Sage ACT! 2011 Dashboard and Report Cookbook

By Karen Fredricks , Roy Laudenslager
  • Instant online access to over 7,500+ books and videos
  • Constantly updated with 100+ new titles each month
  • Breadth and depth in over 1,000+ technologies
  1. Exploring the ACT! Reports

About this book

Sage ACT! is the top selling CRM software application, and it helps businesses to centralize contact information, organize their calendars and notes, and ultimately maximize contact relationships to optimize business efficiency and profitability. In ACT! 2011, a variety of new dashboards and reports are available for producing graphical representations of client information and for measuring the success of your sales force.

This cookbook is full of practical and immediately applicable recipes that will take you from being an ACT! report and dashboard novice to a report-writing pro in no time. The recipes will show you how to create custom dashboards and reports, as well as utilize the new templates available in recent ACT! versions. You will learn to use ACT!'s Report Editor and Dashboard Designer so that you will be able to easily view important information about your business and your sales force.

The recipes begin by covering the most basic elements of the ACT! reports and continue to include several recipes that will guide you through creating brand-new reports. If you have an ACT! database, you need to be able to access it quickly and logically; this book will help you do just that.

Publication date:
February 2011
Publisher
Packt
Pages
216
ISBN
9781849681926

 

Chapter 1. Exploring the ACT! Reports

In this chapter, we will cover:

  • Using the ACT! Reports menu

  • Working with the Reports view

  • Adding reports to the Favorites List

  • Removing a Report from the Favorites List

  • Running a Report from the Favorites List

  • Choosing a Report Output Option

  • Finding the Default Location of the ACT! Reports

Introduction

Once you've added information into ACT! the next step is to be able to view that information in an organized fashion. With over 60 reports to choose from, you'll probably be able to find a report that will give you exactly the information you're looking for.

After reading this chapter, you'll be familiar with the various out of the box ACT! Reports. You'll even find where they are located on your computer. You'll learn how to find the reports you need and more importantly, how to organize them into favorites so that you'll be able to find them again. You'll also learn how to run a report, and find out how to share those reports with colleagues.

 

Introduction


Once you've added information into ACT! the next step is to be able to view that information in an organized fashion. With over 60 reports to choose from, you'll probably be able to find a report that will give you exactly the information you're looking for.

After reading this chapter, you'll be familiar with the various out of the box ACT! Reports. You'll even find where they are located on your computer. You'll learn how to find the reports you need and more importantly, how to organize them into favorites so that you'll be able to find them again. You'll also learn how to run a report, and find out how to share those reports with colleagues.

 

Using the ACT! Reports menu


The most common method of running a report is from the Reports menu, which is located on any of the ACT! views. Ironically, you'll even find the Reports on the menu bar in the Reports view, which we will be covering later in this chapter.

Getting ready

Some of you may have used other software programs that allow you to filter a report after you run it. For example, your accounting software might let you run a Profit and Loss statement, and then change the date range once the report is run.

ACT! works a bit differently. The ACT! Reports offer only very basic filtering options; if a report doesn't contain the filter options you're looking for then you must do the filtering prior to running the report. For example, if you wanted to create a Phone List report of all of your customers, you'd first need to Create a Lookup or run a query for the customers in your database.

How to do it...

Follow these steps to run a report:

  1. 1. Create a Lookup of Contact, Company, or Group records that you wish to include in your report.

  2. 2. Click on Reports in the menu bar, and then click the report name that you wish to run. The Define Filters dialog box appears as seen in the following screenshot:

  1. 3. Verify that the report filters are correct. You'll be learning more about the various filter options in the next chapter.

  2. 4. Click OK to run the report.

How it works...

The Reports menu includes a main area of contact reports, as well as sub-areas for Group, Company, and Opportunity Reports. While this organization seems like a good idea on paper, in reality over half of the ACT! Reports are not listed on the ACT! Reports menu.

There's more...

As we mentioned earlier, there are over 60 reports that come with ACT! out of the box. However, because the Reports menu is a carry-over from a much older version of ACT!, you'll find fewer than 30 of the ACT! Reports actually listed in the Reports menus. And, to make finding a report even more difficult, ACT!'s file structure places all of the reports in a single folder rather than organizing the reports into more logical sub-folders.

