Saturday, April 1, 2006

Moving from ACT! to BCM


By David Gewirtz

If you're an Outlook 2003 user, you may not realize you've got a very powerful business contact manager right at your fingertips. Microsoft's Business Contact Manager (better known as BCM) is a free add-on to Outlook, available to anyone's who owns Office 2003 Professional. Like many Microsoft products, in its first incarnation, BCM wasn't much to write home about. Now, in its second major revision, BCM is a multi-user product that's easy to install and use, and competes strongly against the old lady of personal CRM products, ACT!

"If you're an ACT! user and you want to move to BCM, this is the best $27 you'll spend."

Unfortunately, because BCM is a free download, it's virtually unsupported by Microsoft in terms of documentation and help. Microsoft is working towards a third major revision that looks pretty solid, but for now, you've got the software but very little training to get you started.

But that's about to change with an ebook by Lon Orenstein entitled Moving from ACT! to Microsoft's Business Contact Manager, as shown in Figure A.


This is the book to read if you're moving from ACT! to BCM. (click for larger image)

If you're an ACT! user and you're thinking about making the jump to BCM, you might not know how to go about it. How do you move your data? How do you move your processes? How do you even think about doing your sales calls or follow-ups using BCM?

This is where Lon's book comes in. Lon's a special dude in this area. He's been working with ACT! since 1986, initially as a beta tester back when Reagan was still in the White House. He was the first person to pass the ACT! Certified Consultant test in the very first ACT! Certified Consultant class, so he was pretty much the first ACT! consultant.

If anyone's going to tell you how to get out of ACT! and into BCM, and know his stuff, it'll be Lon. And that's where Moving from ACT! to Microsoft's Business Contact Manager comes in.

This is a 43 page book that's very well organized. He talks about why you might want to move to BCM and what to think about, including developing an action plan for making the move. He's divided the book up into three major sections. The first is what you'd expect: how to move your data from ACT! into BCM. In this section, he provides the step-by-step procedure you'll need to move your data over, explains what will and won't transfer, and how to deal with the inconsistencies between the two products.