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Centerbase is a Cloud based or On-Premise database application that can be easily adapted to your companies unique business needs. It can be easily customized to create your own data-centric system for CRM, Sales and Lead Tracking, Inventory, Asset Management, Team Scheduling, Project Management or nearly any business need. It has been designed help a business manage and use information about customers, prospects, employees, assets, sales opportunities, leads, email, files and documents, customer support issues, tasks & appointments and virtually any type of business information. Centerbase has been instrumental in providing an affordable solution that allows companies to capture, manage and use the information to improve the way they do business.
It makes use of a centralized server that stores customer information, accessed by a number of users, who work with it. The application is based on client-server architecture and has been implemented using .NET framework with Microsoft SQL Server at its back-end. It is not a browser based application, users must install Centerbase Windows client software on their workstations to access Centerbase database.
Centerbase at a glance
- Free trial: Yes, you can try Centerbase free for 30 days.
- Ideal for: Micro, small and medium sized businesses.
- Training required: Initial training may be required for admins and normal users.
- User limit: No limit, its available on pay per user model, pay and add as many users as you like.
- Mass import/export: Yes
Fully functional and free 30 day trial is just a click away, simply download and install Centerbase Windows client. The trial includes up to 15 users, unlimited storage with PDA and smartphone access enabled. Let’s first go through the client installation
Option 2 should be selected if you would like to use synchronize Outlook tasks, emails and contacts with Centerbase, in order to use this integration, client machine must already have Outlook installed in their machine. Clicking Next begins the installation.
A number of screens show up upon launching Centerbase for the first time, they include configuring the connectivity to the server, registering the client etc. In our case we chose the free 30 day hosted trial option.
The configuration process will automatically create a database on the Centerbase cloud server, and we now have full access to create and customize your own system based on Centerbase.
Look and feel
The application has a traditional look and feel, the functionality is organized across tabs, each tab has a ‘ribbon bar menu’. Centerbase screens have three important interface components – the Ribbon Bar, the Item Explorer, and the Active Window Area.
The Ribbon bar menu allows users to access many of the functions in Centerbase. The Item Explorer is used to display lists of information about the items you are currently working with. It could be a set of search results, an activity you are scheduling, or a list generated by clicking on a chart. The Item Explorer displays relationships between items in a tree view.
The Active Window Area is where Centerbase will display the active form, this can be a particular Item form, such as a company, the calendar, a task list, or any other Centerbase window.
Centerbase allows importing existing information from various data sources such as from –
- CSV files
- ACT database export
- Goldmine 6.x.
Data import from CSV files is a simple process – prepare a CSV file and upload it. We checked the CSV import functionality by importing Contacts into the system.
Prepare CSV file containing contacts and upload it.
Once the file is uploaded, Centerbase begins its analysis of the the uploaded file and prompts for mapping CSV columns to its fields. The mapping is very simple, drag a CSV field and drop it next to a Centerbase field.
Centerbase can as well detect and handle duplicates, for detection, we can specify the matching criteria and how to handle duplicates, that is Create new and merge matches, Merge matches only, Ignore matches. In our sample import, we based our duplicate detection logic on First Name and Last Name.
After you have selected your duplicate checking criteria, and proceed, Centerbase will display the duplicates workbench. This dialog will allow the user to view what duplicates were found, and see how the merge will take place. Centerbase will validate the data that will be imported.
Almost every business using a CRM requires customizations, fortunately Centerbase can be easily modified or customized to adapt to different businesses and processes. Before we look at various customization options, let’s first look at few integral concepts –
- Items – An Item can be thought of as a form that you might fill out with information – essentially the things you will manage in Centerbase are called Items. Examples of predefined Items in Centerbase include Contacts, Companies, Assets, Sales Opportunities, Support Cases etc. Within each Item, there are fields for adding information about an Item. Centerbase includes the ability to create and customize your own Items to meet your specific needs.
- Linking – Linking is the ability to relate two items to each other, and define the relationship in whatever way you need. Any Item in Centerbase can be linked to any other Item. The ability to link Items to each other is central to the benefits and uniqueness of Centerbase. For example, addresses can be linked to a company, then shared between the employees that work at the company.
Applications can be customized in several ways, very often its required to modify existing forms to add new fields or remove existing ones. Centerbase provides an Item Manager, that facilitates quick creation of new Items and adding fields.
The Form Designer allows creating or modifying existing forms, updates can be quickly rolled out and team members can start using it immediately. For our test run, we extended the existing contact form to add a new date field Birthday and place it just below the email address field.
