Monday, November 26, 2007

Highrise from 37Signals

I've been thinking recently about coming up with a framework for evaluating the Office 2.0 (or for that matter any other) products out on the market. There seems to be a lot of great efforts out there to make the products ever more usable, but with that comes a challenge of determining exactly what problem them solve and for whom. I've come up with a model that I'm going to try on for a size, let me know what you think.

There are 2 basic types of organizations out there: products and services. There's are lots of variations of each, but basic principles are the same, one is all about products, the other is all about individual attention (services). Within those 2 models there are some variations. Let's take the Service businesses for example. Some of them require a substantial degree of project management (building a house, creating software), and others require general task tracking (realtors, financial planners, mortgage brokers, insurance agents, consultants..). One can argue that task tracking is a variation on project management, and I would agree, but from the systems point of view, I would keep those separate as they require different solutions.

Now, 37 Signals Highrise provides a solution for Services businesses that are not very project-management intensive (realtors, financial planners, mortgage brokers, insurance agents, consultants..) For these folks, a system like Highrise can replace the stone age ACT! or Goldmine, or perhaps even Outlook. The system has a very slick user interface and is very capable at sharing both the contacts and client-related tasks across the office. It's easy to attach notes and coordinate activities on the contact/client basis.

So overall Highrise gets the kudos for a very sexy UI and a very good contact/task management system for client-driven businesses.

If you have a lot of project-based collaboration, I would recommend Central Desktop (see this review) over Highrise.
If you're doing a lot of email marketing, I would recommend Relenta (see review here)
And finally, if you are a product organization (or want to implement a sales funnel), and looking for something closer to, I recommend Zoho CRM (review here)

Update (1-31-2011)
There's a european cousin of Highrise I'd like to introduce you to - it's called Apollo and it's a cross between Basecamp and HighriseHQ, very much in style of 37Signals apps. Seems pretty capable for lightweight database and project management. More details to come.


Dave said...

I liked your approach to analyzing these products. I do projects as my primary function and would like an application that will function a bit like the journal in Outlook. I jump around quite a bit during the day on client work and I'd love a system that would track the documents I'm working on. If I can't have that I'd like at least rudimentary time tracking built into the system. Do any of the ones you reviewed here offer functionality like that?

Dan Itkis said...

Hi Dave.
Central Desktop is working on adding time tracking. They also have strong document and task management. When you say "function like a journal in Outlook", you mean tracking same file revisions or tracking the time line of the docs you've worked on? If it's former, I'd suggest you take a look at Google docs and then a billing web2.0 app for the time tracking and billing.
Goog luck,

Moiz said...

Highrise is sexy alright, but for a business that heavily relies on CRM (real estate, financial/insurance etc)it lacks the oomph. You can't even create a contact for a husband & wife household with different last names! Tech support hides behind their keep-it-simple-stupid philosophy. The app also doesn't integrate with email very well.

Tony Mobily said...


Please don't publish this comment -- it's just to get in touch with you!
You wrote about Apollo:

"More details to come."

Well, I just wanted to let you know that Apollo has now been released -- and it's for real!

We are officially a per-pay service. It's incredibly exciting.

Let us know if you have any questions!

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