Is Act! for Web Secure?

July 25th, 2019 • By: Wendy Cummins ACT CRM, Computer Security, Data management, Data Security, Swiftpage, Swiftpage ACT

Act! Premium Web LoginWe get this question a lot, so I thought it would be a good idea to document it here. You have several options with Act! Premium. You can self-host your database – which is what is called Act! Premium for Web, or you can pay to host your database “in the cloud.” In this article, I’m just going to cover security precautions we recommend for clients running Act! Premium for Web and allowing Internet access to their Act! database.  If you are using Act! Premium for Web solely inside your network, some of the recommendations below will not apply to you (SSL + VPN).

Best security practices for ANY Act! installation

These recommendations aren’t specific to securing an Act! Premium for Web installation, but I feel it’s worth stating them because they are your first line of protection against data breaches for ANY software or online service.

  1. Make sure that all Act! users have a unique password for Act! – and not something they use everywhere or something simple like their name or “password”, etc.
  2. Make sure users aren’t sharing passwords – or – change your passwords on a regular basis. You can dictate password policies right inside Act!. For more information about this, refer to this article on the Act! help site.  Keep in mind that if/when a user’s Act! password is changed, that password must be updated for Outlook integration (if configured) and for Act! Scheduler tasks (if it’s an administrator user) in order for these processes to continue to work.
  3. If a user leaves, be quick to make them inactive. You don’t want them to have access to your data when they are no longer employed.
  4. Give users ONLY the access that they need. Most users do not need to be “administrators” or “managers” in order to do what they need to do in Act!. Also, you can remove permissions like “export to Excel” if that’s not something the user needs to do their job.

Check out this article for more information on how you can avoid Act! data loss.

Our minimum recommended security precautions for Act! Premium for Web

  1. Install an SSL certificate on your web server. An SSL certificate encrypts data between the end user’s device and the server. It’s also required for Act! Marketing Automation if you run Act! for Web. For more information about what an SSL certificate is/does, check out this article. If you need help obtaining and setting up an SSL for your Act! Premium for Web installation, email us at
  2. Keep Windows updates current on the Act!/Web server. Microsoft releases security patches regularly to combat security threats. You want to make sure those are installed as needed. If you have an IT team, they should be monitoring this for you.

A VPN is an additional layer of protection

If you want an extra layer of protection you can set up a VPN. This gets a bit complicated for end-users, but it’s the most secure. Your users would need to have VPN software on their devices and connect to the VPN before they could access Act!. This is not something we specifically recommend, but it’s something that IT people usually bring up when you tell them you want to access your server from outside the office.  Having a VPN is also a way to secure your Act! remote database sync.  You can talk with your IT team about this option, or if you don’t have someone you work with regularly, I recommend reaching out to Caston Thomas of iWorks.

I hope this information helps you to better secure your Act! data. If you need assistance with any of these items, our team is happy to help. In addition, we welcome you to check out our other security-related articles:

Tom Najemy of Squad 16 joins Patricia Egen Consulting

May 6th, 2019 • By: Patricia Egen ACT CRM, Business growth, Quotewerks, Sales, Swiftpage ACT

Chattanooga, TN, May 6, 2019 – Patricia Egen Consulting, LLC is pleased to announce that Tom Najemy, owner of Squad 16, will join us as a Senior Consultant.

Tom has had an act! consultancy business for 20 years.  His office in East Windsor, CT hosts a training center providing hands-on training on copies of client’s databases.   Tom has been a power user of ACT since 1993 when he ran his own entertainment booking agency.   In 2000 Tom switched careers to became an ACT! Certified Consultant. Since then he has customized act databases to meet the needs of clients in many industries.

Prior to the entertainment business he was a sales and marketing professional in international trade based in Athens, Greece where he represented American and British publishers for their sales to the Middle and North Africa, and subsequently a manufacturers’ representative for American Solar companies looking to transfer Solar Energy technology to the Middle East and North Africa. As a business owner, marketing professional and a computer consultant Tom offers a wide range of business experience to his customers

“Tom is an accomplished trainer and consultant with over 26 years of experience in business consulting. His attention to detail and business savvy along with his wit blends well with our company and we are thrilled to have him as part of our team. He is gifted at listening to a customer and gathering all the right details to ensure a perfect implementation. His skills are a perfect match for our growing business. ” – Patricia Egen, President of Patricia Egen Consulting.

