This post has nothing to do with our work that you can find up in our menu bar, it is about our work nevertheless. Administration behind our processes is work itself, isn’t it? Let us show you some “behind the scenes” information about the “Customer Relationship Management + Project Management” (CRM+PM) software we started to use a few months ago.
HOW WE’VE CHOSEN THE BEST CRM+PM SOFTWARE FOR OUR STUDIO?
We were looking for a ready-made solution – software which would help us keep all the work and communication in one place. Something with user-friendly and intuitive interface but quite powerful in tools and options. Something really nice.
1. WE SET CONDITIONS FOR THE CRM+PM SOFTWARE
– Operation System: it should work on Mac OSX + iOs and preferably on Windows and Android (we like to have everything interconnected)
– Desktop solution: we prefer combination of Desktop&Online solutions instead of merely the Online ones – there are always issues while working online – docs don’t save properly, internet access is limited, syncing problems, (Facebook is so close now you have to check what is going on more often), etc…
– User-friendliness: we wanted to understand how the software works before loosing time with long manuals… we wanted intuitive interface
– Real-time syncing: of all our contacts, calendars, projects, tasks,… everything on all our devices (time is precious)
– Cloud Storage: compatibility with Dropbox, Google Drive or other cloud storage would be a bonus
– Project folders: we required folders that would contain all the necessary information about the project such as tasks, calendar appointments, communication, files, linked contacts (clients, suppliers, project admins and other participants),…
– Gantt charts or timelines: the most user-friendly way of planning and managing projects and resources (in our case availability of users, employees, 3D printers,…) is in our opinion a visual timeline
– Mind-mapping: option of creating visual overviews of projects, employees, tasks,…
– Smart folders: we wanted a system, an overview in the form of folders of billed / overdue / opened / completed projects, projects to 3D print / 3D printing / 3D printed, won / lost opportunities, etc.. (or for example folder for all the projects that are according to the advanced search: 1. finished, 2. billed, 3. not paid 4. category 3D printing 5. client ABC)
– Smart filters: advanced search and filter options for contacts, calendars, tasks and projects, please
– Categories and Tags: we needed all the information to be categorised and tagged – these would be then often used in advanced search and smart filters (life would be so much easier!)
– Linking: setting relationships and links among contacts, projects, companies, tasks, appointments and events
– Delegating: tasks / events / projects to other users
– Notifications: due / overdue tasks, appointments, events
– Mail integration: option to link any e-mail communication to particular contacts and projects leads to a great communication storage system
– Instant messaging: chat is faster and in many cases much more efficient than e-mail
– Commenting: users should be able to comment on the particular tasks, projects etc.. all the communication would be where it should be
– Multi-functional Notes: writing, adding images, videos, graphs, checkbox lists… all in one text window which could be linked to tasks, appointments, event, projects, contacts,… so we wouldn’t have to use other apps for notes such as MS OneNote (which is a great thing, btw!) or hundreds of sheets of paper, for that matter
– Files & Attachments: storage for files could be a part of the software
– File sharing
– Time Tracking
– Marketing management: option to create marketing overviews (first contact with the client / client source / feedback on the project / communication with the client / approval on publishing the product in portfolio / …)
– Financial management: finance overviews, budgeting, creating estimates, invoices, delivery notes,… smart folders with invoices (to bill / billed / unpaid / overdue / paid / …), smart reports (example: 1.all billed projects 2.category Animation 3. March 2015 / …) or smart calculations according to the project category, client, year,… (revenue – costs = profit + VAT)
2. WE TRIED AND EVALUATED EACH ONE OF THESE MANY SOFTWARES
ACT!, ActiveColab, Asana, AtTask (now Workfront), Basecamp, Base CRM, Capsule CRM, Celoxis, Clarizen, Close.io, Cmap tools, Daylite, Easy projects, Elements CRM, EPM Live, Fasttreck schedule, Flow, Gantter, Highrise, Insightly, Liquidplanner, Mavenlink, Maximizer CRM, MS Project, Netsuite CRM, Omnifocus + Omniplan, Pagico, Podio, Plan It, Producteev, ProjectPlace, ProWorkflow, Salesforce, Skylight, Smartsheet, Soho organizer, StudioCloud, Studiometry, Sugar CRM, Things, Todoist, WORKetc CRM, Wrike, Zapier, Zoho CRM, 5pm
3. WE CHOSE ONE…
And the winner is… Daylite from Marketcircle!!!