If the report you wish to run is not listed under the Reports menu, click Group Reports, Company Reports, or Opportunity Reports to see more choices. And if you still can't find the report you'd like then click Other Contact Reports... to see all of the ACT! Reports.

Learning a bit more about specific reports

It may be helpful to have an idea about the information that appears in a few of the ACT! Reports.

  • The first three reports listed in the Reports menu (the Contact Report, Contact Directory, and Phone List) will provide you with a full page, paragraph, or a single line of information about your current Lookup of contacts

  • The History Summary reports give you a physical count of the various cleared history items

  • The Source of Referrals report is based on information that you've inputted into the Referred by field

A warning about the "Other" Report menu options

You'll see 10 Contact reports listed on the top half of the reports menu. These reports are all based on the generic contact ACT! fields that come with a basic ACT! database. You'll also notice an option for Other Contact Reports... at the bottom of this list. Unfortunately, clicking this option will result in the Select Report dialog box you see in the following screenshot, which shows you not just additional contact reports but it also all of the ACT! Reports:

In addition to showing you additional Contact ACT! Reports, it also shows you additional Group, Company, and Opportunity Reports as well.

If you navigate from the basic reports menu to the Group, Company, or Opportunity reports sub-menus, you'll notice that they all contain an other section like the one you see in the following screenshot:

You probably expect that if you click the Other Group Reports… option you'll be transported to a listing of various other Group reports not included in the Reports menu. Unfortunately, you're taken back to the Select Report dialog box shown earlier that lists all of the ACT! Reports.

It might seem to be a logical assumption that if you are in the Groups view and click on Reports in the menu bar, you'll see a list of all the Group reports, and that if you are in the Company view you can click on Reports, and you'll be treated to a list of Company reports. However, the Report menu is exactly the same in every one of the ACT! views.

See also

Because the Reports menu only scratches the surface of the entirety of the reports included with ACT!, you'll probably find yourself using the Reports view more often.

Note

Make sure to read the section, Working with the Reports View later in this chapter.

 

Using the Reports view


Up until ACT! 2010/12, the only way that you could run a report was through the Report menu. However, as more reports were added to the ACT! program, no changes were made to the Reports menu. It soon became apparent that the reports area needed somewhat of a facelift and so the Reports view entered the picture. The Reports view solved a few critical reporting issues:

  • You could see a full listing of all the ACT! Reports

  • You could designate any of the reports as favorites so that you could find them again easily in the future

  • You could add a description to a report to help identify it again in the future

  • You could delete and/or edit any of the ACT! Reports

Getting ready

It's nice to keep things organized, especially when you are working with over 60 reports. By using the Reports view you will be assured that you will be able to find exactly the report you want. You can also think of the Reports view as a one-stop shop for all your Reporting needs.

The Reports view will allow you to:

  • Run reports

  • Edit reports

  • Edit report properties

  • Delete reports

  • Organize the reports into your favorites

How to do it...

  1. 1. Navigate to the ACT! Reports view using one of the following methods:

    • Click View on any of the ACT! menu bars and then choose Reports

    • Click Reports from the nav bar that runs along the left-hand side of any ACT! window

      The Reports view will appear like the one you see in the following screenshot:

    • You will notice that it is split into two windows: Favorite Reports and the Report List.

  2. 2. Select a report from the Report List by clicking on it once.

  3. 3. At this stage you can select one of the buttons on the Reports view toolbar to Run Report, Edit Report, and Delete Report for an existing report.

How it works...

The Favorite Reports area on the top of the screen shows a list of the reports that you have defined as your Favorite Reports, and the Report List on the bottom half of the screen lists every one of the ACT! Reports. As you modify one of the reports listed on the Report List, the corresponding item will update on the Favorite Reports area as well.

You will also notice that a status bar runs along the bottom of the Reports view. The status bar will give you a running total of the number of reports you have designated as Favorites as well as the total number of reports that are attached to the current database.

There's more...

We will be discussing running reports, editing their properties, and deleting reports in more detail later in this chapter.

