* Overview *
One of the grand-daddies of contact management and Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Goldmine was originally released in 1989 but is now owned by Frontrange Solutions. Frontrange have been producing Goldmine since the year 2000 and boasts a global user base of more than 1.2 million.
Goldmine has the honour of winning several awards including the Editor's Choice award from PC Magazine in 1993, 1995, 1996 and 1997.
* Features *
=== Contact Management ===
Having started life as a contact management system, Goldmine's greatest strengths lie in maintaining a useful and comprehensive list of companies and employees as well as offering the ability to keep custom data for each.
=== Scheduling ===
Goldmine offers a detailed calendar which allows users to schedule customer appointments, calls or internal meetings. Each calendar event can be scheduled to occur between internal employees and external contacts, with email reminders and Goldmine alerts as required.
=== Opportunities Management ===
Moving into the Customer Relationship Management (CRM) functions, Goldmine also offers the ability to record potential sales opportunities and progress them from intial lead to the close of the sale. These Opportunities can be analysed and reported on to provide sales targets and focus future efforts for marketing and sales.
What is Opportunities Management? For example, your sales team calls Mrs Jones at XYZ Widgets Ltd and she happens to mention that XYZ are in the market for 500 grommets. You would record this lead in Goldmine and record an estimated value against the sales opportunity. As the sales process progresses, the sales team would update the opportunity, assigning a probability of closing the sale and any other information garnered during each contact with XYZ.
=== Email ===
Goldmine offers a built-in email client (like Outlook) which can be used to message external clients (from the Contacts list) or internal Goldmine users. Similarly the function exists to construct target lists for mailshots (aka spam) based on filters created by staff. These filters can be based on any criteria desired such as organisation size, geographical location, company turnover or pretty much anything else.
Any emails sent to clients are also filed against their Goldmine record, providing an audit trail of communications and a source of reference for analysis of customer needs and sales opportunities.
=== Templates ===
Goldmine provides an interface into Microsoft Word which allows the creation of useful document templates. These document templates can be used for mail merges or one-off letters, as well as emails for mailshots. Templates can also be created for a single Goldmine user or for use by the entire company and are stored in the "Document Center" - a repository for all templates.
=== Networkable ===
As you would hope, Goldmine is network-installed making the information contained therein accessible to all users within a company. centralised data means that all staff can access specific information on clients and in turn keep such data up-to-date.
Goldmine also offers a synchronisation function allowing sales staff to keep a copy of the system on their laptop for use whilst on the road. Changes to the data made by travelling staff is periodically uploaded and synchronised with the central system back at head office ensuring that everyone is using the most accurate data at all times.
== Licensing ==
Goldmine uses a concurrent licensing system meaning that if 25 Goldmine licenses are owned, only 25 people can use Goldmine at any given time. Additional licenses are required for integrating Goldmine into Microsoft Office or for using the aforementioned synchronisation system meaning that licensing costs can mount up quite quickly.
The software licenses entitle users of Goldmine to any software updates released during the license period of 1 year, as well as "3rd line" support from Frontrange. Unusually, Frontrange do not supply support to customers direct, instead choosing to do so through their "Frontrange Solutions partners" (who also sell the software to businesses). This means that a support license fee is also payable to the "partners" on an annual basis.
== Tech Stuff ==
Goldmine, being fairly old school, runs in what is known as a "Client Server" environment. The core system and data sits on a server, whilst a small program is installed on each PC which needs to access the Goldmine software.
Goldmine is only available for a Microsoft environment, meaning the server software runs on Windows XP, Vista, Server 2003 or Server 2008 with a SQL Server 2005 backend database. The desktop client runs on any variant of Windows XP onwards.
== Evaluation ==
In it's day, Goldmine was a giant of the contact management market, it's only real competitor being "Act!". Very few systems were as far sighted as Goldmine when it came to providing not only an address book system, but also calendaring and email functions.
Ten years on however, and it's a different story. Microsoft Outlook and Exchange offer superior contacts, scheduling and email functions, neither of which tie into Goldmine at all well despite the claims of Frontrange. To be brutally honest, Goldmine's email implementation is useless and frequently causes the system to crash. The following excerpt from a Frontrange Technical Support Rep shows how the system really doesn't work:
GoldMine sporadically crashes when sending emails; .dmp files created in Temp directory
1) Sending email to one or multiple recipients
2) Replying to email for one or multiple recipients
3) Forwarding to email for one or multiple recipients"
I would be intrigued to hear if there is anything else one can do with email...
Unfortunately each release of Goldmine introduces new bugs, each of which prove frustrating and costly to end users in terms of lost productivity. To make matters worse, known issues are left in place for several iterations of the product, despite such bugs causing the system to crash frequently and lose data. Offering many, many functions Goldmine does not seem to do any of them very well beyond maintaining a contact list.
* Pros *
* Well established, award-winning product
* Very good at maintaining a centralised contact list
* Cons *
* Loads of functions all of which seem "half assed"
* Expensive licensing model
* Not web-based, uses the inefficient client-server model and data synchronisation for remote users.
* All functions available elsewhere, cheaper and better-implemented
* Conclusion *
Despite it's heritage and pedigree, Goldmine can best be described as a has-been. Most of what Goldmine does best is now available in Microsoft Outlook which, quite frankly, works better.
Billed as a CRM system, Goldmine is little more than an over-glorified contact management system. The CRM functions available appear to be after-thoughts, poorly implemented and little more than an obvious attempt to keep a flagging system alive. With so many CRM products on offer, some even license-free, it is virtually impossible not to find a software package which is better on every level than Goldmine.
The flaky nature of the software, the frequent bugs and crashes and the apparent unwillingness of the developers to fix such problems mean that Goldmine is unsuitable for use in a corporate environment, and far too expensive for a home user. Additionally the client-server model, as well as being totally outdated, leaves far too much room for corruption of information to happen during synchronisation (which it does), is too slow, and is not really completely up-to-date as multiple copies of data circulate through the company. A web-based system allows for a single copy of all data to be in use at all times from anywhere in the world, ensuring integrity and fully current information, something Goldmine cannot.
Overall? Goldmine is rubbish. Expensive, over-rated, faulty rubbish. And it's not a CRM system either. Avoid.