Act 2000 groups and organizes contacts efficiently

Act 2000 groups and organizes contacts efficiently

Database manager tracks project contacts, assembles addresses, sorts into subgroups, searches easily

By Jason Byrne

GCN Staff

Act 2000's field lookups and keyword searches ensure that even if contacts run, they cannot hide. A wizard guides users through compressing and deleting data.

Symantec Corp.'s Act 2000, though targeted more to corporate than to government users, can do miracles for users drowning in contact information.

Offices with fewer feds and growing numbers of contractors inevitably have more phone numbers and e-mail addresses to bring together. Not only does Act 2000 track project contacts, it puts them in context.

Act 2000 remembers Joe Smith's multiple e-mail addresses and organizes all e-mail, files and phone calls to and from Smith with their outcomes.

Under the hood, Act 2000 is a database application combined with an easy-to-use contact manager. The interface, especially in this latest version, is a snap to navigate. A bar on the side of the screen makes the contact databases easy to access. The bar is customizable in size and the size of the icons.

The forms view of the contact information is easy to customize, too. You can define fields to track information for certain tasks, and you can rename predefined fields or modify them to work better with your data. Act 2000 comes with 10 templates to use on their own or alter for the specific contact information you want to examine.

Broader base

Although Act 2000 is best-of-breed in sales contact management, it paints itself into a corner by focusing so heavily on sales, because the tools do both contact and project management well.

It's a shame Symantec hasn't made a few minor changes to attract a broader user base among project managers.

Act 2000 excels at putting data into concise, configurable reports. Whether you need to print a list of contacts or detail the history of your interactions with someone, the reports probably will be usable as is or with only slight modification.

One of the best new features is subgroups. Although previous versions of Act could group contacts together, Act 2000 can make groups within groups. Surprisingly, however, only a single level of subgroups is possible, not nested levels.

Two groups can have the same name, but you cannot place one subgroup under two different groups.

The grouping feature is touted as a way to organize contacts to reflect the structure of an organization. But as federal workers know better than most, a two-layer-deep organization tree that cannot show one subunit with ties to two higher units is not going to represent today's public or private organizations very well.

One for all

Box Score ''''''''

Act 2000

Contact management software

Symantec Corp.;

Cupertino, Calif.;

tel. 800-441-7234

Price: $199.95; $99.95 upgrade

+ Robust, flexible management of contact data

+ Good user interface

' Useful for feds but limited by sales focus

Real-life requirements:

Windows 9x or NT 4.0, 16M of RAM, 40M free storage

A single contact can belong to multiple groups, however, either by adding the person manually or by setting up easy user-defined rules for such additions.

Communicating with all the contacts is very easy. Act 2000 integrates with Microsoft Outlook 98 and Outlook 2000 calendars and e-mail functions and has more robust features. Act 2000 can even import Outlook's contact data. It also is compatible with Microsoft Word 95, 97 and 2000.

Looking for a particular person? Type in a word or phrase, and Act 2000 will search the entire database. Or use the lookup feature to search within specific fields.

Once you find the contact, you can schedule something with Act 2000's stackable multiday events, useful for sharing calendars. The Details field of a schedule appointment is longer in Act 2000 to accommodate in-depth notes about a meeting or event.

As with any database, compressing unused space and deleting old data is important for fast, efficient use. Act 2000 makes this task easier to remember with a scheduled reminder and wizard to walk you through the process.

Like most Symantec products, Act 2000 comes with a Live Update feature guaranteeing that you work with the latest patches and most up-to-date version of the application.

Whether you work in agency public affairs or represent your department to other agencies or citizens, Act 2000 will help you get the message across, rather than waste time looking for where to send it.

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