I was at a meeting recently and my table-mates started a discussion about contact management solutions. I hear this often. People need a tool to manage their contacts, so they begin to consider ACT or other CRM software. The bigger question that people don’t consider is that of a productivity management solution, of which contacts is just one part. People try to solve the problem of contact management with a complex CRM solution, when they don’t even have a good system for calendaring, email, or to-do lists.
If you are considering a contact management solution, I suggest that you look at it within the context of your overall productivity, and to me this includes 5 things: calendar, projects/tasks (to-do list), contacts, notes, and email. For more on this, read this post.
I often recommend Microsoft Outlook for PC users. This is not because I am a fan of Microsoft. I am not. But the reality is that Outlook is powerful, virtually free (practically everyone has MS Office already, of which Outlook is a part), not particularly complicated, and syncs well with most handheld devices. However, one problem with Outlook is that some of the “advanced” features are not obvious, and many people miss them. This is especially true with the “contacts” section of Outlook. And I am not referring to Microsoft’s new Business Contact Manager. BCM comes with Outlook 2007 but you don’t have to install it. I suggest you don’t. I find it unstable and unnecessarily complicated, and there is very little that you couldn’t already do with contacts.
Most people don’t realize they already have what they need in Outlook. This was certainly the case with my table-mates at the meeting I mentioned. So this situation inspired me to create a short video on some of the features of Outlook Contacts that you may not have known were available to you. It’s below. I hope you find it helpful. Thanks for reading!