Top FAQ About Act CRM 2013 Sunset

Sep 10, 2015 | General

Act! 2013 is going to be sunset on September 30, 2015 and support will end this fall, marking its obsolescence by Swiftpage, the developers of Act!.  When this occurs there can be financial and operation impacts of staying with the obsolete/sunset product.   The following FAQ was written to answer Act! 2013 user questions.

Act! Sunset/Obsolescence Impact Questions

Q: What is an obsolescence and sunset? Why am I being “forced” to upgrade?

A product in obsolescence signals the official end of the useful life of that product for the manufacturer.  A product in sunset means the software vendor no longer provides updates and support for that product.

This means it may not work with newer technology such as: Windows, Office, Internet Browsers, Smartphones, Tablets, etc. This also means that Act! will not do anything to make the older, obsolete/ sunset version compatible with new technologies. Just in the last couple of years Microsoft released Windows 8, Windows 10, Server 2012, Office 2013, the new Edge internet browser, and there are plans for an Office 2016 release later this fall.  These products will not be supported in Act! 2013.

Additionally, once a product is sunset, if there’s an issue that AspenTech can’t resolve, we can’t turn to Act!  for additional assistance or to repair a damaged database. Essentially, our hands are tied at that point. We’ll continue to try to help as much as we can but there’s only so far that we can take our services.

There are also loyalty discounts for users who are on a product that is not yet sunset or obsolete. This used to be called “upgrade pricing”. In addition, once your product is obsolete or sunset, you can’t buy any additional licenses for new users who join your organization. For Act! v2013 users, the end date for the loyalty pricing and the ability to purchase additional licenses is September 30, 2015.

Q: Why should I upgrade to v17? What are some of the best new features? What do I gain from a v17 upgrade?

A: Here is a brief list of some of the brand new features creating a lot of excitement with Act! v17:

  • The new email marketing platform called Act! E-marketing with built in integration right into Act!
  • History List – this is brand new and is similar looking to the Task List but it offers a “rear facing view” of what’s been happening with the database as opposed to what you have planned for the future.
  • Ability to reschedule multiple activities all at one time.
  • Act! now displays an original schedule date for activities so that as you reschedule you can see what date they were originally scheduled for.
  • There is a new keyword filter for sub-entities like Notes, Histories, Activities, Opportunities, etc.
  • From the Universal Search View you now have ability to create Lookups of Contacts and Companies.
  • In the Documents tab you have the ability to link to folders on the network and online storage solutions like Dropbox, Google Drive, etc.
  • New Contact Timeline tab that offers a visual timeline of Notes, Histories, Activities and Opportunities for a Contact.
  • Lead Capture now lets you capture new leads from a Webform into your Database.
  • Improvements with Act! Mobile functionality such as the addition of the Groups and Company modules as well as some additional List View filters so you can filter better than before.
  • The ability to take a photo from mobile device and attach it to a record History.

Q: What are the non-financial risks of using Act! v2013 after it is no longer supported?

A: There are several risk factors involved in using an obsolete or sunset version of Act!. Some of those are:

  • No additional support from Swiftpage Act!’s developer.  AspenTech will continue to support Act! 2013, as well as all Act! products. But, if we run into an issue with your database, we will have little recourse since Swiftpage has ceased support.
  • No additional licenses will be available. That may not mean much now, but remember, all Act! users accessing the same database must be on the same version.
  • No support or integration for MS Office 2013 or later. Which means no email integration, no templates and no Excel export.
  • No support for Windows 10, which was released in August 2015.
  • No support beyond Windows Server 2012.
  • No support for Safari iOS7.
  • No support for Internet Explorer 10.1 and 11.01.
  • No support for the 2015 changes to Chrome Browser.

Q: We just purchased our most recent Act! version. How long until it’s obsolete?

A: It would be a disservice to our clients if we didn’t make you aware of product obsolescence and sunsets. If you find out a year from now, when you’re having an issue, that your version is no longer supported, that means that AspenTech has not done our job of keeping you informed. We want to make sure you’re aware of what’s happening with your product and have all the facts so that you can evaluate in the context of your business and make an informed decision on what direction to take. That being said, Act! recently published a new Support Page which also links to Act!’s Obsolescence Policy.

Act! Subscription Questions

Q: What is included with a new Act! Subscription?

