Brian Bailey Preface to the Revised Edition

Next from 37signals

37signals posted a preview of their next piece of software today. It's called Highrise. Here's the short description:

Highrise is a shared contact manager that helps you keep track of who you talk to, what was said, and what to do next.... You can think of it as a company-wide, web-based, shared address book with a few twists.

Highrise helps you keep track of people and related actions. Almost everything we do in business revolves around people. At the other end of every phone call or email or letter is a person. Highrise helps you keep track of these people, these conversations, these interactions, and what needs to be done next. Read the full post.

I have no doubt that this will be a very interesting and successful product. I can already imagine creative uses. It is clearly not a full-fledged CRM (Customer Relationship Manager) and I'm sure it won't be priced like one either. I'm still amazed at how often I read about "enterprise" software that is code for 5-figures (minimum), support contracts, regular charges for new packages or custom development, and software so complex that hardly anyone actually uses it.

Another thing that is not so much amazing as entertaining is that thousands upon thousands of people love what 37signals' creates precisely because their applications are so streamlined, uncluttered, and simple to use. And yet, everyone thinks that if they would just add this one, tiny little feature, then it would be perfect! Of course, it is precisely what's missing that makes these tools so great.

37signals makes personal software. In the era when "you" are the Person of the Year, you might assume that means that it is customer-driven or infinitely customizable, but that's not the case at all. By personal I mean that they create software that they need and they use. When the right people develop tools in a way that could almost be called selfish, the result is well-defined, creative software that is a pleasure to use. Not every tool they create will be a match for you, but if you see yourself and your organization within their story, the chances are good.

If you haven't had the chance to use software from 37signals, you don't have to wait until Highrise. Try Basecamp (project management), Campfire (chat), Writeboard (text), Ta-da Lists (to-do lists), and my favorite application, online or off, Backpack (lists, notes, calendar, and organization tools). Each one is either free or free to get started.