Jumsoft’s Relationship 2.1.1 (Mac App Store link) is a customer relationship management (CRM) and project management (PM) application that leverages your existing iCal events and address book contacts, making it easy for you to group contacts and events, as well as e-mail messages, documents, and Web pages in a central location. While the concept behind Relationship is great, it lacks the basic features necessary for any good CRM or PM application, which makes Relationship an ineffective CRM/PM tool, and something more like a container in which you can collect your project data.
Like every Jumsoft application, Relationship is a beautifully designed application that puts all of its major tools right at your fingertips. The program uses a three-part window that consists of two sidebars, one on the left and the other on the right, with a Workspace window in the middle that displays detailed information about the part of the project you’re working on at the moment.
The first time you open Relationship it links to your Address Book and, if you use iCal, includes all of your iCal events in Relationship’s calendar. So, while you can add individual contacts and calendar events to Relationship, you’re also able to easily link existing contacts and events from your address book and calendar.
Relationship uses projects to organize your work and each project you create contains contacts, tasks, calendar events, e-mail messages, Web bookmarks, stickies, external documents, and notes that are pertinent to that task. To begin using the application, you first create a project and then create new or link existing contacts, tasks, and calendar events to that project. As you do this, the application’s Workspace is populated with the items that you’ve added, providing you with an overview of the project.
The application includes a built-in e-mail application and any e-mail message you send as part of a project using the built-in e-mail app is logged, linked to the project, and displayed in the project’s Workspace. You can also link any documents that you’re working on as part of the project so that they’re easily accessible within the project.
Jumsoft touts Relationship as a CRM/PM application, but it doesn’t really work as traditional CRM and PM applications work. CRM applications are typically designed to help you foster relationships with your customers or potential customers, and are used to remind you to make contact with, send proposals to, follow-up on those proposals, convert proposals to projects, and otherwise develop business relationships with your clients. PM applications are designed to help you create timelines for projects, making it possible to create, organize, and reorganize events so that a project gets finished in a timely fashion. Relationship doesn’t perform any of these tasks effectively; instead it acts as a visually organized container for all the data that’s a part of your project. That’s nice, but it’s not customer relationship or project management as most users know it.
I was also disappointed that there was no preview option within Relationship for linked documents and that it wasn’t possible, when using Relationship’s built-in e-mail application, to take documents attached to an e-mail and add them directly to a project’s library.
Macworld’s buying advice
Jumsoft’s Relationship is a good application for organizing and keeping track of the many disparate and often disorganized pieces that come into play as a part of any project. But, while it’s designed to be a Customer Relationship Manager, it doesn’t really offer any of the tools necessary to manage that relationship and, while it’s designed to effectively organize all the pieces or a project, it lacks the tools necessary to effectively manage a project.
[Jeffery Battersby is an Apple Certified Trainer, (very) smalltime actor, and regular contributor to Macworld. He writes about Macs and more at his blog.]
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