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Adding new contacts to a central list

Posted on 2007-11-17
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Greets, we are running SBS 2003 Exchange SP2.
I am seeking a nice solution to store thousands of company contacts. We have tried "Public Folder", but it is not always dependable. Is it wise to add 3,000 new contacts to the Global Address List? Is there any other way to do this. Contacts need to be cemtralized and viewable from Hand-held Pocket PC's as well as traveling laptops that are not always online. The administrative staff needs a place to add in contacts so that all users in the company have the same data and is easily accessable. Thanks for the help.
DR
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Question by:tagltd
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by:Jeffrey Kane - TechSoEasy
Jeffrey Kane - TechSoEasy earned 62 total points
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No, it's absolutely not wise to add 3,000 new contacts to the Global Address List.  Managing that would be a nightmare, plus there are very few fields in the GAL so gathering useful business information about those contacts is impossible.

It sounds like you need a CRM system.  Depending on how may users you have, you could use Microsoft Business Contact Manager for Outlook.  

If you are using Outlook 2003, please see:
http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/outlook/HP102186801033.aspx?pid=CH012060611033

If you are using Outlook 2007, please see:
http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/contactmanager/FX101674171033.aspx

BCM is a FREE add-on to Office 2003/2007 Small Business or Professional Editions.

The database can be installed on your SBS for centralized access, and can be cached on any laptop for offline access as well.  (http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/outlook/HA100676851033.aspx?pid=CH101207721033)

Demos online:  http://blogs.msdn.com/bcm/archive/2007/04/23/bcm-demos-are-live-on-office-online.aspx

BCM works well with up to about 10 users.  When you have more users than that needing access, you might want to consider Microsoft Dynamics CRM:  http://www.microsoft.com/crm which is available in either a hosted (on-line) version or on-premise.  CRM is a lot more than a contact list though, so this may be much more than what you're looking for.

One other alternative is to use Windows SharePoint Services, since you have SBS, this is installed by default as your http://companyweb.  You could easily add a new "Contact List" which can be managed easily with Access.  A SharePoint Contact List can be linked to Outlook as an Address Book as well.  

Details about SharePoint as a contact list are here:  
http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/sharepointtechnology/HA011377891033.aspx

Hopefully that gives you enough of an overview of your options. Please let me know if you need further info.

Jeff
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by:tagltd
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Hi Jeff, Thanks for the extended explanation. Here are my thoughts:
1) GAL, understood. Would be a big mistake to use. I will take your advice.
2) We use Outlook 2003 on the systems that need the centralized contact list.(the link you gave me linked me to a lecture on IIS and FTP security and had nothing to do with Contact Manager)
3) BCM seems to be a possible solution. We probably need only 5-7 users max with this feature so it matches your "10 or less" configuration.
4) Share Point, we tried it and the use and management are frustrating and sometimes hard to operate for particular users. I will pass on this.

If you have any other possible solutions, then please feel free to suggest them. Many thanks!
DR
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Sembee earned 63 total points
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What is wrong with public folders? I have that running on a number of sites and it works well. There are no capacity issues other than what the human mind can cope with.

The problem you have is the requirement to view those items offline and on handhelds. Many solutions will not allow that because of the nature of the information. Some applications will literally have the same database on the laptops, so will be using some kind of database (MSDE/SQL Express usually) and then attempt to sync back. Handhelds - no handheld is going to take 3000+ contacts. That is a lot of space required. That is why the GAL isn't stored on the handheld but is used on a live lookup.

You probably need to look at something web based that has handheld support so that it can be viewed live rather than an offline copy.

Simon.
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by:Jeffrey Kane - TechSoEasy
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Sorry about the link for Outlook 2003 BCM I've corrected it now, so the link goes to the right place.

"If you have any other possible solutions, then please feel free to suggest them"

If you have 5-7 users, then there aren't any other native solutions to look at.  There are third party ones, but I've not used any that I could recommend.  There are also on-line solutions but they may not be available in your part of the world and they wouldn't satisfy the offline laptop issue.

So, BCM is really what I'd recommend.  It does support PocketPC and SmartPhone integration as well.
http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?familyid=7bc78c14-7143-41d9-84a9-bd628db7b6a0&displaylang=en

And that's not true that a handheld can't hold 3000+ contacts.  I've got more than that on mine and the contact database is stored on a 2GB mini-SD card.  The contact database (which is handled by MSDE/SQL Express) only takes about 350MB on mine, and it can take less depending on how much data from each record you want to sync with the PPC.
::
Jeff
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by:Sembee
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A handheld with a memory card will take all of those contacts, but that does expose your data quite badly. Remote wipe doesn't wipe a memory card, it can be easily removed and the data stolen. I was referring to the internal memory of the device - Blackberry devices didn't have memory card support until very recently.

Simon.
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by:Jeffrey Kane - TechSoEasy
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You can find problems with any solution... to me, those are all solvable and the benefit of having everything with me is invaluable.  Here are some tips:  http://www.microsoft.com/midsizebusiness/businessvalue/mobile-security.mspx

Jeff
TechSoEasy
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