A Less Complicated CRM Program: Highrise

Posted by | February 15, 2010 | Small Business Solutions | 30 Comments

I’ve been using a product from a company called 37 Signals for quite some time now called Basecamp. Basecamp is a web-based, project management program that allows for good collaboration within a company on projects. It offers a message senter, uploading of files, to-do list, milestones, a whiteboard and the ability to comment on anything posted. My favorite feature is the emailing of reports, when someone post a comment and reminders of when assignments are due. I’ve tried out a number of other project management programs and Basecamp is at the top of my list.

37 Signals also created a number of other helpful programs that help small, medium and large businesses to be more organized and productive. The one I’m recommending is called Highrise.¬†Highriseis a less complicated CRM, contact manager program. Most CRMs (Customer Relationship Management) have a lot of gadgets and functionality. I’ve discovered that in the small business world, most folks end up only using a small portion of the functions: emails, to-dos, calendar, and opportunities. Highrise developers cut some of the fat from large CRMs and simplified the functions of their web-based Highrise¬† to offer a more user friendly program and productive software. Highrise is quite simple to use and affordable. While most CRM programs (like Salesforce, SugarCRM and countless others) charge a monthly fee per user, Highrise is available for a small monthly fee and allows for a bundle of users. For example, for $25 a month, a company can have up to 6 users have full access to Highrise with limited deals or opportunities. The best rate is $50 a month for 10 users and unlimited opportunities. For a small business guy like me, I can utilize the free version…and absolutely love it! If you think $50 a month is high, ask me why I think it is affordable and very reasonable! If you want the full capabilities, say from Salesforce (mobile included) you will likely spend $65 per month per user.

One of my favorite things I like about Highrise is the to-do list/task function. I always have a pile full of small projects going on. Highrise makes it simple for me to write down the action items and be sent an email when those items are due: even down to the minute!

So try Highrise for free today. Sign Up Online

(note: I do like Salesforce CRM and endorse it. I also realized a lot of small business users (my audience/clients) cannot afford or will use all the functions Salesforce has to offer. If you have the money and want a lot of functions…oh and will use them…go with Salesforce!)

About David Chism

David Chism started his business out of a passion for helping small contracting businesses grow, be more profitable and become better known to their target clients. One lifelong hobby of David is using techie gadgets. So this blog is a place where he writes about technology, marketing ideas, just for fun (humor), personal thoughts on small business and more.

30 Comments

  • William Tcherust says:

    Yes, I do like highrise too, but I think that missing recurring tasks is a _Big_ issue, and it’s rather simple to add.
    Also, I would love to see a calendar as another tab and _then_ I would seriously think of buying it for my crew!

    Thanks for the article!

  • David says:

    @William Tcherust
    You are right on about your suggestions. The calendar would be awesome and reoccurring task! I’d add one more: email integration with Google.

    To keep it simple, I’d suggest that Highrise just makes the integration to Google easy! I use Google Apps to run my business completely. I like the simplicity of Basecamp and Highrise, and that is 37signals point in creating it. Thanks for sharing. What do you use now for a CRM program? Have you tried ZohoCRM? Also, keep an eye on a simple CRM program called “Capsule” formally known as Javelin. It is a great program but lacks the integration too. They are working on integrating to Google Apps. If they dot that…the price is very reasonable!

  • pups says:

    there is one problem with highrisehq which is equivalent to a scam. They state on their $24/month plan that there they limit deals to 10, 5,000 contacts etc… and you think mmm ok, i can live with that. However, when you actually start using the product you find additional limits that were not advertised on the plan and they are not minor! There is a limit on cases of 5 and cases are one of the core functions! So when I signed up and spent time getting familiar with they system and adding in contacts, it did not tell me about that limit. Suddenly, when I’ve created 5 cases it tells me I have to upgrade to $49/month for more. Double the price for what is essentially a few kb of database space? They draw me in, let me get familiar with the system and then surprise me with this additional limit. What other limits are there? They may have started off a good company but good founders don’t pull those tricks on their users.

  • David says:

    @pups
    you got a point there! None of these companies are perfect. I’m not sure the cases are misleading though. I believe it depends on the company. Some use the “Deals” function only, not the “Cases.” You can also use Tags I believe like Cases.

    Did you try the solo account? That is $29 a month has unlimited Deals.

