Category Archives: Act!

Caldere Welcomes New Act! Certified Consultant

By | Act!, CRM, Support | No Comments

Welcome our newest Act! Certified Consultant!

We at Caldere would like to welcome our newest Act! Certified Consultant, Sasha Albertini! Sasha just completed her Act! Certified Consultant certification exam with a perfect score. (This shows how far she’s come since taking on a more significant Act! support role with us in 2016!) As a result, Sasha will be able to work directly with Swiftpage on your behalf to make sure you get the best possible service and support for Act! CRM.

Act! Certified Consultant ribbonProfile

Sasha comes from a very strong database support background that includes product data management (PDM), enterprise resource planning (ERP), and project management support and user training, as well as CRM installation and administration. Additionally, Sasha qualified earlier this year as a Salesforce Certified Administrator and is assisting in Caldere’s Zoho and Microsoft Power BI implementation projects.

With over two decades of experience working closely with IT clients in large and small corporations, Sasha prides herself on her approachability and problem-solving tenacity. She believes in your business knowledge and understands that you have the best approach to making your own business successful. Most of all, her mission is to make sure your software works for you and keeps you working, rather than to demand that you tailor your expectations to the software.

What’s Next

The next step for Sasha is to increase her data analytics and BI skills. Along with the high level of experience and skill that senior Caldere staff already possess in business intelligence, database administration, and software development, this will ensure that every one of your Caldere consultants has the very best and deepest understanding of what data is, how to keep it safe, and how to make it work most effectively for you and your business.

Sasha invites you to contact us to find out why it’s better to be a Caldere client!

Years 2000 and 2500 Incorrectly Shown in Power BI Report

By | Act!, Power BI, Support, Tips and Tricks | No Comments
By Meeta Gargav

We came across an unusual situation in which incorrect years (2000 and 2500) were shown in the X-axis of a Power BI report. Our questions about this issue weren’t specifically answered no matter how much Internet searching we did. We did find a workaround, and we’re describing it in this blog post in the hope that it saves someone else tearing their hair out!

Incorrect Years 2000 and 2500

We created a Power BI report using data from the Act! Opportunity module. This simple report shows the count of opportunities won (Y-axis) over the time period (X-axis).  The slicer in this report is the actual close year.  The report works as expected when we select multiple years.

year 2500 glitch (1)

However, we noticed issues with the report when we selected only a single year. Instead of the selected year (2015 in the example), the X-axis displayed the year 2000, which we did not select, even though it displayed the appropriate data for 2015. It also added 2500, a year that did not correspond with any data, and that did not even appear in the list.

Showing 2500 in X-axis

We get quite a few hits when we run a search on power bi displaying the wrong year.  Some of them are listed at the end of the post, but my workaround is different from the recommendations I found on Google.

Our Workaround

When the issue is present and we select X-Axis in the Format section, we notice the Type drop-down is set to Continuous. Type allows us to choose either Continuous or Categorical.

Most of the resources I found on the Internet say that in a report like ours, the Year should be set to Continuous and the Scale Type to Linear. I found that this setting didn’t work in the case at issue. But when we change Type to Categorical, the report appears as we expect.

Wrong Year Issue Corrected

Here’s a closeup of the corrected report:

Corrected report

The other workaround that I have found is to create another Year column and make it a text field. We would then use the decimal Year for the slicer, and the text Year for the X-axis. However, the reason I don’t use this as my default is that we would then be bulking up our Power BI report with extra columns.

I am really interested in what you think of my workaround, so please leave a comment.

View a YouTube demonstration of the issue and workaround by clicking this link!


Here are a few of the search results that I examined:

https://community.powerbi.com/t5/Desktop/shows-wrong-year/td-p/27652
https://www.mrexcel.com/forum/power-bi/894525-correct-date-wrong-display-powerbi.html
https://powerbi.microsoft.com/en-us/documentation/powerbi-desktop-data-types/

Caldere Leads with the Top 3 CRM Leaders!