A: Act! introduced the new Software as a Subscription pricing model on June 1, 2015. With your new Act! subscription you receive all the updates: service packs, hot fixes and version upgrades (like going from v17 to v18 to v19, etc). You also receive unlimited access to Act!’s technical support helpdesk for basic troubleshooting and break/fix support. You’ll get extras like Act! Anytime Learning video library which are a great refresher to supplement other training that you do or to expand use into a different area of the product and get a good overview of what that area has to offer you.

Q: What are my purchase options for Act! v17 on the new subscription pricing model?

A: With subscription there are really three types of plans available. The Annual plan – with the Annual plan you continue to host your Act! database yourself or with the hosting service provider of your choice. You get access to the Windows, Web and Mobile products that are included with Act! Premium. You get all the updates, unlimited basic technical support and Act! eMarketing as well as access to the Act Anytime Learning tutorials. This plan does require that you renew each year in order to continue using your Act! software.

The second option is to purchase a Perpetual plan. In year one of the Perpetual plan you get the exact same benefits as you get with the Annual plan. The main difference comes in year two when you don’t need to renew your subscription in order to continue using your software. That is the “Perpetual” component of this. However, beyond year one you do lose the support and updates and access to the Anytime Learning. That being said, you can renew into an Annual plan after the first year to continue support and upgrades. This allows you to maintain your Perpetual ownership of the licenses as well as reaping the benefits of having an annual support and upgrade plan.

The third option, is the Act! Premium Cloud Annual subscription. This is identical to the Annual subscription mentioned above except Act! actually hosts your main database. This means that your database is stored in a secure data center, it’s automatically backed up and maintained according to best practices and it allows you to free yourself from the need to have a server in-house or worry about things like VPN connections for sync or port-forwarding for web and mobile access. This is a good option if you don’t have a server or are looking to get away from having a server in-house.

Q: If I purchase a Perpetual plan can I still get support and upgrades after year one?

A: If you purchase the Perpetual plan, you have the option not to renew in year two and your software will continue working but you will no longer have support and upgrades. If, in year two, you decide to continue with upgrades and support you can renew into an Annual subscription. By purchasing the Perpetual license up front and then renewing into an Annual subscription you’ll continue to get the updates and support yet still have the option to walk away at any time with ownership of the latest version of the software that you had while your subscription was active without paying any more for it. So if you like the feel of software ownership and want to get support and updates for a while, then you could buy a Perpetual license up front, renew the Annual for two years and then walk away with an Act! v20 (or whatever the latest version is when you choose not to renew) license that you own outright and continue to use Act! forever.

Q: If I do a Perpetual plan but do not renew after year one will I still have access to the free eMarketing account?

A: Yes, with a Perpetual plan you are entitled to a free Act! eMarketing account and that does not stop after year one. You will continue to have the free eMarketing account even if you do not move onto a subscription plan in year two to continue support and upgrades.

Q: What is the difference between Annual and Perpetual licenses?

A: With Annual, you will pay for it every single year in order to continue using your Act! product, think of it as a lease. Act! will check in and verify your subscription is still active. If the computer is off-line for a certain period of time and is not able to check in you database will simply stop working with the Annual plan. After one year, the product simply stops working if you do not renew it. But you don’t need to worry about it being shut off with no notice at the end of the year because we always contact our clients well ahead of their renewal date to make sure they want to continue their subscription.

With the Perpetual plan it continues working beyond year one. You don’t have to pay anything in year two to continue using your license. This is very similar to what you’ve had in the past. You buy the license and use it for as long as it works for you.

The other main difference is that Annual always includes all of the updates including the service packs, hot fixes and version upgrades. Whereas Perpetual only includes those items for the first year.

Additionally, Annual includes unlimited basic technical break/fix support directly from Act! for the duration of your subscription. Perpetual only includes this for the first year.

Also, if you upgrade into the Annual subscription plan now while your Act! 2013 is still current and before it’s obsolete or sunset, you will be grandfathered into an ongoing discount year after year.

Q: If you buy Act Premium Cloud do you also need Act! Premium?

A: If you go with the Act! Premium Cloud subscription, Act! is hosting your database, using Act! Premium, and you have multiple ways of accessing that. You can access via a web browser, via mobile or you can download what’s called an offline client or remote synchronization database. If you wanted a remote database then what you’d be installing on your local systems would be the Act! Premium product and that is part of the Act! Premium Cloud subscription.

Q: If you purchase the Annual subscription can you purchase the Perpetual license in year two (or beyond) and then renew?

