Normally I try to get this out during the beta period. But, for various reasons, I’ve only been able to get to this now.
Sage ACT! 2011 has added a whole swag of new functions, improvements in usability and fixes to issues. I’m going to try and cover the ones that I have found to be most useful. Unfortunately, a couple are only useful to those within North America… but such is the lack of ability of the regional offices to test the functions and respond.
For the full, public list, please refer to these ACT! Knowledgebase Articles:
Obviously, before you upgrade you should ensure your system, and any add-ons or plugins, support the new version or if they need an update as I suggested in the article: Upgrading ACT!, especially when you are using add-ons
One change worth noting first is the product name changes:
- ACT! by Sage is now Sage ACT! Pro
- ACT! by Sage Premium is now Sage ACT! Premium (access via Windows)
- ACT! by Sage Premium for Web is now Sage ACT! Premium (access via web)
Other than ongoing improvements in stability and speed, the biggest new items are:
Smart Tasks allow you to schedule a series of common and connected steps. You can use the Smart Task templates that Sage ACT! provides* or create your own using the Smart Tasks Manager. Smart Tasks can be run manually or scheduled to run automatically.
Note: I think this feature is the one that should easily justify the upgrade for most users.
You should have a look at the ACT! 2011 Smart Tasks video on YouTube
Outlook Contacts and Calendar Integration
Outlook Integration allows you to synchronize your activities and contacts between Sage ACT! Premium and Outlook. You can set synchronization options to determine what information is synchronized. Synchronization can be scheduled to run automatically or manually run at any time.
Note: I strongly suggest users be careful with using these options as I’ve found some odd behaviour. While some of the bugs have now been fixed with Hotfix 1 for Sage ACT! 2011, others are still problems. For example, the fact that it doesn’t sync the country code with phone numbers makes it useless for anyone who wants to call internationally or to use the numbers when travelling – this is the same as one of the bugs I identified in ACT! Mobile Live.
Sage Business Info Services for ACT!
Sage Business Info Services for ACT!* (provided by Hoover's™) provides tools to access critical business information for your contacts and companies. With Sage Business Info Services for ACT!, you can:
Build a list of companies and people and then import these lists directly into your database. Access links from the contact and company Web Info tab. These links provide key information about your contacts' and companies' profile, financial details, company contacts, industry information, and company news. Subscribe to alerts to notify you when key changes occur for the contact or company.*Requires additional subscription.
Note: This service provides very limited benefit to those of us outside North America or United Kingdom as you can see from the Hoovers' Companies By Geography list
Sage E-marketing for ACT!*
- 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. *Requires additional subscription.
- Sage E-marketing for ACT! is integrated “out of the box” with Sage ACT! 2011 Smart Tasks (3 Smart Task templates require a 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 managed 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.
Security, Administration and Other Improvements
- Increased Security for Attachments and Notes/History Editing Within Your Database
- Company Security
- Import Data Changes: New Express Method, Ability to Create New Fields On-the-Fly During Import, and Synonym Mapping
- Installation and upgrading seems much more reliable
- Installation without MS SQL on workstations
- Now uses MS SQL 2008 Express by default
- Full support for MS Office 2010 - in 32bit mode only as per Office 2010 support with ACT! by Sage
- Parallels (for Mac users) now officially supported as well as VMWare, Sun Virtual Box and Citrix
- Web version now supports native Firefox 3.5 and 3.6 … I’ve also found it seems to run ok in a brief test with Firefox 4.0b6 and Google Chrome, but these aren’t “officially” supported