By | Act!, CRM, Salesforce, Zoho | No Comments

Of the 20 most popular CRM software packages reported by Capterra, Caldere supports all of the top 3!

Contact us today to talk about which of these are right for your company and how we can get you started quickly and easily. If you are already a user of one of these packages, let’s talk about how Caldere can make your experience even better and help you gain profitability and productivity.

Top CRM Solutions

Act!-Outlook Integration Support: A Case Study

By | Act!, Administrative, Support, Tips and Tricks, Training | No Comments

Have you ever had trouble with your Act!-Outlook integration? Here’s how Caldere helped a client with a difficult issue.

The Client

One of our longstanding Act! clients uses a complex system of several databases and has a few dozen users in total. Their data administrator is what IT support people consider a “superuser”, someone who has more experience and authority than most other people in her company who use the program. She’s smart, and has become knowledgeable enough to train new users and to deal with many common problems on her own. So when she calls us with an issue, as she did not long ago, we know it’s going to be an interesting one!

Act!-Outlook integration supportThe Support Issue

When Act!-Outlook integration is set up and functioning properly, an Act! user can access e-mail from within contact records. They can start an e-mail with a contact by clicking within the contact’s record, the e-mail itself should show in contact history, and so forth. One staff member had lost the ability to use that Act!-Outlook integration functionality.

The data admin knew the usual things to do, of course. First she made sure the staff member had the right permissions. She looked to see whether they were accessing the right database files in the right way, and she asked them whether Outlook itself had had any issues. She checked the staff member’s Act! Preferences to make sure the e-mail settings were correctly set as Caldere had recommended. But then she was surprised to see that E-mail System Setup didn’t show the check boxes for selecting either Outlook or Act! e-mail. The field where the options were normally shown was quite blank. All she could do was close Act! and call us for support.

Diagnosing the Act!-Outlook Issue

We contacted the data admin, and she sat with the staff member to consult while we set up a remote support session on the user computer. First we checked the data admin’s work to make sure we understood what she had seen and done. We confirmed that the options were not appearing in E-mail System Setup, and we made sure all the easiest fixes had been tried (it’s always best to try those first!).

Then we moved on to intermediate-level diagnostics. We verified that the user was running compatible versions of Outlook and Act!, and that there were no known conflicts between the Act! plugin for Outlook and any other Outlook plugins. The user’s Outlook profile looked fine. There were no identifiable compatibility issues between Act! or Outlook and any other software installed on the computer.

How We Solved It

We moved on to the more advanced-level fixes. These can involve fixing damaged programs, editing the registry, or as a last resort uninstalling and reinstalling Act! itself, so they would not have been things the data admin would have tried by herself. One problem that is known to cause the E-mail SystemFinding the way through Setup to show blank is related to Microsoft Visual C++. Since C++ is a Microsoft product, not part of Act!, only limited assistance is available from the Act! vendor’s customer support. We wound up removing the suspected problem redistributable and reinstalling it from a verified good download. We then downloaded and ran a complex batch file that reset several functions and ensured the newly reinstalled redistributable was operating properly.

After applying that fix, we rebooted the user computer and checked to make sure the options appeared in E-mail System Setup (they did, and everyone cheered). We verified that Act! worked as expected once the preferences were set according to our usual operating standards. Then we opened Outlook and verified that the add-ins had been properly installed and were working correctly with Act!. We made sure that the data admin and the staff member understood the issue and that they were happy with the solution, then we ended the support session and let them get back to work.

What We Can Do for You

At Caldere, our tech support team has been working with Act! for many years. We combine our unusual depth of experience and intelligent grasp of systems with a willingness to go the extra mile in identifying and resolving the problems that stop you from being productive. Call us if you’d like us to be your first line of defense when unexpected things happen.


More details about the solution we successfully applied in this case study can be found in the Act! Knowledgebase.

