ERM. Web-based CRM

ERM. Web-based CRM For Calling Center


Action is one of the biggest media companies in Russia. Our products are intended for people in different professions: accountants, lawyers, nurses, teachers, personnel officers, security personnel, and so on.

We create many products for each of these professions: reference systems, periodicals and online education. Our articles are read by 18 million people a month. We are the fourth-largest in the professional education market in Russia.

Our main sales channel is telemarketing. There are telephone sales offices in 20 cities across Russia, with a total staff of more than 5000 salespeople. But beyond that, we have a large network of partners who sell our products. Our partners are located in 7 nearby countries.

To ensure sales, Action uses CRM systems. Although the sales process is generally the same (call, talk about the product, sell), and one customer base is used, our offices and partners use two CRM systems.


  1. High cost of support. Two development teams are needed to maintain two systems for one process.
  2. Platform Dependency. CRM for Action is a Windows program that was written about 7 years ago. Any update to the operating system required modifications to the CRM.
  3. High cost to upgrade computers. Action has a large sales force of more than 5000 people. Each of them needs a separate computer and a Windows license.
  4. Inflexibility of the solution. CRM is designed for users with different functionalities: salespeople, their managers, directors. Each group of users deals with their own functions in the same program. Due to the inability to disable unused functionality by roles, everyone uses the same version of the system.
  5. Complicated system and long learning curve. The system was developed without a strategy or plan and as a result became very complex. It required a long learning curve.


  1. Reduce the cost of expansion and equipment upgrades.
  2. Get rid of dependence on one platform. The new CRM must run on any operating system.
  3. Simplify the system so that minimal training is required to operate it.
  4. Divide users into roles so that each person sees only the features they need to work with.

Sales module

ERM is a self-written CRM system which ensures that Action's sales cycle is up and running. Action is one of Russia's largest companies that publishes periodicals, reference systems and educational courses.

In addition to the diversity of our products, they are also sold under different models. Most of our products are sold by subscription, some are one-off products. For example, online seminars. The sale of educational courses, in addition to the actual sale, involves student management and more.

Because of our sales cycle business model, Aktion is not suited to off-the-shelf solutions on the market and we need our own CRM, built entirely around our sales and business processes.

ERM is our CRM, which we have been developing since 2018. I am the only designer on this project. During the work, I was assisted by the art director, and senior designers. I did all the research, prototyping, testing and preparation of the final layouts for all the system components. While working, I interacted closely with customers, business owners, development, product managers and end users.

In this case study I will describe a small part of the system, as a fuller one would be very large.


Business process as the basis of the system

CRM is not a big notebook with clients' contacts and a list of their products in it. Any CRM is a system that is built around a business process and makes that process work. A typical business, like a hairdresser's, bakery, music school, for example, may use an off-the-shelf solution. As their business model is roughly the same all over the world.

Action cannot use an off-the-shelf solution as our business processes are unique and any off-the-shelf solution would have to be very much adapted to us and this would incur costs comparable to creating your own CRM to suit your needs.

The sales manager's forklift is simple and straightforward at every stage. Simplified, any call can be reduced to a linear diagram:

Call structure

We know the stages of the call. Now let's see what information and functionality we need at each stage.

Stage's functionality

We now know what information we need and at what point in the call. So it can be broken down into meaningful parts:

Meaningful parts

The first two blocks (name, contacts, info + script) are always needed together during a conversation with a client. This a) follows from an analysis of the manager's work and b) is a firm requirement of the client. My task was to arrange this information on the screen.

Call card and script

This interface is basic for the manager's work during the call. The client card has all the information the manager needs before he makes the call. This is the history of communication with the client, contact information, the organization in which the client works, current subscriptions.

The right half of the screen is occupied by an interactive script. Each page of the script has all the answer options that a client can voice ("No, I won't buy", "Interesting offer, tell me more", etc.). By clicking on any of the options, the manager is taken to a page that reflects that answer. In this way the manager relies on the script from the beginning to the end of the conversation.


Customer card

During a call there are situations when you need detailed information about a customer. In this case the manager opens the client card. It is a module that contains all the information about the client. All the organisations and people he is associated with, all the products he has ever bought, all the financial transactions, all the problems he has contacted us with and so on.

Customer card


Once a customer has agreed to a purchase, it needs to be placed. The manager goes to the ordering module and creates an order.


Management Module

Each sales office has 150-200 managers. They are all divided into groups of 10. Each group has a manager. He is responsible for the group fulfilment of plans, for the professional development of his subordinates, for team building and much more.

After the sales managers have been working in ERM, it is time to develop tools for the managers. Below we look at some of them.


  1. Need to use two CRMs. Managers can call difficult customers and they use the ERM for that. Their own functions continue in the old CRM.
  2. High support costs. Two development teams are needed to maintain two CRMs.


  1. Get rid off the old CRM. Allow managers to use one tool for all their tasks.
  2. Reduce the cost of the development team.


I will only look at some of the ERM components. Most of the modules cannot be talked about without revealing the data, which is a trade secret.


Every manager has to execute a certain plan in a week. To make it easier to keep track of the plans, there is a monitor. We have two monitors: one for the manager and one for the managers.


The manager's monitor allows you to monitor the indicators and provides a little functionality to adjust some parameters.


A monitor for managers is displayed on the TV which is located in the office. There, each manager sees himself or herself and the other colleagues. Before there were a whiteboards and markers.


Monitor on whiteboard



Work discipline

This is a simple module that shows managers' activity during the day. When they came into the office, when they sat in line, when they went to lunch and so on.

Work discipline


Since the objectives of the Sales and Team Leader modules are similar, I will give the results in general.

  1. The cost of purchasing new equipment has dropped significantly. The company is purchasing inexpensive computers with Linux.
  2. The web application allowed to get rid of the binding to the operating system. ERM works the same way in Windows, MacOS or Linux.
  3. One day to learn ERM interface vs. five days for the old version.
  4. Each group of users has access only to the tools they need to solve problems.
  5. The old CRM has not been completely abandoned yet - this is still a work in progress. However, more than 70% of the modules in the old CRM have been disabled, which has reduced the engineering team and support costs.


We regularly collect feedback from users and ask for comments. Here are the results of one of the surveys — “Please, rate our ERM and leave the comment if you will”.

A total of 1,438 people took part in the survey. Here is the results:


The most valuable grades were 1 and 2. Based on the comments on these grades, we compiled ourselves a backlog to improve the ERM.

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