Managing Your Business with Daylite

Trying to stay on top of a business can be a very difficult task – whether you’re a freelancer, or manage several hundred staff. Without a system to keep everything well organised, it can be easy to miss deadlines and lose focus. Today I’ll be taking a look at Daylite, an impressive suite of tools for managing a business.

One of the main selling points behind Daylite is the ability to have everything related to your business in one central place: calendars, contacts, projects, tasks etc. Emphasis is also placed on sharing information, as Daylite is designed to work well in a collaborative setting.

This review will walk through the main features of Daylite/Daylite Touch and outline what I like and dislike about the application. It’s a mammoth piece of software, and it wouldn’t be possible to cover absolutely everything in one review. Instead, I’ll try to give you a feel for what the tool is capable of.

Disclaimer: Although Marketcircle (the developers of Daylite) sponsor AppStorm, our reviews are always completely impartial.

Setting up Daylite

When opening Daylite for the first time, you’re asked how you would like to use the application. If you plan to use it on multiple computers or alongside the Daylite Touch application, you will be prompted to also download Daylite Server. It creates a central place from which to synchronise everything between computers and devices.

Launching for the first time

Launching for the first time

This is a fairly simple process, and involves creating a secure database for your business. You can add a number of different users (which is how the pricing structure for Daylite works – you pay for the number of people using the tool in your organisation).

Daylite Server

Daylite Server comes with a simple administration interface for looking after the backend system. You can manage where your database is stored, set up automatic backups, add/remove licenses for the software, and see an overview of users and devices connected to the system:

Screen shot 2009-09-27 at 14.45.17

Using a Template

When opening Daylite itself for the first time, you’ll be asked whether you would like to use a pre-built template for a particular type of organisation. These include Film & Video, Photography, Print & Design, Real Estate, Sales, Law, Recruiting, or Software Development. You can see a useful overview of each different template at the Daylite website.

If none of the templates fit your business, starting with the “basic” template is advisable rather than a completely blank slate. It makes everything a little easier to understand as a first time user!

The Daylite Interface

The interface to Daylite itself can be quite daunting at first. You’re presented with an awfully large amount of information, and there’s no immediately obvious place to get started. There are two ways to proceed:

  1. Read through the help and introductory documentation (it’s extensive, and really good)
  2. Just start experimenting!

I chose the latter option, and decided to get to grips with the application by using it. Here’s a quick overview of the interface:

The Daylite Interface

The Daylite Interface

The toolbar across the top handles adding new information – whether that be a contact, appointment, or task. The second important area is the grid navigation towards the left, which allows you to flick through the different areas of information handled within Daylite. Everything else changes contextually depending upon the area chosen.

Exploring the Business Areas

Is there anything you can't manage?

Is there anything you can't manage?

A vareity of different types of information can be handled within Daylite:

  • Calendars – A way to manage your time, and the time of other users within your company. You can see when different people are free and stay on top of your schedule.
  • Contacts – You can store a ridiculous amount of information about a contact, attach them to a project, organisation or task, and keep notes about your relationship with them.
  • Organizations – An overarching way to organize contacts, including a field to help understand where each contact fits into the organisational hierarchy.
  • Projects – Projects contain multi-step objectives, and can be tracked using a “pipeline” system. You can prioritise projects, ensure they don’t run over time, and assign different tasks within them to different users. You can attach all manner of content to different parts of the project – forms, letters, URLs etc.
  • Opportunities – As you’d expect, this is where new potential leads/business are stored. You can forecast close dates, assign a probability and importance to each opportunity, and produce detailed reports.
  • Groups – This simply offers a way to combine related contacts, organizations, projects etc. Great for marketing campaigns that target particular types of company.
  • Tasks – Essentially powerful to-do lists that can be linked to different projects/contacts, be given a due date, and have automatic reminders.
  • Appointments – These are fairly self explanatory! Appointments can span minutes/days/weeks, can have other users invited to them, and can automatically be scheduled for a time when other attendees are free.
  • Notes – A piece of information that can be linked to any other object in Daylite.