Even More Tools with Act! Premium v19.1

By | Act!, CRM, Maintenance | No Comments

Announcing the NEW eCommerce Connections

Now in Act! v19.1, Premium subscribers can connect directly to popular eCommerce solutions!

eCommerce Connections graphic v19.1

With the new eCommerce Connections, you will be able to:

  • eCommerce Connections History Tab v19.1View your customer purchase history for these solutions
  • From the History tab, view Order ID, Quantity, and price of items in the order, and the order total
  • Send targeted marketing campaigns to groups of eCommerce customers
  • Inform your sales conversations with pertinent details about a customer’s visits and buying habits
  • Boost all of your sales and marketing efforts
  • Start doing all of this without having to install separate apps or plug-ins

New functionality in Act! Companion for mobile users

Users of Act! Companion (first made available in v19) will now have the following additional functionalities in Act! v19.1 to eliminate needless picks-and-clicks and to enhance productivity on the go:

  • Quickly create a History from the Business Card view
  • Use @ mentions to associate history (meetings, events, calls, notes, etc.) to contacts or other users

Take advantage of multiple quality enhancements 

In response to user feedback, Act! v19.1 has put out several updates that you’ll want to incorporate into your installation. Make sure you have all of the new functionality and experience enhancements that make Act! the right solution for your business.

Contact us to learn more about how to upgrade to v19.1 and get the latest technology working for you!

Microsoft Power BI is Magic Quadrant Leader – Gartner

By | Act!, Business Intelligence, CRM, Power BI | No Comments

Gartner positions Power BI as the leader in its Magic Quadrant

Power BI leads the pack again!

Miguel Martinez, Sr. Product Marketing Manager, recently published this post in the Microsoft Power BI blog to call attention to some astonishing news about the platform. Microsoft Power BI general manager Kamal Hathi has confirmed in this post in the official Microsoft blog that Gartner* has positioned Power BI as a Leader in their 2017 Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence and Analytics Platforms for the tenth consecutive year (see diagram to left).

Across all industries, organisations recognise the power and opportunity that come with the implementation of a fast, effective analytics and data visualisation tool.  The ease of use of the Power BI platform and the simplicity with which users can share insights in real time are key reasons why we use and recommend it to link to and make sense of the wealth of data locked in an Act! database.

At Caldere, we think Power BI is the right choice to optimise our Act! database, and we’d like to show you why. Microsoft has shown a huge commitment to the Power BI project. Their roadmap for the future includes new ways to collaborate with users and continually upgrade the platform. We are confident that implementing Power BI along with a strong database will help any business, especially in the SME sector, gain a critical edge over their competitors.

Don’t forget to check out our video demonstration of how to quickly and easily connect an Act! database to the Power BI desktop.

 


*(The Microsoft blog post includes this disclaimer: The graphic was published by Gartner, Inc., as part of a larger research document and should be evaluated in the context of the entire document. The Gartner document is available upon request. Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in its research publications, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings. Gartner research publications consist of the opinions of Gartner’s research organization and should not be construed as statements of fact. Gartner disclaims all warranties, expressed or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.”)

The New Act! v19 Upgrade – How To Get There

By | Act!, Administrative, Business Management, CRM, Maintenance, Tips and Tricks, Training | No Comments

So now that you’ve read our post and information page about the great new features of Act! Premium v19, what’s the way forward? Here’s a road map to preparing for and implementing a smooth v19 upgrade with Caldere.

v19 upgrade signCheck Your Vehicle

You will need to inspect all parts of your system to make sure they are operating properly and meet the minimum system requirements. If you’re not sure, we’re here to help.

If you need a license for v19, we can arrange this. (Some users, such as those with subscriptions or some of those who recently purchased v18, may already have a license.) Contact us and we’ll help make sure your license is in order for your v19 upgrade.

If you are upgrading from a version of Act! other than v18 Premium, and you are using or may use remote database access (such as for users who work from home, or mobile users), you must make sure that your SQL database engine is properly updated. We can assist you.

Backing up your databases before you upgrade isn’t just a good idea, it’s a critical step in any upgrade in case something turns out to be incompatible or not to work as intended. Backing up before, and in the worst case, restoring after, an upgrade can be intimidating and technically tricky. If you haven’t done this before, it’s critical that you do it (you would be surprised how many users we’ve seen who don’t know how). Some older databases may even need to be converted before the v19 upgrade. We are experts in this and can show you how to make sure you’re protected.