    Also…compared to the CRM programs out there for a company of 3 or more employees, 37Signal products seem to be the best bang for their buck. If SalesForce is charging up to $65 PER USER, that can add up fast. If you can purchase Highrise and Backpack for $100 a month…you can get quite a few users out of that. Make sense? If you are a small company, I’d either go with the free account…or bight the bullet if it saves you time and do the $50 a month. There is not a lot of better products out there.

  • Dave Gardner says:

    Thanks David,

    It’s my first time here and I’m very impressed with the content here. I’ve been using Highrise for a while to manage contacts and sales. For contacts it was ok but I found the sales portion of the application to be really dumbed down. I now switched to pipejump (http://www.pipejump.com) and I use mac address book and LinkedIn to manage all my contacts.

  • David says:

    I will check out PipeJump too. Thanks for posting that information.

  • Chris Keller says:

    Hi guys, great write up on Highrise. I created FollowUp.cc, which is a lightweight but powerful email reminder service. It’s more focused on remembering to followup with people you’ve emailed, snoozing reminders you need to deal with later, or created to-do list items for a certain time (and all the reminders are threaded in Gmail which makes it that much more useful).

    I’ve been debating adding in Highrise integration via their API, but am still trying to figure out the gaps they fill in the product that people feel is crucial. If you’d be willing to try it out (takes 10 seconds to sign up and get started), would love to hear your feedback, just email the contact address on the FollowUp site. Thanks,

    Chris

  • Tomasz Banas says:

    We tried to use Salesforce, Highrise and landed wtih CapsuleCRM. Very simple, nice, cheaper…

  • David says:

    I like CapsuleCRM too. However, I don’t think it integrates well with the Google App products. I use Google Apps for just about everything. The reason I like GApps is because most of my clients use Blackberrys or an iPhone. So…Google works well syncing with those devices. Capsule CRM does not. Highrise has an App for the iPhone that is for to-do list. It works great. If Capsule can be more integrated with Google Calendar…I’d highly recommend Capsule. You are dead on: it is easy to use! In face…Yes, I like it better than Highrise…but Capsule is not as mobile friendly…Yet!

    Thanks for sharing.

  • Stephen Denny says:

    I tried Capsule but didn’t like it so much. Was too complicated for me. I’m running an 8-person marketing agency and I was looking for a simple CRM tool. PipeJump did the trick for me. The interface is fantastic and they got exactly what I need.

  • David says:

    You should check Zoho CRM. They are very inexpensive, and the CRM is quite powerful. Also, they are making changes and updates quickly for mobile phones: Blackberry/iPhone/Android. The iphone version works well so far. Google Apps works with Zoho too. PipeJump seems to be more for a sales team…not a full CRM, correct?

  • Vincent says:

    Zoho CRM is too complex for my business (10 people) but looks very powerfull for medium size businesses.

    I was using Highrise and I just switched to CapsuleCRM because of the lack of Pipeline By Milestone and Pipeline Forecast in Highrise. It was really easy to switch from Highrise to Capsule. The spirit of both products are very similar for me. Are they sharing code? I don’t know but many features look the same for me. A real Google Apps integration and an iphone app would be really welcome also.

  • Marco says:

    Hi, I’m from a small start up company in Holland and we did a comparison between various online crm solutions amongst which Highrise, Capsule, Batchbook. We described our selection process quite exstensively, maybe it is of any use to anyone: http://www.budeco.nl/crme
    Marco

  • Marco says:

    Just to let you know we published an update. In an addendum we describe our experiences with CapsuleCRM 6 months down the road: http://www.budeco.nl/crme-addendum

  • David says:

    Yes. Capsule CRM is a great program. But the lack of 2 way integration with Google Calendar and no Smartphone App is disappointing. Google Calendar just got even better and easier!

  • Mik says:

    Has anyone heard of Tallyzip? I stumbled on their site and they seem interesting, but I don’t want to switch from highrise if they’re not substantially better.

  • David says:

    Mik

    I played around with the program a bit. I think you are right: TalleyZip seems interesting. However it lacks a lot of key features that Highrise and other CRM programs offer. I cannot find a way to import or export data. Their support center doesn’t have that info either. So have fun manual entering your contacts! Invoicing is not as good as Freshbooks. I read a review that someone switched from Freshbooks and never looked back. Really? Freshbooks is the best!

    I’ll keep an eye on this product but it is nowhere near being a great program. Nice features? Well, I’d say nice basic features. Also I’d be careful as this is in beta so I’m not sure how secure your data is especially if this is claiming to be an accounting program too. It didn’t seem secure to me when p,aging around with it.