Tha battle was tough but Daylite won despite the fact, that it didn’t fulfill all our expectations. It is, however, the best CRM software we have ever seen and for that we would give 5 stars *****. There are most probably better alternatives for Project and Financial management, but every time we tried other software, we found such unforgivable flaws, or something we took for granted was absent completely, that we just returned to Daylite.
DAYLITE FROM MARKETCIRCLE
– Operation System: works only with Mac OSX + iOs (but yes, everything is nicely interconnected)
– Desktop solution: yes! it is a Desktop solution syncing online among all our devices thanks to its own Daylite Server
– User-friendliness: yes! very nice and intuitive interface
– Real-time syncing: yes! all our contacts, calendars, projects, tasks,… on all our devices – it’s great!
– Cloud Storage: no, not compatible with Dropbox, Google Drive or any other cloud storage, we can either paste Dropbox link to the particular project or attach a file directly to Daylite (which is then stored on our Daylite Server)
– Project folders: yes! all the information about the project is in one place
– Gantt charts or timelines: no, unfortunately neither Gantt chart nor timeline, or at least not what we expected. There is however a very simple pipeline which helps us to see the stage of the project and quite a good smart calendar which we can use for planning instead
– Mind-mapping: no, no, no, .. nothing even remotely similar
– Smart folders: yes! it makes everything very clear
– Smart filters: yes!
– Categories and Tags: yes!
– Linking: yes! everything is interconnected and it helps a great deal – linking among projects and contacts, relationships among contacts, …
– Delegating: yes!
– Notifications: yes!
– Mail integration: yes!
– Instant messaging: no
– Commenting: no, unfortunately not
– Multi-functional Notes: unfortunately not, only simple ones with writing and adding images as attachments option…
– Files & Attachments: yes! everything is stored on our Daylite Server, but we also use Dropbox cloud storage
– File sharing: no, but we use Dropbox, FTP Server or Wetransfer for that
– Time Tracking: no, not directly, but there is a plugin from iOSXpert called Time&Budget which will do just fine
– Marketing management: nothing major, but the Form creation tool is pretty much what we need for storing the marketing data
– Financial management: no, no, no – Daylite is definitely not a Financial management software – there is a nice function of creating Price estimates within each project opportunity and there is also a good tool for creating smart folders of projects (to bill / billed / unpaid / overdue / paid / …) filtered by categories, tags, project status or stage, but that is pretty much it. You can either create very simple finance overviews with the Form creation tool, or use simple budgeting plugin mentioned before, or use completely another software for that which works and is real-time synced with Daylite (for example Billings Pro from Marketcircle or Totals from Kedisoft using a plugin TotalsConnector from iOSXpert).
We are now deciding for the best software for our Financial management. We’ll keep you updated on the one we choose.
We’ll be happy to hear your thoughts on any good CRM+PM and Financial softwares.
Have a great day!
Like you, I have been looking for an “All-in-one” solution; one that contains all the features you mention plus content management and document/reference repository; in effect, a complete “Getting Things Done” package. I have also looked at creating one for myself using FileMaker Pro.
Sadly today no such beast seems to exist. There’s lots out there that does some of it but for CRM+PM+linking nothing touches Daylite (which I use), although even that does have a lot missing for me – the ability to import/export easily; the ability to delegate to somebody who is not a Daylite user (I have a single-user licence); the ability to integrate with other applications (MS Office, OneNote, MS Project (or Merlin Wizard), iMindMap and others…)
My business is ICT/Management Consultancy so something that goes at least some way towards shrink-wrapping all those requirements would be a world beater!
thank you for your insights. If Daylite included those things you mentioned, it would be brilliant!
We would also appriaciate some functionality for clear gantt charts (= something to make the project management even more transparent and intuitive) + financial management solution (= invoicing, budgeting, reporting, calculatins… just so we don’t have to use any third party softwares) + the ability of commenting on the projects+tasks.
As you said “All-in-on” solution would be really great… let’s see what the time brings.