Most importantly, make sure your data is clean and organised. A clean database, free of accumulated garbage and duplicates, eliminates most everyday data issues and makes your work faster and more efficient. We know some tips and tricks that will help you tune up your data fast so you don’t also upgrade your problems!

Look Both Ways and Behind

If you are currently a Premium Cloud user, it’s important that you don’t attempt to upgrade on your own, or you could lose your ability to synchronise your data. Contact us to get a readiness assessment and understand what your next steps are.

If you share a database with other users (even if the other users are just the other computers you use), do not upgrade only your machine, or only some machines and not others. The versions of the database and the users must match. Contact us to help navigate the ins and outs of upgrading your server and organising all of your users, both direct-access and remote.

Checking your existing software for compatibility is always worth the small time investment. This includes making sure any customisations within Act! itself, as well as any add-on software, operate as expected in the new version. We can help you avoid roadblocks and known issues that can make your new installation troublesome or even cause crashes.

Know Where You’re GoingYour destination - v19

Act! v19 comes with brand new features and useful functionality that you may not have considered implementing until now! To get the full value for your subscription and the fullest use of your valuable data, we recommend you think about ways you can integrate these things into your business. We can discuss ways in which we’ve seen other businesses use these strategies, and help you get up to speed.

When it’s time to apply the actual upgrade, you can put us in the driver’s seat so we can do the setting up of your server, apply the upgrade and any necessary remote sync support to user computers, and make sure any after-upgrade configurations are implemented properly. We’ll catch problems as they occur and work with you to fix them immediately. This will prevent any unnecessary disruption and get you back to work in the minimum possible time.

After your upgrade, our team of experts can train you in any aspects of Act! into which you want more insight. We can provide necessary maintenance and support to make sure you don’t run into trouble on the way. This will make sure you run smoothly and avoid downtime that would cost you money and productivity.

Get the expert assistance of an experienced pit crew… contact Caldere by web form, e-mail, or phone to discuss Act! v19 and plan your v19 upgrade! 

Act! v19 is Here and Hot!

By | Act!, Maintenance | No Comments

The release of the new version of Act!, v19, has just been announced!

Highlights of the new Act! v19 include:Act! Companion

  • True 64-bit compatibility
  • A newly developed mobile app for Act! Premium users, Act! Companion
  • Improvements in Act! Premium to the connection with Outlook
  • Improvements to e-marketing tools
  • New duplicate scanning functionality (critical if you are serious about the health of your data)
  • Many other customer-driven feature enhancements such as layout and formatting tools and refreshed reports

We invite you to contact us for more information, or to schedule a time to chat. To get more details right now, click this link!

Customise Your Web Info Pages

By | Act!, CRM, Tips and Tricks, Training | No Comments

Get even more info in Web Info!

The Web Info tab in the Contact Detail Page is a powerful way to pull in Internet information that pertains to your contacts. The included links perform searches based on the information found in your contact record. You can search for a contact’s Internet presence in several social media networks, find news or location information in Google News and Google Maps, and link to the contact’s website. We covered how to access and use the basic Web Info functionality in this recent article.

In that article, I promised to show you how to add more functionality to the Web Info tab. You can add links to different pages. You can use existing links as templates to create similar links that draw from different fields in your contact record. You can remove links if they provide no useful information for your database. The way to do this is to access the Edit Links functionality on the Web Info tab.

How do I add a new link?

First, you need to remember that the Edit Links functionality affects the Web Info page of every contact in your database. You don’t have to use a link if it doesn’t pertain to a contact, but the link will be present on the Web Info page anyway. Also, if you delete a link, it deletes that link for every contact.

Let’s look first at an example of adding a link type to the list. Maybe you’d like to add company information from your Hoovers Online subscription to the available links shown from within your contact. (Hoovers is one of the websites that are useful for sales people who want to prequalify prospect companies, or who want to find the names and contact information for their key personnel.)

