A major feature that often gets overlooked by people who use ACT! is the ability to generate useful reports for getting great information out of their data.
There are a number of useful reports already built into ACT! that can be used right “out of the box” such as the Notes and History Report that I mentioned in my last article. The Contact Report (a summary of information about one or more contacts) and the Phone List (need I explain?) are a couple of the commonly used Contact reports. Among the other reports worth mentioning there are also some simple (but useful) Opportunity reports.
Beyond the Box: Crystal Reports
Now don’t get me wrong, the built-in stuff is good but those reports aren’t terribly flexible and the trade-off of the ACT! Report Writer being fairly straight forward is that there are a lot of things it isn’t capable of doing.
That’s where for us, and a lot of other ACT! Certified Consultants, Crystal Reports comes in. Crystal Reports is an industry standard reporting tool and yes, it works with ACT! very well. Simple reports are easy to create and more elegant, complex reports (really anything you can think of) can be designed by someone with an appropriate skill level. Both Claude and I are very competent with Crystal and enjoy writing reports for our ACT! clients.
Logicity Makes Multi-User Reporting Very Affordable
The downside to this powerful reporting tool is that it requires additional software and it ain’t cheap. But fear not! I’ve recently discovered a fantastic (and free) little piece of software called Logicity that lets you run reports created in Crystal. This means that one person can purchase Crystal Reports (as of writing this it’s on sale at http://store.businessobjects.com for $395, $100 off) or you can have a consultant write the report and then you can distribute the report to users who run the free report viewer.
If you’re interested in using Crystal Reports you might also check out eBay or elsewhere for an older version of Crystal Reports as versions as old as 8.5 will work with ACT! and are supported by Logicity.
I’d love to answer any questions you have about using Crystal Reports with ACT!, just post ‘em here or drop me an e-mail.
Logicity Report Viewer: http://www.logicitysuite.com/products/logicity.html