Having easy ways to share information with your teammates is absolutely crucial when your office is wherever you happen to set down your laptop. Various tools have emerged that let you share a dashboard of sorts with your teammates. Many of them have the ability to share files, to provide instant updates on what you’re doing, to assign tasks to team members — but one feature that I’ve been looking for just hasn’t made it into many of the tools I’ve tried. Bantam Live has made good on that missing element: the ability to manage shared contacts.
Customer relationship management (CRM) software is a crucial component of Bantam Live’s dashboard, and for good reason. Whether you’re building a web site or selling a product, you never do it in a vacuum. Instead, there are a wide variety of people that must be contacted at various points. Bantam Live does far more than just keep a central file of phone numbers and email addresses, though: for every given contact, you can track their social media presence on sites like Twitter and LinkedIn. At a glance, you can see what your contacts have been up to and communicate more effectively with them.
Bantam Live takes other cues from social media, too. The first opportunity to interact that you see is a field for status updates. Those updates show up in a real-time activity stream, along with newly created and completed tasks, notes, events and updates to contacts. You can easily interact with each item that appears in the stream, accepting event invitations, commenting on status updates, and so forth.
The learning curve for using Bantam Live is very shallow, making it a practical system to use for short-lived teams. Bringing together a team to put up a major web site but not really planning on working together after it’s complete? Bantam Live can provide a simple way to bring together your team for a few months. You can import an address book’s worth of contacts, add in your tasks and get to work quickly. Even bringing in new team members should take only a matter of minutes, including training them to use Bantam Live: the interface is simple to use and fairly intuitive.
Bantam Live is currently in beta — although its slick interface can lead you to believe otherwise. During the beta period, even large teams can use it for free, and Bantam Live’s creators encourage you to use it with a team: the system is set up to focus on interactions, leading it to be less useful for solo users. However, there are plans to roll out a version for single users, complete with appropriate features, this fall.
Considering how important this sort of information is to everyone working on your project (as well as how interesting your competitors might find it), the fact that Bantam Live uses SSL security on its application at each level is reassuring.
If you’ve tried Bantam Live, tell us what you think of the service in the comments.