New Feature and Product improvements For ACT! 2011
Feature - Smart Tasks
- The ability to create workflows in Sage ACT! that include the following:
- Email, Activity, Delay and Sage E-marketing for ACT! Steps
- The ability to specify the criteria in the database that should exist before a Smart Task is execute for either Contacts or Opportunities
- The ability to specify a time at which the Smart Task should execute
- Manual execution of any Smart Task
- Step definition that allows the designer to choose if the step is run in the foreground or background, dynamically select the contact(s) or
opportunity(ies) in the steps, and run once capabilities
- Sequencing step options so that steps can either trigger after the previous step is completed, or after a fixed time delay
- The ability to design Smart Tasks for a database as an administrator and let other users consume the Smart Tasks.
- Monitoring capabilities through the Smart Task Status view
Note: While this is a good addition to ACT! compared to one of the 3rd party products SAM from Northwoods
this is a poor attempt at automation. If this is a feature that you want for your database talk to us about the capabilities of the productivity suite from Northwoods.
Feature - Outlook Integration
- Integrate you contacts with your Outlook Address Book
- Contact Synching capabilities from Outlook to Sage ACT! and Sage ACT! to Outlook.
- Contact Sync set capabilities to allow users to select a sub-set of their Sage ACT! contacts to synch over to Outlook.
- Calendar synching that allows users to update both their Outlook and Sage ACT! Calendars and have them synch regardless of where events were created or modified.
- The ability to choose which systems alarms display in for events.
- An additional default activity type has been added called “appointment”. This is equivalent to the Outlook activity type when no contacts are invited to the event.
- Activity type synching options allow users to choose which activity types will synch. The defaults options are Appointments and Meetings.
- Scheduling synching options as frequently as one minute is available, but to limit performance impact, the suggested synching interval is 10 minutes.
- A new Outlook Integration synchronisation panel from the Tools menu is available to set up both Contact and Calendar synchronisation at once.
Note: The ability to synchronise contacts to the Outlook address book is a good new addition. The fact that
you are not able to map the fields that go into Outlook means there needs to be some real consideration of
your database design. There are a number of 3rd part products that offer this capability and some do it faster and offer more options that the inbuilt ACT! feature.
Redesign - Welcome Page
- A redesigned offline Welcome Page is available for when users first launch the application but do not have a database open. The new page will allow for three options:
- Create a database
- Open a database
- Watch a Napkin Mike video about what a database is
- A new in-product Welcome Page is also available. This new welcome page will highlight feature tour videos,
as well as re-organise the links that were on the previous page in a more logical manner derived from User Testing.
Note: All of this was tested in previous versions and the majority of our users did not want to see fairies and
fluff but get to the main contact screen. Good addition for new users although offers nothing for the existing user.
Feature - Importing
- Importing has been updated and modified to allow import directly from Excel® files.
- An express import option allows users to bypass the field mapping fields during the import wizard and make use of new field normalisation and synonym mapping.
- Note: the synonym mapping files can be customised and during normal installations are located here:
- C:\Program Files\ACT\Act for Windows\CompanyFieldSynonyms.xml
- C:\Program Files\ACT\Act for Windows\ContactFieldSynonyms.xml
- The ability to create new fields during the import process. If new fields are created during the import process,
the layout designer will launch after the import so that the user can place the new fields on the layout for greater visibility.
Note: This has been a long time requested feature although it only goes part of the way to offer a complete
importing solution, especially if you want to update your database from an ERP system on a regular basis. We
would still recommend using a 3rd party tool like Oakmerge as it offers a great more flexibility and the ability to import to the additional tables History, Activites, Notes, Opportunities.
Feature - Sage Business Info Services
- Sage Business Info Services for ACT! provides business information on known companies and contacts within Sage ACT! or lets you download new company or contact records directly into ACT!.
- You first have to sign up for a Sage Connected Services Account by selecting the Sage E-marketing for ACT!
or Sage Business Info Services for ACT! icons located in the top right hand side of Sage ACT!.
- Users can access business information from the Contact or Company Web Info tabs.
Note: While this is shown as a new feature you have to pay some more for the feature to become active. At a
cost of an extra $55.00 per month for the first 400 leads and an additional $49.95 for each additional 400
leads may be a little over the top and there are many other providers who provide leads at a lower rate.
