12-28-2011 06:20 PM
We have a current infrastructure of Windows Small Business Server 2003 running MS SQL Server 2005 in a mostly Windows 7 environment (enterprise & pro) with Office 2007. Our current CRM is cBiz with about 20K contacts which the company migrated to a few years ago FROM ACT "due to performance problems with large numbers of users in ACT". We may be upgrading our server to Windows SBS 2011 & MS SQL Server 2008 sometime soon and I wanted to investigate whether or not ACT might be a good fit since that would be a logical time to make a switch if we decided to do that.
In view of all of that, I wanted to validate a couple of items about ACT & our environment (and note that we are not interested in high priced "consultants" to "customize" anything that wouldn't work out-of-the-box). Here's the specific questions I have:
We look forward to your response. Thanks!
12-28-2011 08:49 PM
In reading you post, I think ACT can do most of all of what you are looking to do. However, some of the skills required may be advanced, and i'd consider a prototype if not a consultant. The cost of NOT doing it right is going to be much higher than any consultant.
With that said, here is my best attempt to answer your questions:
1) Your current environment is supported by ACT 2012, however, system resources and health of your envirnment are keep factors as well as the technical support you have at your disposal. You don't mention number of users, this is a factor as well.
2) best to be aware of Current ACT system Requirements to answer this question.
3) 100% compatible. NO. but it may still meet you rneeds. Here is a whitepaper on ACT- MS OFFICE INtegration; again do a prototype or test or use a consultant to make this decsion.
4) No, it will not natively import CBiz. you willl need a special tool or a custom import. Most likely can be done cost effectively, but not "right out of hte box"
5) We have many installations running 50-100K records or more. System resources and number of users are key to higher numbers. 20-40 k is relatively medium sized for a database.
6) nothing on the current road map that I know of. We offer a hosted ACT solution that supports Macs, IPAD, Kindle, Xoom and more. There are other solutions for Mac including VM Fusion, Bootcamp. You are probably aware of many of these.
Honestly, i've want to have a value conversation with you. I'm not sure of your budget, but I doubt it's possible to get the results you desire without spending anything. The softwar is very customizable and is a great value to many people at it's price point. You might find that a consultant who has been trained in this software and makes implementing it to organizations a huge value to you.
best wishes to you. Let me know if you have any further questions.
12-29-2011 05:45 AM
A couple of follow up questions/comments:
12-29-2011 02:00 PM
1) i'm not aware of if or when SBS 2011 is offiically supported.
2) client side 24 bit windows is supported, MS Office 64 bit is not.
3) there are performance whitepapers on the Sage ACT website for your convenience.
4) there is documentation within the ACT reader utliity.
5) Is Sage still maintaining that customers cannot have Admin access to their own database? I'm not aware of this practice. I"m not aware of any data in your data that is not accessable.
6) I think I'd let sage comment on whom they care about or on their road map. as a fellow user, I would there are many products I have and use ever day that do nont work in mac environments or require additional licenses.
12-29-2011 02:55 PM - last edited on 12-29-2011 03:02 PM by ghollister
Thanks for the feedback Jon despite my (intentional) somewhat confrontational tone. What I've been trying to validate is whether or not it makes sense for our business (or any other for that matter) to trust Sage with our absolutely critical business data and many of our business processes. I say "trust" because we don't want to be "locked in" with a product that will ultimately hamstring us in other areas and the bottom line is that Sage has a notorious reputation for being extremely poor and extremely slow in supporting new technology.
Case in point (much of which you've documented). MS Windows Small Business Server 2011 (which is currently shipping installed on many new servers) is not currently supported and no one knows "if or when" it will be. So as a business we should delay a new server based on Sage's inability to support a new MS operating system? MS Office 64 bit is not supported (and again no one seems to know "if or when" it will be). So as a business we should potentially change/limit our office productivity software and the benefits/features of that based on Sage's inability to support the industry leading software product? I didn't ask but I'll assume based on my trial that ACT 2012 still installs SQL Server 2005 (as in six years ago software)? So if our new server comes with SQL 2008 R2 (as expected) or we want to upgrade to the new SQL 2012 version we're stuck with ACT installing another instance of old software that we have to maintain, patch and secure and which will needlessly compete for system resources. If we want to use a Mac, we're totally screwed unless we want to spend money on other licenses and put up with all the extra hassles. And finally, it's difficult to imagine [Edit: Content removed. Please post courteously] the notorius issue of ACT locking users out of their own databases but if you put in "sage act sa password issue" in Google you'll see all the pent up frustration (or just click this LINK to see Sage's official response to a question on it: "ACT! databases are proprietary and no access through the SA password is allowed")
The bottom line is we really like ACT. I think it has some great things going for it (despite the very old interface which hasn't been updated in years). Unfortunately in the end we're probably going to have to go with another company and their product since Sage doesn't really seem committed to keeping up with the times from a software compatibility standpoint. And that's a real shame.
