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37Signal’s Highrise: CRM for the masses, sort of

You probably have heard of 37Signals. Besides much else, they are the ones that got the “Ruby on Rails” badwagon rolling, and probably the maximum exponent of Web 2.0 programming techniques. More relevant, their software can hardly get any slicker, or better thought.

They have long offered a hosted service called Basecamp, a simplified project management tool (“simplified” as in “doesn’t have analysis or graphing tools, but almost everything else is there”) that’s impressive enough to use as an example of those tools, even if it falls short of an enterprise project management tool for most environments.

Now, they are shaping up an improved version of Highrise, a “contact management” hosted service. This is “contact management” as in “we don’t really want to call it CRM, we’d rather it got out through users’ word of mouth”. But they can’t help it, it spills out in the customer “Buzz” section. This is a simplified but slick CRM tool for your small-to-medium company, or freelancer. It’s got a fine people management section, an effective task and to-do management, attachment features (emails and files) that make follow-up notes really complete, a nice “cases” system for holding related people/companies/data, can scale and share (nicely tuned, that) across groups and company, an affordable scale of service plans…

Sure, it does not have definable “sales pipelines” nor integrate with anything, and it doesn’t offer any analysis tools, and it’s not very KM-background-aware, but I’m betting it will give a run for their money to every low-cost CRM package. And some others too.

And I’m using it too, by the way :-).

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