Patricia Egen Consulting (PEC) is a Platinum Select Certified Swiftpage Act! Consulting Company, Premier Trainer, Quotewerks Reseller and IBM business partner.  PEC is full-service business consulting firm with an emphasis on technology. In addition to consulting services, they also specialize in business process analysis, computer programming, administration and training.

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If you would like more information about PEC, or assistance with your business and technology challenges, please contact Patricia Egen at 423-875-2652 or email at

Not ANOTHER password

April 22nd, 2019 • By: Wendy Cummins Computer Security, Data management, Data Security

Compromised password emails abound these days. I’m sure you’ve seen them…”your account has been compromised…I know your password…send money.”

Many of my clients ask how could this happen? Well, data breaches are dismayingly common.  If you’ve been using the same password for multiple website/services, you are at risk personally and in your business.

Here are some good tips that you’ve probably heard before:

  • never re-use passwords
  • don’t use common passwords such as “password” and 1234.
  • make your passwords long, mix alpha case, numbers and symbols when permitted
  • change passwords often

I know what you’re thinking: OK, these are great tips, but how realistic is this really? My answer: not realistic at all.  This could mean remembering thousands of passwords. That leads to my next recommendation: purchase/subscribe to password keeper software.

I recently attended a seminar which focused on three different password keepers: Keepass, LastPass and RoboForm. All had similar features and functionality. I personally use LastPass and find its features to be robust and easy to use. One differentiator of Keepass is that your password vault is not online – your data is stored locally. These password keepers have other features too such as the ability to hold your credit card information and pop that into web forms, storage for other sensitive information like passport or driver’s license numbers, and most can be used from multiple devices like mobile phones, tablets and PC/Mac computers so you can have your passwords everywhere you need them.

Now, having strong, unique passwords is a step in the right direction. However, if you want to be even more secure, you’ll want to look into multifactor authentication. You may have heard of multifactor authentication, and your company may have instituted this practice. If you haven’t, then it’s definitely something you should be aware of and even moving toward if you want to increase your security.

Typically, multifactor authentication consists of a combination of 3 things: (1) something you know (like a password or PIN), (2) something you are (like a fingerprint or iris); and (3) something you have (this could be a YubiKey or an app on your phone (note: LastPass comes with an Authenticator app and Microsoft and Google offer their own). Location and time are two other elements that could be considered factors.

Following the above password suggestions is the least of what you should be doing to protect yourself and your data. MFA is the next level. When computers and websites are set up to require MFA, you make it harder for the bad actors to access your data and steal your credentials.

What to do next:

  • Check into a password manager. LastPass has a free tier that you can sign up for here.
  • Look into getting an MFA app – LastPass includes an authenticator app. You can also get one from Microsoft here.
  • Once you have one or both of these, start cleaning up your passwords and set up 2FA (two-factor authentication) on commonly used sites such as Twitter, Facebook and banking sites. A list of sites that accept 2FA are listed here.

Reach out to us if you need assistance or have questions.

It’s time to consider business process automation

Business Process Automation, also called Workflow Automation, is more accessible now than it ever has been with most businesses using some SaaS (software as a service) or web-enabled software. Automating routine processes can make you more efficient, improve accountability and standardize your customer interactions.

Where do you start? Practice Kaizen…start by making one small, impactful change. Determine one process you think is (1) time consuming, (2) time-sensitive, (3) requires multiple people, and/or (4) has a high volume in your organization.  Some examples are: managing incoming leads, approving expense reports, sending out product announcement emails, and lead nurturing.

As an example, I realized that managing my appointments via several calendars was becoming a challenge. I was using Notes, Act! and Google over 2-3 different devices. It was difficult to schedule appointments with clients because there was a lag in between emailing them and getting a response, and also because not all of my appointments were on all of my calendars since this was a manual process.

Think about how the process you want to automate would work in a perfect world. Now determine what steps should be taken to complete the task from start to finish (which may be different from what actually happens in your business today). Write those steps down in a spreadsheet, word processing document, mind map, note application or (gasp!) on paper. Just make sure you have a clear vision of each step that needs to occur to complete the task.

