Sharing OUTSIDE contacts nightmare!
November 15, 2012 9:18 AM   Subscribe

How can my small company share OUTSIDE contacts across our organization and have access to them on our phones?

My company is small (5) employees, but we have hundreds of clients and about 30 suppliers. We need those contacts accessible on all our smart phone and our computers. How can this be done? Can it be done so that they are accessible through apples address book? On Android? Has any one tackled this?
posted by Guyatoffice to Computers & Internet (14 answers total)
Have you looked at
posted by MuffinMan at 9:22 AM on November 15, 2012

Basecamp's Highrise is technically able to do this via iphone apps and third-party add-ons, but it's awfully fiddly.
posted by elizardbits at 9:29 AM on November 15, 2012

I am looking at Salesforces (contact manager) option. They don't give many specific details on it unfortunately. That may be a solution. Any other ideas?
posted by Guyatoffice at 9:34 AM on November 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

A really, really simple but not desperately secure option would be excel file + dropbox.
posted by MuffinMan at 9:36 AM on November 15, 2012

Your question prompted me to do a test I've been meaning to do, and it worked, so here's my disclaimer: I work for a company that makes a product with immense flexibility in storing, accessing, and manipulating data.

Out of curiosity, I just used my Android phone to log in to an instance with records similar to what you're asking, go to Contact search, and select a record. I was then able to select the email address and have Android's mail options come up. Selecting the phone number had Android's dialer offer to call it. Not sure about the Apple address book part, but am now planning on resolving that uncertainty before end of week.

This can be done by any/all of the people in the company with access to that instance, even simultaneously. There is no limit to the number of records stored - the instance I was in has many thousands.

If that interests you at all, let me know and I can put you in touch with the right people. Or take advantage of the easy info request forms on the site, of course.

Whatever you choose, I wish you happy, easy, secure data access!
posted by batmonkey at 9:45 AM on November 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

Came to say

As long as everyone can log in, you can upload contracts into the system and give authorized users access.

It's a fantastic tool all the way around and there are multiple levels to fit every kind of business.

Ruthless Administrator.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 10:24 AM on November 15, 2012

I recommend Google Apps. If I understand you correctly, it will work as you describe, including background synch (information updates on everyone's phones/computers as soon as any one person changes something) plus native accessibility via address books on Windows, Macs, iOS and Android. Your pricing should be $50 per user per year.

Salesforce is very expensive and IMHO not at all what a small business needs.

Highrise and all the other products by 37 Signals are very pretty but also more expensive and give you less for the money than Google.
posted by rada at 10:39 AM on November 15, 2012

Sales force does not sync with Outlook 365 so no go there, and Google apps does not support sharing external contacts. So no luck there either. I should have stipulated in the beginning that whatever the solution it needs to be able to sync with Outlook 365 as well.
posted by Guyatoffice at 11:17 AM on November 15, 2012

Google Apps does support sharing of contacts: share contacts by changing the Google Apps Directory settings. If that's not what you need can you explain?
posted by rada at 11:29 AM on November 15, 2012

Another vote for google apps. I just set up a business in there and noted that there are shred contact options. I plan to introduce this particular group to that feature tomorrow.
posted by FlamingBore at 11:53 AM on November 15, 2012

In that case, the product I discussed above isn't a fit - it doesn't synch to Outlook 365.
posted by batmonkey at 11:55 AM on November 15, 2012

Rada, and FlamingBore, Google Apps allows sharing of internal contacts but it's support for sharing external contacts (people not on your domain) is very weak. I would have to create a dummy account with all the contacts in the 'My Contacts' list and then share (change delegation) that account with all the people in my organization. However those contacts do not show up on phones as contacts as they are not in the users main contact lists or on the default global address list directory for Google. So no solution there either for that reason and it also has no way of syncing with Outlook 360.

Thank you for the ideas.
posted by Guyatoffice at 12:06 PM on November 15, 2012

Set up a new account in Google Apps for the contacts (e.g., Have everyone in the company add it to their phone as an account and just turn off sync of everything except contacts (mail, calendars, etc). They will be able to use and edit the contacts from their phones.
posted by beyond_pink at 12:29 PM on November 15, 2012 [2 favorites]

beyond pink, great solution. Now I just need to find a way to sync that account with the exchange server for each account.
posted by Guyatoffice at 12:31 PM on November 15, 2012

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