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Converting from ACT to Outlook 2007 BCM - Should we do it?

Tuned Listener
Posts: 11
Country: United States

Converting from ACT to Outlook 2007 BCM - Should we do it?

We are currently using ACT! Premium for Workgroups 2006 Version 8.0.2.82 (20 users) and Microsoft Office Suite 2003.  We are considering upgrading our Office Suite to Office 2007, and launching Outlook 2007 BCM as a replacement to ACT.  While there are many frustrating things about ACT that are causing us problems (as outlined below), I'm having difficulty finding the comparable funtionality I need in Outlook 2007 BCM.  I'm afraid it would not be a seamless transition.

 

(1)  Currently, we leap frog from ACT, through an add-on called Outlook Extensions to Outlook for e-mail and PDA syncing.  (ACT E-mail in this version, while better than the previous version, still doesn't function the way we need it to.  Each time you open ACT E-mail and send a message, it sits in Outlook Outbox until Send/Receive is pushed.  This is unacceptable because people kept forgetting to click that extra step.  NOTE - this is true even if Outlook is configured to send immediately as well as automatically send/receive on a scheduled basis.  Therefore we use Outlook for all e-mail purposes.)  Oftentimes, history is not recorded to the contact record of an e-mail recipient, and it is NEVER recorded to a CC or BCC of that same e-mail.  Recording histories to all recipients (To, CC or BCC) was never a problem in previous versions of ACT.

 

(2)  Utilizing the group function in ACT allows us to only sync (via Companion Link) to Outlook a user's group of contacts, not the entire database of 19,000+ contacts.  This is the only thing that allows us to sync contacts to PDA's.  In the online demo of Outlook 2007, I cannot find a way to "subset" the contacts per user in order to sync to their PDA's.

 

(3)  We have many custom templates which we use on a regular basis utilizing the "write" function in ACT.  Obviously a time-saver, this does away with having to cut and paste a contact name/address, etc. from Outlook into Word.  Has anyone found a letter writing or custom templating feature available in Outlook 2007 that doesn't strictly involve e-mail communication?

 

The owners of this company are gung-ho for eliminating ACT and moving to Outlook BCM, but I need to understand its advantages and limitations before I make a recommendation either way.  Has anyone had to evaluate/compare these two products?  I would greatly appreciate any insight.  Thanks.

 

Christi

Christine Kearns, Office Manager
Moderator
Posts: 4,395
Country: USA

Re: Converting from ACT to Outlook 2007 BCM - Should we do it?

I am sorry to hear that your company has experienced numerous issues and resulted to evaluating/migrating to another CRM product.  Hopefully one of the many consultants or users will be able to respond to your questions on comparing the two products.  I myself am not familiar with BCM, so I will not be any assistance there.

 

In the meantime, ACT! 2009 was released this week.  There have been many improvements since ACT! 2006 with Outlook integration.  If you're still in search of a CRM and ACT! isn't totally out of the picture, please take some time and evaluate the new release.  

 

Here is are some beta user's testimonials on the new release and new feature articles.

ACT! version 11 Beta Testimonials

Version Comparison Chart

What's New in ACT! by Sage 2009 (11.0)

New Features For Outlook® Integration in ACT! by Sage 2009 (11.0)

 

 

 

Thank you.

Bronze Elite Contributor
Posts: 2,545
Country: New_Zealand

Re: Converting from ACT to Outlook 2007 BCM - Should we do it?

At my last look at BCM there is no tiered security structure as there is in ACT! This makes BCM vulnerable to any user deleting any records.   

Graeme Leo
Xact Software - consultants and developers
Follow us on Twitter and check out our Blog


Tuned Listener
Posts: 11
Country: United States

Re: Converting from ACT to Outlook 2007 BCM - Should we do it?

Thanks for your input.  That is a big one - we specifically assign user levels to avoid that kind of "accidental" deletion. 

