FrontRange GoldMine 6.7 review
Keeping track of your customer correspondence can be a nightmare at the best of times, and without decent Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software, it can be nigh on impossible. Rather than simply managing the contact information itself, applications such as GoldMine enable you to keep a comprehensive track of both incoming and outgoing communications.
GoldMine has achieved an enviable reputation for the small business upwards, although its power does go hand-in-hand with a complex and sometimes daunting interface. While the look and feel of this latest update remains largely the same as that in version 6.5, it sees the addition of some worthwhile new features.
Behind the scenes, GoldMine is essentially a database, and a very fast one at that. The power of any database is related to its ability to search and filter the data contained within it, and while GoldMine has always been able to build and apply filters, version 6.7 has added a Lookup Wizard. This allows the user to build queries in SQL, greatly enhancing its flexibility and potential for more specific and accurate searches. 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. A combination of the two methods will likely be used, where the basic query is built by using the drop-down lists and then narrowed down by manual editing. These queries can be saved to use again, and the results from them can be outputted to Word, Excel or directly to a printer. SQL queries are limited to SELECT functions, which is just as well – someone typing ‘DELETE from table’ could play havoc with your carefully maintained data.
Searching has been further improved by allowing users to search by record type as well as just field names – for instance, you can now look for all contacts that are classified as resellers.
Previous versions of GoldMine have allowed you to not only dial a contact from the database, but also to have the customer’s details automatically appear when they ring you. The new version extends telephony integration even further by interfacing with VoIP systems, allowing low-cost telephone calls using the company’s Internet connection. GoldMine supports the two main industry standard systems, Skype and SiP, both of which are currently going from strength to strength. Calls to callers on the same system are free, while calls to other users on a fixed line or mobiles become a matter of a few pence per minute. This can mean a significant saving, particularly if many of your clients are abroad.
For those with one or more of their workforce out on the road, it’s vital to ensure they have the latest information with them. Both Pocket PC and Palm OS devices are supported, and version 6.7 has improved the latter’s synchronisation, with more custom fields being available, as well as the ability to import specific activity types. Security has also been improved, allowing administrators to set who can synchronise and what data they can have access to.
To speed up address data entry, UK postcode information can now be mapped (albeit manually) to the corresponding town and county, although there’s no integrated provision for street-level matching.
The final change in this version of GoldMine is the appearance of a new API, which, while only of immediate interest to power users and other developers, creates a great deal of potential. This API provides an XML interface; DDE has been thrown out as a way of talking to other applications and COM is also now supported. This makes integrating all that vital data held within GoldMine into other systems a lot easier, and at last provides the application with a modern and sturdy method of data interchange.