When Written: May 2005
SUPPLIER Frontrange 08704017480
VERDICT: Goldmine is a very powerful CRM product that will reward the user who spends time learning it, by being able to do almost anything related to CRM.
Goldmine, is a well respected CRM program for all sizes of company, it is available as single or multi-user. Whilst strictly speaking CRM stands for customer relationship manager, Goldmine goes further and it not only enables you to look after your customers but you can keep track of all communications with anyone or any company that you or your company has dealt with in any capacity.
We have reviewed version 6.5 in issue 115 (http://www.pcpro.co.uk/reviews/54960/frontrange-goldmine-65.html?searchString=goldmine+goldmine ) and so in this review we will just be concentrating on the changes between 6.5 and 6.7. Behind the scenes Goldmine is a database and a fast one at that and the power of any database is its ability to search and filter the data contained within it. Goldmine has always been able to build and apply filters but version 6.7 has added to the way of doing this by providing a ‘Lookup Wizard’. This allows the user to build queries in SQL. This is a universal query language. Within Goldmine 6.7 you can do this by either typing in the necessary code, or more helpfully, by selecting from a series of drop down lists of fields and sample data. Probably a combination of the two methods will be used by users, where the basic query is build by using the drop down lists and then fine tuned by manual editing, but either way it is up to the user. These queries can be saved to use again, and the results from them can be outputted to Word, Excel or of course a printer. The SQL seems to be limited to ‘SELECT’ type queries, just as well as a user typing ‘DELETE from table’ would not make your day!
Searching has been further improved by allowing users to search by record type as well just field names so now you can for instance, look for all your contacts who are resellers.
Previous versions of Goldmine have allowed you to not only dial a contact from the database but also it would ‘pop up’ the customer’s details when they rang you. This used industry standard telephony interfaces to work with your internal telephone systems. All this is still in version 6.7, and fairly recent developments in telephony have meant that phone calls can now be easily made using the internet. Goldmine supports the two main systems, Skype and SiP, these have become an industry strength and standardised way of making low cost local and international calls. You can connect in several ways including buying an interface box to plug into your company PBX telephone exchange. These boxes plug into your network and provide a normal phone line type connection. So it probably is no surprise that Goldmine will now route calls through a VoIP phone thus saving the company money on calls. Calls to callers on the same system are free, whilst calls to other users on ‘normal’ land lines or mobiles are a matter of a few pence per minute depending on whereabouts they are in the world. This can mean a significant saving particularly if the company’s clients are abroad.
Most companies using CRM software will have one or more people out ‘on the road’ and these people often need to synchronise their PDA or smart phone with the CRM system so that they have the latest information with them. Version 6.7 has improved the synchronisation capabilities with Palm OS3 with more custom fields being available as well as the ability to import specific activity types. For this to work you must use HotSync 4.0 or above. Security has also been improved, allowing administrators to set who can synchronize and what data they can have access to.
To speed up data entry a table can be created linking post codes to the town and county, so a user just has to enter the post code and the other fields are automatically filled in. Although we use such terms here as post codes, county, and town, Goldmine disappointingly doesn’t. Although loaded on a UK machine running UK OS with regional settings set to UK, with UK sample data selected during the install of Goldmine, the program insists on referring to these fields as ‘Zip Code, City and State. The ability to easily alter these field names would have been useful as well as the ability to alter the format of the address depending on the country, the US-centric nature is a little off putting to many users.
The final change to Goldmine is the appearance of a new API, this is really only of interest to power users and other developers. This API understandably provides an XML interface, and DDE has been thrown out as a way or talking to other applications and COM is now supported. This will mean that integrating the vital data held within Goldmine into your company’s other system should be a lot easier and enable Goldmine to become a part of the infrastructure with a modern method of data interchange.
The changes that are in Goldmine 6.7 improve on an already strong product, we would like to have seen some more work done on the UI which still frightens many first time users. Easy customisation of the UI, ability to change field names to reflect local differences and correct resizing of tabbed windows to allow for users with large screens would all be worthwhile additions in our view.
EASE OF USE 4/6
VALUE FOR MONEY 5/6
Article by: Mark Newton
Published in: Mark Newton