  • Mik says:

    Thanks David,

    I think you’re right, they’re not fully baked yet. I did find this on their blog:

    http://www.tallyzip.com/what-we-are-working-on/

    Do you know of another all in one accounting, invoicing, task or project collaboration tool? I noticed 37 signals has a suite, but I’m not sure how well all their apps connect. Do they share contact data?

    They also don’t do online accounting or invoicing like freshbooks or harvest. I guess that’s what attracted me to tallyzip.

  • David says:

    Zoho CRM pretty much does everything: project management, invoicing, CRM and connects very well with Google Apps. That is your best bet…and it is cheaper than Salesforce CRM.

    That is what I would do.

  • Mik says:

    Does it do accounting?

  • David says:

    It syncs to Quickbooks. How extensive of an accounting program are you looking for?

  • Mik says:

    Yep, noticed that. Mm.. it looks nice, I’m just trying to pull everything into one app. I think I’ll give Tallyzip a closer look, or check when they’re out of beta.

    Just seems odd that crm and accounting are so disconnected. I mean, zoho has zoho books, which look good.. so why not have the crm all in one? Now I gotta setup two accounts, invite employees into both, it’s rubish.

  • Hi David,

    Good post – and still very relevant. We use HIghrise a lot after having replaced a MS alternative (yuck…) with it. There’s a number of other things that Highrise doesn’t do though that other CRM and Salesforce do do like forecasting, setting targets and pipeline management. I looked at a number of other systems with the main barriers being 1) usability (Salesforce sucks IMO…) and 2) robustness of company (37signals are very reputable).

    So we built a forecasting and pipeline management tool to extend Highrise. It’s working well for us and has made the difference in sales meetings. I’m planning to turn it into an application that is available to other Highrise users, so would be interested in hearing about your experiences with forecasting, pipeline management, etc.

    App is here: http://www.buildtracks.com

    Thanks again anyway!

    Gregor

  • David says:

    Gregor

    Thanks for the comment and the info in your App. I can’t wait to try it. Will it be for the mobile devices only or the desktop version too?

    The bottom line is Highrise is not a great sales tool until they have simple reporting features. A marketing or sales manager needs to run quick reports to see where his or her main lead source is that month or year. He needs to see if the staff is close to meeting their goal for the month or year too. Pipeline Deals is the one most of my clients use now because of their “goal” section. You can quickly setup weekly, monthly and annual sales goals and track the results. I personally would love to have a quick report on cost of lead and cost of sale. I want to know what marketing works best. I have no plans personally to switch from Highrise. It is perfect for my business where I have more monthly ongoing clients and not a lot of new business. Most of my “sales” is from speaking and networking.

    My clients, who have a sales staff, just can’t fully use Highrise yet. Salesforce is too expensive and clunky. They need to lower their price to slog after the small business. It is the small business people who will use these plugins and CRM as Corporate America will typically use something internally.

    I checked out your site. We have a lot in common. My web designer uses your favorite tools too: EE, PHP, jQuery etc.

  • Yes in the middle of a large EE build at the moment!

    The app works across all platforms but is styled with JQuery Mobile styles, so is easy on the eye – and doesn’t replicate an spreadsheet, which was what we were using!

    Interesting to hear you said about the “goals” feature, as we’ve built the basics of that too, but won’t be releasing that straight away. I’ll drop you a mail when the alpha is available or just sign up.

    Thanks,

    Gregor

  • David says:

    @Gregor McKelvie

    Gregor: How do I sign up? I typed in my email to be notified, but can I sign up to test it out now?

  • MAtt says:

    Hello,

    Can you please post more information (or link) about integration between Quickbooks and Highrise.

    I see https://zapier.com/zapbook/highrise/quickbooks/ but not sure if it even works?

    Thank you!!

    Matt

  • David says:

    @MAtt

    Matt, I have not used Zapier before. I’ll look into it more in the near future. On a general “testing” of Zapier, it appears to be pretty powerful. Highrise has limits to what it can do and realize heavily upon 3rd party integration. Therefore, I’d assume it should work pretty well. My guess is it only works with Quickbooks Online, not the desktop version. Are you currently using Highrise?

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  • bob says:

    Bizns Tool CRM is not complex and no learning curve required. Also, they come in 3 different plans Free, Basic and Standard. Pick a plan fits your small business. Check them out at https://www.biznstool.com/crm. Plans start 4 per user/month

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