
Click one of the categories in the partner category structure to get a list of the partners in that category. If you click a category that has subcategories, you will get a list of all of the partners in the main category and in all of its subcategories.
To create a new category, go to the menu Sales ‣ Configuration ‣ Address Book ‣ Partner Categories and click the New button.
Because categories can be organized according to a tree structure, you can apply an action at any level of the structure: a marketing promotion activity, for example, can be applied either to all customers, or selectively only to customers in one category and its subcategories.
You can create your own categories and assign them to your partner from the Customer form. Another way of assigning the corresponding partner to a category is to open the category from the Partner Categories.
In the Profiling your Customers chapter, you will see how to assign partners to categories automatically using segmentation rules.
An Alternative to Manage your Contacts¶
According to your kind of business, the standard way of linking several contacts to one partner may not be flexible enough for you. You could perfectly well have the same employees working for several of your companies. Or maybe you work with representatives ensuring follow up of several of your customers. So you would want to have the same contact linked to different partners.
Of course, OpenERP provides an alternative, the base_contact module, which gives you even more flexibility in managing your contacts.
Easily share the same contact (an employee, for instance), who may perfectly have different jobs, with several partners. You only need to enter (or create) the contact once and link it to the partners concerned, while specifying the position the contact holds for each company in particular. Any changes to contact information only need to be made once for them to be applied to all partners the contact is related to!
We illustrate the concept of multiple relationships between contacts and partners (companies) through an example. The figure Advanced Contact Management shows two companies having several addresses (places of business) and several contacts attached to these addresses.
In this example you will find the following elements:
The ABC bank has two places of business, represented by the addresses of ABC Belgium and ABC Luxembourg,
The addresses of Dexey France and Dexey Belgium belong to the Dexey company,
At the office of ABC Luxembourg, you have the contacts of the director (D. Smith) and the accountant (A. Doe),
Mr Doe holds the post of accountant for ABC Luxembourg and Dexey France,
Mr D. Smith is director of Dexey France and Dexey Belgium and we also have his private address which is not attached to a partner.
An extra menu option will be added, allowing you to display the list of contacts, through Sales ‣ Address Book ‣ Contacts.
The screenshot below illustrates how contacts are handled with the advanced Contacts configuration.
This is a clear way to illustrate the complexities that may be accomplished in OpenERP.
If you correct or change a contact name in the contact form, the changes will be applied to all the posts occupied in the different companies.
The screen below represents a partner form. You can add several addresses, such as Invoice & Delivery, and a list of contacts per address. Each contact has its own data, such as name, function, phone number and email.
Go to Sales ‣ Address Book ‣ Contacts to open a contact form. You enter data in the contact form, containing information such as mobile phone, different functions occupied, and personal blog. You can also add a photo of your contact. If you click the Functions and Addresses line, you will get more details about the job (such as start date, end date and fax).