Many individuals and businesses are using Outlook as their personal information manager. This is useful if you want to manage basic contact management information, calendar events and emails. However, there are many limitations to Outlook that most businesses cannot overcome. As a result businesses today will simply use Outlook as the front end contact management software solution but require an additional CRM package on top that can fully integrate with Outlook and provide features like document management, complete email management and full sharing and collaboration without the need of a complex exchange server.
A basic but key feature Outlook does not have is the ability to archive documents let alone link documents to a contact. Almost all users require the functionality of associating documents to a contact so they can access files, pics or pdfs that are related to the contact. Some more feature rich CRM systems take it even a step further and provide a full blown document management system with check-in/check-out and versioning control. With this users can edit documents without having to save multiple copies of that document and still see all the previous versions.
Outlook is great if you need to just manage a small number of emails in your inbox but most people today have multiple email accounts and receive hundreds of emails every day. Many business users of Outlook tend to create email folders and then manually drag and drop each email to the specific folder. This is useful but if you need to do it 100 times in a day this can of course be a huge waste of time. However, there are CRM solutions on the market that can provide auto email linking. This means your emails will automatically be linked to a contact as long as the contact has been added to the database.
Outlook also does not include an easy solution for SMB’s that need sharing and collaboration. With Outlook a company can set up an exchange server and begin sharing contacts and calendars but this is usually very expensive and requires an IT person to properly set up. The best option is to purchase a CRM software that has all sharing and collaboration built right into it and that way it does not require any exchange server implementation.
Overall, Outlook is a great tool if you want to perform basic tasks but I would not recommend Outlook as the complete CRM and contact management solution for any professional business or individual user. The best option is to purchase a CRM software that integrates with Outlook that way you have all the additional functionality but can keep using Outlook, an already familiar system.