Friday, August 5, 2011

CRM in the Cloud: Part 1.6 of 3

Again, just further evidence of why it is smart to move to cloud based software. If at any time in this article you get confused or overwhelmed, just skip to the end.

The fiasco of restoring and synchronizing my ACT Database continues.  I'm now on my third session trying to restore my ACT customer database following the crash of my old computer and the free replacement I got for it.

First, I had to find the installation CD-Rom and reload the software onto my computer. During the installation, it checked for additional updates online so it would install the latest version (remember this). 

Then, I followed the 19 steps laid out by Sage Customer "No" Support... four times!  After the first fail, I called Sage Customer No Support hoping to find quick resolution. Instead, I was routed around endlessly, put on hold endlessly, and then told that I needed to purchase a software support plan in order to get assistance. So I figured that I was on my own.

To give you an idea of what the 19 steps are like, check out these crystal clear tasks:
  • Click the Windows® Start button, and then click Run. The Run dialog box appears. [Brian's Note: I have Windows 7 and there is no "Run" to click. Instead, the Run dialog just appears anyway. I get that, but not all users would]
  • Type actdiag in the Open field, and then click OK. The ACT! Diagnostics tool launches.
  • Click the Database button from the left navigation bar. The database list appears.
    Locate the desired database and click the rectangle to the left to select it. Note the location of the database files in the DATABASE FILE LOCATION column. [Brian's Note - the location will be something like: C:\Users\Bob\My_Documents\ACT\ACT for Windows 10\Databases\dbasename - just in case everything wasn't clear enough already]
  • Click the Actions menu, and then click the Detach Database option. The Detach Database dialog box appears.
  • Launch Windows Explorer (or open My Computer).
  • Browse to the location of the database files. locate the ADF and ALF associated with your database. (Hint: If your database is named Contacts then you will be looking for Contacts.adf and Contacts.alf.)
  • Copy these files and the supplemental files folders to a removal media if moving to another computer, otherwise copy to the new location. (Hint: If your database is named Contacts then your supplemental folder will be named Contacts - database files.) Note: the PAD file associated with your database is not needed. A new one will be created when you re-attach your database.
So you get the idea.  Gobbledygook techno-geekese that would throw the average user for a loop and drive them insane. It has surely driven me insane. So, I had detached the old database prior to getting rid of the old computer. I had backed up the ALF and the ADF files (and the PAD and RDB files for good measure). And the directions said to open ACT again and begin to reinstall.  Of course, they didn't say it, but the user would need to understand that this meant on the new computer!  And, of course, click one wrong place in this whole process, and you could really screw things up.

I tried to reinstall the old database to the new computer. But I got an error message saying that I had to ask my administrator for permission. So I swore at the computer and said "I am the Administrator!", but it didn't care. So I looked that up and found the solution, then followed the ensuing steps to find the ADF file and reinstall it.

Ah... mission accomplished!  Arghhh!  Not really!  After all of that, my laptop version of the customer database would not sync with my desktop version! So I spent the next 2 hours searching the SAGE Customer No Support section. I tried all kinds of suggested updates and recreates for the both databases to get them to sync.  And finally, the sync process started and the green progress bars started flowing!  Woohoo! it was working!  But when it gave all indications of success, it said the sync had failed.

So I started over, and over, and over. And then, again, when all appeared to be well, it told me that I had incompatible versions of the ACT database software!  So I let out a few more expletives. Do most people even know how to look up the version of a piece of software?  I clicked Help, About, and I saw that they were two different versions, even though both had been installed off of the same CD-Rom.  But remember what I told you to remember? The desktop installation did an online update during the intallation process!

So I then updated the laptop based version of the ACT customer database and tried the sync again.  Same error!  Incompatible software versions!   #&!@   After comparing versions again, I realized that the most recent version downloaded on the laptop was a more recent version than the updated version on the desktop! So I updated the version on the desktop and at last, I had equal versions of the software!

I synced again, the green bars indicated a successful completion, but the notes still said "Synchronization has failed."  So then I started checking and comparing individual contact records on my laptop ACT database and my desktop ACT database. From everything I can tell, they're exactly the same.  But I still get that error! Oh well, I give up for now. And that is a long story that should never have to be told!

Imagine instead a cloud based CRM contact manager where you wouldn't have had to go through any of this! You would simply use any computer, open a browser, and go to your web based database.  And it would automatically have the latest version of the database program and all of your latest contact data and notes already synced! How easy would that be?  All of that for a small monthly fee compared to the endless hours I've been spending on a software based monstrosity.

Moral of the story? Save yourself a ton of time, a lot of effort and immense consternation. Dump your computer based customer database (ACT, Goldmine, etc.) and move to the cloud. I use Highrise. Other options inlclude Batchbook, Salesforce, SugarCRM, etc. 

[If you want help getting started with Highrise just let us know. We're happy to help you jump into the cloud!]

by Brian Baer,
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