Staying in Sync

Tuesday, November 17, 2009 12:11
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Staying in Sync

One of the more challenging issues with all of our emerging technology is staying in sync. If you are walking around with a Blackberry or iPhone, have a laptop for travel and perhaps a desktop PC in your home office - how do you keep them all up to date?

 

There are numerous ways to tackle this, and unfortunately, no single definitive answer. However, there is hope as we will review a couple of approaches with the technology tools often discussed on this site (and include Mac users as well!).

 

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The synchronization I am covering today focuses on CRM data - activities, calendars and contacts related to your practice and your clients. When you are in the office, on the move or in your home office - this is likely the most critical data you want consistent in addition to your document storage (we’ll cover that in a subsequent discussion).

 

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Scenarios

I will paint some scenarios that cover some common setups in practices. There is also a matrix that lists how some common CRM solutions provide sync services. One caveat - Blackberry and iPhones are largely interchangeable when it comes to syncing - as they either rely on the computer you use to stay current, use an app designed specifically for the phone (most companies build both) or connect to a web service to pick up your shared information.

 

When using a Blackberry - there are some nuances to synchronization. If you are within a firm that runs a Blackberry server - your only need is to sync with Outlook and your Blackberry is taken care of. In the event you are using a Blackberry directly from a wireless carrier with no enterprise server - you need some additional sync process to insure your phone and PC stay in unison.

 

Thinking Windows PC

 

Blackberry, PC, Microsoft Outlook and Redtail CRM

Redtail provides a desktop application that synchronizes your Redtail database (calendar and contacts you specify) with your local PC. It can run either manual or automatic. This is a two-way sync which insures your local calendar items also get inserted into the Redtail database (it ignores private activities). 

 

Use the Blackberry Desktop Manager software to keep your Blackberry and Outlook in sync (if not using enterprise server). Redtail also has a web-based mobile access site so you can view activities and contacts directly from your mobile phone browser.

 

Blackberry, PC, Google Apps for Business, Salesforce

I used this configuration of Google Apps and Salesforce as Salesforce has a nice integration with Google Apps to bring your Google Docs and email directly into your Salesforce workflow.

 

There are also Microsoft connector applications that come with Salesforce to keep your PC and Salesforce database in sync. You can additionally download the Google Calendar Sync to sync Outlook up to your Google Apps calendar. It can be set to run 1-way only so you only manage one calendar (Salesforce) and then it syncs wherever you need it to stay current.

 

Blackberry, PC, Microsoft Outlook, SmartOffice  

Smart Office has connectors for Microsoft Outlook to keep the two in sync. Again, if not using the Blackberry enterprise server - you can utilize Blackberry Desktop Manager software to sync your phone and Outlook.

 

Thinking Macs

 

Mac users can take a look at Spanning Sync - which provides deep integration into the local Mac desktop tools (Address Book, iCal, etc.) and connects to Google for synchronization. It has built in utilities to assist with conflicts, duplications and can run automatically on a schedule you set.

 

iPhone, Mac, Google Apps for Business, Salesforce

This scenario is a bit more easy to manage with the inclusion of Spanning Sync. Spanning Sync keeps your local desktop sync’d with Google Calendar and Contacts - and thus your iPhone stays current as well. There is an app on Salesforce in the AppExchange called Appirio which offers a free Google to Salesforce Calendar sync

 

 

System

Sync Outlook

Syncs to PC

Mobile Access

Charges Fee for Mobile Access

Supports Mac users

ACT

x

x

x

x

x*

GoldMine

x

x

x

x**

--

Junxure

x

x

x

x

--

Redtail

x

x

x

--

x

Salesforce

x

x

x

x***

x****

Smart Office

x

x

x

x

--*****

 

 

*ACT! Premium for Web only

 

**Blackberry only

 

***Charges fee for group, professional and enterprise editions - free with unlimited and developer editions.

 

****Works nicely on Mac but does not have a sync tool to connect to Address Book and iCal (you can use Spanning Sync to resolve this issue)

 

*****You can opt to run Smart Office on a Mac using Parallels or VMWare Fusion running Windows XP or Windows 7 - and accessing from the Windows OS.

Comments (2)

...
jpsilvajr
Companionlink is one that I started to use with Act 2009 w/ the Act4Advisors overlay. I just picked up the Droid Eris on Verizon and this sync seems to work well now. Again, just got it and I am still evaluating. Logically since it is a Droid, it syncs with the Google Gmail account that pushes updates wirelessly to the phone. So far, so good.
jpsilvajr , November 18, 2009
...
bwarrene
I am pretty excited about the Droid as for those who integrate Google in any way into their workflow will have a native connection. Wait until we see Android powered Netbooks - we may have some really interesting ways to sync if we stop needing all of the individual widgets to do it...
bwarrene , November 18, 2009

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