Friday, September 17, 2010

Efficiency is All About Workflow Part II: Get Your ACT! Together

One of the greatest things that has happened in software over the last decade - and which isn't trumpeted enough - is the ability of software programs to interface with one another. This ability to integrate one program with another truly paved the way for the current app craze. The advantages are blatantly obvious - there are just certain software applications used by everyone in business, and the more integrated they are, the more efficient the user can be. Why is this important? As I've noted in previous posts - for a small business owner, time is a precious resource. Rather than cut corners on things like running their business, these enterpreneurial folks multi-task to get things done.

Customer relationship management (CRM) is a staple for organizations big and small, whether they're for-profit or not-for-profit. There are, of course, many CRM solutions out there, and depending on organization size or function, there is usually a common preference. For instance, ACT!, SalesForce CRM and Microsoft Dynamics have historically been tailored to SMB, mid-sized and corporate customers respectively. Increasingly, most vendors now segment the CRM market by releasing various versions of their software and/or service with limited or increased functionality (depending on their target).

So what are the advantages of using a CRM solution? I could go through an entire list, which would change depending on what your industry was or what your job function is. Better yet, I'll describe a situation that many of us have probably experienced - being called by a company, of which you are currently a customer, and being sold a product that you already own/subscribe to. Nothing makes you feel like a valued customer like that conversation (and afterwards), and this really stresses the need and importance of using a CRM.

For small business, ACT! by Sage has been one of the more popular CRM applications, with an active user base of 2.8 million users. As noted above, different ACT! versions now exist, tailored for bigger companies, different industries (real estate, financial) and those geared toward software-as-a-service. ACT! includes contact management, prospect tracking, a calendar and communication tools, along with reporting and dashboards. It easily integrates with office software like word processing and email programs. Sound familiar? MyFax does the same - we're fully integrated into Microsoft Office and other word processing software, as well as popular email programs like Microsoft Outlook and Gmail.

ACT! and MyFax can easily integrate with one another via the MyFax for ACT! plug-in, a free tool that's available as part of your MyFax service. Using this plug-in, you can easily track your history of faxes sent to ACT! Contacts; easily send faxes to an unlimited number of ACT! contacts; use Mail Merge ACT! templates to personalize your faxes; and view received faxes directly within ACT! for up to 365 days.

ACT! isn't the only popular CRM solution that MyFax is directly integreated with. In an upcoming blog post, we'll review MyFax integration with SalesForce CRM.

Either way, with MyFax for ACT! integration, we hope our small business customers enjoy the few extra minutes in the day.

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