Review: CRM-Mate for iPad – A Complete Toolset for Managing Your Business!

Rating: 3.5/5

Posted in iPad, Reviews on 25/08/2012 by Jim Gresham

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With an advanced tool set to organize your small or large business, CRM-Mate is a portable companion to keep notes and client information in check. Combining tasks, appointments, cases, and notes, CRM-Mate provides a quick snapshot of open projects and in-depth options for note taking, searching, and contacting current customers/clients. This iPad-only app is a robust system in a small package and will leave you feeling completely organized or slightly frustrated with its complicated features.

Design

When it comes to a user-friendly interface, I am not sure Novomate accomplished their goal, or, maybe it wasn’t a goal.  I do appreciate the overlay instructions that are accessible on each page, but I still found it very difficult to understand how each of the features interfaced with the other.

Honestly, I would have greatly benefitted from an introduction video or a link in the support section to in-depth online instructions. I staggered around the Novomate website looking for some guidance and ultimately, sat down with my wife to figure this one out. Kudos’ to her and her business major prowess because I did not even know “CRM” stood for Customer Relationship Management. Chances are, if you didn’t know that either, you might simply pass on this app.

The design is easy on the eyes with a nice stitched leather background, but the whole of the app was very confusing. I am left wondering if the layout was more descriptive or some instruction was given, I would not be so critical of the overall design.

Function

Where CRM-Mate loses in design, it certainly makes up in function. The capability of the app is astonishingly detailed, even if it has a steep learning curve. The included features are more than enough to run a business of any size and include: customer and contact management; opportunity management; case management; task management (in the form of to-do’s); appointments; notes; and a graphical case planer.

Customer and contact management is the heart of the system with the ability to track individual clients or whole companies in a notebook style amalgamation. Creating a notebook for a client is for that individual only, while company notebooks allow individual staff members to be tracked. These notebooks can be created from scratch or existing Address Book contacts may be added.

Once all of the valid information is entered, the notebook is created and stored on an iBook-like shelf. Frustratingly, if an individual client is created, that person’s information cannot be imported into a company notebook. For example, I created a notebook for the MacTrast editor-in-chief, Glenn, and I created a MacTrast notebook too. I cannot open the MacTrast notebook and add Glenn as a contact within MacTrast.  Glenn’s information must be re-entered in the MacTrast notebook and will not link to the other “Glenn notebook.” To avoid this complication, create the company notebook first, then create individual contacts within the company notebook.

Within the notebooks, several different types of interactive items can be tracked. As mentioned before, the trackable items are opportunity, case, and task managements. These options allow the in-depth tracking of interaction between the user and the individual client or company.  Again, I turn to examples to demonstrate.

Johnny is a salesman and has several company clients he works with regularly.  After creating his clients’ notebooks in the app, he uses the notebooks on each company to track his sales progress. Johnny can set the time period he will be working on a particular case or sales pitch and view it in the case-timeline. Within the case-system, Johnny can schedule individual meetings and to-do’s specifically tracked by the company notebook. The calendar appointments appear in the app and are added to the iOS iCal.app.

In addition to meetings, Johnny’s to-do’s show up in the main app homepage too.  The app homepage is the hub that displays a calendar with appointments, to-do’s for different projects and the case timeline, which uses number badges to indicate incomplete to-do’s for each case. Again, all of the tracked categories are built within a client’s notebook. This ensures the user never confuses an open project between companies.

CRM-Mate truly is a robust system for tracking client interactions and specific projects for each. It could completely replace a current CRM option or become your sole option if you are looking for a client system. I am shocked this app does not offer iCloud or individual server synching which means the information is stuck on the one iPad upon which the information is entered.

Another shocking surprise is the lack of an iPhone companion app. The last, and most abhorrent oversight is the inability to link this with a desktop app, requiring the user to enter ALL information on the iPad. If I am running a business, I have no interest in hand-entering all of my client information on the iPad.

With that in mind, I would only recommend this app to small companies or individual businessmen with a limited number of clients. There is an option for the big boys, however. The CRM-Mate for Capsule and CRM-Mate for SAP apps provide the syncing options I was expecting.

To use the Capsule and SAP options there needs to be an existing server-side system with the client information already stored.  Then, the CRM-Mate for Capsule or SAP will retrieve the information in the field and sync data if necessary. All information regarding the myriad of options can be found on the Novomate website.

Conclusion [rating: 3.5/5]

CRM-Mate for iPad ($19.99, App Store)  is one of the most robust apps I have come across. Although the user interface has a very steep learning curve, the capability of the app is very high. I would feel completely comfortable switching to the CRM-Mate app for business and client management if it offered a way to back up the information or if I could use a Mac companion app.

It just seems that without the Capsule or SAP server-side backup, I cannot recommend this one to the casual user. If you are quite savvy technologically and have a working knowledge of existing CRM systems, knock yourself out. For the common Johnny, it might be best to pass on this one.

Pros

  • Very robust productivity tool for small businesses
  • Completely manage to-do’s, sales forecasts, projects, assignments, and client information in one place
  • Easily email and contact clients through the app

Cons

  • No iCloud backup or sync features
  • Individual notebooks cannot be linked to company notebooks
  • The zoomable timeline is for “cases” only, not to-do’s or calendar appointments
  • Very steep learning curve for the UI

 


Author

Jim Gresham

An avid Macintosh convert, Jim appreciates the fine, detailed, and progressive products Apple designs. He spent his younger years tinkering with computers, reading about technology, and watching Star Wars. Since 2008, he has worked on improving his Apple arsenal and spends his free time researching the latest gadget trends. A native of the Commonwealth of Virginia, he enjoys the stiff crease on a well-ironed dress shirt and dons a bow tie on a regular basis.