The default order of the Report List

You will notice that the reports are listed in alphabetical order which means that the Group reports (at least those that begin with the word Group) appear together in the list, and the Opportunity reports beginning with the word Opportunity appear together.

Adding the modification date to the Report List

You can actually make one slight modification to the Report view. You'll notice the Options button that appears in the top-right corner of both the Favorite Reports and Report List areas. Give it a click and chose Customize Columns...—this happens to be your only choice. Select Last Modified from the Available fields area and then click the double-pointing right-arrows(>>) to move it to the Show as columns in this order area on the right.

Once added, you can click on the Last Modified column head to sort your reports chronologically by the date on which they were last modified so that you'll be able to easily identify any of the reports that you've created and/or modified.

Just in case you are chomping at the bit to start editing a report or two, you can read the next few chapters in this book where we'll show you how to do just that.

 

Running a report from the Report view


Entering information into your database is the hard part. The easy part comes from running a report so that you can better analyze that data.

Getting ready

The only thing you'll want to do before heading for the Reports view is to create a Lookup of contacts specific to your reports. For example, if you want to run the Source of Referrals report to find out how all your top customers found out about you in the first place, you'll want to create a Lookup for Top Customers.

How to do it...

  1. 1. Navigate to the ACT! Reports view.

  2. 2. Select the report you wish to run from either the Favorite Reports or Report List.

  3. 3. Click the Run Report button on the Report view toolbar. Alternatively you can double-click the name of the report you want to run. Depending on the report you choose, you'll see a Define Filters dialog box similar to the one shown previously.

  4. 4. Click OK to run the report.

  5. 5. Click the red X to close the report when you're finished viewing it.

How it works...

The ACT! Report will include only those contacts that are included as part of your current lookup. In addition, as you run a report you can filter the contents of that report. For example, you might create a lookup of all of your customers, and then filter your report to include only notes that you've added about those customers in the last 30 days.

There's more...

You can learn about the various filtering options in the next chapter. You can permanently alter the filtering options in a report from the Report Designer, which we'll discuss later in this book. For example, you may always want to run one of the Opportunity reports for the prior month, or save your pipeline as a PDF file.

Limiting access to Report Data

Rightfully so, many ACT! users worry about the security of their data. As a business owner you might be concerned that one of your ACT! users could run a report and then run off with your data. All of the ACT! Reports are automatically added to the database and appear in the Report view. Any users who can access the database can run the report. However, if you are using ACT! Premium and have limited the access rights at the contact level, those access rights cascade down to the report level.

For example, you may be worried that one of your sales people could run the Contact Report and consequently have a nice listing of all of your customers. However, if you have limited the access to those customers so that your sales person can't access them, the sales person can still run the report, but it will not contain any of the contacts to which he has no access.

 

Choosing a Report Output Option


Once you've found a report that provides you with the information you need, you are ready to run with it. As usual, ACT! is up to the challenge and provides you with a number of options in which to view your report.

Getting ready

As you have already learned, the procedure for running a report generally starts by creating a Lookup of the contacts that you want to include in the report, followed by a trip to the Reports view.

How to do it...

  1. 1. Select the report that you want to run from the Report view.

  2. 2. Click on the Run Report button. The Define Filters dialog window will open.

  3. 3. Click the Send the report output to: drop-down arrow.

  1. 4. By default, the Send the report output to: field is set to Preview. This is a good option because it allows you to view the report, and optionally print the report as well from the Print Preview window.

  2. 5. Click OK to run the report. The Print Preview window will open like the one you see in the following screenshot:

  1. 6. The Print Preview comes equipped with a nice selection of tools. As you hover your cursor over each one of them, a tooltip will magically appear telling you what the button does.

  2. 7. Maximize the Print Preview window and select the zoom-in tool (the small magnifying glass) on the toolbar to zoom in on a section of the report you would like to see a bit more clearly. Unfortunately the Print Preview window can be a little small for most of our eyes!

  3. 8. Click the right-pointing arrow in the Print Preview window to move to the next page in the report, or the Last Page icon to view the last page of the report which often contains report totals.

  4. 9. When you are ready to print the report, click the Printer icon.

