Since starting my private Raleigh criminal law practice in 2009, I’ve tested a number of different customer-relationship-management systems. I’ve tried RocketMatters, and Clio. I’ve also used a combination of Google products – Google Calendar, GMail, Google Voice, and Google Contacts – to maintain contact and client information.
I’m fanatical about keeping accurate records – to avoid the complications that can occur if a lawyer misses a court date. I’m also fanatical about confidentiality – privacy is so important when dealing with sensitive matters relating to a criminal charge. My clients expect nothing less than complete confidentiality, and security of their data and information.
As an example, when we bill, we accept credit cards – AmEx, MasterCard, Visa, or Discover. But we never keep those numbers on hand. We take the numbers – whether in-person or over-the-phone – and promptly shred the numbers so that they can never be retrieved by others not authorized by our staff.
When it comes to electronic data, it’s equally important that we maintain the highest level of confidentiality, and that we also maintain data integrity so that we can ensure that we do not miss client court dates or important filing requirements.
Since 2010, we’ve relied upon Daylite, a MarketCircle product. Daylite is a CRM solution aimed at small- and mid-sized businesses such as ours, including professional organizations such as attorneys, accountants, medical professionals, and other service-oriented businesses.
I’ve certainly not been uncritical of Daylite. Daylite 3, in my view, was a very good, but imperfect and somewhat buggy solution.
But after a week of using Daylite 4, I am here to say MarketCircle has arrived with a truly outstanding product. I still have some minor gripes, but let me focus on the positives.
I liked the previous Daylite 3 interface, but my legal staff did not. They found complicated, and cluttered. We all agree that the new interface has been significantly streamlined. When you open Daylite 4, you see a drop down menu to the left that includes all major categories of items you might need to review – Home, Calendar, Contacts, Objectives, Tasks, Notes & Email, Forms, etc. You can collapse or expand each item, and build “smart lists” – some of which come pre-programmed – very easily.
The Home page is very sleek, providing a useful overview of upcoming tasks, appointments, and so forth.
Forms allow you to create customized… forms for contacts where you determine the various fields. In our case, we use them to accommodate information we might receive in an intake call about a potential client. In Daylite 3, forms seemed to be somewhat tacked-on, and not integrated into the rest of Daylite. It was difficult to run reports on forms, or to see a comprehensive view of all forms that had been created for all relevant clients.
This has been corrected in Daylite 4. Forms are now integrated into the entire database such that you can view and sort by forms, which allows you to actually view and manipulate the data in forms as if it were part of Daylite to begin with.
The major headache with previous versions of Daylite was that Daylite would sometimes behave badly if there were connection problems or crashes during a sync. In later versions of Daylite 3, this problem was largely remedied.
In Daylite 4, the syncing happens in the background, and is actually so seamless that you hardly even notice it’s happening. This makes using Daylite with a hosting provider such as daylitehosting.com very easy to accomplish. (I can only hope that Daylite offers its own cloud solution in the future, which would actually make financial sense to Daylite rather than outsourcing this service to third-parties such as daylitehosting.com.)
Minor tweaks to the iPad and iPhone versions of Daylite make it even more enjoyable to use. I really have had no complaints with the Daylite 3 iPad and iPhone version – Daylite Touch. In fact, it’s one of the best iPad and iPhone apps.
The new version is even better, although I have noticed a few more crashes. My hope is that Daylite fixes this problem as soon as possible. The application is incredibly useful, allowing me and my staff to accomplish almost all of what I need to accomplish remotely.
Reports have never been easy to customize in Daylite. I don’t know why they’re so complicated to create. Daylite 4 has a better Wizard, but the whole process is still not very intuitive. I wish it were easier to create reports because the thought having to pay someone to create these is really not pleasant to contemplate. Or at least that there was better documentation.
I also don’t use Apple Mail, which is really not very sleek. Instead, I use Sparrow, which better integrates with Gmail. Marketcircle really needs to integrate Daylite with Sparrow (and other email clients). It’s great to be a MacOS product. But that doesn’t require you to be so closely tied to Apple so as to ignore other software vendors.
Daylite 4 is a marked improvement over Daylite 3, which was already a pretty good product. I suppose one complaint could be that the price-point is high. I don’t agree. I actually think it’s a very reasonable price, and, while I haven’t done any kind of detailed analysis, the total cost of ownership is far less than competitors, including RocketMatter and Clio.
As a practicing criminal defense lawyer, I would highly recommend Daylite 4 to solo practitioners and small to medium-sized firms who are Mac-based. (And if you’re not Mac-based, why not?) I’d also think Daylite 4 would be an excellent solution in medical offices, accounting practices, and other service-oriented professional offices.