Sometimes an excellent operating system can be made even better
- Good integration with Outlook and Office, well-designed product.
- Fiddly installation routine; may be overkill for smaller businesses.
Effective contact and sales management for SMBs.
Price$ 249.00 (AUD)
Customer relationship management (CRM) is a mildly confusing concept for a simple task that many businesses need to perform: keeping track of new and potential customers in order to ensure maximum sales and profitability.
Like many packages that now get lumped into the CRM space, Maximizer has been performing tasks since before the phrase was invented. First released in 1987, Maximizer 8 is now a demonstrably mature product that's well suited to meeting the contact management needs of single-person and small networked businesses. (For larger businesses, a server-based Enterprise edition is available and recently made the jump to version 9.)
The installation routine for Maximizer is slow and a tad fiddly, but things improve considerably once the product is in place. The product works through a series of key windows - Address Book, Opportunities, Hotlist, Calendar, Email, Company Library, Personal, Order Desk - which allow you track and manage customer opportunities throughout the sales cycle.
The majority of these are self-evident and found in rival packages as well, though the Company Library - a document repository - is somewhat novel. The central My Work Day screen summarises imminent tasks and gives you an overall view of business performance, while MaxAlarm provides automatic reminders of deadlined tasks even when Maximizer itself is shut down. Contact data can be imported from Outlook, as well as Maximizer's main rivals, ACT! and Goldmine.
As well as providing its own word processor (useful primarily for the many templates for standard letters you may need to send to customers or suppliers), Maximizer can also install a series of macros that integrate with Microsoft Word. These are handy, but are likely to cause a series of security alerts in Office's current locked-down default configuration. Outlook is also fully integrated into the product - you can access and reply to emails without needing to switch into Microsoft's client. Reporting is particularly well-handled via the integrated Crystal Reports package, with the defaults supplied more than ample for most small business needs.
No matter how many nagging reminders they produce, at the end of the day CRM packages tend to be inefficient if you don't have the discipline to use them regularly and keep their data up-to-date. If you can make that commitment, Maximizer is certainly an able partner.
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