Project Everest

Work Update

[Work Update]: SoCon Malawi - Customer Relationship Management System (CRM) - December 2018

The operations of SoCon depend to a large amount on the spreadsheet-based CRM system. Its current primary function is to record and keep track of repayments for the product-based instalments of the solar product, that is sold in collaboration with the solar consulting team. Further essential information held in the CRM are customer profiles and their respective guarantors, outstanding payments and leads. We experienced throughout this month that the CRM does not provide the required scalability to expand the business for Social Consulting.

For this reason, one of our objectives became to outline the current limitations and identify the requirements for the selection of a new software-based solution that allows SoCon to implement standardised and automated business processes concerning sales, payment tracking and customer service. 


We identified the most valuable functionalities provided by the current CRM solution. We focused on identifying the challenges related to using the existing CRM system for daily SoCon operations. The designated main areas for improvement are as follows:

High administrative effort. We experienced that recording and tracking incoming payments from customers via Airtel Money, or TMN is a time-consuming task. Daily, a person was assigned to read through the incoming SMS and record the payments in the ‘Payment Tracker’ sheet. Also, since the start of the repayment plans this July, payment requests have been sent manually to customers, which was unreliable as they were not sent on a regular basis. Also, existing customers indicated that they would like to receive a payment confirmation message from PEV that contains information about their outstanding balance.

Lack of information exchange between systems. Information about contacts, customers and sales are spread across several systems, such as Hubspot and GoogleDrive. For instance, essential documents of the product-based loans such as deposit receipts, photos of customer/guarantor ID and sales agreements are stored in the GoogleDrive and not consistently linked to the respective customer in the CRM database.

Insufficient scalability. In response to demand for a monthly repayment option, we offered customers this month either to pay 1.800 MWK weekly or 7.200 MWK monthly for six months (43.200 MWK). The current CRM setup does not provide the required flexibility for payment tracking of different types of product-based loans and variable discount models.

Financial Projections. We noticed that extended cash flow forecasting models would allow SoCon to monitor the profitability of the business model more effectively.


We determined essential functionalities for a new CRM. We assigned each functionality to a particular business process, as well as use case the associated feature would solve. Furthermore, we researched available CRM solutions focusing on sales management, payment tracking/ accounting as well as customer service management. Overall, we considered 29 CRM solutions for the further selection process.

From the identified functional requirements, we derived seven decision criteria and assigned weightings.



Financial Projections/ Reporting


Customer Profiling


Loan Management/ Accounting


Automated Messaging










Following the proposed guide (see link below) to narrow the researched CRM solutions and select the most viable system(s) to progress into the pilot testing phase. 

Current CRM System:

Guide for CRM selection:

Requirement Analysis CRM Solution:



edited on 20th December 2018, 14:12 by Sebastian Arnold

Kurt Michl 7 months ago

It would be good to run some regressive modelling to validate the weightings (if this hasn't already been done)

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Sebastian Arnold 6 months ago

Many thanks for your input Kurt. Over this month of project we revised the selection criteria and narrowed the available CRM solutions down to two based on online research, of which Zoho CRM is currently in the implementation phase.

Adjusted requirement analysis for CRM solutions:

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Ella Grier 6 months ago

Status label added: Work Update

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