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Newsletters – January / February / March 2006

Click on a link to any of our recent newsletters, or just scroll down.  Every month there are valuable tips and hints on Microsoft Excel, Maximizer and more!  In Internet Explorer, you can search this page for keywords using Ctrl+F.  To search the whole site, go to our Home Page search.  Click here for the list of ALL Newsletters.

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Newsletter January 2006

Editorial

First of all, the very best for 2006, may this be the year that growth hits 6% plus and we all gain a share in it.  I for one would really like a tax positive situation, because then I know that growth is happening!

The copious rains are proving a two-edged sword - yes they are needed to grow crops and are very welcome.  However, they are also causing untold misery for shack dwellers, road users (potholes) and people walking on the streets.  When you are passing pedestrians, do try to avoid drenching them!

Paved complexes, building too close to river banks and over wetlands are damaging our water resources.  In a country short of water, wetlands and rivers should be a priority for preservation not for destruction as seems to be the case.  Stay alert for damage being done to such resources around you and report them to the Department of Water Affairs, or we will all be thirsty together!

On a business oriented note, fuel cell technology has come to South Africa and that promises changes in how we use electricity.  May this be a year of innovation in power generation and usage that builds on cleaner petrol and lessens pollution.                   

Gogga

The modem is now back to R685 inclusive.  There is no change in the cost of the data packages from the decrease in December. This GPRS modem connects to your PC or laptop via a USB cable.  This means you have web access anywhere anytime so long as there is a Cell phone tower in reach.  To go for Gogga, contact Judith@softwareafrica.co.za and be truly mobile even in the bush!

The new modems are really elegant and I have three in stock currently.

eScan - Anti-Virus being the best and easiest one ever

Still going strong - Contact judith@softwareafrica.co.za for more.

Maximizer Enterprise 9.0

Installed our software during the break and set about using it.  First port of call was laptop synchronisation, where I was impressed.  The session connected immediately and smoothly.

Next was synchronisation with my PDA via Outlook, and this really impressed.  Further details on setting this up are below.

It is the look and feel of the new version that comes home in all the new and not so new features.  There has been a real re-think about how information is presented and Opportunity Manager has been simplified and enhanced.

However, the real power behind upgrading comes with the ability to subscribe to the Product Upgrade Agreement.  This is an annual subscription which greatly reduces the cost of the product - within a 13 month period (year one) you can save 66% of the upgrade cost.  Over two years it does reduce to 33% and it is reliant on when the next version is released.  Already four of my customers have benefited from the PUA that they bought last year.

So .... why didn't everyone previously?  Because now a single user can buy PUA instead of it being only for blocks of 5 users and it can be bought for Maximizer PE version 9.0 when that is released in a few months time.  Anything that cuts your costs works for me!

Prize features - Sales Pipeline report; Crystal Reports included for real report writing; Sales Task lists as an addition to sales strategies for pumping the easier sales cycle up to power; Likelihood of close bar graph included inside the opportunity plus everything else you need to know inside the open opportunity; more key fields and their allocation to specific group views; Outlook and Office integration; and last, but not least, Maxsync for Microsoft Exchange, which means that appointments made by Outlook users are synchronised with those of Maximizer users.

When can I give you a demonstration?  Phone Judith 011 802 2685

Pastelizer 7.8.10 and 8.8.10 Released

There are several improvements to the latest two versions of Pastelizer (7.8 for Pastel 2004 with Maximizer 8 and 9, and 8.8 for Pastel 2005 with Maximizer 8 and 9 –the two versions will run in parallel until Pastel 2004 is obsolete).

Firstly, to help with the initial synchronisation between Pastel and Maximizer, there is now an option to accept the Pastel entries as definitive, even if they are not the most recent.  This is useful if staff have been doing most of their input on Pastel.

Secondly, address transfer from Pastel to Maximizer has been improved, so that Postal Codes and City are in the right place in Maximizer.

Finally, for those who want to e-mail invoices and statements, Pastelizer can set your Pastel defaults for each customer it transfers: You no longer have to go to each customer in Pastel and change the settings there.

Please remember that Pastel 2005 does not run on Pervasive 9.0 and hence is incompatible with Maximizer 9.0:  If you want to run both Maximizer 9.0 and Pastel 2005, keep them on separate machines.

You can download Pastelizer from the internet and run it as demo for testing purposes. For information and prices, and to download a copy, visit www.softwareafrica.co.za/pastelizer.htm.

Maximizer Tips - Outlook Synchronisation in Enterprise Version 9.0

Just to tantalise everyone, we'll look at the new features of this release over the next three months.  This one is really good and I am using it daily!

This feature is handled by an additional tab in File | Preferences and is called Outlook synchronisation.  The screen looks like this:

Currently, I synchronise regularly and then Outlook pushes through my appointments and tasks to my PDA.  I am not synchronising my address book entries or contacts from Outlook; however this is an option.  As you can see from the screen, it is easy to set up.  The MaxExchange location is used for laptop synchronisation with Maximizer and Outlook.

