The Hello Bar is a simple web toolbar that engages users and communicates a call to action.

The search for the best CRM / Project Management software (Why we chose Insightly)

Read the first post in this series called “Why we didn’t choose Project Place”

Read the second post in this series called “Why we didn’t choose Manymoon”

Insightly logo

If you’ve read the previous articles in this series you know that Project Place and Manymoon have been tried and turned down. The exciting finale is upon us and I will now tell you why we finally chose the Google Apps application Insightly to handle our opportunities, projects, customers and much more.

“…good reviews, straightforward and clean website, a couple of clicks later it was installed on our domain.”

As I have stated before I tried Project Place and Manymoon around 1-2 years ago when working on a different project. Recently I started working on a new project in a new company and we needed to have a software that was easy to use, small footprint, no clutter and a responsive development team. I revisited Manymoon above to see if my initial issues with it had been resolved, when I noticed they hadn’t I started looking for something else. I stumbled across Insightly on the Google Marketplace, good reviews, straightforward and clean website, a couple of clicks later it was installed on our domain.

Insightly dashboard screenshotWhen you first look at Insightly it can be a bit confusing coming from the applications mentioned above, and I mean this in a good way. It looks so featureless. Just a few tabs along the top and some small icons in the top right, thats it. Of course not having populated the database with customers and tasks it looks extra empty in the beginning. But this is the thing about Insightly. It is so light weight, so smart and works on so many different levels than what is visible to the eye at first.

It won’t allow the user interface to get in the way of you performing your daily customer relations in an effective manner, unlike many of the other applications I tried. It feels like they really sat down and said “Hey, does this work in this order? Is this the way you would go about doing a project”. At first I started adding customers and organizations manually just to try it out, to add some tasks and projects. It worked a breeze. Little did I know that there was actually a semi-automatic way of adding contacts and organizations.

“…it automatically adds a company logo to the organization and attaches a special news tab…”

Just forward an email or BCC an outgoing email to the Insightly email drop box (you get a special email adress for this) and it will add the user, organization and even more to the Insightly database. It does this by taking the contact name before the @ sign and the organization after the @ sign. When it has done this it automatically adds a company logo to the organization and attaches a special news tab with the latest info about that company.

I was baffled at first, me and my colleague didn’t get it, “What? we didn’t do anything! How is it possible?”. After that it’s up to you to start adding tasks, opportunities and projects to that organization. The email you first sent to Insightly? It is automatically linked to that contact, so you can always go back to users and click the emails tab to get a full history of your email correspondance (the ones you forwarded).

Just recently they integrated Insightly even more with Gmail, adding small buttons to the bottom of every mail. This means that you from the actual mail can create projects, opportunities and tasks. There’s also a button that allows you to save the email to Insightly, this way you don’t even have to forward the mail to the Insightly email drop box.

“Insightly relies heavily on you creating links between projects, opportunities, contacts and emails.”

Insightly tasks screenshotInsightly relies heavily on you creating links between projects, opportunities, contacts and emails. So for example you can link a contact to several different organizations and opportunities. Upon entering the linked opportunity you will be presented with the contact (or any linked emails and organizations) in a small box on the right hand. This coupled with an amazing search feature makes it very easy to access different types of information with a minimum of navigating in menus and sub-menus.

“Fast replies and a steady development cycle with new features rolling out, always accompanied with a detailed blog article…”

The developers are very responsive, since I usually have alot of opinions, bug reports and feature requests I had probably contacted them more than the average user within a couple of days. Fast replies and a steady development cycle with new features rolling out, always accompanied with a detailed blog article filled with instructions and screenshots is enough for me and my colleagues. Just the fact that they reply to questions and feature requests and seem to care about what you have to say is worth alot. Developers, entrepreneurs or anyone interested in moving forward who don’t do that aren’t worth much in my book.

“…as soon as you show them or tell them how to do something it is followed by a “Oh, yeah, that makes sense” instead of “Why did they do it like that…”

We’ve been using Insightly for about 6-7 months now and as you probably understand we are very satisfied. I told you earlier  about issues in teaching colleagues and customers about using these newish cloud based applications mostly because of confusing user interfaces, well, Insightly doesn’t have that problem. Of course you still have to educate people around you, but as soon as you show them or tell them how to do something it is followed by a “Oh, yeah, that makes sense” instead of “Why did they do it like that…”.

There are things that I miss though. I would like the option of having the contacts in Insightly always in sync with a group or all of the contacts in Gmail. The way it works now is that you can import contacts from gmail by checking the name, which is fairly straight forward, but it still gives you two address books to maintain. More statistics on current value of opportunities using the percentage of winning the oppourtunity. Also more focus on collaboration, inviting people from within and also outside your domain to work on projects and opportunities. A mobile application would be a plus aswell.

Edit: I miss a time reporting feature, would be good to have tied to tasks and then grouped by projects/opportunities.

I’m quite convinced this will be featured in future releases though, so we are sticking with Insightly!

PS. Did I mention it is free for up to four users? The other day they announced paid plans for up to 6 (29USD / month), 15 (49USD / month), 40 (99USD / month) and 99 (149USD / month) users, prices which seem reasonable and supportive of small businesses. Visit their blog for more details on storage limitations etc.

Jasmine Limp
Jasmine Limp

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