By Chris Thompson, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.gocrmsoftware.com
goCRM product release
goCRM had its initial release today, and it could be interesting to some as we’re giving away free, yes free, software, that could be useful to someone running a small business. As you may recall, after inviting feedback on our web site we got a useful two-sided review of the site here on myMicroISV.com (you can see the work we did as a result of this over at www.gocrmsoftware.com).
What is it?
goCRM is a customer relationship management application; it allows the management of business contacts, products, complex pricing, quotes, orders and marketing campaigns. It has comprehensive, built-in scheduling, an end-user report designer, links with MS Office and Outlook, and comes fully equipped with a client/server database so it can be shared throughout the company. It is aimed at the SME marketplace, is extremely good value for money and requires minimal training.
Where’s the itch?
A typical small business benefits from a CRM system to stay organized. The mainstream offerings in the marketplace are typical sales force automation tools (such as Act and Goldmine), which do a great job of managing contacts, activities and an opportunity pipeline for a sales team. In order to get their invoices out of the door, a typical small business will also have a simple accounting package – here in the UK, it will probably be Sage. goCRM fits exactly between both these products.
Typical CRM products do not do a good job of managing marketing campaigns, quotes and orders; typical accounting packages do not do a good job of quoting, job and product costing. Using two packages makes reporting on how your business is really doing (job profitability by marketing campaign for example) cumbersome, and in some cases impossible. We have extensive and easy-to-use campaign management, a very flexible quoting system, and products can be priced and costed in many different ways. All this functionality is brought together with management reports which can measure everything from the initial customer contact to the profitability of the job going out of the door; goCRM even includes an easy-to-use report designer at no additional cost.
The application is a Windows client/server application based on the following platform:
- Borland Delphi 7 – compiled Win32 executable
- Developer Express VCL Libraries – user interface controls
- Reportbuilder – Delphi native report engine with end-user report designer
- Firebird – Open source client/server database engine
- Internet Deployment – We have an 8MB download – including a client/server database – impossible with .NET, and a 100+MB download is too much – way too much.
- User experience – A Win32 application written in Delphi is FAR more responsive than a .NET application.
- Speed of development – We have C# experience and Delphi experience, and while it is true we’ve more Delphi experience than C#, the consensus here is it’s still quite a lot quicker to get a Delphi application out of the door than one created in Visual Studio.
As .NET matures, we’ll be keeping an eye on things and future versions of the software could have a .NET client – we’ll have to wait and see. As we add things like Internet services, we’ll have this in mind as we make our technology choices; but for now, we’re sticking with Win32 and Delphi.
Why not a web application?
In our opinion, the web does not yet offer a suitably rich user interface experience to write an application such as this. With technologies such as Adobe Flex and AJAX it’s getting better, but it’s just not there yet. Our focus will be to deliver a rich client which over time integrates heavily with Internet services – both ours and from well known third parties.
Download a trial of our software, if you think it would be useful for your business, drop us an email quoting MicroISV, we’ll give you a single user licence key for free.