While Jodie Foster contacted aliens from Vega, most of us have more mundane concerns when making contacts. Most entrepreneurs have a collection of business cards, to-do lists and Post-it notes on their desks that represent the leads, appointments and deadlines that make up a bustling enterprise.
Contact management software lets you organize this mish-mash of business data: You can store records of interactions with people, be reminded when to call or meet them, and print labels so you can send them mail. You can search or sort records or update them at a touch. This month, we look at three of the leading contact managers: Act! 3.0 for Windows 95, Goldmine 4.0 and Maximizer 97is.
Robert Schmidt is a computer and business writer in Culver City, California.
Act! 3.0 for Windows 95
The top half of Act!'s contact screen displays a contact's name and address. The bottom half has tabs that let you enter different types of information, such as notes, activities, phone number, address and status. With the Lookup function, you can search records by company, contact name, phone number and so on.
Act! lets you plan a call, a meeting or a to-do item. You can review your calendar on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. Along with standard reports, such as contacts, you can also create customized lists.
Act! has its own word processor and e-mail modules. Using templates, you can prepare letters, memos or faxes with the contact information filled in. You can feed data to address books, envelopes or mailing labels, and even export information to co-workers who use Act! to synchronize records.
Act! also lets you organize contacts into various groups, create macros to automate routines and redesign the input screens.
Goldmine's main screen, divided into two sections, is very similar to Act!'s. The program also has many of the same capabilities but goes further in the area of workgroup contact management.
Goldmine lets you schedule any activity to groups of contacts and users. A color-coded PegBoard tracks log-in and log-out times, letting you know who's available at a glance.
The program easily imports data from Act! databases, remote employees and Web sites, and links with popular electronic organizers.
An opportunity management module allows you to organize projects and contacts associated with a sales opportunity. Another feature helps you maintain sales account ownership and territory assignments. Other wizards aid in merging, importing and exporting records and updating them globally.
Maximizer is one of the fastest programs on the market, beating the competition at such tasks as searching, sorting and importing. Each screen has spreadsheet-like cells showing a set of records. You can switch to and from an address book, a hot list, a calendar, a journal and an expense sheet. The screens also have filters to give you different views of your data, such as all the records entered in a given month.
Besides the standard scheduling features, Maximizer provides e-mail, fax and word processing capabilities. It also offers access to an online database of 111 million consumers and businesses.
To get a better feel for these contact managers, visit their Web sites and download demo versions.
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ACT! 3.0 for Windows 95, Symantec Corp., 10201 Torre Ave., Cupertino, CA 95014, (800) 441-7234, http://www.symantec.com
Maximizer 97is, Maximizer Technologies Inc., 1090 W. Pender St., 9th Fl., Vancouver, BC, V6E 2N7, CAN, (800) 804-6299, fax: (604) 601-8001, http://www.maximizer.com