CRM throws spotlight on full moon's effects

Are police medical emergencies influenced by the phases of the moon? Apparently so — it's one of the more unusual discoveries to emerge from early UK testing of Microsoft CRM 3.0

Essex Medical & Forensic Services (EMFS), a medical firm, has become one of the first UK users of Microsoft's CRM 3.0 to go public with its experiences, just days before the official full launch of the product on 1 December.

EMFS began using CRM 3.0 in April, in conjuction with Aspective, a public sector software specialist. Speaking on Wednesday, company representatives revealed that EMFS — which organises medical cover for the police across Essex, Suffolk, Cambridge and Bedfordshire — has discovered some unusual facts.

According to Steve Roberts, commercial director with EMFS, the peak times for demand for medics are "Friday and Saturday nights, as you would expect but we find that volume goes up at the full moon, which we didn't expect."

But the ability to plan, even for the full moon, is, a big plus in using CRM 3.0, says Roberts. EMFS has been in existence for just a year, and was set up as part of the Government's plans to privatise non-core services such as medical care for people in police custody. It supplies doctors, nurses and other medical personnel when required.

"When the police arranged medical care they only had to guarantee getting someone to see a prisoner within 12 hours," says Roberts. "Our contract says we have to do it in one hour, or two if special medication is required."

The doctors and nurses working for EMFS all have other medical jobs, usually in the NHS, and only do occasional shifts. To set up the system Roberts avoided dedicated medical systems — "they are complicated and expensive", he said — and opted for a CRM system instead. Roberts agreed that managing the time of freelance medical staff doesn't appear to be a normal use of CRM.

"With Microsoft we got it all together. The database, Outlook and all the other applications and the CRM," he said. As a new customer, Roberts took on Microsoft CRM 1.2 and got 3.0 included at the original price together with extra modules — an offer that is open until 3.0 launches next week.

"We looked at the others including Saleslogics (from Sage), GoldMine and Salesforce," said Roberts. "They were too sales-y. We wanted something that was simple to set-up and was very flexible. Salesforce wasn't flexible enough."

Flexibility is crucial to Roberts as he plans to expand his fledgling company into other areas, such as medical services for prisoners in gaol — rather than just those spending time in police cells.

"A CRM system is complex. We wanted to have one that will grow without costing too much."

Meanwhile, Roberts can also keep an eye on the phases of the moon. "It is very flexible. We can use the system for all sorts of things and get instant reports. It is no different from using Outlook, and we know Outlook."