  5. 10. Click the red X to close the Print Preview window.

How it works...

In order to preview a report you must have Adobe Acrobat reader installed on your computer. Fortunately, it's included on the ACT! installation disk and installs automatically as part of the ACT! installation.

There's more...

Once you've run the report, and optionally printed it, the Print Preview window remains open. At this point you can close the Preview window and run the report again selecting a different output option.

If you are really happy with the report, you can click the File Save icon in the top left corner of the Print Preview window to save the report. From the Save As window that opens you can choose to save the report in Adobe (.pdf), Rich-Text (.rtf), HTML (.html) or Text (.txt) file format.

Saving a report as a PDF is a great idea if you want to permanently preserve the data in a report. If you don't save the report, the report might look a bit different if your data has changed since the previous run.

In addition to the Preview option, there are six other output options. Five of them can also be run from the Print Preview window. The sixth one, e-mail, is a really helpful feature. When you choose this option a new e-mail message will appear—with a copy of your report already attached!

 

Editing Reports in the Reports view


It's nice to keep things organized, especially when you're working with over 60 reports. By tweaking the Reports view, you will be insured that you will be able to find exactly the report you want.

Getting ready

Before you go about changing the Reports view, it's a good idea to familiarize yourself with the various reports so that you know which ones will work for you. When you install ACT! a demo database installs as well that is populated with lots of data. You might want to open the demo database and preview any of the reports that sound appealing. Once you have had a chance to view them, jot down a list of your favorites.

How to do it...

  1. 1. Navigate to the ACT! Reports view. Select a report from the Report List by clicking on it once.

  2. 2. Click on the Edit Properties button. The Edit Properties dialog box will open like the following screenshot:

  1. 3. Enter a new name for a report in the Name field that will make it easier for you to identify in the future.

  2. 4. (Optional) Enter a new description for the report in the Description field.

  3. 5. Click OK to close the dialog box and save your changes.

How it works...

As you modify the properties of an item listed in the Reports view, the corresponding report will update as well if you had already added it to the Favorite Reports.

There's more...

The main reason for changing the report properties is to help you organize the reports in a way that makes sense to you. For example, many companies are used to using what they call a Face Sheet and may want to rename the Contact Report accordingly.

Changing the sort order in the Report view

The reports are listed in alphabetical order which means that the Group reports (at least those that begin with the word Group) appear together in the list and the Opportunity reports beginning with the word Opportunity appear together.

Wouldn't it be nice if all the reports appeared together according to their type? Well, they can. Simply tweak the description of each report slightly by adding Contact to the front of all the Contact reports, Opportunity in front of all the Opportunity reports, and so on. You can then sort the report list by Description by clicking the Description column header and have your reports neatly sorted by category.

Deleting a Report

There's another button lurking on the Reports View icon bar—the Delete Report button. If you delete a report it is permanently removed from the database which means that none of the other users will be able to access it. Deleting a report is not the same thing as removing a report from the Favorites list, which you will learn later in this chapter.

Rather than permanently deleting a report, consider renaming it by placing an X in front of it so that all the reports you don't need fall to the end of the Report List.

 

Keeping a list of Favorite reports


In the older versions of ACT!, it wasn't critically important to keep your reports well organized; it was easy enough to just navigate to the Reports menu, or find one of the handful of reports that had been left off of the Report menu. However, with a dozen new reports added to ACT! 2010, and another 10 added to ACT! 2011, it is now imperative that you organize the reports. After all, none of the new reports appear on the Reports menu. Further complicating the issue is the fact that so many of the reports have similar names.

Getting ready

In the previous section, we suggested that you jot down a list of the reports that seemed to be a good match for your reporting needs. This list will prove helpful when editing the Favorite Reports section of the Reports view.

How to do it...

  1. 1. From the navigation bar, click Reports. The Reports view will open.

  2. 2. Select the Favorites Reports checkbox next to any of the reports that you would like to run on a regular basis.

How it works...

Any of the reports that you selected from the Reports List will automatically appear in the Favorite Reports area.

There's more...

You can select as many reports as you want to become your favorites. And, if you edit the name or description of a report in either of the lists, the corresponding report will change in the other list as well. You can also sort the two lists differently if the mood strikes you.

