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I am looking for a software recommendation (desktop app, web app, doesn't really matter) to allow me to track vendors in general and our communications with them.

I work in a construction related field and we often specify different equipment for various applications. I would like to be able to keep track of which vendors to go to for different equipment in an easy interface as well as, possibly, the ability to share the resources with others.

My list of desired features in no particular order:

  • Manage list of vendors (bonus if I can keep track of manufacturers and vendors as separate entities and link the two so I know who the distributors are for a given area.
  • Maintain rating of vendors (5 stars, for example, with averaging for multiple "reviews"
  • Group vendors by the products they represent (most vendors would fall into several different groups because they represent different product lines)
  • Ability to assign vendors to projects so I can see whom I have communicated with on a given project easily.
  • Ability to make common forms for sending to vendors (Would be useful to kick off requests for information from several vendors at once with the included information being just what the vendor would need to make equipment recommendations)

Edit: Price-wise: Ideally I would like open source software even if that meant it was in an early state still and my inputs might help shape its direction; I am looking for the software from a functional perspective and not necessarily to look beautiful and show off. With that being said, I would not be opposed to paying a nominal amount if the software filled the functionality niche that I am struggling with. I am not looking for enterprise only level software, however, where the pricing is in the thousands of dollars/year category.

Edit: If the software is a desktop app, I would be looking for it to use on Windows, though if there were a Java app that worked everywhere, that would be ideal.

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There is a Vendor Communications Tracker template on Simitless (you can use it, modify it, take it as inspiration or start from scratch completely). Although the template gives you a basic idea of what your collection can look like, you can always:

  • create/delete data types (aka main things you want to track like Vendors, Manufacturers, Contracts, etc.),
  • select the information that you want to track/collect about the main data types by adding/removing/changing the names of the columns (like name, email, address) within the data types. The way it works is that you get predefined spreadsheet-columns-like fields that you can select from to track/collect only the data you need,
  • import and export your data at any time,
  • search/group entries based on any property you like. Once your app is created, simply go to your app directly (use the URL that is assigned to your app when you build it), click the "+" next to "Filter by", select what to search to then see instant results,
  • link/interlink your data types, for example, if you want to assign one or some of your vendors to the project you are working on,
  • it is a web app, so if ever you need to have multiple users connecting to it at the same time, there is no problem with that,
  • since it is a web app, it runs on any device with a browser, be it pc, tablet, phone, etc.

But:

  • you cannot make common forms per se, but you can generate a "mailto" link to email selected contacts, selected dealers, using your existing email software,
  • it is not open source, and the price depends on the volume of data, the volume of storage and the number of parallels connections, but you can do quite a lot with the free tier that includes 10000 data points, 100 MB storage and 3 parallel connections (have a look at the pricing page if you want to know more).

Here is a little screenshot what it looks like with some "dummy data" I input into the template:

  1. Main view: enter image description here

  2. "Vendors" data type view: enter image description here

  3. "Projects" data type view: enter image description here

Full disclosure: I am part of the startup that designed that platform. We just launched recently, still in beta. If you want to try it out and need some help, I can definitely give you a hand.

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    Sounds like a good opportunity for both. I am sure that if the op works with you, you might add some features for him (obviously, nothing which is specific to one user, but he can help you understand customer requirements in general) Oct 11 '17 at 9:09

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