Friday, April 8, 2011

Google Contacts integration - Comparison between Insightly, Solve360 and Zoho CRM

In our first post we had an overview of the Top CRM Apps that integrate well with Google Apps. In our next post, we had a Pricing Plan comparison between Insightly vs Zoho CRM vs Solve 360.

All three applications - Insightly, Solve360 and Zoho CRM - claim integration with the following services..
  • Google Contacts
  • Google Documents
  • Google Calendar
  • Google Email (Gmail)

We will see how well each of these apps integrate with those Google services, starting with comparison of the Google Contacts integration support in Insightly, Norada Solve360 and Zoho CRM, in this blog post.

Google Contacts integration comparison will be with respect to importing data into the modules within the app, working with contacts data within the app and the ability to export or synchronize the data back into Google Contacts.

Insightly :

Insightly has Contacts module where one can store the information. Contacts can in turn belong to Organizations. The interface is clean and the options to import contacts is easily accessible on the right side of the screen under the Contacts tab. Clicking on the Import Contacts in Insightly provides you with 4 options : to import from one of Google Contacts, CSV, Outlook or Act! 9 as shown in the image below..

Clicking on Google Contacts options loads all your Google Contacts on a single page ! For a sample data of 1000 contacts in Google Contacts, all contacts were loaded on a single page from which you need to select contacts for import. There were no options to filter contacts based on groups in Google Contacts or to sort by the latest modified time. The name and the email-id are displayed for each contact and you will have to mark the contacts to be imported. If you are going to import them all then it will not be an issue. But, in case you want to restrict importing of certain contacts (typically based on Groups) or in case you want to get only a few specific contacts, then it might be an issue for you.

Once you initiate the import, it may take some time for the contacts to get added and shown in the client. An email will also be sent once the import process is complete. The import process did not import the notes from the Google Contacts.

If you would like to treat some of your Contacts as Leads like in a typical CRM application or if you would like to track their status (yet to contact, contacted, etc.,.), it seems it might not be possible currently.

There are also no options to create customized views by providing filtering criteria. The default filtering options available are as shown below..

The lack of custom views is compensated by a powerful search which can list partial matches for names and can search the notes too. The user interface is also well designed without too much of a clutter.

Norada Solve360 :

Norada Solve360 has a Contacts module. All options are accessible from under Workspace (something like a start button is to Windows operating systems). Within the Contacts module, I initially had trouble finding Solve360's import link, and later found it to be hidden away under the Data link at the top. Under the Data link is an option to Synchronize contacts with Google option, as shown below..

Solve360 claims to have automatic synchronization of Google Contacts, but since the contacts were not already imported into the application I believed I will have to initiate it once. It is good that Solve360 recognizes the groups in Google Contacts and provides options to choose them during the import process, as shown below..

Once the import process is complete you will have them listed on the left side panel. Solve360 did not miss out the notes too - unlike Insightly (shows the difference between being a mature app and a new one on the block. Believe Insightly will catch up soon).

Solve360 allows filtering of Contacts based on varied matching criteria, though there does not seem to be an option to save them as a named view. The user interface appears polished, even though it packs a lot of options.

Zoho CRM :

Zoho CRM has separate modules for Leads and for Contacts. Contacts can be part of Accounts. Surprising, under the Contacts tab, Zoho CRM did not have a direct option to import from Google Contacts. Only CSV import options were listed on that page..

If you want to import from Google Contacts after the initial setup, you will have to proceed back to the Setup section, search for the Google Apps set up option under Apps & Add-ons under the sub-head Collaboration and then in the subsequent page choose the Import Contacts side-tab !

Also import from Google Contact can go into the Contacts module alone. There is no option to have Google Contacts imported into Leads module or your own custom contacts table which you might create. In such cases, you will have to use the CSV import option.

The contacts from Google Contacts will be listed 200 at a time (better than Insightly which lists out all on the same page), from which you can select the contacts you want to be imported and proceed to add them to your CRM database. Sadly, there are no options to filter based on groups in the Google Contacts or by sort by latest contact, similar to how it is absent in Insightly. Solve360 alone provides the groups based import option, among these three apps.

Another surprise is that you will be required to map fields from Google Contacts to fields within Zoho CRM. While it is understandable to require the fields to be mapped for custom fields in CRM database, the reason for not providing the mapping for the default fields in the CRM is puzzling.

Zoho CRM has a set of pre-defined views and also enables you to create more named views to match specified filtering criteria, which is not possible in Insightly and Solve360. And knowing how Zoho actively listens to feedback / reviews, I am sure the usability issues will also be ironed out very soon.

Exporting/Synchronizing contacts back to Google Contacts :

Updating a Contact record within Insightly does not automatically update the entry in Google Contact. But you can manually trigger Insightly to export the details back to Google Contacts, by clicking on the Export Contacts on the right side panel under the Contacts tab. Once all the contacts are exported, you will receive an email.

Solve360 has automatic synchronization with Google Contacts (only app among the three compared to have this feature), but since I was not sure about the schedule, I triggered the manual synchronization process and it did propagate the changes back to Google Contact.

(Note : Google Contacts can sometime cache the contact details in the browser. You can try adding / removing the contact from some group in Google Contacts, to see the changes at once).

For Zoho CRM, currently there is no automatic synchronization feature (like available in Solve360) nor a way to manually trigger the export (like available in both Solve360 and Insightly), to enable updating the contact info back to Google Contacts. It is actively requested for in their support forums and is also listed in Zoho CRM's product roadmap.

Conclusion (Google Contacts integration) :

Based on our comparison, we believe Norada Solve360 seems to have the upper hand when compared to Insightly and Zoho CRM, with respect to Google Contacts integration.

We will compare other Google services integration support in these applications in the subsequent blog posts.

We, at iFreeTools, are comparing these apps to see how well the top ranking apps have their features implemented and to know how our ad-supported CRM app and our Online Database app creator compare with them.

iFreeTools CRM has built-in support for importing from Google Contacts into Leads, Contacts and Vendors. iFreeTools can list contacts based on Groups during the import process, sort them based on the modified time and also shows a preview of the values before they are imported.

There are pre-defined views available within the app and you can create named custom views too and view the data in list, calendar or chart views.

iFreeTools also supports uploading individual contacts back into your Google Contacts. No automatic synchronization yet.

And with regard to custom database apps built over iFreeTools Creator, you can add a field mapping once and then easily get the same Google Contacts import/export features for your custom contact tables. We also support merging more than one field from Google Contacts on to a single field (may be into Notes) in your database.

Check it out and let us know what you think.

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