Contact management for small teams

We’ve been testing a few CRM platforms at Bethnal Green Ventures over the past couple of weeks and I thought it was worth writing up what we found because when I had a bit of a search around I couldn’t find any particularly relevant reviews. Because it’s a couple of years since I last looked at what’s available, things have moved on a lot – mainly because of APIs which let them integrate with Gmail and all the social media platforms.

We’re a team of 3/4 people who are usually in the same office but travel quite a lot. Our basic requirement is to be able to see who’s contacted who but it also:

  • Needs to work out of the box. We’d prefer not to have to spend ages configuring it.
  • Needs to have custom tags
  • Good social media integration a plus
  • Shouldn’t cost more than £50 a month for 4 users and 10,000 contacts.

After a quick look at the really big systems (Salesforce, SugarCRM etc) which we decided just needed too much configuration, we decided to give these ones a go:

We’ve actually tried Insightly and Highrise before but never really stuck with them. Having said that we’re big fans of what 37signals have done with Basecamp, it seems like an all together better product than it was a few years ago so, so we were willing to give it another go.

First impressions:

Insightly: not particularly slick and the layout was a bit confusing (2/5)
Solve360: looks a lot like Google Apps but actually a bit confusing (3/5)
Nimble: good looking and easy to navigate (4/5)
Highrise: simple and intuitive (4/5)

Adding contacts in bulk:

Insightly: took a few minutes to work out that it uses your gmail address book (3/5)
Solve360: couldn’t immediately see how to do this at all (2/5)
Nimble: so easy, added Gmail, Linkedin, Twitter contacts within minutes (5/5)
Highrise: not quite so straightforward, struggled adding exported address book from Gmail (3/5)

Search:

All of them pretty good to be honest if you know what you’re looking for (all 4/5).

Tags:

You have to be an admin in Solve360 to create tags which confused us for a while (2/5). Highrise is let down by not having a simple way to see a list of companies (3/5). Nimble and Insightly pretty good (4/5).

Fun to use?

Insightly: not particularly fun, but not bad (3/5)
Solve360: we got frustrated pretty quickly, definitely not fun (1/5)
Nimble: it sounds daft but both Lily and I found ourselves a bit addicted to adding and updating people (5/5)
Highrise: pretty good but nowhere near as fun as Nimble because there’s less social media integration (4/5)

Cost (4 users, 10,000 contacts):

Insightly: $29 per month
Solve360: $49 per month
Nimble: $60 per month
Highrise: $49 per month

So overall we liked Nimble the best. Yes, it’s the most expensive but still reasonable I think and it’s genuinely amazing how much of the work it does for you.

 

 

  • http://twitter.com/dt99jay Jamie Young

    Interesting. Could you recommend a free (as in beer) alternative to the above?

  • http://www.paulmiller.org Paul Miller

    Insightly probably has the best free deal – it’s free for up to 3 users and 2,500 contacts I think.

  • http://www.hashdoc.com/ Tarek Koudsi

    I’ve been using Nimble for a while and I like it, I was thinking of switching to something cheaper and maybe newer but I’m thinking twice now. Useful post, thank you.

  • http://www.piesync.com/ Simon

    You can view all Companies easily in Highrise, but you have to know where to look (it’s indeed not that obvious). Just go to Contacts and click the link ‘change view’ at the top.

    We also use Highrise and in order to really increase adoption internally (so we get our money’s worth), we have created an integration with Google Apps, since we spend most of our time in Gmail anyway. We created an application out of at http://www.piesync.com. It sync contacts and gives an easy way to manage your data right from an email.