PIM alternatives. (Personal Information Management)(software for more specific uses) (Buyers Guide)
by Richard O. Mann
What if you don't really want all the fancy features of these Personal information Managers? What if you need high-powered information and history on your contacts but not much of the other stuff? What if you just want to manage appointments and calendar items? What if your needs are more tightly focused on working with your staff?
Never fear. We can help. As you undoubtedly know, there's software for nearly everyone's needs. The trick is to find it.
A lot of us need intensive information on contacts and a lengthy but readily available history of our on-going contacts. The most common users of contact managers are sales professionals, but plenty of others need similar power.
Contact managers typically track more than 50 fields of data for each contact, including such things as the date for your next call and the results of your last call. They usually provide unlimited text windows for as many notes as necessary to document the history of your dealings with this contact.
The market leader is the Act! family of contact managers (Contact Software International, 1840 Hutton Drive, #200, Carrollton, Texas 75006; 800-365-0606 or 214-418-1866; Act! 2.1, $395; 1st Act!, $79.95; Act! for Windows 1.1, $495; 1st Act! for Windows, $149).
Act! comes in DOS and Windows versions at full-strength, and in a streamlined version called 1st Act!, also for both DOS and Windows. Act! provides 70 data fields, all user-definable. It has a built-in word processor, which is no world-shaker, but perfectly serviceable for writing letters. Act's time management tools fall a little short of the full-featured PIMs, but are strong enough to handle all but the most complex schedules. 1 st Act! limits you to one database, five pre-formatted reports, and doesn't send faxes directly.
A more full-featured, high-powered professional sales tool is Telemagic (Remote Control International, 5928 Pascal Court, Carlsbad, California 92008; 619-431-4000; $695). This remarkable program starts with two dozen fields and an open note window, but you can add up to 999 new fields at any time. You also can design new screens to work with the new fields.
TeleMagic's real strength is telephone management; it times and logs your calls and provides telemarketing scripts onscreen as you're making your calls. It has an adequate scheduling module, its own word processor, e-mail and fax support, and much more. It's sold only through authorized resellers. Call Telemagic to find the location of the one nearest you.
If all you want is a calendar and scheduler, don't overkill by buying a PIM. There are dozens of excellent calendar programs on the market.
Amaze Inc. offers a whole suite of calendar programs. The most famous is its flagship product, The Far Side Daily Planner, which gives you a daily dose of Gary Larson's famous cartoons--some are even animated.
The company also sells one calendar program featuring the popular Cathy comic strip and others featuring Trivial Pursuit questions. Each day comes up with a cartoon or question to entertain you as you plan your day.
These programs come in both DOS and Windows versions (along with a Mac version). They offer basic scheduling, to-do list management, and a perpetual calendar (no need to buy a new one each year--unless you want new cartoons). Each of the calendar programs is available for$69.95 (Amaze !nc., 11810 115th Avenue NE, Kirkland, Washington 98034; 800-395-1546 or 206-820-7007).
This is a new Windows product unlike anything I've seen. It provides a structured approach to goal setting and people management for those responsible for supervising others. It has elements of a PIM, elements of a project manager, and several new functions.
In addition to providing the tools for managing people, ManagePro teaches a strong point of view on management philosophy. It works you through six managerial functions: goal setting, progress monitoring, coaching, fair evaluation, performance recognition, and team management. You start with goals, break them down into tasks, assign the tasks, set performance criteria, and assign deadlines. Then you monitor the work in action.
If you have four or more people reporting to you, consider this program to both keep track of everything and help you be more logical in your management approach. ManagePro 1.2 is available for $395 from Avantos Performance Systems (3900 Hollis Street, Suite C, Emeryville, California 94068; 800-282-6867 or 510-654-4688).