A: Yes. You can purchase a Perpetual license after purchasing an Annual subscription. If you purchase the Annual license and like the upgrade and support benefits but decide you want to be able to walk away with ownership of the product, you could choose to purchase a Perpetual license in year two (or later) and would still have the upgrade and support benefits for another year after your purchase. So you can either purchase a Perpetual license up front or at your renewal date with your Annual subscription.

We will contact you at least six weeks prior to your subscription renewal date. At that time, you can let us know if you’re considering changing your subscription from Annual to Perpetual or vice versa.

Q: Will existing customizations be protected and move forward to new versions as I upgrade?

A: Absolutely. The fields you defined in your database – the dropdown lists, the layout, the product lists, templates, reports, the user settings and so on – those things will carry forward when upgrading into a new version.

Act! e-Marketing Questions

Q: Can we have categories in the “my images tab” with eMarketing to organize the templates to find the pictures better?

A: Yes, you can absolutely create folders within the My Images and templates sections.

Q: Is there a daily limit for the number of contacts I can send a mass email to within Act! eMarketing?

A: There is no daily limit. There used to be a daily limit with the Swiftpage email. Instead of a daily limit they give you the ability to send an unlimited number of emails to a certain number of contacts every single month. The only thing that matters is the number of unique contacts you’re sending emails to. The plans range from a Basic free account with up to 500 contacts monthly to up to 2500 monthly contacts in a Pro account and up to 5000 monthly contacts in a Team level account. You can also add additional blocks of 1000 monthly contacts for $5 per month/1000 contacts.

Q: Does Act! integrate with constant contact?

A: There’s nothing built into Act! that integrates with Constant Contact but you can export your email addresses from Act! which can then be imported into Constant Contact. By the way, Act! eMarketing has very similar functionality to  Constant Contact, MailChimp, My Emma and other small business email marketing programs.  The advantage of Act! eMarketing is that it’s integrated with your contacts, so the results are right there and available to be leveraged.

Q: Can I still send out a mail merge email through Outlook as an Act! template?

A: Yes, you absolutely can. We recommend that is something you only do with a small number of contacts in your database on an infrequent basis because if you do that regularly or with large numbers of your contacts it can make you look like a spammer to Internet Service Providers. If you regularly send out mass emails from within Outlook there’s an increased likelihood that your generic one-off type of emails will end up in people’s junk mail folder or you may be blacklisted. That’s why it’s always best to use a CAN/SPAM compliant eMarketing tool for regularly sent, mass emails.

Q: Is there a need for Swiftpage Email anymore or will the new Act! eMarketing have the same features for sending mass emails?

A: Swiftpage Email still exists along with Act! eMarketing in Act! and both can be used at the same database. There are still some advantages to Swiftpage Email over Act! eMarketing. Swiftpage Email has Surveys and Drip Marketing while Act! eMarketing does not have those features yet. The plan is to close the gap between those two products and be able to eventually replace Swiftpage Email with Act! eMarketing entirely. The new built-in integration and template editor are great but if you rely heavily on Surveys or Drip Marketing you’ll want to stay on Swiftpage Email for the time being.

General Questions

Q: Is there a complete Act! user manual available that I can download and print that will offer step by step instructions?

A: There are several manuals available on the Act! site – In addition there are some basic user manuals available through the Help menu from within Act! but these are not all-encompassing of the features and functionality within the product. Another great resource for step by step documentation of the Act! product is the Knowledge Base.

Q: Is Act! Mobile a new product?

A: Act! Mobile was new with the Act! 2012 release. In fact there is a service pack update for Act! 2012 and then Act! Mobile was built into the Act! Web product with the release of Act! 2013. Recent versions of Act! have continued to add to its functionality so it now includes Contacts, Groups, Companies, Opportunities, Calendar and Task List.  Act! v17 added the ability to attach photos stored on your mobile device to Contact History.  Act! Mobile is accessible on any iOS or Android smartphone or tablet – but it does have to be implemented when Act! is installed on your server.

Q: Is Act! Web a separate product?

A: No, it’s built into the Premium product. It requires a little bit of extra installation and configuration on the server but does not require any additional license purchases.

Q: Where can I find the recording of your Act! 2013 Sunset/Obsolescence Webinar?

A: The video is available on YouTube.    We’ve also posted the slide deck here.

Q: Are all the features you mentioned in the live demo included in the pricing or are some add-ons for pricing?