  • First, navigate to the Web Info tab of your contact’s Detail Page, and click Edit Links on the left.

  • The Edit User Links dialog box will appear. To begin adding your new link type, click Add.

  • A new line will appear in the list. Enter the new link type name in the Site Name column. Double-click the next space to activate it, and enter or paste the link to the page (in this case, the Company Search page) in the URL column. Click OK to exit.

wi-ii-3a

  • The new link will appear in the list with the name you specified. Clicking on it will bring up the page associated with the URL you entered. Act! will insert the new link name alphabetically into the list after you refresh the page.

wi-ii-4a

OK, that’s simple. How do I make a more advanced link?

The first way to make a more advanced link is to write HTML code into your link. To request Act! to perform a search automatically when you click on a search page link, instead of just bringing up the webpage, you need to know a little about how the webpage performs a search. In the case of the Hoovers website, the code for the search functionality is http://www.hoovers.com/company-information/company-search.html?term=caldere%20associates where the section ?term=caldere%20associates means “use Caldere Associates as the search term”.

In order to make Act! automatically search on the contact’s Company on the Hoovers site, you will use ?term= plus the Act! code for the Company field to construct your new link. The field code is {Company}, so the entire advanced link will be http://www.hoovers.com/company-information/company-search.html?term={Company}.

  • Enter the entire new link you constructed into the URL column of the Edit User Links dialog box for the Hoovers Online link, and click OK to complete the edit.

wi-ii-5

  • Clicking the new link will bring up the page with the search automatically performed on the value in the Company field.

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What about Advanced Edit?

Advanced Edit is just a way to build a custom link without having to remember how to type in the Act! field codes. You can edit an existing link, or you can copy and paste an existing link with a new name, then edit the new link. For example, let’s say I want to create a new Google search type that searches not on the contact name, but on the company. To narrow the search results, I’ll include the city in the search term, too. Here’s how to proceed.

  • Click Edit Links to bring up the Edit User Links dialog box. Double-click the URL of the existing Google Search link to make it live, then copy the URL. Click Cancel. Click Yes when asked whether you wish to discard your changes.

wi-ii-7a

  • Click Edit Links again to reopen Edit User Links. Click Add and create a new link, Google Company and City, using the URL you copied. Click OK to save your new link. Click Edit Links again, then click once on your new link. Click Advanced Edit… to open the Advanced Edit dialog box.

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  • In the Source URL section of the Advanced Edit dialog, carefully edit out {Contact} from the text box. Leaving your cursor at the end of the URL in the text box, make sure Contact Fields is selected in the Select Fields section.Choose Company in the list, then click Add to enter {Company} into the URL. Type a space after {Company}, because in Google Search, search terms are separated by a space. Then click City and Add to enter {Cityinto the URL. (As a check, you will see the Act! Field Name entered below. The example values from your contact are shown in Example Value. Each contact will have its own values for Company and City and the search will use the values for the selected contact.)

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  • Click OK to save your changes. When you click the new link, it will automatically perform the search you set up based on the fields you chose (yellow rectangles).

wi-ii-10a

Why Do You Need CRM? Top Six Reasons

By | Act!, CRM, Tips and Tricks | No Comments

Here’s what CRM really is

Businesses often use CRM (Customer Relationship Management) technology without a clear understanding of why they should use it, or even what it is. As a CRM professional, I often have trouble explaining to people what it is I do. My mother-in-law, in her mid-60s, understood when I told her, “Imagine if your Rolodex automatically kept track of every contact and every meeting you had with the people you dealt with in your business, and let you search within all that information for things you need to know” (she’s a smart lady, but she’s not a data professional). Since we at Caldere are professionals who use, maintain, and administer data, and you probably are too if you are reading this blog, we need to understand CRM a bit more technically.

Salesforce Europe provide a good starting definition:

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is a strategy for managing all your company’s relationships and interactions with your customers and potential customers.

