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Success with Advansys - Custom-R-Tools

Novell Cool Solutions: Trench
By Advansys

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Posted: 7 Sep 2005


Custom-R-Tools is a software consulting and development firm in the Netherlands. Custom-R-Tools, a joint venture between Ronald de Zwart and Roel van Bueren, provides services to many companies in the northern European region. Custom-R-Tools recently contracted services to Alpha Groep, an international textiles and trading company in the Netherlands. Alpha Groep is a GroupWise? customer of 100 users. Like many GroupWise users, Alpha Groep recognized the importance of customizing the features of GroupWise in order to fully exploit their email platform.

Problem Snapshot

How to integrate a CRM application using a MySQL backend with GroupWise.


Alpha Groep manages their client information through TIC, a Dutch CRM application developed by DNA Services b.v., which uses a MySQL backend to store customer and product info. In order to share the client and product info internally, Alpha employees manually search for information inside TIC and then extract it into a folder from which they send it by email through GroupWise. Although Alpha Groep has been very pleased with GroupWise and TIC, the setup for information sharing between the two components has caused a problem.

Several Alpha Groep employees often communicated with the same clients. Because much of this communication was done through email, important information was often stored in individual employee GroupWise mailboxes and folders instead of inside TIC. In order to share the information, co-workers were forced to wait until email requests for information were answered. This setup prevented Alpha Groep employees from being able to view and extract pertinent information concerning customers, requests, problems, and other details quickly. Co-workers found that they were wasting valuable time communicating with others in attempts to share emails, attachments and other customer information. Because of a lack of integration between GroupWise and TIC, and a central information storage area, Alpha Groep was inefficient and unable to accomplish their business goals.


Custom-R-Tools had two options that offered a solution to Alpha Groep's problem. The first solution was to write C3PO's for GroupWise. This involved writing traditional program code that would integrate a GroupWise folder with TIC information. The second option was to use Formativ? from Advansys?. Formativ is a product that gives users the ability to customize GroupWise to fit their individual needs.

Why Not Others

Custom-R-Tools chose to use Formativ to solve Alpha Groep's integration and information sharing problem. Although -Custom-R-Tools had experience writing C3PO solutions for GroupWise, they felt that it was too complex and difficult compared to the Formativ option. Too much time and resources would have to be dedicated to writing new code.

Why Formativ

Advansys Formativ extends the GroupWise Client. Formativ is the perfect solution for Alpha Groep because of its ability to quickly and easily extend GroupWise to meet specific and special needs. Solutions can be created manually in house, or can be ordered in packages from Advansys. Moreover, Advansys offers free applet downloads through Novell Cool Solutions where Formativ users can post and download custom applets that they have created and found useful.

Another advantage to deploying Formativ is that creating new solutions requires minimal programming knowledge from Alpha Groep employees. Formativ employs an easy-to-use GroupWise specific scripting language that facilitates the creation of custom applets. As stated above, ready solutions come built in or can be purchased or downloaded, removing the need to create solutions. This is important because Alpha Groep administrators lack sufficient programming proficiency to write advanced solutions.

Solution Snapshot

Simple end-user experience to link GroupWise data with TIC CRM application. The Custom-R-Tool end-user experience was:

  • Click custom link button in GroupWise client
  • Select email to be linked to TIC
  • Right click and select "Link to CRM"
  • CRM integration template automatically launched
  • Choose customer
  • Click "Link" button
  • GroupWise message automatically linked to TIC

To watch a one minute demo click on .

Deploying Formativ

Custom-R-Tools chose to deploy the Formativ Small Business 2.0 bundle for Alpha Groep. By choosing Formativ Small Business, Alpha Groep could create, download, and run Formativ applets and solutions with Formativ Runtime and Formativ Creator. Using Formativ Studio, Alpha Groep could also secure and manage the Formativ solutions through Novell eDirectory. Additionally, at around $9.00 per user, Formativ Small Business was an inexpensive and effective solution for a small organization like Alpha Groep.

Custom-R-Tools used the Formativ rapid development tools to enable the employees to copy and save any email, including attachments, to the TIC database. Once this was done, the email or attachment was also automatically linked to the customer's TIC file. Alpha Groep employees could then access the central customer correspondence database and obtain any customer correspondence.

The deployment of Formativ was quick and transparent. Once the Formativ software was installed on Alpha Groep's hard drive, all 100 users had unlimited access to the Formativ applets and solutions. Since the Alpha Groep central folder solution was specific and automatic, very little training was required to teach employees about the new solution.

Current Attitudes and Changes

The changes inspired by the Formativ solutions created by Custom-R-Tools for Alpha Groep allow employees to effectively access and share important customer information. Alpha Group has noticed that communication between co-workers is now free flowing and that they are able to perform their work with more ease and speed, with a significant increase in employee collaboration. The ultimate outcome has been faster turn around in customer communication which is very important for Alpha Groep.

Although Alpha Groep employees are unaware that Formativ solved their communication problem, they are very pleased with the ease and speed at which they are now able to work. Management, likewise, is pleased with the power of Formativ. They notice that employees are working faster and more efficiently which has saved Alpha Groep time, resources, and most importantly, money.

Moving Forward

Custom-R-Tools has been using Formativ to provide GroupWise solutions for 3 years. They have found that in almost every instance, clients like Alpha Groep continue to solicit Formativ applets and solutions to increase efficiency of their business model.

Ronald de Zwart, co-president of Custom-R-Tools, states, "Formativ is a very powerful tool for GroupWise users. I find that the use of Formativ provides clients with applications that increase the efficiency of GroupWise relative to specific client needs. Since different organizations and different industries have different needs within their GroupWise client, there is a need for a product that can extend GroupWise and guarantee maximization of GroupWise investment. Formativ is that solution."

More information on Advansys Formativ and solutions, including free 30-day trial software can be found at

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