I don’t think it’s any surprise to anyone that I hate administration. My ideal form of admin is for it not to be needed. Failing that, I’d rather like to be Captain Piccard of Star Trek fame, able to say “Make it so” and for someone else to do it.  Add to that the horror of most online admin systems and you’ve got my idea of hell.

contattaEnter Contatta.

It’s only beta at the moment (which means it’s free at the moment 🙂 ) but despite that there’s a reasonable amount of functionality. Enough to mean that unless something goes seriously wrong, I’m going to migrating there.  I really, really like it.

Before you all rush off and sign up, let me just outline a few of the minor niggles and (relatively) major ones I’ve found so far. (But let me mention in passing that the response from the team at Contatta means I don’t mind these things so much, as they get back to me with comments or workarounds etc. – can’t fault their customer relationship stuff).

  • Some of the wording hasn’t been updated after they’ve added new functions. For example, if I want to save an incoming email to an opportunity I’m working on (called a Deal in their jargon) I don’t think I can.  I can, but it doesn’t look like I can.
  • Workrooms are the mainstay of how work (and working together) is done…. but they don’t nest. What I mean by that is that for the way I work at least, projects tend to have a hierarchy or a tendency to group together. Having a Workroom for every project implies they’re all of equal weight etc and can lead to having a shedload of Workrooms. There are lovely sexy ways of filtering them, I know, but that’s not quite the same thing as being able to see how things link together at a glance
  • Lack of “task groups”.  It’s possible (and easy!) to have a task that nags you more than once for repeated tasks, for example, but I’d really love the ability to create a pre-defined set of tasks and apply them to a contact at the single click of a button. (For example: send email 1, send email 2, invite for coffee, send them an invoice). The same is true of Deals and projects in workrooms. Other CRMs have them (such as insightly, which is what I use at the moment) and it’s bugging me a bit to not have it (yet).

Actually that’s pretty much it!

The things I love are legion and many of ’em are the kinds of things a traditional project management system and CRM do (but think about that for a moment, here I can do both together, how cool is that!) but there are a few lovely little “Aaahhhh” moments…

  • Gmail integration. What’s not to love. My business runs out of Gmail so this is a Godsend
  • Creating a contact – just highlight the sigfile stuff in an incoming email and create the contact and Contatta does a reasonable job of filling in all the various fields for you. It’s not perfect but it saves a lazy person like me the choice of either not filling them in (my default) or fighting with them for ages
  • The interface.  I don’t suppose it’ll suit everyone but the clean feel of it makes me actually want to use it… and let’s face it, no matter how good software is I’m not going to use it if it’s not “fun”.

I realise this isn’t a proper review. Don’t shoot me! All I’m doing here is commenting on my personal experience.   It’s one of the tools I’m using, for example to write my new book.  (By the way, you can read about the process of writing it at http://www.awareplus.co.uk/presentation-skills-blog/category/science-of-success-presenting-book/) This is an example of a project that could do with being able to nest Workrooms, too. At the moment there’s one Workroom for the book but it would make sense to have one Workroom for each chapter… but that would create me 40 new Workrooms, which is messy.

My summary?   I’m not leaving my wife for it, but I’m probably leaving my old CRM 🙂

2 Responses

  1. Simon, thanks for the positive review on Contatta! As you know, we’ve been working hard to add the *right* features and polish the features we do have. And of course, it never goes as fast or as smooth as we want. But hey, that’s just life. 😉

    > Nested workrooms…

    Did you try tagging each Workroom (ie. “book”), and then build a group of Workrooms where tag = “book” ? That’s the simplest way to “group” them. The request for “hierarchical workrooms” — the act of merging Workrooms together — has come up from multiple beta users, but it raises too many issues with member/security for us to have figured out how to handle it gracefully. Thus, the suggestion for creating groups of workrooms.

    > Labels haven’t been updated… (ie. you can actually link an email to a Deal, but the label currently says only “Link to Contacts and Companies”)

    Duly noted. And we have some clean up coming down the pike for that. 🙂

    > Lack of task groups or “sub-tasks” / “checklist in tasks”

    This is on the roadmap, just don’t quite know when we’ll get to it.

    > The things I love are legion…

    Awesome!! Thanks for encouraging us to make it awesomer. 😉

    Patrick Sullivan Jr.
    Co-founder and Chief Product Officer

    • Hi – and thanks for commenting!

      About the grouping of workrooms: yeah, that’s how I’m going to do it. It works fine but just requires a shift in how I think. It’s the only thing I’ve found about Contatta so far that’s not absolutely instinctive.

      As for the other comments….. hang your head in shame at inventing the word “awesomer” 😉

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