Why upgrade to Act! v18 ?

Swiftpage has recently released Act! version18 (aka 2016.) I know how busy it can get, so I will just give you a quick breakdown of selected highlights.

System Requirements: Act v18 now is compatible with Microsoft Office 2013 and 2016 (32-bit versions only). Also, it is compatible with Windows versions 8 and 10. If you do a new install of Act v18, it will install SQL v2014 Express. (For deployments of 20 users or more, or if your database is greater than 10 gigabytes, we recommend SQL 2014 Standard version)  If you would like to see the entire list of  System Requirements for Act! v18, please click here.

The Web version of Act! is now compatible with Internet Explorer 11.0.1, Firefox 3.6 and Chrome v44.0. For the entire list of System Requirements for the Web version of Act, please click here.

For a complete listing of What's New in Version 18, please click here.

Below are some highlights from Act v17, which of course, are included in the v18 upgrade:

Document Integration: Easily integrate documents within Act! utilizing popular solutions such as DropBox, SharePoint and iCloud. With this feature, users in disparate locations can quickly share documents. (Act also integrates with Google Calendar & Gmail, Facebook & LinkedIn)

Contact Timeline: Act! now has what amount to a visual time of historical events of your contacts. In a glance, you can see a timeline of what 's been done and when so you can better manage your clients.

Smart Tasks have been improved. Smart Tasks are intelligent automated tasks that execute tasks on your behalf, based on your design. Tasks that you would normally have to put aside time for such as Territory Assignment, conditional scheduling will execute automatically based on the conditions you set.  Also, another point worth mentioning, is that Smart Tasks now also run in conjunction with the Swiftpage e-Marketing component. This means, for example, that that the respondents to you email campaigns can be automatically monitored and followed up by a Smart Task.

e-Marketing: The entire interface for Swiftpage for Act (Act eMarketing) has been revised. The heart of the Swiftpage component has always been the ability to create professional email campaign that can be directly mail-merged with your Act contacts.  Also, a new component called Act! Lead Capture, allows you to  create simple web forms that can capture prospect's data directly from your webpage, newsletters and emails. 

Outlook Sync Options:   In addition to the many convenient Outlook to Act integration features already in place,  the Outlook 'Contact Sync' feature has been improved. Now the user can easily select between a one way or b-idirectional sync between Act and Outlook contacts.

What's New: Act v18 for Web

I thought it would be helfpful to spotlight the changes to Act v18's Web client. Act for Web is available (no additional charge)  when you purchase the Premium version of Act!. Listed below are some bullet points that will highlight for you some of the updated features:

Browser Support: The Web version of Act! is now compatible with Internet Explorer 11.0.1, Firefox 3.6 and Chrome v44.0. For the entire list of System Requirements for the Web version of Act, please click here.

(If you want to  login and try a live version of Act v18 for Web. Click on this link to try it out. Login in as Chris Huffman and no password.)

Enhanced Administrative Capabilities: Swiftpage has done a good job here in that your Act in-house administrator(s) can update and maintain your database in large degree right from their browser. Here are the highlights of what your Act! Administrator can now:

  • Add/Edit/Delete custom fields in the central Act database.
  • Customize the layout (aka screen view) for Act.

Additional Thoughts: You may want to consider setting up Act! 18 for Web if you have distributed users that need a convenient connection your data without any software installation. As long as they have an internet connection, they will have their Act data conveniently in their favorite browser.

Differences (or Limitations) of the Act for Web: When considering using AFW, users want to know not just the similarities to the regular Act client, but what AFW can't do in that it is browser based. Although this is not a comprehensive list, I wanted to hightlight a few items for consideration.

Act for Web can't:
  1. Use function keys provide  the Right click functionality.
  2. Backup or restore databases
  3. Synchronize Act! data with handheld device
  4. Scan or combine duplicate records
  5. Create an Activity series
  6. Send a email via email template
For the full list of differences between Act! and Act for Web, click here:

I do not want to in any way dissuade you from utilizing Act for web, but rather give you a realistic picture  as to the  difference between the two product versions so that you can choose the right one for the right type of employee. Act! for web is an excellent Web client by itself or as a compliment to an Act! Premium configuration already setup on a server.
A closing thought.... Act! for Web can be configured to integrate comprehensively with a local copy of Outlook. Even though this is not a new feature, it bears repeating because the ability to integrate  in today's business world with Outlook is critical. You can send emails from Act using Outlook, your can view Outlook email history in Act, synchronize contact and calendar with Outlook and more.

So there it is... the case considering the new Act v18 Web client. Please provide feedback once you take a closer look.

Why Remote Desktop for Act

Reasons to consider Act! in the Cloud

Today, fortunately, there are many different methods available to access ACT! remotely. In this article, I will focus on Act! in the Cloud  Act! Remote Desktop aka Terminal Server.) Specifically, we are going to focus on utilizing Remote Desktop Server from Microsoft which is an affordable and highly prevalent in Corporate America today. There are a number of benefits to utilizing remote desktop , so I will try to order them in a sequence that would be of most interest to the Act! user community.

When comparing this approach to the Act! for Web model, the first item of consideration is that the Act! in the Cloud user get an entire desktop of programs in addition to ACT!. For example, when you log into your Remote Desktop session, it will look and feel just like your underlying Windows desktop, [Start] button and all. You can include the entire Microsoft Office suite along with any other software packages you might need. I should also mention that you can view your remote desktop on not just your PC, but remote devices such as a tablet.

Using Remote Desktop also has a positive impact on your entire network and/or infrastructure. Older PC's  need not be replaced as quickly because Remote Desktop runs fast on slower hardware. (All the processing happens on the server, not the PC) From an IT perspective, it is much easier and cheaper to support the users. So,for example, if you have 20 sales reps using Act!, one tweak, fix or upgrade will benefit them all.

Another benefit is the quick deployment of new users. Once the server is initially setup, adding new users takes only minutes. Picture the standard method of adding an employee in which the new PC may have to be setup by IT and then possibly shipped to the user. Here, the Act! desktop & MS office are already configured and waiting on the server. We simply email them the login info and they can get to work in potentially minutes.

Another important consideration for the business owner or manager is security. All the data is on the server and therefor much more secure than if directly on a laptop or PC. How many disgruntled employees have walked away from a company with some or all of their data?

There are many more which I can mention at this point in the article, but suffice it to say that this approach is relatively inexpensive in comparison to many of the other ways of extending your enterprise beyond your 'four walls.' Please feel free to call us at 800-550-4647 for a more specific explanation of Remote Desktop's capabilities, costs and benefits.