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SprinXCRM, Brightpearl and Connect2Field Reviewed

We demo new business-oriented cloud solutions all the time and the holiday season is no exception. This week we looked at three inexpensive, cloud-based CRMs: SprinxCRM, Brightpearl and Connect2Field. This isn’t really a full review of each product, but more of a comparative glance at three CRMs aimed at small to medium sized companies with a budget. Lets see how they fare.

SprinxCRM

Sprinx strikes us as a throwback to last-gen CRMs, which isn’t all that surprising considering it comes in both downloadable (on-premise) and cloud-based varieties. Unsurprisingly, it also shares many of the strengths and weaknesses of old-school software. For example, it’s a fairly rigid system, meaning it’s difficult to customize contact identifiers and sales flows, but it also has fairly robust reporting features (if you use the system as it’s meant to be used). The UI is intuitive enough, but it’s impeded by unnecessary navigational tools: users shouldn’t need 10 (ten!) separate buttons to navigate around (it’s like building a house with more hallways than rooms – what’s the point?). Annoyingly, both the browser and mobile versions are slow, the slowest we’ve seen. Not a great sign.

We don’t like being unnecessarily negative or cynical, but it’s hard to recommend SprinxCRM. Cloud computing offers a wealth of opportunities for innovative product design and function, but Sprinx takes an old school approach. Unfortunately we don’t see the advantage in doing so.

Brightpearl

Brightpearl is a module-based system that includes CRM and accounting solutions “out of the box,” though it also has modules at additional cost to address inventory management, purchasing, project management and helpdesk support. Obviously it’s a more “complete” solution than the alternatives reviewed here (Brightpearl boasts “we believe you should be able to run your business on a single, well-designed system”), but CRM is at the core of its functionality.

There’s lots to like about Brightpearl. It has a host of clever, functional features, including browser-like tabs for tasks, “favorites” and notes. Given the software’s scope, it’s no surprise to find robust reporting features under the hood, replete with interactive, colorful charts, and a timeline on which you can track activities across time with specific clients.

But we’re not sure we’d base a business off Brightpearl. For starters, it suffers from bloat in the same way Sprinx does: too many options are displayed too often, making it hard to look at and hard to use. Additionally, we’re not sold on the “one-stop shop” approach to software. It’s appealing to use one solution for all business needs, but it’s not a scalable approach and it risks doing everything poorly instead of one thing well.

Connect2Field

Connect2Field is not exactly CRM: instead, it’s a glorified sales automation tool oriented toward service industries based “in the field.” That’s a weird premise for a software solution to begin with, but it makes more sense as you use the product, which itself isn’t all that different from most CRMs.

Of all the services reviewed here, Connect2Field probably has the cleanest user interface, a definite selling point. There’s a nice “morning coffee” view where managers can review scheduled jobs and account balances, and general navigation is a breeze. Integration with Capsule, Kashflow, and Xero is another plus.

Despite such strengths, Connect2Field fails to impress in the end. It’s a program that shows all the signs of youth: misspellings, confusing and erratic error messages, and limited training resources make it obvious that it’s a work in progress. Add to that an unnecessarily complex means of displaying client information (eleven tabs by default) and a lack of more traditional CRM features and it’s not something we’d want to recommend.

Conclusions

We’re not normally such grinches, but it’s hard to see the value in the systems reviewed here, especially when compared with some of the competition. As always, we’re hopeful these services can improve – there’s certainly lots of potential – but until then we’re just not impressed.

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More Stories By Chris Bliss

Chris Bliss works at VM Associates, an end-user consultancy for businesses looking to move to the cloud from pre-existing legacy systems.