For my calendar automation process, I knew the best solution would be one where clients could see open times on my calendar and schedule a time that was convenient for both of us. Whatever system I chose would need to be able to update my Act!, Google and Notes calendars so that I could see everything that was scheduled on any of my devices, anywhere, any time.

The next step is to determine what tool or process you’ll use to automate.  This could require some research. You’ll need to find a feature or tool that is either within your current system(s) or possibly use an external tool or integration.  If you have a trusted advisor for your current software, this is the first person to contact for advice.  It is likely that they will save you time and money with their experience.

Being an Act! Premium user and consultant, I immediately started looking for an integration that was web-based and could integrate with Act!. Zapier offers many SaaS integrations between various software platforms, so I began searching their offerings to find a calendar service that I could integrate with Act!. I settled on Acuity Scheduling, and it had even more features than I’d originally been looking for.

Finally, we get to implementation. Implementation is going to vary from one tool/process to the next.  Having a clear outline to accomplish the goal for your automation process will greatly decrease the implementation time. I have also found that many programs have either a $0 tier level or a free trial period so that you can try the service before you commit to a monthly or annual fee.

For me, there was a short learning curve for Acuity Scheduling. There was set up involved to create appointment types and scheduled hours, but they included “walkthroughs” every step of the way. After that, the set up required creating the “zaps” in my Zapier account that would check for data at Acuity Scheduling and bring that into Act!. Acuity Scheduling will also read data from/to a Google calendar. Along the way, I discovered that I could send myself an SMS each morning that was a reminder of the day’s appointments. Bonus!

Don’t forget about training and analytics.  Yes, even if you are a solo-preneur, training is important.  Make sure you and anyone involved with the new process knows how it works – and – how to determine if something goes wrong.  Your process also needs to allow for “what ifs.” For example what happens if:

  • the data is not as expected?
  • Some data you count on in the process is missing?
  • Someone leaves the company?
  • The tool is inaccessible?

If you aren’t using some form of business automation, it’s time to get started. It will take some extra time to get your new process up and running, but the time it saves will be worth it.

If you use Act! and want to discuss automation for your business, use this link to schedule a 15-minute discovery call with me to discuss your needs.

Martech. Say what?

February 18th, 2019 • By: Patricia Egen ACT CRM, Business growth, Consulting, Email marketing, Marketing, Sales, Sales Automation

With v21, Act by Swiftpage released a new product called Act Marketing Automation (called AMA for short). Ok, cool. Now what?

Here’s why you care. Martech.

Martech, what is that you say. It’s the cool new buzz word for something we all want – a way to automate our marketing processes so we can go do what we do best – our business. It stands for Marketing Technology and it’s basically anything you use to reach your customers – using technology.

It could be as simple as an email marketing tool like Swiftpage and Act eMarketing, Constant Contact or Mail Chimp. Now let’s kick it up a notch to products like Hubspot and Marketo where they take the email piece of it and add “smarts” and build automated campaigns.

Imagine an email blast going out and instead of you waiting on replies to send the next email, one goes out automatically. Or even better, an activity is put on your calendar to call the person who opened your email 7 times. Or…a visitor to your website sends in a “please call me I want to talk” form and they get added to your CRM, a reply thanking them is sent back, and an Opportunity is opened in your CRM? All without you doing anything except your normal daily job. Unless of course it is to respond to these items. If that’s the case, you may need to look for something else to do.

Have we got your attention now? We thought so.

TechTarget says: “Martech is the area of customer relationship management (CRM) concerned with creating, managing and using digital tools that make it possible for marketers to automate tasks and make data-driven decisions. An important goal of Martech is to help marketers find and nurture customers, personalize customer interaction and measure the effectiveness of campaigns.”

This is exactly what the new Act Marketing Automation (AMA) from Swiftpage does. It is now something you and your organization need to consider to add to your marketing arsenal. We live in a digital age. The customers are a lot more savvy. They are looking for slick marketing pieces, sent often, that they can read on their phones during dinner. I know. Sounds sad. Have you been to a restaurant lately. Quiet, aren’t they. Your organization can leverage that and reach that young crowd to look at your product or service. It’s the new frontier.

We are now helping clients implement AMA and can help you as well. Whether you do this by yourself or work with a marketing agency we can help get this automation in place. Rather than sit back and watch the competition get with the program, let us help you move ahead of them.

More information can be found on these great sites:

A Beginner’s Guide to MarTech

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