Feature - Sage E-marketing
- Sage E-marketing for ACT! is replacing the name for the connected E-marketing service, formerly ACT! E-marketing. There is a new icon for the contact toolbar as well.
- Sage E-marketing for ACT! is integrated “out of the box” with Sage ACT! 2011 Smart Tasks (requires subscription to Sage E-marketing for ACT!).
- Email templates can now be launched as landing pages (web pages hosted by Swiftpage).
- The service now has an Advanced Template Editor that can be used to edit imported templates.
- The template manager has been redesigned to help users manage, edit, publish/distribute, and launch landing pages easier.
- Swiftpage has added support for Microsoft PowerPoint®, Microsoft Excel®, and text files as documents that can be linked from an email template.
- Documents and images can be manages in a library format instead of uploaded individually for each
template. The document library can store up to 100 documents, and the image library can store up to 500 images.
- The above changes will go live for existing ACT! E-marketing customers on 8/23/10 (except for the new
name and icon, and Smart Task integration), and for all new Sage E-marketing for ACT! / Sage ACT!
2011 customers. When existing ACT! E-marketing customers upgrade to Sage ACT! 2011, they will then see the new name and icon and the Smart Task integration.
Note: The Swiftpage addin was never low cost. For a team or corporate account of 2 users $59.95 per month
might seem reasonable although you are limited to 1000 emails per day at this price. Our experience has been
if you have a list of 5000 or more then this service begins to become quite expensive and there are a number of better alternatives.
If you also want to use the Drip marketing features of ACT! 2011 the plans run from a basic Free plan up to $149.95 per month which when added to the E-marketing totals nearly $200.00 per month.
Feature - Security
- New options are available in the database to limit attachments. These options are restricted to administrators only:
- Restrict emails from being attached to user records
- Restrict email attachments to the database
- Restrict file attachments to the database at all. This option will still allow users to attach shortcuts, but
will restrict files to the database in general (Word, Notes, Histories, Activities, Mail Merge, Sage ACT! Email, etc)
Note: This is a good addition to the administrative functions. It can assist to manage the attachment of files
to the database. It would have been nice if there was also an option to limit the size of attachments as we often see those who have capability of attachment attaching 40Mb files.
Redesign - Installation
- A new option is available for installation that will allow users to install ACT! without installing Microsoft® SQL
- If a user chooses this option, (s)he will not be able to create or upgrade a database.
Note: For larger installations it is often preferable to install connected machines with the SQL install. This
does have some implications that you are not able to manage any databases locally.
Redesign - Groups and Companies
- A new warning dialog is available if users accidentally create a Group or Company. They can now cancel out of the action without having to create the Group/Company and then deleting it.
Note: This has been a long requested feature and a good addition to ACT! 2011.
Redesign - Deleting Users
- On the dialog to delete users in the database, the default option for action has been modified. In previous
versions, the default action was to delete any contacts belonging to the user, now the default option is to reassign the records to another user.
Note: Again this is a good addition to the default actions within the ACT! software. We have always encouraged our clients to not delete users but rather just make them inactive.
Redesign - Dashboard
- For the data chart control dashboard components introduced in ACT! by Sage 2010, the Contact names that
display in these charts are now clickable. Users can click on the contact names to jump directly to the contact detail view for those contacts.
Note: Not much change here from previous versions although the hyperlink to the contact is a sensible
change. If graphical reporting is something that you are interested in then you may find that Topline
Dashboard offer a far wider variety of options than available in the default dashboards. You will be able to build your own dashbaords with far wider flexibility.
Redesign - Navigation
- A “back” button has been introduced, allowing users to scroll back and forward between views in the
application, much like a web browser control. Also included with this new feature is a drop down button to the
left of the back button that will stack where the user has been in the application so the user can easily go back several views at once.
- Modifications to the global navigation bar on the top of the screen have been made to allow for more real estate for the back buttons. Changes include:
- A consolidated button for Email which has a drop down button allowing users to write email, view email or jump to email preferences.
- A consolidated Search button that will allow users to access either lookups or the search on keywords feature.
Note: These are great additions to the default navigation options available in earlier versions.
Redesign - History Filtering
- An option has been added to the history tabs on the detail views to filter histories in the view by history type.
Note: This has been a long requested feature to be able to filter out some of the standard types other than just
emails and attachments. We also have a utility that has capability to remove a number of the unwanted history types.