Outlook gets contact management option

Outlook with Business Contact Manager gives users CRM capabilities

Microsoft has said it would offer a stand-alone version of Outlook 2007 that includes contact management for tracking customer relationships.

Previously, Outlook 2007 with Business Contact Management was available only as part of Office Small Business 2007, Office Professional 2007 and Office Ultimate 2007. The client software is aimed at small business users.

However, users that want to upgrade their current Outlook client, including those purchased with some Office 2007 versions, will have to pay US$150 to get the new standalone version.

Outlook with Business Contact Management was first introduced with Office 2003. The software lets users centralize customer data, including contact information, e-mail, phone calls, appointments, notes and documents.

With the 2007 version released late last year, users can now customize forms, fields and lists in order to track customers via specific data points.

The result is that Outlook 2007 with Business Contact Management provides a contact database that acts more like a relational database and less like a traditional flat file.

Microsoft also has added synchronization capabilities to support offline work in the 2007 version and a homepage feature that can be tailored to show customer information.

Users with Office Accounting 2007 also can merge customer contact information and financial history. The software also allows for tracking billable time on Outlook calendars and importing that data into Office Accounting's invoice and payroll features.

The software also lets users import contacts from Excel 2007, Office Access 2007, or Outlook 2007, and from third-party applications such as ACT!

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