Introduction to Customers, Suppliers and Contact Persons

Information about your Customers, Suppliers, Contact Persons and all other companies and individuals with whom you have some contact is stored in the Contact register. This register is available in many modules including the Sales and Purchase Orders, the Sales and Purchase Ledgers, and Contracts, Quotations, CRM and Service Orders if installed. Storing Customers, Suppliers, Contact Persons and other companies together in one register means that you can make full use of the Calendar, Task Manager, Mails and Letters with companies and individuals of all kinds. It also means that you will only have to maintain a single record for a company who is both a Customer and a Supplier.

Throughout these web pages, the terms "Customer" and "Supplier" are used to refer to records in the Contact register. Those records do not necessarily represent firms that have purchased goods or services from your business, or sold goods or services to you, and in fact can represent any company that is a potential customer or supplier.

The term "Customer" is usually used when describing the use of a record in the Customer register in a sales context, while "Supplier" is used in a purchase context. "Supplier" implies that the Supplier box in the header of the Contact record has been checked.

As soon as contact is established between your business and a potential client or supplier, you should record their details in the Contact register. You should register their relationship with you (e.g. "Prospect" or "Lead") using the Contact Classification field on the 'Contact' card of the Contact record. Mark the record as a Customer or a Supplier or both using the check boxes in the header, depending on their potential or actual relationship to your company. These check boxes will allow you to use the record in sales or purchase transactions as appropriate.

The term "Contact Person" is used when referring to an individual person: this may be a private individual or someone who works for a Customer or Supplier. In the latter case, you will have separate records in the Contact register for the Customer or Supplier and for the individual Contact Person. The Contact Person and Customer or Supplier will be linked using the Customer Relations register (described here).

On the sales side, you can group Customers of a similar type together using Customer Categories. Every Customer belonging to a Category will be given the same default Price List, Discount Matrix and Debtor Account, saving you the work of having to specify these in the Contact records for the individual Customers. Defining and assigning Customer Categories also makes modification easier: if you need to change the Discount Matrix, for example, you only need to make one change (to the Customer Category), rather than many (to each of the Customer records). If you specify information both for a Customer Category and in the Customer record of an individual company belonging to that Category, the information in the Customer record will take precedence. For example, if you specify a Price List in a Customer Category and in a Customer belonging to that Category, the one in the Customer will be used.

Similarly, on the purchase side you can group Suppliers of a similar type together using Supplier Categories. Every Supplier belonging to the same Category will be given the same default On Account and Creditor Accounts, saving you the work of having to specify these for each one individually. A company that is both a Customer and Supplier can belong both to a Customer Category and to a Supplier Category.

Prior to HansaWorld Enterprise version 4.1, Customers and Suppliers were stored in separate registers. In this version, the two registers were made into one. When you update to this or a later version, you can use the 'Convert Suppliers to Customers' Maintenance function in the System module to bring the information in the two registers together. This is described on the Combining Customers and Suppliers