ACT 6 Smart Contact Manager 2001 Rev 1

The latest editions of Best Soft­ware’s ACT and Surado’s Smart Contact Manager each try to serve you a gourmet contact-management meal with a side dish of basic sales planning and forecasting. ACT’s recipe is much tastier.

Both products cater to business users who deal with lots of people — small-business owners, real estate agents or financial services salespeople, for example. People moving up from the more basic Microsoft Outlook can import their contact data into either package. Both also import delimited text files. In addition, ACT accepts Access database files, and Smart Contact Manager can handle .dbf and .dif files, as well as files from ACT 5 or later, Excel 5 or later, and Goldmine 4 or later.

ACT, a long-time Symantec product now offered by Best Software, has a loyal following of users who value the product’s ability to group all sorts of information about a contact (from customisable details to attached documents to related sales opportunities) on one screen.

My preproduction copy of the $249 ACT 6 let me view related documents — Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Adobe Acrobat, and .bmp and .jpeg files — inside ACT. (If you click on an attached document created by any other program, ACT will launch that application.) Among its other smart improvements, ACT 6 now lets you associate Web pages or Outlook messages with particular contacts to put together a more complete history of your dealings.

Also worthwhile: you can now do lookups based on contact activity — for example, to check which people you have not called in the past 30 days. You may also do annual event lookups, in order to search for customer events that happen in the same month every year.

Notably, ACT 6’s interface still looks clean. You can easily converse with someone on the phone while finding the field that you need.

A free tool, ACT Link 2 for Palm OS handhelds, lets you download information to and from devices that use the popular PDA operating system. For workgroups or small businesses that want remote Internet access to an ACT database, the company offers ACT Web Access.

Surado’s Smart Contact Manager 2001 Rev 1 tries to match ACT’s contact-management features, and it also touts a collection of customer-relationship management capabilities, including sales tracking tools. Although a small business could use these features to obtain visual snapshots and reports, ACT 6 provides similar basic forecasting tools and graphics.

Moreover, judging from my experience with a shipping copy of Smart Contact Manager, you must fully understand sales and forecasting processes, as well as sales lingo, to make good use of this $US149 product. The same goes for the included marketing campaign module. This software is an organiser — a series of templates — not an instructor.

More important, I found Smart Contact Manager’s interface to be complicated and sometimes hard to follow. If you’re staring at a program for hours every day, you want it to look crisp; instead, this one packs in tabs and tiny cells. The company says that the next version, expected to ship later this year, will sport a major interface overhaul. That seems worth the wait.

In brief: ACT 6
Hard to beat for serious contact management if you’ve outgrown Outlook.
Price: $249
Phone: 1800 675 617
URL: ACT Web site

Smart Contact Manager 2001 Rev 1

A cluttered interface makes this package difficult to use.
Price: $US149
URL: Surado Web site

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?