 

I've come across a software called Prophet 5.0, by Avidian Technologies.  This is the only software I've found that is actually built into Outlook instead of remaining separate.  They specifically compare themselves against ACT, Goldmine and Outlook BCM.  (http://www.avidian.com/prophet-3-standard-comparison-chart.aspx)  Anyone ever heard of it?  Looks promising.

Christine Kearns, Office Manager
Bronze Elite Contributor
Posts: 2,545
Country: New_Zealand

Re: Converting from ACT to Outlook 2007 BCM - Should we do it?

The clue to your answer is in your question, "Has anybody heard of it?". We come across other CM and CRM products and I had heard of it but have never seen it or have any customers or prospects mention it in 9 years of working with ACT!.

 

Our advice to customers, is rather than be product focused, create a list of core requirements for what your company wants from CRM and prioritise the items. Don't be deviated by marketing tricks of so called comparisons of products, they are neither accurate or relevant and were predominient in the late 90's. CRM software comparison does not reduce to a simplistic list of 20 or so features.

Gather together the key people in your company who are decision makers and have most need of CRM to work well and get a requirements list together. Have input from a wide spectum of users and have your IT Dept involved but don't be too readily influenced by the technical issues at the outset, it is the end users that need CRM to work well and it will only be a success if you get buy-in by all those who will be affected by the decisons. Our experience of CRM projects is that the best implementations are characterised by a large amount of user consideration and input at the outset.   

 

If you can focus on what the business requirements are you are less easily influenced by product marketing hype.

 

   

Graeme Leo
Xact Software - consultants and developers
Follow us on Twitter and check out our Blog


Platinum Elite Contributor
Posts: 6,651
Country: USA

Re: Converting from ACT to Outlook 2007 BCM - Should we do it?

I have not used Prophet but I did hear about it back during the ACT! 2005 days, I've heard little about it since. I did check their web site and noted that they list Outlook version support for the pre Outlook 2007 versions but not for Outlook 2007. Their web site information was also out of date because they did not show ACT! as supporting Outlook 2007. I've recently seen a couple of inquiries about people wanting to move their database from Prophet to the ACT! program.
Roy Laudenslager
ACT! Certified Consultant
ACT! Report Expert
Durkin Impact Report Designer
www.techbenders.com
royel@techbenders.com
541-343-8129
Platinum Elite Contributor
Posts: 14,384
Country: Australia

Re: Converting from ACT to Outlook 2007 BCM - Should we do it?


ckearns wrote:

We are currently using ACT! Premium for Workgroups 2006 Version 8.0.2.82 (20 users) and Microsoft Office Suite 2003.  We are considering upgrading our Office Suite to Office 2007, and launching Outlook 2007 BCM as a replacement to ACT.  While there are many frustrating things about ACT that are causing us problems (as outlined below), I'm having difficulty finding the comparable funtionality I need in Outlook 2007 BCM.  I'm afraid it would not be a seamless transition.

I doesn't come close to ACT!... their MS CRM is more like it, but much more expensive

(1)  Currently, we leap frog from ACT, through an add-on called Outlook Extensions to Outlook for e-mail and PDA syncing.  (ACT E-mail in this version, while better than the previous version, still doesn't function the way we need it to.  Each time you open ACT E-mail and send a message, it sits in Outlook Outbox until Send/Receive is pushed.  This is unacceptable because people kept forgetting to click that extra step.  NOTE - this is true even if Outlook is configured to send immediately as well as automatically send/receive on a scheduled basis.  Therefore we use Outlook for all e-mail purposes.)  Oftentimes, history is not recorded to the contact record of an e-mail recipient, and it is NEVER recorded to a CC or BCC of that same e-mail.  Recording histories to all recipients (To, CC or BCC) was never a problem in previous versions of ACT.

ACT! 2008/2009 actually just use Outlook directly. No need to use the ACT! Email client

(2)  Utilizing the group function in ACT allows us to only sync (via Companion Link) to Outlook a user's group of contacts, not the entire database of 19,000+ contacts.  This is the only thing that allows us to sync contacts to PDA's.  In the online demo of Outlook 2007, I cannot find a way to "subset" the contacts per user in order to sync to their PDA's.

