Question: How do I Set up and Work With Microsoft Office Integration with Single Sign-On?
Product Family: Act! Growth Suite
Tier: Professional, Premier, Ultimate
Deployment: Act! in the Cloud
One of the most useful and versatile features of working with Act! is its ability to integrate with Microsoft Office. In particular, the ability to automatically record any emails you send through Outlook, the ability to synchronize your Outlook calendar and contacts, and the ability to write letters through Word are all extremely useful features that will enhance your Act! experience. The key features available are:
- Create new contacts to Act! from Outlook emails.
- Create Act! history records, sending emails either from Act! or Outlook, attaching the email text to your Act! contacts. This can be configured to happen automatically.
- Create and schedule Act! activities with known email contacts.
- Attach emails manually to Contact records.
- Auto-attach emails to Contact records.
- Synchronizing Contacts and Calendar between Outlook and an Act! database.
When working with a Single Sign-On database, all of this integration is controlled by downloading and installing one additional component. The instructions on doing this are expanded upon below.
NOTE: If you have multiple users of your database, then each user will need to download and install the integration if they wish to use it, and configure their own preferences as an individual.
Installing the Office Integration
- Log into your Single Sign-On database as normal.
- Click Tools > Preferences > Email.
- Choose Outlook as the Default e-mail program and then select Download.
- When the file has downloaded, run the file and follow the wizard through until installed.
Working with Outlook
Now that the integration has been installed, when you next open Outlook you may notice that a new Act! tab has been added to the top menu:
This tab controls the integration functionality and is split up into three sections that roughly describe the individual functionality within them:
We will look at each section and function individually, but first we will look at how you can Change Preferences. This is useful to look at immediately so that you understand how the integration will work and what changes you can make.
This setting allows you to decide exactly how you would like emails that you both send and receive to attach to your Act! database. Emails will be attached in the History tab of your Act! contacts, and this can be configured to happen automatically as you send emails through Outlook.
This works via matching email addresses. So for example, if you have a contact in your Act! database with an email address in the email field of firstname.lastname@example.org, whenever you send an email to that email address through Outlook you can have Act! automatically record that email into the History tab of that contact.
When you click Change Preferences, you will see the following screen:
On the Auto Attach tab, you will see you can choose exactly how you would like emails to automatically attach when you both send emails to your contacts, and when you receive them from your contacts. The history options available for both are as follows:
- None - Emails will not attach automatically, but you can manually attach them if you wish. Some customers prefer this to prevent private or personal emails from automatically attaching into matching records in Act!. Manual attachment is discussed further below.
- Date, Time, Subject - This will not include the message or any attachments.
- Date, Time, Subject, Message - The body of the email will be included, but no attachments.
- Email as Attachment - The entire email will be included in the History as an attachment. This means that any attachments in the email itself will also be included.
Make sure to set your preferences as desired, then click Save. A confirmation message will appear advising that your preferences have been changed.
NOTE: As mentioned previously, if you have multiple Act! users each one will need to set up their own preferences. So you could have one user who prefers to only attach the Date, Time, and Subject, whereas another user may prefer to record the Email as Attachment etc.
We will discuss the Quick Attach preferences further below when we discuss that functionality in more detail.
This option allows you to create an Act! contact from an email that you have received in Outlook. This option is useful if you receive an email from a person who is not currently in your database, and you would like to immediately add them to it.
Make sure to click on the email in your inbox so that it is highlighted, then click the Create Contact button. The following screen will appear:
The form will already be completed with the E-mail field, and an attempt at the contact name based off the email address. We would strongly recommend checking and completing all fields before clicking Create Contact.
This button allows you to create a new Activity in Act! based on a received email. So for example, if you have received an email from one of your Act! contacts, perhaps requesting a phone call to discuss pricing, you could click the Create Activity button and immediately create that call in your Act! database.
Clicking the button presents the following screen:
The Regarding field will be populated with the subject of the email you used to create the activity. This can be changed if you wish. If the email address finds a matching record in Act!, then that contact will automatically be assigned to the activity as well.
Complete the details of the activity as normal (type of activity, date, time etc.), then click Create Activity.
For more information on working with Activities, please click here.
Attach to Contact
This option allows you to attach an individual email that you have received into your Act! database. If you have configured your preferences to have this happen automatically, you may not need to use this feature. However, if you receive an email from a contact who is not in your database, or if you would find it useful to attach an email to a different contact than the person who sent you it, then the Attach to Contacts button will allow you to do that.
Make sure to click on the email in your Inbox that you would like to attach, then click Attach to Contacts. The following screen appears:
If the email address matches an existing contact record, that contact will automatically appear in the right side column saving you time from having to find it. If you do not want to attach to that contact however, you can use the arrow icons in the middle to remove the contact from that list.
By the same token, you can search through all of your contacts in the left side column and choose which contacts you would like to attach the email to. You may even choose multiple contacts if you wish.
