Thar's Gold in Them Thar Hills
Goldmine Version 3.2 for Windows '95 and Windows NT installed like a charm, installing painlessly in less than five minutes on a Jaz drive connected to my PC. The Goldmine directory, which installed from three floppy disks, came to 10.1 megabytes after decompression and installation.
One thing that came up at the end of the installation raised an eyebrow. It asked me to unlock the write-protection on the last installation disk, and wrote some information onto the floppy. Since this came after I typed in my User Name, Password, and Serial Number, I assume that this will prevent me from either reinstalling on another computer or from letting someone else install on their computer, or both. I've noticed this writing to disk with some other new software, so I think this may be a trend among software companies to discourage disk-sharing.
I mentioned that the installation asked for my user name. The license comes with support for five users on a single network. One person can log on as administrator, and can set the user profiles for others on the network. This feature gave me the immediate impression that the software is much more of a business application than your average PIM.
After the installation process was completed, I was greeted with a very nice contact screen, with the full contact information of Jon V. Ferrera, Executive Vice President of Sales for Goldmine Software Corporation. While the format of the sheet gave the impression that you get what you see, and that customization is not one of the selling points of the software, it did show immediately that there was a lot ready-made for the user. The template showed an area for a variety of names, titles, and contact information, including multiple phone numbers, business type, and other critical information for business contacts. Furthermore, there are a variety of tabbed folders which include links to documents, appointments, and client history.
Looking beyond the surface, I found that I could customize telemarketing scripts, do sales analysis (leads, quotas, forecasts, phone call logs), keep track of referrals, as well as simply display sales data with a graph generator. While the metaphor of a standard calender-type organizer such as Lotus Organizer has a much gentler learing curve, the scheduling functions of Goldmine seemed to contain most of the important functions, such as alarms, recurring events, and multiple views.
Once I figured out what was basically here already, I wanted to see what kinds of customizeable features were available with this software. What I found is that Goldmine is infinitely customizeable. To begin with, all of the contact items in the preformatted sheet can be changed. I changed the third phone number to mobile, and changed the general layout of the toolbars so that I could see what I was doing better while I was learning its features.
However, one point that took too much time to figure out - and which says a lot about the software - is how to add a new item to the contact sheet. It is pretty easy to figure out that there are a number of ways in which to add user-defined fields and templates, but actually setting them up is confusing. Switching back and forth between the help files and the interface left me with quite a few new profiles that appeared to me no different than the original template, despite having added several new fields which appeared in the proper configuration properties. After about an hour of twiddling, I gave up.
However, moving back to Goldmine's strengths, the software had some really excellent features in its blending of contact database, scheduling, mail, and call functions. Being able to send email and make phone calls directly from a contact manager are now considered by most contact managers to be must features. But being able to synchronize schedules on a network or via modem with other Goldmine users - à la Lotus Notes - is a really hot workgroup feature. So is having an alarm trigger a pager, so that you are electronically forewarned about your sceduled appointments. If you have a script to include an alarm with any new appointment scheduled while you are out of the office, then you can be paged automatically by Goldmine. Now that's cool.
Furthermore, Goldmine has recently released a Hot Link software to work with USR's Pilot Organizer. Since the Pilot is easily the cheapest and smallest powerful PDA on the market today, it is a great way to keep your important contacts whereever you go, as well as to save back to your computer all of the data you collect while on the go. I've carried around a Sharp Organizer, an Apple Newton, and a Toshiba notebook computer before the Pilot, so I know that being small, portable, and networked are absolute necessities for a useful PDA. My Organizer collects dust in a drawer, the Newton is a Solitaire game machine, and the Toshiba sits on my desk, and it is the Pilot that I take everywhere. Linking with a good contact manager is the next task I am planning, to take it to the next level. (Incidentally, the Pilot Desktop it ships with isn't bad, it's just that it is proprietary, and I'd rather have it directly port into a standard contact manager.)
So, to sum it up, for now, I think that Goldmine has a lot going for it. The contact template it has configured already is quite good. It is overkill for a lot of people, and its list price of $295 puts it out of the reasonable range for most users. But managing all of the data that a person needs to maintain successful relationships with business contacts is no simple task, and requires pretty powerful tools. Goldmine, while fairly simple to understand its basic functions, contains fairly complex workgroup functions, and can synchronize data with several built-in and add-on functions. No easy task to master, however, for the small office, Goldmine is worth its weight in gold.
List Price: $295
Requires : 386 or more, 6MB RAM, 8MB hard disk, Windows 95
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