My quest for a Personal Relationship Management app

I wish I did a better job staying in touch with the people who matter in my life.

I am quite sure I am not alone. Days go by, become weeks, months, and years. Suddenly I realize I haven’t spoken to a friend in such a long time I don’t even know where to start anymore. Once in a while, I decide to reconnect, eventually.

Then the cycle repeats itself.

Social networks give a false sense of proximity.

Distance certainly plays a role.

We move, we travel, we get far away from each other. A global pandemic makes it hard to travel for two years. We try Zoom, get Zoom fatigue, and slowly fall back to minimal interaction via short comments on one social network or another.

My friend Luca calls it “The living room effect: virtual togetherness.”

Solving problems with software.

I build software for a living and as a passion.

I have been using software to solve all problems since I turned 12. There is a whole market segment focused on managing relationships; it goes by the inelegant name of CRM: Customer Relationship Management. I don’t need customers, so I’ll start looking for a Personal Relationship Manager, a PRM, instead.

After all, I have nothing to sell. I want to become better at being a friend.

The 20 candidates and the process

It is not going to be a series of exhaustive reviews.

I have a small but crystal clear set of needs, and I’ll stop each review as soon as I realize an app is not the one I am looking for. I am also limiting my posts to 300 words, so that’s how long each review can be at maximum. Also, I have nothing to sell, so I’ll start by eliminating 10 apps focused on commercial relationships:

  • Salesforce
  • SugarCRM
  • Close
  • Nutshell
  • Nimble
  • Copper
  • Hubspot
  • Pipedrive
  • Jetpack CRM
  • Affinity

I will test these 10 11 that focus on personal relationships:

I published the results here.


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6 responses to “My quest for a Personal Relationship Management app”

  1. Rob, I remember when I was in college, ten years before you, and we’d write letters, on paper, with ink…

    The thrill of the mail delivery was something, and we were lucky; we had it three times a day 🙂

  2. I’ve been writing a lot more physical letters/postcards over the past couple of years. My goal is an average of 1/day, and I come pretty close to meeting that. I usually write on Sunday afternoons.

  3. I have been thinking about this for awhile too. I haven’t committed to it yet, but I have been thinking about setting a simple goal like “write one meaningful personal email per day”. That’s it. And yes, email. Back in the year 1999 when I was in college, email was still pretty new, and long-distance calling was really expensive. I used to regularly write several paragraph long emails per day to friends (and receive them too). I’d like to get back to that.

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