While many PC users employ some sort of contact manager to store basic information such as postal and e-mail addresses and phone numbers, actually synchronising that data across an organisation often requires something more substantial. While GoldMine is not necessarily the right solution for large-scale CRM (customer relationship management), it is far more than a PIM (personal information manager) found on most desktops. It is suitable for small- and medium-sized businesses that need to share important information.
GoldMine works by integrating with Outlook to share information across an organisation, so that members of a team have the same contact database, for example, or can track frequently used letters. GoldMine also includes other features for automating the production of marketing or other literature, like notices to remind clients of expiring contracts, as well as tools to analyse such things as sales quotas or calls made.
The latest version of GoldMine has been designed with a new look and feel, essentially incorporating Outlook-style buttons and toolbars that can be customised by the user. Some features, such as synchronisation and installation, have been simplified, while new templates have been included for users working in areas such as insurance, financial services or mortgage lending. It has been redesigned to make it XP-compliant.
Once installed, the interface will be familiar to any Outlook user; for those who do not use this as their default e-mail package, GoldMine is easy to get to grips with and offers quick access to all the buttons and settings that you will require. That said, for the kind of organisation that this product is aimed at, some sort of training would be in order to get the best out of it.
Outlook users will also benefit from the fact that GoldMine can import personal details into its own database, creating contact records that form the core of the program. These contact records can be very detailed, including tabs for additional information such as prospects as well as the more usual address and contact details. It is also easy to add appointments that can be shared across a team.
FrontRange makes a great deal of sharing information and, if you are contemplating spending money on a contact manager to supplement Outlook, this becomes crucial to the success of a product like this. As such, GoldMine includes straightforward synchronisation tools: this is at its simplest when working across a network, but the wizard also enables remote users to gain access to data -- though that does come at a cost (nearly equivalent to a full licence).
Equally important for mobile users, you can use the program to copy data between a PDA running Palm OS or variants of Windows CE.
The value of such a program is not simply to store mundane details that could be handled by any flatfile database: GoldMine enables you to share all levels of detail, from meetings and telephone conversations to sales progress and frequently used documents. What's more, information can then be pulled out for analysis to predict future successes.
We had a few issues with GoldMine, largely based around its price: although volume discounts are available, this could quickly become expensive for a medium-sized organisation, and remote licences are pricey. That aside, if CRM software is crucial to your business the program will repay itself many times over with everyday use. It is a sophisticated package that is relatively easy to use even out of the box -- though you must be prepared to train your staff if you wish to make best use of the program.
GoldMine Business Contact Manager 5.7
Synchronising contact data across an organisation is performed well by GoldMine, which integrates with Microsoft's Outlook.
Price: $495 Single licence.
Phone: (02) 8080 3300.