I'm looking for software that lets me track conversations with vendors, clients, team members, etc. Each step of the conversation doesn't necessarily fall into a well-defined bucket (e.g. "converted lead", "planning", etc.) which is why I'm not sure a project management software or CRM software is exactly what I'm looking for. As of now I use an Excel spreadsheet but that's unwieldy.

I made a mockup of what I'm looking for:

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Each step in the process/conversation would let me add custom notes, tags, and attachments, specify the date, and link each step to the previous and future steps. Ideally I'd be able to sort by date and make something akin to Gantt chart. I am OS agnostic between Windows/Linux and have no preference for a web application or a desktop application, but ideally I'd like something free and/or open source.

EDIT: These conversations or contacts happen across a variety of different media (email, phone, Slack, SMS, mail, in person, etc.) which is why something simply like "threaded email conversations" isn't sufficient.

  • Question - for conversations that happen on phone, for instance, will you manually enter them into any recommended system? Please confirm. I think you may be able to use a CRM...
    – Z Z
    Commented Jan 8, 2021 at 14:52
  • @ZZ Yes, I would manually enter them. Do you have a free and/or open source CRM in mind?
    – Michael A
    Commented Jan 9, 2021 at 3:23
  • Your mock-up immediately makes me think of "kanban" style solutions. Is that something you've considered and rejected? Of course, Trello is, I suppose, a kind of de facto standard for online kanban-type apps, but there are loads of possibilities if this looks attractive in your use case.
    – Dɑvïd
    Commented Jan 9, 2021 at 12:37
  • Perhaps try a cloud-based notetaking software, and develop a sophisticated "tagging" system, then search by tags. However you have to develop your own tags and tagging-/ classification scheme. This can take years, or will likely change over the years.
    – knb
    Commented Feb 3, 2022 at 10:44

1 Answer 1


My suggestion is to try out a CRM like:

SuiteCRM - a fork/successor/improvement on the old community version of SugarCRM.

  • It is PHP/MySql based, and Open source. So you can self-host on internet or on your laptop/computer.

  • Since it evolved from SugarCRM, it has it's own community, user/developer documentation, etc.

  • You can use it for both contacts, vendors, team members (as contacts), companies, etc.

  • You don't have to use buckets.

  • You can add notes/calls, attachments, etc.

  • For GANTT chart, you can search forum to see if any additions. Not had to use that myself.

  • You can add fields via its "Studio". So easy to add source of extra sources information to dropdown e.g.slack, sms, etc.

  • It probably has much more than you need. But you can hide or disable some of the modules.

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