Microsoft Business Contact Manager 2010 review

While perusing the lists of what’s included with the various editions of the Office suites, you may have come across mention of Business Contacts Manager 2010 (BCM 2010), tucked away in a footnote.

Microsoft Business Contact Manager 2010 review

Only available to purchasers of Office 2010 Professional Plus, this adds Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools to Outlook. It’s for businesses who want to track activities related to customers to a deeper level than with the standard application, placing all sorts of potential information – from leads and business opportunities, to verbal agreements and phone calls – at the fingertips of staff.

It’s split into four separate modules: contact management, sales, marketing and project management. You can customise the interface of each, adding or removing fields, and editing just about any dropdown list you fancy to show your own suggested values, including lists of items for sale complete with cost and price data. It’s all slick and clever, but BCM has never been known for its flexibility, and it’s no different this time around.

Most notably, the underlying structure can’t be changed. BCM 2010 assumes you’re buying and selling things with suppliers and customers that number a few hundred at most. There’s no integration between BCM and any sales ledger or accounts data. You only know a customer is overdue to pay if you manually mark their record as overdue. You can then have the exciting prospect of calling them and reading through a “script” to find out when they’re going to pay.

Microsoft Business Contact Manager 2010

The Project Management features are hardly worth the bother, with no precedence information on tasks nor any roll-up between task and project completion. The Marketing tasks are better, allowing you to select customers by criteria or manually and send email, letters or brochures through Outlook, Word or Publisher. The Sales module lets you apply automatic scoring to leads based on custom criteria, and to set your own sales stages.

Perhaps more worrying than this, however, is that BCM 2010 doesn’t seem to be a priority for Microsoft any more. Although prior versions of BCM came in the Small Business edition of Office, it’s now only available in the Professional Plus edition – and this change, along with a distinct lack of communication over its 2010 release and the recent dropping of Microsoft’s Office Accounting, has made many nervous about its future.

Details

Software subcategory Office software

Operating system support

Operating system Windows Vista supported? yes
Operating system Windows XP supported? yes
Operating system Linux supported? no
Operating system Mac OS X supported? no

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