OS X CRM – Relationship by Jumsoft

Lately I’ve been getting enough contacts that the Apple address is getting stretched outside it’s boundaries. So I’ve started to evaluate my work flow for dealing dealing with and following up on contacts for work.

Current Workflow

Currently for any contact I make a note in the Address Book notes field with any extra information on the contact I want for later, like where we met, what we talked about and who introduced us. Then if I want to follow up with them at a later date I make a TODO item in OmniFocus.

I’ve been wondering though if this is the most efficient? Would a dedicated CRM app mean I follow up and track contacts in a way that means I make more money this year?


This has caused me to look at Relationship by Jumsoft. Relationship2 was built purposely to manage contact and projects. It includes email, todo/project management, contact, linking of anything to anything, documents, and a few more things.

Relationship Application Email Interface
Relationship Application Email Interface

Lots of Features

Relationship covers pretty much everything that you could want with a CRM application, really it’s a business management application not just a CRM. If it included estimating and invoicing I’d never need to leave the application to run my freelance business.

Relationship Stickies
Relationship Stickies

One thing that many freelancers struggle with is keeping work and personal separate. I know that I have personal and work emails coming into the same application, Relationship makes this easy buy having a built in email client. This offers not only the benefit of having work email in a different application, it also allows you to link specific emails to clients. It doesn’t let you link to do individual todo items to emails though. Sure it lets you specific projects but often an email relates specifically to an individual todo item.

Linking an Email - Projects but no TODO items
Linking an Email - Projects but no TODO items

Reaching Too Far?

What I’m looking for is a CRM application, not a todo application, not a project management application, not an email application I want to easily make notes on what I did with clients and remind myself to follow up (I guess that’s sort of a todo application).

While I see that all of these items can/should be related to clients it just feels like more than I’m really looking for. Sure the todo functions work pretty well but OmniFocus has it beat, yeah the relating email to clients is good but Sparrow does email better, sure I need to track projects but Redmine lets me have interaction with clients on the projects too.

The one feature that I really like/need is the documents and linking. Currently I use iDocument with smart folders for clients, if the project gets more than an estimate and contract. This is a functional setup for me but it does feel like it could be better, and Relationship does it better.

iDocument by IcyBlaze
iDocument by IcyBlaze


As with most desktop apps Relationship is missing a web interface. Sure you can sync it through Mobile Me (yet another thing to pay for) but what if you’re out and want to update some information from another computer? If you have an iPhone sure you can update it there which will sync with the desktop version at some point. Unfortunately I couldn’t find information on exactly how it syncs. I assume it uses Mobile Me (since I see no other option on the desktop application) which is better than how other apps do it (needing to have both versions open at the same time) but is still something else you need to pay for. Sure support Mobile Me but give me the option of Dropbox or some other free service too.

As I’ve said before I think that applications should be on the desktop to leverage things like system wide shortcuts and sync to the web as a backup and provide a web interface for the times you’re not near your desktop but have access to another computer.

The End

Relationship has a 15 day trial (which is what I’ve been using thus far). Honestly I think I see promise in it but with 15 days invested I’m not sure that it will really revolutionize the way I work with my contacts. I know it’s hard for developers to walk the line between giving their application away for free and providing a solid sample of it.

Something that I wish Relationship had was some tutorial videos to walk me through how to use it’s features. I’ve got 15 days to try it and learn the best ways to integrate it into my work flow, it’s unlikely that I’ll find the best ways to use the application until I’ve used it daily for a few months. If I could make one recommendation to Jumsoft it would be to have video tutorials of each feature and a complete walk through to show us how Relationship can be used best so we don’t waste 15 days trying to figure it out. It would be a shame to bypass software because we didn’t quite understand how useful it could be.

Now that I’ve started to look at CRM software maybe all I’m really looking for is dated notes in Address book?

Relationship is a nice piece of software that is well thought out and well designed and very affordable, it just feels like more than I’m looking for right now. I’d recommend that you give it try and see if it fits your workflow.

5 Things A Client Should Ask a Prospective Web Designer or Agency

Man and Woman Dancing

Man and Woman Dancing
Man and Woman Dancing

Evaluating a company or person to build your website is a tricky thing. What do you expect? What things do you need to know? Here are 5 questions that a client should be asking all companies in the running to build their next website.

  1. Have you worked on any similar projects? While it is possible that the designers and agencies you are talking to about your project have never worked in your specific field before building an e-commerce site for a canoe shop or for a place selling paintball equipment is very similar. The target market might be a bit different but the issues that you will need to deal with are the same. Find out what projects they have done that they feel have similar issues to your site.
  2. What type of communication can I expect? Communication is key. Sure it is an often heard motto, but really how often does a company really take that to heart? My experience from working full-time in-house and contracting out work, is that many companies don’t really take communication seriously. At one point I sent enquiries to a number (link) of agencies in BC and only heard from 2. I’ve also dealt with a company that would, seemingly, drop off the face of the earth for a few days (10 at one point). Not the type of communication I would allow.When I work with a client I touch base at the very least on Friday and Monday of each week, while a project is active. Sure a late Thursday email counts as well but the point is to wrap up the week, setup what you’ll be working on next week and then on Monday communicate again about the goals of the coming week. All it does is let the client know that they are a priority. Make sure that heading into a project you know what type and how frequent communication will be. Make sure that you establish your communication needs.
  3. What is the design process? Will you see a wireframe? How many design options will you see? The reality is that there are many differing opinions on what is needed in a design process. I do wireframe. Some project get a lot of wireframing. Some projects start with a bit of sketching, then move quickly onto wireframing then get into Photoshop. That wireframing may have only been to sketch out ideas and may really not be anything to show off. Sometimes in the middle of a project I’ll start sketching out some elements on a page to get my creative ideas solid. Just because I went through all of the items above on a project doesn’t mean that I end up showing the client each little stage of the process.Make sure that you know what the creative process is and what parts you can expect to see. As I said I do wirfeframes sometimes. If at the end of a full wireframe I’m not sure about content layout then I show it to a a client. This probably only happens on about 20% of project. Often I get part way through the wireframe and the content layout gets solid and I start thinking of the visuals. In that case the client probably will not see the wireframes. Just be sure you know what to expect and make your expectations know.
  4. Do you have the capacity to meet the deadline? Just because the agency you’re talking to employ’s 20 people doesn’t mean they have the time to meet your deadlines. It is entirely possible that all of the staff are tied up with other clients already.One note for clients though, an average blog project easily takes 4 weeks from contract signed to finished. If it’s anything more than that you need to add time. While you may have a preferred finish time (asap is typical) remember that it may not be a realistic one. Use this question to evaluate how they schedule themselves as well as how many staff (or hours in a week) they will devote to your project.
  5. What are your pet peeves in web design right now? This is a great time to listen to the web designer talk about the pet peeves they have in web design right now. Some will talk about the design of forms, some will wax poetic about elegant code. Don’t ask them this to judge them on the specifics, ask them to hear their passion. Ask them to make sure the things you see as issues with your site are issues that your designer is passionate about.Remember that just because they don’t express your specific concerns as their passion doesn’t mean they don’t have strong opinions on them. As with anything passions and pet peeves run in cycles. While they may not be passionate today about the things that bug you they may have been bugged by those same issues 2 months ago. It’s always a good idea to read through their blog (if they have one) and to ask them questions specifically around the items that are of concern to you.

Wrap It Up

Really figuring out who to work with on a web project is a bit like getting a new dance partner. You need to communicate up front to make sure that you’re both in sync.