A: Everything we go through in the live demo is built into the Act! Premium product, including the Act! eMarketing. Every Act! user on v17 Premium gets a free, basic Act! eMarketing account which gives each of your users the ability to send an unlimited number of emails to up to 500 contacts every month. There are additional levels beyond that which do require an additional subscription but everything we’ve covered in the live demo is included with the Act! Premium license.

General Act! Functionality Questions

Q: Is Act! compatible with MAS90?

A: There is nothing built into the Act! product but there is a third-party integration component that can tie the two systems together.

Q: Is there a function that will identify bad or invalid emails in your database?

A: There is nothing directly built into the system that can identify issues with email addresses prior to sending out a mailing, but there are tools that we’re aware of that will identify issues in formatting, invalid characters, etc. Act! eMarketing does allow you to look up contacts with bounced emails so that you can go back and contact that person to find out what the correct email address is. This is only available once an email has already been sent out and bounced. You can also search the email field for entries that are missing the “@”sign.  There is nothing we’re aware of that can sort through the emails in your database to identify problems before sending.

Q: Is it possible to run keyword searches on more than one contact at a time within the notes and histories? I.E.: searching through all the notes in the database for a keyword, for example.

A: Yes, absolutely. That’s one of the key things that the Universal Search does. You can search a word, and then filter for particular types of items, under something like Activities only. There’s a new keyword filter for sub-entities like Notes, Histories, Activities, Opportunities, etc.

Q: Is it possible to deploy a local, server-based version and still have access that via the browser, or do you have to choose between them?

A: Absolutely possible, in fact most of our clients have some sort of a “hybrid” environment for their databases and AspenTech can help you create the right environment for your company’s needs.

Q: We are currently on Act v2013, and use mostly the Windows-based application because it seems to be a bit more robust than the Web-based version. A couple of questions based on that: Is all of the functionality in Act! v17 available in the web-based version? Is v17 completely web-based or is it still server based?

A: Act! Web is now fully supported in Google Chrome. New features and functionality: ability to define fields, design layouts, import data and do data cleanup (edit/replace/swap/copy). All of these were Windows-only functions in the past. The gap is closing between the Windows and Web versions of Act!, enabling people to manage their system even when they’re working remotely and only have Web access from a home computer or a business center in a hotel or wherever they may be.

As far as Web-based vs. server-client based: Act! is definitely still server-client based as well. With Act! you have a lot of different deployment options. You can deploy in a traditional server-client with local desktops accessing the database over the network. You can deploy remote databases to remote computers like desktops at home or in remote offices or laptops that travel with people. There’s also the web and the mobile access. The web-based access which is the full browser from a PC or Mac whereas the Mobile access is what you’ll access from a Smartphone or Tablet. You can also do things like remote desktop or terminal server access, or Citrix. All of these things are available with just the regular Act! Premium license. You have a lot of flexibility in deployment options.

The other part of that question is whether all of the functionality for v17 Premium is available in the web-based version. It’s not all there but that gap is closing rapidly and with every release of the product it becomes less and less. We’d want to take a closer look at your situation, your users, what it is that they utilize most and see if it makes sense to switch to a browser-based access for Act!.

Q: Is there a maximum number of contacts that you can transfer from your old Act! v2013?

A: First, when moving from Act! 2013 to later Act! versions, your contacts aren’t transferred; instead, your database is upgraded to that Act! version.  And to the heart of your question, there is no maximum number of contacts that can exist in an Act! database.

Q: Is there a way to hide inactive users?

A: Act! v17 offers a new function that allows you to hide inactive users from the “schedule for” or “record manager” drop-downs. If you have a lot of turnover or have been using Act! for a long time you can now hide those inactive users so you don’t have to see those in the lists when you click on something like a calendar “select users” filter or go to schedule an activity for somebody else.

Q: Is there an easier way to create a Company level record based on the number of contacts in Act!?

A: Yes, with v17 there is new functionality that allows you to automatically create Company level records. You can go into your Preferences and on the Admin tab you can select Companies and then you can set it to find a set number of contacts with the same company name, perhaps starting at 2 contacts, and Act! will automatically create a Company level record anytime it finds that number of contacts with the same company name. You used to have to create this manually under the Companies module or purchase a third party software to have them created automatically. Now you have that automatic capability built into Act! itself.

If you are on Act! 2013 today, then please shoot us an email or give us a call (866) 880-4228 to talk with one of our CRM specialists about your options. 

Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for more CRM & business insights.