How to migrate from ACT!

As a CRM consultancy, we often get contacted by companies looking to migrate away from ACT! to a more modern CRM system. Initially released in 1987, ACT! was a more sophisticated contact management product. It emerged at a time when Customer Relationship Management (CRM) wasn’t yet a recognised software category. However, in today’s competitive CRM landscape, it’s safe to say that ACT! doesn’t stack up when compared to some of its more modern rivals such as Workbooks, Microsoft Dynamics, and Salesforce.

Four Reasons to Migrate Away from ACT!

Here are 4 reasons why you should consider migrating away from ACT!:

1. Outdated User Interface (UI) 

This is the big one. Unless you’re feeling particularly nostalgic for the late 80s/early 90s, Act!’s UI is unlikely to win you over. It’s clunky to the point of causing real issues for users. Although Act! developed a cloud version with a browser-based front end, it’s UI still feels antiquated.

2. Security Vulnerabilities

Using ACT! presents some security issues, most notably if you’ve integrated ACT! with Outlook. ACT! requires its users to download an integration installer and generally, the less your CRM system has to do with your local machine the better. Otherwise you’re opening yourself up to security vulnerabilities.

As if having to download an installer wasn’t problematic enough, the Act!/Outlook integration actually modifies your email client, adding a tab for ACT! in Outlook’s top navigation bar. ACT! itself doesn't allow you to perform email operations directly. Instead you must rely on the add-in. However, using such add-ins introduces yet another avenue through which your PC could be exposed to network-based attacks.

3. Bugs 

Due to the fact that ACT! took its on-premise application, chopped and changed a few things in order to develop their cloud version, it’s riddled with bugs, frequently lags and is prone to crashing. This just isn’t something you have to worry about with most modern, truly cloud-based CRMs.

4. Windows Only 

Sorry MAC users, but if you want to be able to run ACT!, then you’re going to need to use a third-party emulation software such as Parallels (at least if you’re using the on-premise version, which most people are). Not having the ability to access your CRM from anywhere from virtually any device is something you take for granted with most modern CRM solutions.

Why migration from ACT! isn't always easy

Unfortunately, ACT! is a notoriously difficult CRM to move away from due to the contact-centric way in which its data is structured (very similar to the challenges faced when migrating from GoldMine) . ACT! has many objects that do not have a one-for-one match as you would find in a modern CRM such as Dynamics, Workbooks or Salesforce.

Let's look at an example: in ACT! you may have used Groups to segment contacts and accounts, and you may intend to retain this segmentation in your new CRM. Your History records could be comprised of several objects - Meetings, Tasks, Calls, To-dos, Notes etc. Would you want to split these out for the specified objects in your new CRM, or simply dump them all into a single entity such as Tasks? The outcome you want to achieve will determine how complex your migration will be - and with ACT! migrations ate typically highly complex. 

On top of this, if your ACT! database is on-premise, then you can’t leverage any API tools to help you.

Two approaches to migrate from ACT! CRM

When considering migrating away from ACT! there are two approaches  you can take, as follows:

1. Do it yourself: If you’re only looking to migrate basic core object data such as Contacts and Accounts/Company, it should be relatively straightforward. If you're aiming for a like-for-like solution that doesn't seek further business opportunities and advantages, then a DIY is probably your best route. 

2. Seek expert support: A CRM migration is seldom about just the technology. If you're going to the trouble of changing a core system like CRM, you can be sure that your business stakeholders are expecting to derive greater benefits beyond an improved look and feel. If you're using ACT! it's likely that the role of CRM in your business is only a fraction of what it could be. Migration to a new CRM should bring business innovation and optimisation. This is a key area where an external expert consultant can add real value. 

The other core benefit of seeking external expert help is the technology expertise they bring. An external consultant should have a combination of experience, and a toolset to make the migration more efficient and less risky. For example, at CRM Insights we utilise proprietary software to extract data tables from ACT!, to backup files, and to transform them into a compatible format for seamless importation into a modern CRM system. 

Where to start when considering migration from ACT!

Depending on the size and culture of your organisation, the first place to start might be to understand the value that a modern CRM can bring to your organisation, and to document it in a business case. If that's you, the read this article: How to build your CRM business case which also includes a free CRM Business Case Template

If you're looking to understand the costs of a new CRM solution - whether that's to include them in your business case or simply to understand how much you might need to invest - then read this article: How much does a CRM system cost?

Or if you would prefer to talk with a CRM expert to get some advice, then click the button below to schedule a free consultation.