It's time to standardise where attached documents go in ACT! At the moment, if I'm looking for attached documents they could be in a number of different places:
The Documents Tab
Attached to a History record
Attached to a Note
Attached to an Activity
This makes them difficult to find.
Can I propose that ALL attached documents and Links to Documents go into the Documents Tab
History, Notes and Acivities show Links to the relevant document or link in the Documents Tab.
I agree this would be useful. I also think we either need more flexibility on searching for an attached document - currently you can only search by sorting on four columns, and/or the ability to create a folder structure within documents.
I agree with Jeff why bury the attachments in to History records even if its an email with attachment. Just create in history record a link to the email that will open up and than clicking on attachment to view. It would be couple of steps more but how often do we open history records to view Document compared to trying to find documents and to make sure they getting backed up and reduces the DB file size as well.
I think there are two separate issues. One issues is the ability to associate documents to history, note, etc, and the second is the ability to find the document. The behavior that you are explaining sounds more like the latter.
It is interesting to see that the intent for attaching documents has changed a bit. We view attachments on entities such as History, Notes, Activity as having close relationship to the context of those entities. Normally you would first open a history to view the contents and then to view any supporting documents that might provide further information. However, based on what you described, you are more interested in the document itself.
There are several ways this problem can be solved, either by providing different entry points to view them, or by allowing multiple associations to a single document. Another approach would be provide global search for all documents attached to any entity so you could quickly find it.
Could you elaborate on the real intent? Is it document association or document discovery?
From my perspective the issue is partly document discovery, partly making ACT! more intuitive to the end user, and partly to enhance the ability to share documents with non-ACT users.
In my simple mind I find it confusing that documents can be found in various parts of the program. I appreciate that this is largely an historical legacy from versions where the Documents Tab did not exist, but that was then and this is now and that's why I'm saying it's now time to stop this nonsense and standardise where documents go, and the logical place (for me, at least) is the Documents Tab.
When I'm training people they are totally perplexed by the fact that when they generate a letter in ACT! that letter is NOT in the documents tab; it's just where people intuitively expect to find it. Alternatively, if you now attach the same document from within Word it now puts it in the Documents Tab - you couldn't make it more confusing if you tried.
Of course, we still need the ability to link those documents to history or activities or opportunities, but I see those links pointing to documents or shortcuts you would find in the Documents Tab.
The other point that follows on from this is that users also need the ability to share documents with people who don't use ACT! What the world is waiting for is an easy way to create a shortcut to a folder. Very frequently I see companies who have things like Project Folders or Customer Folders on their servers which contain files contributed by people throughout the organisation. What we need to be able to do is to easily create a shortcut link (yes I know there are work-arounds, but I said, easily) in a Documents Tab to that folder, which would then effectively take you into windows explorer.
Another area that could be improved is the sharing of document files and shortcuts in the Contact Documents Tab with that Contact's Company or Group Documents Tabs. Again, intuitively, I expect that if I add a Document to the Contact's record it will be visible in the corresponding Company record, which after all does have the purpose of "pulling together" information from individual contact records.
So, I'm not looking for a "desktop search" function to find things; that's a bit like saying "I know that invoice could be anywhere in the office but it doesn;t matter because we've got a whizzo tracking device that will let us find it". Just put things where people will expect to find them.
Without having to read the instructions.
I think Jeff is correct but I believe there are some over-riding considerations that need addressing first and they are:
Better, more practical mechanisms for discriminating what gets attached and what doesn't.
For instance, a typical sales organisation that frequently sends large attachments such as brochures and images as attachments to emails is a big contributor to unecessary bloating of the attachments folder. Yes you can try and train people to select the email option of not saving the whole email to ACT! depending on the nature of the message, but it isn't practical i.e. people don't do it.
Providing options for smarter ways to save data.
Integration with web based storage services so that ACT! isn't dependent on an Attachments folder. This would increase efficiency in remote database deployment, reduce backup overheads and potentially is the basis of providing better access for non-ACT! users to share documents.
I will dove tail in with gleo that my concern is about reducing the DB size with all sorts of ways attachments are done. You want smaller DB for backups and a central deposit that from any device any remote user can gain access with a browser if they cant run ACT application on laptop or tablet.
Now that the growing method for collaboration of stored files are going to a Cloud that not only helps to shrink the size of the ACT DB by creating links / shortcuts to a PC's File, Folder, URL ACT! has to address how would you store emails and their attachments.
Another issue I see that can happen is after you have created the links to the Dropbox cloud URL you have to plan in advanced to never change the folder strucure otherwise yoru contact record Document links are broken and near impossibel if you have 1,000s of files to fix.
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