Quick Attach to Contacts
The Quick Attach to Contacts option performs a similar function to the individual Attach to Contacts button, however the idea behind it is that you can use this button to attach multiple emails into your database at the same time. This will be particularly useful for customers who have chosen NOT to attach emails they receive into their database automatically.
Imagine you have left the office for several weeks annual leave, and when you return you find that you have several hundred unread emails in your inbox. To save time from attaching each one individually, you may instead choose Quick Attach to Contacts. This will go through all of your selected emails and look at the sender's email address. If it finds a matching record in Act!, it will attach the email to them, and ignore those where it does not find a match (these settings can be configured however, please see below for more details).
Before using this option, you should make sure to click Change Preferences as previously discussed, but this time click on the Quick Attach tab:
Note that you have the ability to choose the Type of history that will be recorded as we have previously discussed, but you can also choose which contacts the emails will automatically attach to when you use Quick Attach, and you have a tick box that will automatically Create Contacts if they are NOT found (i.e. the system tries to attach a selected email from an email address that does not currently exist in Act!).
Once you have Saved your preferences, to use the Quick Attach feature, simply select multiple emails in your inbox (you may find holding CTRL and clicking, or holding SHIFT and clicking useful to select multiple emails), then click the Quick Attach to Contacts button.
This option allows you to synchronize your Contact and/or Calendar data between Act! and Outlook. You will need to configure your settings before doing this. For more information on configuring your settings, please see the following article:
How do I synchronize my Outlook Contacts and/or Calendar with my Act! in the Cloud database?
Once you have configured your settings, you can use the Synchronize Now button to manually sync your Contacts/Calendar whenever you wish.
Working With Word
The integration with Microsoft Word allows you to create letter templates that you can then populate using the contact details from Act!. For example, if you worked in an insurance company and wished to send an annual renewal letter, you could design your own template and then at the push of a few buttons, use an individual's contact details to populate that template with information such as their name and address.
Editing a Template
To begin, you will need to create your own template for use. Act! comes with a large selection of templates to give you an excellent first place to start. You can choose to edit one by going to the Write menu and choosing the option to Edit Template.
In the list of templates that appears, choose one along a similar theme to the template you would like to create. It doesn't have to match very closely as you will be editing the template to fit your own designs.
The templates that appear under Act! Templates are held within the Act! database itself in the Cloud. If you prefer, you can choose My Computer if you want to edit a local template.
Once you have chosen a template, click Open.
The template will open within Microsoft Word on your computer. You can now make any amendments you want as normal within a Word document, so you can change the fonts, size, colors, add images etc. This allows you to create a completely personalized template, and you can create as many different templates as you like as well.
When editing your template, a window will have opened called Add Mail Merge Fields. This allows you to enter fields that will draw directly from your Act! contact record. For example, if you were to add the Contact field from this window, then whenever you use this template against a contact record, it will add their name to the document. If you were to add the Company field, it will add the name of the company the individual contact works for. You can do this for any of your contact fields in Act!, even custom fields that you might have created yourself. Mail Merge fields appear in triangular brackets on your template so that they are easily identified. All of the templates that come with Act! will already have some Mail Merge fields present, but these can be deleted as normal if you wish.
Once you are happy with your template design, click the File menu and choose Save. You will then be prompted to choose a file name, and a location for the template. We would strongly recommend choosing a new name for your template instead of overwriting the existing one you started with as you may wish to use that again in the future. By default, the template will be saved to your database which we would highly recommend as it will then be accessible from any computer that you use to access your online database. You can choose to save to you computer if you would prefer to keep a local copy of your template, but please remember that you will only be able to use that template when working on your current computer.
Now that you have created a template, you are ready to perform a Mail Merge. This process will combine will use your template to create a document populated with a contact's details. It can be used against a single contact, or multiple contacts at the same time.
NOTE: If you wish to mail merge against a number of contacts at the same time, you will need to perform a Lookup first. For more information on creating a lookup, please click here.
Once you have performed a lookup or else opened up an individual contact record, to begin the mail merge go to the Write menu and choose Mail Merge.
Make sure that you choose the Output as Word Processor. Then choose the template that you wish to use. Finally, choose which contacts the merge will be performed against, whether that will just be the current contact you are working with, or the current lookup if you have performed one as discussed above. Alternatively, you can also choose to perform a mail merge against all the contacts within a specific Group or Company in your database.
Once you click OK, the mail merge will be performed and the Word document will open. This will now be populated using the selected contacts' details. If you have chosen to merge to multiple contacts, each individual will begin on a new page. You will also see a Create History window will appear:
This window allows you to choose whether you would like to save the merged document to the History tab of your contact records or not. You have the option of entering the Regarding field as well, so you can easily identify at a glance the purpose of the document that was merged.
You may now print the document as you would any other Microsoft Word document.