Hi, all! My name is Chris Heydemann, a Senior Program Manager on Business Contact Manager.

We’re very happy to be able to show off Business Contact Manager for Office 2010. In the coming weeks, look for posts that talk about Business Contact Manager’s new and improved features, why we made the changes we did, and how these improve business productivity and effectiveness.

Background

We had three top-level user interface goals for Office 2010:

  • Make BCM more flexible. Show the records and fields you want, whatever your role.
  • Increase usability, so that BCM is more pleasant to use, easier to use, and faster for your common business tasks.
  • Visualize business data, so that you can see at a glance how your business is performing.

You’ll be hearing more about what we did to meet these goals in the coming weeks. But for now, let’s start with the top-level user interface.

In Office 2007, we gave you a single list or Accounts, one for Business Contacts, one for Opportunities, and so on. To create custom lists (say, Opportunities assigned to me) you needed to create search folders. In Office 2010, we wanted to provide multiple views, each flexible enough to meet your small business needs. Each view should provide a way to visualize your business data, to list the records you need to do your job, and show detailed data about the selected record.

Workspaces

To meet these needs, we created 4 role-centered Workspaces, one each for Sales, Marketing, Project Management and general Contact Management. Here’s the Sales workspace:

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Let’s take a brief look at the different components:

  • The Folders in the Navigation Pane allow you to navigate between BCM Workspaces.
  • Of course you’re familiar with the Ribbon, which Business Contact Manager has had since Office 2007. The Ribbon puts all the commands at your fingertips to allow you to work faster and more effectively.
  • You can choose from a variety of Gadgets. There are Gadgets for Sales, Marketing, Project Management and Contact Management; choose the ones that show information that matter to you. You can use gadgets to monitor the effectiveness or your entire team, or focus only on your own contribution. And if you want to provide more space to the Tabs, just select Hide Gadgets in the upper right of the Gadgets area.
  • The Tabs (here, Opportunities, Leads and Stores) show lists of BCM records and information about each record. You can create up to 20 Tabs, naming them whatever makes sense to you. Each Tab contains a List and, optionally, a Reading Pane
  • The List of records can be filtered to show only records you care about: Opportunities likely to close, Business Contacts in my state, and so on. They can also be grouped (here, Opportunities are grouped by Sales Stage) and sorted, and you can select the fields that matter to you.
  • The Reading Pane shows detailed information about the current record, without having to open the inspector. As you scroll down through the List, the Reading Pane shows detailed information about the currently selected record. You can select and rearrange the information shown in the Reading Pane.

Dashboard

While the workspaces are where you will spend most of your time in BCM, we’ve also provided a Dashboard:

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The dashboard shows you how your business is doing. As on the Workspaces, you can choose from a variety of Gadgets. The Gadgets are the some ones shown on the workspaces, though most will expand to take advantage of the extra room. Gadgets are arranged in up to 4 columns, and you can drag them into whatever order you like.

I hope this provides an idea of the amount of effort we’ve put into improving the flexibility and usability of Business Contact Manager. I’m looking forward to hearing your feedback on the elements of the user experience that you like, and those that need more work.

Thanks for your time, Chris