On a deeper level, Bain & Company think of CRM as a process that companies use to understand and react to their customers:

CRM technology allows firms to collect and manage large amounts of customer data and then carry out strategies based on that information. Data collected through focused CRM initiatives help firms solve specific problems throughout their customer relationship cycle—the chain of activities from the initial targeting of customers to efforts to win them back for more.

Clearly CRM technology is something that modern businesses need if they are to keep up with the information they gather daily about the people who are most important to them.

Some top reasons why businesses need CRM

6. Your paper “solutions” aren’t good enough anymore

Are you one of those people who has to have the latest TV and mobile phone, and perhaps a cool laptop to take to the coffee shop, but in your office you make do with collections of business cards and 3-ring binders full of notes? CRM technology is as critical to business as Google is to using the Internet. You can’t tap a phrase into a file cabinet and have it arrange your information so that it shows just the contacts who meet your criteria. You can send a paper marketing mailout, but you won’t get the attention of people who check their email twenty times for every time they check their post.

5. You don’t need to worry that you’ll lose your data

Office administrators know how vulnerable your paper notes are to being mislaid, misorganised, or discarded. IT professionals, similarly, know how vulnerable data is even when it is stored on your laptop or desktop, or on your office server. Servers can crash. Hard drives can fail. But a good CRM solution, administered by a good CRM provider, will be structured in a secure manner on servers that are maintained and backed up regularly. The advent of cloud computing brings you data anywhere and anytime, so long as you can access a connection. No matter where you are in the world, the critical customer data you gather is immediately accessible to your colleagues in every other location where you do business.

4. Your information is centralised

Similarly, customer and client information does nobody any good when it is locked into separate laptops accessible only to single users. Emails are usually stored in a single system, but are invisible to other people who work with the same clients. Communicating through a CRM system allows everyone in your organisation to see and keep up with what is happening to your relationship with a given client. Nobody has to look unprepared or uninformed because they missed the latest discussion or a critical meeting. Every piece of information can be made available to everyone who needs to know.

3. You can understand the past

There’s really no good way to look back into the history of your relationship with a customer without using CRM technology. If you want to look back in time and understand how things have progressed, you need a solution that tracks all of their communication… their sales history… their feedback… their issues. You’ll be able to save clients by knowing how to anticipate their needs and forestall common problems. You’ll be able to create marketing materials based on purchase and communication history.

2. You can coordinate the present

Using what you’ve learned about the relationship you have with your customers, you can make your business into a responsive and confident authority. You can design programs that give your customers the right kind of customer service experience. You can get sales and support staff talking to each other so that they can work together to give customers what they only guess they’ll need next. You can use customer feedback to tell you where your resources are best spent. You can use past sales history to suggest what potential maintenance issues a customer might be facing. In addition, you can plan your time using built-in calendar and task management so that every process is done right the first time.

1. You can foretell the future

Once you understand the past, and know what to do in the present, you will have a reasonably good idea what your efforts now will give rise to in the future. Things that used to come as complete surprises will be explainable, and you can plan for them, when you know why and how they happened. The better your data is in your history, and the better you track your campaigns, projects, and events, the more you can know about what is likely to happen in days, weeks, or months… with respect to individual clients, client companies, locations, or entire markets with which you have a relationship. New technology such as Business Intelligence (BI) can give you even more detailed predictive analysis to make the future much easier to plan for and to help you ask the right questions of your valuable data.

How can my company get more out of CRM?

Every company has some sort of customer relationship management system, even if it’s just a few accounts held in the CEO’s memory. Caldere, experts in CRM technology, can help you evaluate your current system and show you ways to better organise your data so it is more transparent and accessible. Effective, powerful solutions are available for every type of organisation. No organisation can afford to fall behind when it comes to managing their relationships with their customers. Contact us for a meeting and demonstration so we can show you what the current state of the technology is, and find the best solution for your needs.

How Can We Help?

Find out how Caldere can help you to build a more successful business:
Call +44 (0)118 945 6220 and speak to one of our dedicated specialists.

Contact us!