After you’ve got to grips with these, you’ll be well on the way to understanding how effective Daylite is at integrating all the different areas of your business.

Email Integration

Daylite comes bundled with a tool for integrating the application with Apple’s Mail.app, useful for quickly assigning an email to a particular contact or project. It means that all your information is then accessible from within one location, and it’s easy to create an “actionable” item from an email (such as a new task or appointment). Suitable contacts and opportunities/projects are found automatically based on who the email is from.

Daylite and Apple Mail

Daylite and Apple Mail

Daylite Touch

With so much information stored in one application, some form of mobile software is absolutely vital. Marketcircle have done a good job of approaching this with Daylite Touch, their iPhone/iPod touch companion application. It is marketed as “Your business in your pocket”, and certainly has that feel when being used.

Pocket Business

Pocket Business

The iPhone companion application is far from just a “viewer” – it can interact with the Daylite Server, and perform almost the same range of actions available on the desktop. Any changes made on your mobile device are automatically synced back to the server every 5-10 minutes, providing you have some form of internet connection on your iPhone (3G or Wi-Fi).

I particularly like the mobile calendar view in landscape mode – something that Apple need to get around to adding for their own calendar application:

Daylite Touch Calendar

Daylite Touch Calendar

It’s worth noting that Daylite Touch isn’t a standalone iPhone application – you need a copy of the desktop software in order to use it. That said, if you do use Daylite, purchasing the mobile application is a no-brainer. It adds a great deal of value, and works seamlessly.

Areas for Improvement

Although Daylite has certainly impressed my as a way to manage every aspect of a business, there was one area I wasn’t completely bowled over by – the application interface.

Unfortunately, my ever-present love for Things leads me to use it as a benchmark when looking at another application’s look-and-feel. Daylite is far from bad, but I feel that it could use a few tweaks to look slightly less imposing when first opened. A few pointers as to what the various empty sections are to be used for would be appreciated.

When opening Things for the first time, any empty section has a helpful explanation such as the following:

Things Example

Things Example

The challenge with Daylite is the sheer scope of the software – it’s capable of storing and managing such a wide array of information, the challenge to present everything in the best way possible is immense.

Conclusion

Until now, Daylite was an application that I felt was far out of my league. The number of features seemed over-kill for someone running a small business, and the slightly intimidating interface always put me off. That said, after using the application for a few days I’m starting to understand why so many people swear by it.

The integration between different areas of your business – contacts, projects, opportunities etc – is incredibly useful. After you spend a while getting your head around how the software is structured, everything becomes much clearer and benefits are more apparent. This, coupled with the mobile software, leads to a system that offers a fantastic way to manage a small/medium sized business.

Pricing varies depending upon how many users you have. For an individual license, the price is around $200. Packages for 5+ users start from around $1300. Various add-ons and support services are also available to purchase.

It may seem expensive, but Daylite isn’t really aimed at single users. The real value becomes apparent when you have a team collaborating on a project, arranging joint meetings, and trying to close a lead. For a larger company, I feel that Daylite is a first class solution for managing your business on OS X.


  • Aprozz

    Why can not Apple include such a week view in the calendar app??? I do love the iPhone but that is just the one thing that’s missing!

    Maybe someone else has similar week view, if so, please share it with us.

  • http://twitter.com/gemmes gemmes

    Firstly, this app is at version 3.9, anyone know if there are free upgrades to 4.0? Secondly does this app cost further $ per year for the iPhone version or is it free if you own the Desktop appliation?

    • http://www.daylitepros.com Daylite Pros

      I don’t work for Marketcircle but I am a Daylite Certified Partner and have been using it since version 1. To date, point releases and incremental updates have always been free, while major versions are a paid upgrade. That said, they have always offered significant discounted upgrade pricing for existing users.

