Act! as a Project Manager

The best kept secret about Act! is using it as Project Management!!!

Keith Meese is the Senior ACT! Consultant with The Prestige Group. Since 1989 he has only performed ACT! Certified Consultant services. He assists small, medium and large businesses with their ACT! sales, consulting, training, installation and support, on-site and via web.

The main reason everyone should be controlling all their Project Management inside Act! is because it is the easiest program to use. All the necessary information is stored inside ACT! (Contacts, Companies, detailed information on everything). With all the needed resources and financial information at your fingertips, you will be able to “control” each project.

My client who owns a small construction company is an excellent example of how a company can use Act! with Project Management. All their information is now in one place in Act!, so the hardest decision is what to name the Project. I recommend calling it what everyone in your office calls it, like “Rebuild back deck in Alcoa with 3 patio doors.” The next decision is who is involved in the Project. Easy again, in their case there is a Local Insurance Adjuster, the Corporate Adjuster, and the local Insurance Agent, so now you are on your way.

As they start getting bids from local contractors for work they can’t do themselves, those contractors are added to the project. They will assign their Project Manager as the “Record Manager.” This is the person who has to make the final sign-off before the company receives full payment. There are many phone calls between each of these people, with such valuable information that needs to be recorded. What a disaster if they can’t find that information because they put it on “yellow stickers” or fast-food napkins on someone’s desk. Some of their projects are small and only take a few weeks to complete, while some take six or seven months, but it is always the same process. When a Project is open, it becomes a “Open” opportunity (Project) and it stays Open until they complete everything and they receive 100% payment, then it is “Closed – Won.”  There is a little customization identifying the stages for each project. The really smart small contractors go the next step, and send thank you letters (standard template letter) to everyone involved. What does that do?  The homeowner is satisfied with the work, so they tell everyone how great the contractor was. The local insurance agent remembers you and refers all storm damage to you. The Corporate Insurance Adjuster looks really good and often has an article published about his success in the Corporate newsletter.

Act! is now, as it has been, The #1 best-selling contact and customer manager for 25 years.

Scheduling Activities

Activities should be prioritized in case you don’t have time to accomplish all of them for a particular day, you can at least do all of the “High” priority items. Then, as time allows, go to the “Medium.”  The “Low” priority designation can be used for items that aren’t necessary to be accomplished that day. Example of “Low” priority is scheduling calls to people you have not called in 6 months.

The “Big Deal” is during the scheduling, add all the items you want to discuss in the call / meeting, which I call bulleting for obvious reasons. After each item I place a “-” allowing you to add the response you received.  The following is an example:

  • # of users – 20 in sales, 6 administrative, 3 middle management, and ? in top management
  • budget – they don’t have a budget, IT budget covers software, Marketing budget covers training, Sales must cover setup and installation if IT can not accomplish
  • Key item for success – If marketing can use for Project Management, Sales can accurately predict sales
  • Timeframe – They start their busy season the week after July 4, so completed system must be up and running by then

Backup Your Database Daily!

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This week I have assisted two different clients that users “inadvertently” deleted more contacts than they thought they were deleting. The two did not notice the missing contacts for more than a week, but both had very different outcomes. The first client I restored a copy of a backup that was two weeks old, located the missing 167 records that were deleted, then exported those records into their current database (while everyone was still using ACT!). It took several hours before all of the contacts showed up in their database. The second client was very different, a new ACT! user thought he was deleting 1 contact and clicked the “Current Lookup” instead of the “Current Contact” and deleted all contacts in Kentucky. They always overwrite the nightly backup each night, so I had to find much older backups (which I found one that I made over a year ago, when I did some updating to their database.) I was able to find only 91% of the contacts from the old backup, but unfortunately all of the history for those contacts was missing.

 The take away: Change your settings to backup daily and keep the last 30 days of the backups. An option that very few clients use, but I always highly recommend is to have a monthly “drill” and take a backup and restore it to different location, then open the database. You can then sleep soundly each night knowing your backup procedure is working 100%.