Lately I've been getting enough contacts that the Apple address is getting stretched outside it's boundaries. So I've started to evaluate my work flow for dealing dealing with and following up on contacts for work.
Currently for any contact I make a note in the Address Book notes field with any extra information on the contact I want for later, like where we met, what we talked about and who introduced us. Then if I want to follow up with them at a later date I make a TODO item in OmniFocus.
I've been wondering though if this is the most efficient? Would a dedicated CRM app mean I follow up and track contacts in a way that means I make more money this year?
This has caused me to look at Relationship by Jumsoft. Relationship2 was built purposely to manage contact and projects. It includes email, todo/project management, contact, linking of anything to anything, documents, and a few more things.
Relationship covers pretty much everything that you could want with a CRM application, really it's a business management application not just a CRM. If it included estimating and invoicing I'd never need to leave the application to run my freelance business.
[caption id="attachment_249" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="Relationship Stickies"][/caption]
One thing that many freelancers struggle with is keeping work and personal separate. I know that I have personal and work emails coming into the same application, Relationship makes this easy buy having a built in email client. This offers not only the benefit of having work email in a different application, it also allows you to link specific emails to clients. It doesn't let you link to do individual todo items to emails though. Sure it lets you specific projects but often an email relates specifically to an individual todo item.
What I'm looking for is a CRM application, not a todo application, not a project management application, not an email application I want to easily make notes on what I did with clients and remind myself to follow up (I guess that's sort of a todo application).
While I see that all of these items can/should be related to clients it just feels like more than I'm really looking for. Sure the todo functions work pretty well but OmniFocus has it beat, yeah the relating email to clients is good but Sparrow does email better, sure I need to track projects but Redmine lets me have interaction with clients on the projects too.
The one feature that I really like/need is the documents and linking. Currently I use iDocument with smart folders for clients, if the project gets more than an estimate and contract. This is a functional setup for me but it does feel like it could be better, and Relationship does it better.
As with most desktop apps Relationship is missing a web interface. Sure you can sync it through Mobile Me (yet another thing to pay for) but what if you're out and want to update some information from another computer? If you have an iPhone sure you can update it there which will sync with the desktop version at some point. Unfortunately I couldn't find information on exactly how it syncs. I assume it uses Mobile Me (since I see no other option on the desktop application) which is better than how other apps do it (needing to have both versions open at the same time) but is still something else you need to pay for. Sure support Mobile Me but give me the option of Dropbox or some other free service too.
As I've said before I think that applications should be on the desktop to leverage things like system wide shortcuts and sync to the web as a backup and provide a web interface for the times you're not near your desktop but have access to another computer.
Relationship has a 15 day trial (which is what I've been using thus far). Honestly I think I see promise in it but with 15 days invested I'm not sure that it will really revolutionize the way I work with my contacts. I know it's hard for developers to walk the line between giving their application away for free and providing a solid sample of it.
Something that I wish Relationship had was some tutorial videos to walk me through how to use it's features. I've got 15 days to try it and learn the best ways to integrate it into my work flow, it's unlikely that I'll find the best ways to use the application until I've used it daily for a few months. If I could make one recommendation to Jumsoft it would be to have video tutorials of each feature and a complete walk through to show us how Relationship can be used best so we don't waste 15 days trying to figure it out. It would be a shame to bypass software because we didn't quite understand how useful it could be.
Now that I've started to look at CRM software maybe all I'm really looking for is dated notes in Address book?
Relationship is a nice piece of software that is well thought out and well designed and very affordable, it just feels like more than I'm looking for right now. I'd recommend that you give it try and see if it fits your workflow.