By Chris Thompson, info@gocrmsoftware.com, 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.

goCRM
goCRM-The My Day View

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.
Technology
The application is a Windows client/server application based on the following platform:


We have C# and MSSQL Server skills, have several MSDN subscriptions, but we deliberately chose to develop the product in Delphi….why?

  • 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.

7 Comments

  1. 100MB+ download if you want to use NET? That’s stretching the truth a bit. Even if you just packaged the framework runtime with your current product, you’d be under 30MB, where are the other 70 coming from.

  2. well the small download is also thanks to using firebird.
    if they used sql server express (or desktop) they’d be a lot nearer to 100 meg.
    their platform decisions have really helped them make that download a lot smaller.

  3. Sure, that’s what I figured they might have done. But, they could just as easily have used Firebird with .net or presumably SQL Server Express with Delphi. They’ve grouped two platforms together and used the combined size to make their argument sound more overwhelming. I just thought it was a shame, the argument was convincing enough without such an obvious exaggeration.

  4. I did mean sql server and .net. I was just trying to point out that if you go the MS route the download is much larger. This for me is a problem.
    I like c# , the .net framework and SQL server I really do. Its just not right for this kind of app.
    IMHO.

  5. GoCRM: fair point, regarding the download footprint and speed of .net apps. Even though I’m a .net developer, I have a sneeky soft spot for Delphi from my Turbo Pascal days. It’s the best development tool that never was. Ah well.
    Look forward to downloading goCRM using it in the next few weeks – it sounds ideal for me.
    All the best,
    Andy.

  6. Hey that’s cool, and it’s a convincing argument, I just thought it was unnecessary to pick the worst case scenario, when you’ve chosen to use a much smaller database engine for your Delphi solution. You don’t have to use SQL Server to use .NET, so the difference in the download would be in the region of 20MB (assuming you include the runtime in the installer). It’s still a big consideration, and it still makes Delphi look like a good choice, it’s just a more realistic figure.
    An unnecessary exaggeration was my only point, I’ve no intention of starting a plaform war ;). SQL Server would be responsible for most of that 100MB, and I completely agree that it would be wrong for this type of app, just as I wouldn’t have thought about using it in my own. I’m happy using C# and .NET, but I would give Delphi serious consideration if I was starting a new project today.

  7. Ok i guess im just trying to get the point over that MS is not making things easy for a small software company that wants to sell over the web.
    Perhaps an exaggeration on my part 😉

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