I am an unabashed fan of 37 Signals’ Highrise contact management tool. For concentrated, straightforward sales and CRM, it’s an ideal web app. Between notes, contact information and useful task reminders, it’s a key part of how Canopy does business, and by and large it’s a delight to use.

Today Highrise rolled out LinkedIn profile integration, a nice idea that they say has been regularly requested. But the implementation is cumbersome and disappointing to the point where I’m probably not going to use it.

Here’s why:

It’s reactive. LinkedIn profiles are only added to Highrise profiles once the user has pasted the appropriate link from LinkedIn into a text field in the contact’s edit screen. There’s no dynamic list generation, no scanning the LinkedIn database, and more importantly, no recognition of post-login URLs. Which means…

It’s cumbersome. For each contact, I have to go to linkedin.com, find the right individual, click through to his or her full profile page, and copy the public link off the web page to add to Highrise. Grabbing URLs out of my status bar won’t work, because Highrise can’t reconcile them. (I suppose one could just find public profiles via Google, but that doesn’t seem practical at all.)

It's David! No, it's Reid!It’s account-reliant. Despite the need to use public profile links, Highrise and LinkedIn require users to log into both systems to coordinate data. But:

It’s not relational. Highrise doesn’t care if you have connected with the people whom you access on LinkedIn-via-Highrise. It also doesn’t care about your accuracy. I had no problem, for example, dropping LinkedIn CEO Reid Hoffman’s LinkedIn profile onto my own Highrise contact page. This doesn’t much matter when it’s being manually updated, assuming the user is careful, but it’d sure be nice to hit the right David Wertheimer by cross-referencing company, title and location data between the two services.

This seems like a great idea missing some key integration points that would make it as practical and useful as the rest of the system.