Help me find contact management software
August 12, 2004 11:04 PM   Subscribe

Contact management software filter. Help me find the perfect program, inside.

At work, I communicate with many people every day, sometimes about several subjects with one person. I file typed notes and e-mails on my computer, save voice mails, file faxes and mail and keep notebooks filled with handwritten notes.

Is there any contact management software I can use, where every time I communicate with someone I enter the subject or subjects discussed, the time and date of the conversation, and the place where my notes or whatever are stored? I'd then like to be able to search for a subject, and have everyone I've talked to on that subject pop up. Then I'd like to be able to click on a person and see where my conversations are stored. If I search for a name I want to see the contact info for that person, plus all of my previous contacts.

All I've ever used is Outlook and as far as I know Outlook is basically a glorified Rolodex. I'm hoping this mythical software is easy to learn and configure. Cheap or free would be nice, but I'm not that naive.
posted by croutonsupafreak to Computers & Internet (6 answers total)
Backing up anything for outlook is generally a serious PITA... usually requiring separate software. Just something to look out for and some advice from someone who gets to disappoint PC users every day when they want their computer formatted and Outlook backed up.

(ok, yeah, there's some software to do it... now)
posted by shepd at 11:54 PM on August 12, 2004

I assume you're on Windows as you mentioned Outlook but since you didn't state and I don't know shit about Outlook and what it works on, I'll say that if you're on OS X, though it's not made specifically for what you're talking about, Notational Velocity could do this I think. It would instantly fly to any reference of person, subject, or date that was entered and list all contact/ conversations you logged. The whole thing would be a workaround but... it's a free workaround.
posted by dobbs at 12:37 AM on August 13, 2004

I don't know if this is exactly what you'd be looking for, but one of my journalism professors at school (a NYTimes reporter) swore by FileMaker Pro for managing his contacts and sources.

FileMaker allowed him to store extended contact information, and then also assign a person to multiple categories. That way, anytime he needed a source about "e-commerce", he could pull up all his contacts who had experience in that area. Just checking some information on the Filemaker website, it appears to be a very powerful program. The downside would be the price ($300 for the latest version) but I think it would do everything you're asking, including linking to files and notes. You can sign up to download a trial here.
posted by shinynewnick at 12:49 AM on August 13, 2004

I've started to use Microsoft's very own OneNote for freeform note taking. Specifically, I use it as a place to dump my digital photos, (could be faxes), and the voice notes I've made about them, plus any extra typed notes. Categorisation and retrieval by many criteria is quite simple. I've not tried it, but it seems to integrate quite well with Outlook.

Might be worth a look, since you might already have it.
posted by punilux at 4:45 AM on August 13, 2004

They're usually not cheap, but you should look at sales-contact management software like ACT, Goldmine, etc. They're all basically built for salespeople who are doing exactly what you're talking about--closely tracking multiple conversations with many different people, on multiple topics, and have to accommodate physical collateral, manage follow-up calls, etc.

Even if the top-of-the-line commercial packages are more than it's worth to you for a license, you might be able to find a cheaper alternative in the same category that fits your needs.
posted by LairBob at 5:22 AM on August 13, 2004

This topic came up on AskMe recently. I stand by my answer then.
posted by mojohand at 8:44 AM on August 13, 2004

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