      The iPhone companion, Daylite Touch, is not included in the suite and currently costs $50 per year, per device. While that may seem pricey for an iPhone app, the functionality it provides can be compared with the likes of Blackberry Enterprise Server or Microsoft Exchange. When you look at it like that, it’s extremely affordable. I always encourage my Daylite customers to demo Touch free for 30 days before purchasing as many folks simply do not need it and get by with the built-in iCal and Address Book syncing for their mobile needs.

      I’d be happy to help you determine if Daylite is right for you and how it might help your business. Get in touch any time.

      -Theo
      daylitepros.com

  • http://thermosis.com/ Jayden Lawson – Thermosis website design

    Looks great! Can anyone recommend a Windows equivalent?

    • http://www.daylitepros.com Daylite Pros

      ACT is probably as close as you’ll get. A large number of my Daylite clients are actually ACT/PC converts. ACT and Goldmine tend to be the most popular on Windows.

  • http://www.ebwaydev.com Jonathan H.

    Daylite is the best app we’ve seen in a long time. As a professional design and development firm owner – here’s the Pros and Cons.

    First off it’s a great all around application because there isn’t any competition. Unless you can afford to go with the new dogs in the Mac CMR realm – http://www.ntractive.com/. That being said, if you’re looking for an Inter-Office CRM, Project Manager, and Scheduling App, this is the one.

    The only downside is the lack of accounting support. Sure, you can link it with MYOB (which we hate!) or Billings (which is a fancy Invoice maker, that’s it.) – other than that, it really stinks for accounting.

    All in all, this is a great application, the iPhone app works awesome and the whole team really enjoys it. But, get ready for work because it took us about 2 months to get it set up and running the way needed it to.

    There is another application called Studiometry (http://www.oranged.net/studiometry/), but they just updated to the new version. Unfortunately, they have great accounting support and horrible Project Support. For us, we used Studiometry for about a month and dropped them for iPhone support that Daylite had already perfected.

    There still isn’t an all-in-one solution that’s affoardable for the small business. But, Daylite is the closest thing to a mini ERP System that you’ll find for under $5K.

    I give it 2 Thumbs Up!

  • Jake

    The application has numerous bugs and I read on another blog that they’ve been trying to iron them out for a while now, reports of crashes and licensing issues … I’m big on native mac apps but I’m sticking with SalesForce until the company can assure us we wont have to deal with the horror stories I’ve heard about.

    Just saw this on TechCrunch http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/09/24/netsuite-launches-iphone-app-to-access-business-software-on-the-go/ Net Suite released an iphone app… might be worth looking into.

  • http://phobos.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewPodcast?id=280143215 Marni “The MacAngel” Melrose

    It is exactly because of the “sheer scope” of Daylite that I started doing training videos for my clients. I have a podcast now that might help those of you looking into it. You will see it’s amazing capabilities and better understand where to put things like the reviewer was mentioning. I’ve been using it for 8 years. I am their top product evangelist.

  • dougtheslug

    Disclaimer: Although Marketcircle (the developers of Daylite) sponsor AppStorm, our reviews are always completely impartial.

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  • http://www.pixmac.com Vitezslav Valka

    Nice. My question is, how to convicnce people to get into that kind of SW. Or at least convince them to try this and give the time to get used to it. There are a lot of people like us, doing the management. But time to learn and time to switch is what matters… It would be nice to have it somehow more simple. But how? :-)

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  • Eight

    If you rely on your data keep your fingers away from this software. To dangerous. It is full of bugs and sync doesn’t work properly. Email integration is a joke. I was working with the SW nearly 3 years and MC was not able to solve a huge problem within 8 month. Returned the SW. The management is lousy, as the support is. Waste of money and lots of headache.

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  • Bradley Paton

    I have been using Daylite and Daylite Touch for about 12 months and have not had any issues. Sync sometimes takes two goes when I have made numerous changes on Daylite Touch. Very fast on the iPhone with about 2700 contacts.

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