What PDA? Why would you want 19,000 contacts on any PDA??

(3)  We have many custom templates which we use on a regular basis utilizing the "write" function in ACT.  Obviously a time-saver, this does away with having to cut and paste a contact name/address, etc. from Outlook into Word.  Has anyone found a letter writing or custom templating feature available in Outlook 2007 that doesn't strictly involve e-mail communication?

 Outlook is really designed for email... with Word you could come close, but would take a fair bit of work.

Tuned Listener
Posts: 11
Country: United States

Re: Converting from ACT to Outlook 2007 BCM - Should we do it?

Mike,

 

In response to your question "What PDA? Why would you want 19,000 contacts on any PDA??", I actually don't want to sync 19,000 contacts, but rather a subset of that total to sync with 9 different PDA's.  Each PDA user has specific contacts that are designated by groups in ACT.  Their designated group of contacts syncs to their Outlook via Companion Link, then the contacts are synced from Outlook to their PDA's.  If there is no way to segrate each sales agent's contacts, then the only alternative would be to sync all 19,000 contacts - which by the way wouldn't be possible.  There isn't enough memory on any of the PDA's for that many contacts.

 

My concern is that in our desperation to get out of the leapfrogging softwares that we use now (ACT to CompanionLink to Outlook via Active Sync to PDAs), we'll jump into Outlook BCM and then find out it doesn't do what we want/need it to do.  We've been ACT users since 2000, but have become increasingly frustrated with some of the glitches we encountered along the way.

 

Has ACT 2008 (Version 9??) really integrated Outlook better - and why is there a Version 10 out ther being Beta tested?

Christine Kearns, Office Manager
Platinum Elite Contributor
Posts: 14,384
Country: Australia

Re: Converting from ACT to Outlook 2007 BCM - Should we do it?


ckearns wrote:

Mike,

 

In response to your question "What PDA? Why would you want 19,000 contacts on any PDA??", I actually don't want to sync 19,000 contacts, but rather a subset of that total to sync with 9 different PDA's.  Each PDA user has specific contacts that are designated by groups in ACT.  Their designated group of contacts syncs to their Outlook via Companion Link, then the contacts are synced from Outlook to their PDA's.  If there is no way to segrate each sales agent's contacts, then the only alternative would be to sync all 19,000 contacts - which by the way wouldn't be possible.  There isn't enough memory on any of the PDA's for that many contacts.

 Depending on how many contacts per PDA and which OS, you would find HHC much better. You set it up and admin from the server - not via Outlook and nothing to install on user's PC.

My concern is that in our desperation to get out of the leapfrogging softwares that we use now (ACT to CompanionLink to Outlook via Active Sync to PDAs), we'll jump into Outlook BCM and then find out it doesn't do what we want/need it to do.  We've been ACT users since 2000, but have become increasingly frustrated with some of the glitches we encountered along the way.

 Outlook also has an issue sometimes (esppecially with ActiveSync) to not recognise the device and then duplicateall the records.

Has ACT 2008 (Version 9??) really integrated Outlook better - and why is there a Version 10 out ther being Beta tested?

ACT! 2008 (10.0) is better but ACT! 2009 (11.0 and now released) is a big improvement in Outlook integration for email and activities


 

Tuned Listener
Posts: 11
Country: United States

Re: Converting from ACT to Outlook 2007 BCM - Should we do it?

Thanks for your input, Mike.  I'm at the beginning of my investigation on this issue, and I'm just doing a lot of research on the pros/cons of switching from ACT.  To date, we have limited our PDA users to the Microsoft Windows Mobile/Active Sync models.  We have not permitted the agents to integrate Blackberries with our environment simply because ACT and Blackberry never worked that smoothly.  The article you referenced gives me hope.  But again - in 2006 when we converted from ACT 5.0 to ACT 8.0, we were told that 8.0 was a smooth conversion and a great product.  Two years later - I still don't buy it. 

 

I may have to set up a standalone test PC to really give it a workout before we launch it across the network.  Wish me luck!

Christine Kearns, Office Manager