Small company shared address book

There is a big need in smaller companies to share contacts. Whether its about sharing in-house or external contacts, sending multiple numbers to your colleagues can be a pain. Having a nicely organized address book on your public shared folder can be a good start. Especially if you go to the trouble of having a separate original in .XLS, and output version in .PDF that you periodically update. This is good business practice, as you will save yourself a lot of time every time a new employee is hired and you have to quickly explain who is who, what their email address is, what their function is etc.

However having your mobile contacts organized, and providing a way to easily “propagate” contacts to your employees is where small companies struggle. Our solution is to create a simple Google account (a free Gmail, or a company Google account if you use the Google suite).
You can use this “address book” account as an additional one on your Android phones (this can work for iPhone’s as well), and use the settings to sync only contacts. Have a dedicated employee to update the address book (via. contacts.google.com), or explain to your users how to add or modify the “address book” contacts. Google has a lot of options available for each contact, so as long as you decide on a good structure and the people making entries keep to the standard – your address book will be in perfect shape.

Our recommendations

Without going to much into the solutions debate, instead we offer you some advice on how to setup and maintain your shared address book in a small business environment.

1. Creating and modifying the company address book

google contacts setup

google contacts setup

You can use contacts.google.com for easy address book maintenance. Every contact can be detailed with multiple mobile numbers, email addresses, notes, etc. You can use the site to both import or export from various formats including .csv or vCard. Google will also keep backup of your contacts for up to 30 days. And you can use the restore contacts feature to restore them to a day of your choosing from that period.


2. Setting up the clients

android sync settings

android sync settings

Every new smartphone will provide you with the option of setting up a Google account. The process is straightforward, and all you need to do is enter your email address and password. You should setup the address book account only *after* you have your main account in place for email, google play and other services. Then you can disable synchronization on the address book account for everything except contacts.


3. Downsides

pros and cons

pros and cons

You need to be aware of the fact that any user can add, delete or modify contacts in your company address book. While this can be beneficial, as it means you don’t need to dedicate an administrator – you will still need to warn your users of any misconduct. Also removing the address book needs to be done on the client side, unless you want to change the account password and then enter it on every client again.


4. Maintaining a .PDF address book

address book in .XLS and .PDF

address book in .XLS and .PDF

One of ideas is to design a decent looking address book in .XLS and then use a PDF printer, like the one you get when installing Foxit Reader – which we recommend as a standard utility on your business computers. Once you update your .XLS address book, print it to .PDF and propagate the PDF to your public shared folder, or send it via email to your clients etc.


5. Syncing contacts to e-mail apps

Gcontactsync addon

Gcontactsync addon

If you are using Thunderbird as your e-mail client, its easy to sync your contacts between Thunderbird and Gmail, just install and setup the gContactsync add-on. For Outlook users there is no automated solution, so you will have to export your contacts from Google, and then import your contacts.csv file to Outlook.


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