Activities and Calendar
Centerbase contains a rich set of features for managing appointments, tasks, to-do’s, phone calls, or any type of activity. The Centerbase Calendar provides a central location for scheduling all appointments and tasks, it is designed to be used by teams large and small. The calendar contains many customization features and allow for alerts to be displayed on workstations, or emailed from the server. Let’s schedule a task focused on product demonstration to a client, configuring it so that it gives pop-up reminders every 15 minutes.
Here’s what the pop-up alert looks like
The screen capture below shows a calendar with tasks of all priorities, even showing inactive and completed activities.
The Calendar integrates with Microsoft Outlook too.
The Centerbase dashboard can be customized and filled with custom charts which extract data and provides lives and real time information from the system to help smoothly run your business. You may configure as many dashboard pages as possible and even control the number of charts that will be placed on the dashboard pages.
In Centerbase, new leads can be created using the ‘New’ option available at the top. The screenshot below shows the default lead creation form.
The Item Explorer lists all leads, the Lead tab has functions to add more data such as notes, attachments to the lead being viewed.
In Centerbase, contacts are real persons interested in buying your products. New contacts may be created using the ‘New’ option available at the top. The screen capture below shows the contact creation form.
The Item Explorer lists all contacts, the Contact tab has functions to add more data such as notes, attachments to the contact being viewed.
Centerbase as well provides functionality to monitor and manage your organization’s assets.The screenshot below shows all assets defined in the database being used.
Support Cases Management
Ability to manage customer cases is an important and desirable feature in CRM systems. Centerbase provides a neat organization of cases and helps effectively manage and display cases.
Centerbase contains a variety of per-defined reports that can be used for quick and easy printing. The report designer helps in designing custom user defined reports based on your specific needs.Centerbase Reports can be created and run for any Item in Centerbase.
The report itself contains detailed information for a list of Items you provide as input and can also contain information from linked Items as a sub reports. The look and feel of a Report is based on a template. These templates are stored on the server and can be shared among users, or made private. These templates define how the information you are reporting on is displayed. To create a report, simply tell Centerbase what type of Item will be the top level data element, and then define as many sub reports as you like for the top level Item, or any Items beneath the top level Item.
Centerbase allows sophisticated and flexible control over user’s access to Items based on security settings. Centerbase allows administrators to control what information individual users have access to, and what types of changes they can make.
Centerbase contains both User and Role based permissions. Permissions can be explicated and manually set by Item or Items, and can also be automatically set when each user creates new Items in Centerbase. The context tab for every Item in Centerbase contains a Item Security control which displays and allows for modification of access to the currently active item as shown in the screenshot below
Here’s a short description of the various security options –
- Owner – Set ownership for selected Item
- Public – Sets the Item to Public. Public allows full access by any Centerbase user.
- Private – Sets the Item Private, allows full access only to the Owner of the Item, and Administrators.
- Read Only – Sets the Item Read Only, allows full access only to the Owner of the Item, and Administrators. Provides View access to all other users, and deny these users Link, Edit or Delete.
- Custom / Set Access List – Allows for customer settings to be configured to grant different access to users and groups.
Centerbase allows tracking or auditing changes made to individual fields. The administrator can turn on features in Centerbase to monitor what fields are changed, or what items are deleted. This is a useful feature that allows selected monitoring of certain item fields or items.
Yes, it is possible to export data out of Centerbase. The built-in export tool allow exporting item types in CSV format.
Dedicated apps are available free of cost for Android and iOS platforms. We tested the android app, the performance and UX was satisfactory. The screenshot below shows the list of available Item types.
Social Media Integration
There is presently no integration with social media.
Centerbase integrates well with Microsoft Outlook. The Outlook add-in allows capture of emails into Centerbase, converting Emails and Tasks/Appointments into Centerbase, or converting an email into any type of Item.
The applications comes in two flavors –
- Centerbase Cloud available at $39 per user/month, with discounts for larger installations.
- Centerbase On Premise available at $3,995 for a 5 user system. Additional users can be added at $495 each, with discounts available for larger installations. Free technical support is available for 30 days after which technical support services may be purchased as required.
- Neat customization tools to easily extend the application and tailor it to your existing business processes.
- Robust security settings.
- Great technical support, our issues were quickly resolved by their team.
- User interface is sometimes on the slower side.
- User interface and features are not that exciting to use. Today’s browser based applications are far more feature rich and fun to work with. It seems bit dated with thick-client based approach.
- Centerbase client is platform dependent, can only be installed on Windows.
- Lacks integration with social media and limited integration with third-party tools.
- Bit too expensive for current feature set.
Centerbase is lightweight, easily customizable and can be tailored to specific businesses. It is an application which is suitable for small and very small businesses wanting to stay organized with their customer database.
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