Changing the size of the Report view area

As you add more and more reports to your Favorite Reports, you might want to increase the area that is devoted to that section. You can do this by hovering your mouse on the dividing line between the two sections of the Reports view, and dragging the line lower on the screen.

As I always say, easy come easy go. That philosophy holds true with the Favorite Reports as well. If you decide that a report just isn't as special as you originally thought, simply remove the checkmark and the report will disappear from your Favorite Reports.

 

Finding the default location of the ACT! Reports


Running an ACT! Report is easy because you're given a number of options for finding reports. You can run a report from the Report menu that appears in the menu bar of every ACT! view, or you can choose a report from the Report view. Either of these methods is actually a shortcut for running a report template located within the supplementary folders area of your database.

It's a good idea to know the exact location on your computer that stores the actual report templates. For example, you might need to move some of your reports to a new computer, or save a report that someone else developed for you.

How to do it...

  1. 1. Click ACT!'s Help menu, and then click About ACT!. The About ACT! dialog box appears.

  2. 2. Click the Database Information button. The Database Information dialog box appears.

  3. 3. Scroll down the list in the Database Settings Information section to the Supplemental File Location entry. The location of the reports will appear in the Current Value section.

How it works...

When you create an ACT! database, a set of supplementary folders is created as well. These folders house the various files associated with your database such as your layouts, attachments, and reports.

There's more...

If the field structure of two databases is the same, you can share reports between the databases by copying the report files of one database and pasting them into the reports folder of the other database.

About the Authors

  • Karen Fredricks

    Karen Fredricks began her life rather non-technically growing up in Kenya. She likes to say that she developed her sense of humor while dodging bombs in Beirut where she attended high school. She graduated from the University of Florida and holds degrees in English, Theatre and Accounting. She settled in Boca Raton where she includes tennis, trips to the gym and cheering for the Gators in her busy schedule.

    A true CRM expert, Karen is the author of over ten For Dummies books, including titles on ACT!, SugarCRM, Outlook, Business Contact Manager, Office Live and Marketing with Microsoft Office 2007. This is her sixth book devoted to ACT!.

    Karen’s firm, Tech Benders, customizes popular contact management and CRM software to help businesses grow by being more productive, efficient, and profitable. Karen believes in working smarter in order to have the time to enjoy life and tries to install that philosophy in her clients.

    Browse publications by this author
  • Roy Laudenslager

    Roy has spent his entire career working on computers.  He likes to say he barely missed the vacuum tube computers. He's repaired them, written numerous training manuals about them and spent many years troubleshooting them.  He began working for Symantec when they combined all their technical support in a new site in Eugene, Oregon. When they acquired the ACT! program, he was one of the first ACT! support agents.  He was already familiar with the ACT! program having used the DOS version at another company.He spent the next 10 years supporting the ACT! program for Symantec, then InterACT Commerce Corporation and finally for Sage Software. By the time he left, he was the lead support agent for ACT ”escalations”. Escalations are the problems that the regular support agents are unable to solve; his job was to solve the “unsolvable.” He also trained new support staff on database field modifications, reports, and synchronization. His expertise in the area of synchronization lead to the Knowledge Base document that he wrote for setting up synchronization, making it possible to synchronize ACT! 3 through 6 reliably. After 10-years in ACT! technical support, he wanted to become an ACT Consultant so he left Sage and joined Karen Fredricks as part of Tech Benders to allows him to do what he loved to do:  work with ACT! users! 

    Roy has worked with the ACT reports since ACT! for Windows 2.0 and is known around Sage as the ACT report writer guru. He wrote the 12 new reports that first appeared in ACT 2010/12.

    In the early part of his career, Roy spent several years working as a technical writer and authored many training and reference manuals.

    While working in technical supports for Symantec and later Sage, he contributed one or more articles monthly to the Easy ACT! newsletter. This body of work took place over a 7-year period and represented over 100 articles.

    Most recently he was the Technical Editor for the Dummies books on ACT! versions 7-11.

    Browse publications by this author
Book Title
Access this book, plus 7,500 other titles for FREE
Access now