Best Software to boost Act! presence in Canada

Best Software Inc. said it plans to leverage its acquisition of Ontario-based Accpac International Inc. to increase the presence of its contact and customer management product line in Canada.

“”To date Act! is under-penetrated

in Canada relative to the States. I suspect that’s because it was a U.S. software firm running a U.S. business that happened to have international locations,”” said Doug Meyer, president of small business division at Best Software.

Best Software, a division of U.K.-based The Sage Group plc., acquired Accpac from Computer Associates International Inc. for US $110 million in cash in January.

Meyer added Best Software will move Accpac’s Simply Accounting headquarters from Pleasanton, Calif., to Richmond, B.C., in the upcoming months. Best is currently in the process of hiring a general manager from Canada to lead the new location.

“”We very much believe in local management, local touch, local expertise. With that established in Canada through retail and through consultants channel network, we’re quite certain we can grow Act! substantially in Canada.””

Meyer made these comments in an interview at the Act! 2005 launch in New York City earlier this week.

Using Times Square as a backdrop for the event, CEO Ron Verni unveilled two new versions of Act!, Act! 2005 for individuals and small teams of up to 10 users and Act! 2005 Premium for Workgroups of up to 50 users.

“”We’re introducing the best degree of connection for small teams and larger workgroups with their customers,”” said Verni.

The products are available through Best call centres and Web site. General roll out in retail stores is scheduled for the beginning of September.

Act! Version 7.0 will also be sold by the firm’s 500 to 600 certified consultants across North America.

Paul Marentette of Uptime Business Solutions said the release addresses issues such as running lean, well-maintained machines and larger scale implementation and integration.

Based in Toronto, Uptime, an Act! certified consultant and premier trainer, has been using the software in-house since its debut in 1987 and provides solutions to users from 15 to 125 employees.

“”Many users are unfamiliar with customer relationship management (CRM),”” said Marentette. “”Their reference point is (Microsoft’s) Outlook, which is only suited to the individual user.””

Marentette gave the example of clients who use their shoebox as a database to store business cards.

He said customers can typically expect to see a return on investment within three sales cycles or 12 months. Marentette added Act! costs less than competitor’s products such as Maximizer and Goldmine.

Uptime plans to launch marketing campaigns next month and collaborate with retailers on how to sell and use the product. Marentette also hopes to pitch the solution to computer dealers as well.

Act! 2005 has been completely re-architectured and offers more features than any other revision in its 17-year history.

“”Act! 2005 is a from-the-ground-up re-architecture of Act!”” said Meyer. “”The millions of customers that use it will instantly be familiar with it but with modernized technology we’ve really extended its capabilities into the workgroup marketplace where truly Act! until today did not play.”” Meyer added Act! can now compete with other players in the market like Microsoft’s Goldmine.

Built on Microsoft Corp.’s .Net framework, Act! 2005 Premium for Workgroups for the first time can support up to 50 users, expanding Best’s offerings in business management solutions for small and medium-sized businesses. These solutions also include Accpac and SalesLogix CRM Suites.

Act! 2005 for individuals and small teams allows users to manage up to 50,000 contacts while Premium for Workgroups allows up to 100,000 contacts.

New features include more database options, new group and company tracking features, expanded calendar management, more sales opportunity tracking, and enhanced data base synchronization with SQL Server 2000. Under sales opportunity tracking, for example, users can use the one-click feature to export contact, opportunity, group and company lists to Microsoft Excel.

Act! 2005 for individuals and small teams is listed at the same price as the previous version, Act! 6.0, at US$299.99. Act! Premium for Workgroups is priced at US$399.99.

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