November 1996 Reviews TOC
By James E. Powell
While the distinctions among most PIMs seem to blur, GoldMine is clearly leading the way as a group contact manager, especially where corporate teams share interactions with a customer. GoldMine is much improved since I looked at it earlier this year. Most of the reservations I had about the program have been addressed ... and then some.
GoldMine has been upgraded in many areas. You can store a client's e-mail address, so it's easy to communicate using the program's built-in e-mail engine (it worked flawlessly with my Internet Service Provider).
Also updated in version 3.2 is the mail-merge interface with Microsoft Word. There's even a macro for using WordPad as your word processor if you don't need the functionality (or longer load time) of Word.
GoldMine's new organization chart lets you arrange clients within a company in hierarchical order, so you can, for example, organize people by their department with a right-mouse click or by dragging and dropping. Although it isn't dynamically updated, you can use it to filter records based on tree branches.
GoldMine replaced its scheduling engine, so you now have a more powerful day, week, month and year view. The engine also allows for drag-and-drop rescheduling and assignment of multiple users (or groups) and resources for an appointment. Another tab lets you view the schedules of other team members. You can also view a to-do list in a small window on the calendar screen, and choose to have only certain types of activities displayed.
I was impressed with GoldMine's refined, and incredibly speedy, import utility. After mapping the fields in my tab-delimited input file to fields defined in GoldMine, it took just 22 seconds to import 2,500 contact records and another 15 seconds to finish indexing these new entries. The import feature, which now uses a wizard, also lets you combine first name, middle initial and last name into the contact name field. Formerly, I had to struggle with a database program to get my data suitably formatted for GoldMine to use.
The Peg-Board feature lets you track who's in and out of the office. You can also track how long it's been since a worker touched the keyboard-a feature with shades of Big Brother that the company says it had many requests to include.
Version 3.2 adds a new report writer. Though there are dozens of standard reports, and just as many ways to filter data before printing any of them, you'll want the report designer if you create custom fields. The WYSIWYG designer is toolbar- and feature-rich. It uses blocks of Xes to indicate field positions, and a report preview mode shows actual records. The designer uses the standard banded report layout, and it's flexible enough to handle most needs. Though there's no report wizard, you can use an existing template as the basis for a new report. You can also save a report with its data for later viewing and printing.
It's no surprise that GoldMine is looking to the Internet for inspiration. Now, you have the ability to capture information from a form on your Web site and import it as an activity directly into the program. GoldMine provides a CGI script (where you'd also put your routing logic) to be used with your form. When the script is executed by your Submit button, it sends the form data as an e-mail attachment. GoldMine then uses the Internet to get your mail; customer requests appear as to-do's in the appropriate team member's activity list.
This version has an interface to the automated processing feature, so you can put a potential customer into a sales track (send brochure, follow-up phone call, etc.).
The program retains many well-crafted features, from the InfoCenter that lets you store your company's knowledge base, to profile fields that save unique information about customers without taking up extra room in all customer records.
Of course, there's always room for improvement. You often have to press F2 to get a list of valid values, rather than clicking on the right-mouse button. The tabbed portion of the main screen still doesn't use the best design tools, but that's a minor quibble thanks to the vastly improved documentation.
In all, GoldMine 3.2 removes most of the quirks that irritated me in the last release, while adding features that are truly useful. Its flexibility and feature range earn it a place on the WINDOWS Magazine Recommended List.
-- Info File --
Price: $295, single user; $895, five users; free upgrades
Pros: Speed; new calendar; improved documentation
Cons: Some DOS GUI elements remain
Disk Space: 6MB
Platforms: 95, NT
GoldMine Software Corp.
WinMag Box Score 4.5