12-29-2011 03:52 PM
It's interesting to me that sometimes end users are unwilling to pay consultants to help them with software that they consider to be critical to running their business. I have several customers that I do a great deal of consulting for who understand that it is less expensive and more cost effective to hire someone who knows what they are doing than it is to attempt to do it themselves. I'm not being confrontational I'm just curious.
A while back I needed to replace the garbage disposal in the kitchen and I thought I would try and do it myself. I spent about an hour reading about what needed to be done before I decided that I should probably just hire someone to do it. I watched him install the garbage disposal to see how involved it was and whether I should have tried to do it myself. While watching him I saw him put something that looked like a type of glue underneath the little ring that went in the sink. That wasn't in the instructions that I had read. I did some more research and discovered that was to keep the sink from leaking after you install the garbage disposal. So if I had installed it and skipped that step I would probably have had a leaking sink without having a clue why. That's why you hire someone who knows what they're doing. We can answer all of your questions here but without you knowing what questions to ask you're liable to not get the answers you need.
All software applications have their strong points and their weak points. Point in case you apparently are looking at switching from CBiz for some reason.
The reason that SBS 2011 isn't listed as supported is that when ACT! 2012 was being developed it probably wasn't out yet so they couldn't test with it to make sure that everything was working properly. They will more than likely support it with ACT! 2013 and in the meantime it will probably work fine with ACT! 2012. If I were installing ACT! on a server I would install it in a VM or on it's own machine so that other applications wouldn't interefere with it and it wouldn't interefere with other applications.
You have been able to use Windows Authentication to log into the ACT! SQL database since ACT! 2011. You are on your own if you decide to use the capability that functionality gives you to modify the database directly though.
ACT! is quite a bit faster these days than it was several years ago. I suspect that your performance would probably be fine unless you have a lot more people accessing your 20K contact database than you probably do. You still haven't told us how many users you have.
The last time I checked Microsoft didn't support the 64bit version of Office 2010 in MSCRM. If they don't support it how can you reasonably expect Sage to?
I'm curious why you think ACT! 2012 works with SQL 2005 since it installs SQL 2008 R2 when you install it. I'm not even sure you can make it work with SQL 2005.
12-30-2011 11:05 AM
Reminds me of an old fishing story Stan.
I used to have a boat and never caught a lot of fish until until I hired on of those overpriced fishing boat capitans.
12-31-2011 04:48 AM - edited 12-31-2011 04:58 AM
Hello. I would like to offer my 2 cents about the Mac question.
I am a "newbie" to Mac. I have always used PC's and ACT. I have always updated the version of Act every other year to keep up with changes that Sage has made. I would say over the past two or three versions, Sage has not updated ACT that makes it beneficial to me. Allowing the user to change the color of fonts and updating the "look" of the homepage is not an update. You can even use Lotus Notes effectively with ACT. ACT is made to work in a Windows environment and work hand-in-hand with Outlook.
That said,..I am using a Macbook Pro, running Parallels using Windows 7 (yes, you MUST purchase a licensed copy for each computer), a working in Coherence Mode. This allows me to use the Mac side and Windows side on one screen and you would not even know that Windows is running,
1. Using ACT. I like this software and am very familiar with it's benefits.
2. Using CompanionLink Pro to integrate with my iPad, iPhone, Gmail account, and Lotus Notes account.
Downside: There are many
1. Running two platforms uses much more battery power and reduces my time in the field with my laptop.
2. ACT will NOT integrate with Outlook for Mac. ZERO. Seems most of the ACT updates have been for Outlook benefits.
3. Still have to maintain a Windows platform (Updates, Anti-Virus Protection,...ect.) Huge downside.
4. Can't export to Excel for Mac. Must load MS Office on the Windows side to use some of ACTs features.
I will say your comment about Mac's have 15% marketshare is correct. But,.According to many websites and a few here on this community,...it's only 6.45% globally and only 6% of the business marketplace here in the US. This goes back to the Pareto Principle (80/20). Where's ACT's main business? It's obviously with PC's.
I have looked at other CRM's such as Daylight for Mac but truthfully, I am scared to switch, With the chance of lost data from a conversion and the "great unknown",... I have stayed with ACT and running a VM on my Mac. In my company,...there are 6k employees and only six of us using Mac's. Enough said.
Lastly,...Sage is not keeping up with the change in technology in my opinion. They semi-sorta have a cloud based solution. No Lotus Notes integration (really they don't because you cannot transfer data without a third party software). And this last fiasco with Google (Gmail) integration was VERY misleading. You can't send Gmail through ACT,...PERIOD.
Sage/ACT are doing some things right if you own a PC and use Outlook as your only email / calendar. Good Luck on your search for CRM solutions. The people on this board are very helpful and offer great insight to their past experiences. Happy New Year to all.