If you want to force the synchronisation, then there is a toolbar button which you click on to do it.

Next month - Looking at the Sales Pipeline Report

Excel Tips 26 – Back to Basics: SUM

Last year we asked if you would like us to continue with macros in 2006.  Responses were evenly balanced for and against: Only two readers responded.  We conclude that you are not finding Excel Tips of much use!  Is there anything you would prefer?  Please send us your questions!  In the meanwhile, we'll keep the tips short and simple in the hope that they will be more useful.

The Sigma (Σ) button on the "Standard" toolbar creates the =SUM() formula in the selected cell (or cells).  It will try to select the correct range: If there are figures above the cell, it will select up until it hits a blank cell or text.  If it gets it wrong, you can easily correct it, because recent versions of Excel outline the range (usually in blue): You can then grab the outline and drag it elsewhere, or just drag a corner.

The format of SUM is "=SUM(range)", where range is of the form cell1:cell2, e.g. =SUM(A2:A6).  However, you can use separate cells or ranges, separated by commas, e.g.  =SUM(A2:A6, A8, A10:A12).  Of course, you don't have to use the toolbar button, you can just type the formula.

What you don't need to do, is do SUM's work for it: =SUM(A2+A4+A6) is unnecessary: For that you only need =A2+A4+A6 or =SUM(A2, A4, A6) !

Remember:  We can Help you with:―

  • Writing your custom databases on Microsoft Access, or custom programs in Visual Basic.  If you can’t find that piece of software to do things your way, ask us!

  • Solving your Maximizer, Access, Excel, Word, and Lotus 123 problems.

  • Training your company on Maximizer, Excel, Word, Access and Windows.  We do all levels from beginners to Programming.

  • Software: We re-sell and support various CRM, timesheet, scheduling and productivity programs.

All the Best from the team!
Judith and Rick

Directors, Communication in Action (Pty) Ltd t/a Software Africa
PO Box 987, Gallo Manor, 2052 South Africa.
Tel: (+27 11) (011) 802-2685.  Fax: 802-4576.  Cell: 082 389-3481/2.
E-mail: info@softwareafrica.co.za

This entire newsletter is Copyright© 2006 Communication in Action (Pty) LtdPlease share it with your friends or post it on your site as long as it is left intact with all links unchanged and includes this notice.  To Subscribe to this newsletter, Click here and SEND the resulting e-mail.  To unsubscribe, Click here and SEND the resulting e-mail.

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Newsletter February 2006

Editorial

The year is moving fast with new products and new opportunities.  We now have a full range of Pastelizer for linking Maximizer and Pastel Accounting.  Strangely, Pastel 2004 works with Maximizer Enterprise 9.0, although Pastel 2005 does not because of the Pervasive 9.0 issue.

MaxiMail for mass mailing out of Maximizer PE or Enterprise from an ADSL connection is now available to solve the blacklisting problem and make sure all your customers receive the mail at the same time.  More about it below, and we are very happy to give demonstrations of both solutions.

This is fairly large newsletter this month as a result of the developments, so enjoy the read!                

Gogga

The modem is now priced according to the package that you choose.  This is a really creative option - for the NetSurf 250, the modem cost is R199.  To go for Gogga, contact Judith@softwareafrica.co.za and be truly mobile even in the bush!

The new modems are really elegant and I have three in stock currently.

eScan - Anti-Virus being the best and easiest one ever

Still going strong - Contact judith@softwareafrica.co.za for more.

Could you have a problem with the CCMA?

Do you have a system which conforms with the Department of Labour requirements for timekeeping records?  If not, how will you prove that an employee actually was present or absent at any given time?  If you end up at a CCMA hearing and cannot prove the times which were worked by your employee, you can face a penalty of up to 24 months pay.  Can your business afford to take this risk?

If your answer to this last question is "No", then Time-Binder or TimeBase may be your solution.  The two products have a slightly different slant - Time-Binder looks at times for staff working on your premises and on customer site, but "clocking" in daily at the office.  TimeBase looks at staff who are seconded to customer site.

Both can be integrated with your accounting package to produce automatic invoicing to customers.  If you want to capture times into your Payroll as well, this can be done.  We would specify the integration for both as part of our quotation.

When can I give you a demonstration?  Phone Judith 011 802 2685

MaxiMail could solve your Mass e-mailing Problems!

Would you like to send out large mail-outs (in excess of 2000) and track the results - even down to where in the document your reader clicked?

Our newest program, MaxiMail, allows for mass mailing out of Maximizer (all recent versions) to solve the blacklisting problem and make sure all your customers receive the mail at the same time.  MaxiMail works with the I-Mail mass mailing program developed by Cybertrenz (which you either license from them, or let them use to host your mail-outs).  MaxiMail uploads your Maximizer lists to I-Mail, I-Mail sends out the mailshots, and then MaxiMail downloads the new subscribers, "unsubscribes", clicks and bounces, and inserts them into your Maximizer address book and Notes.

Pastelizer 7.8.11 and 8.8.11 Available for Download

There are several improvements to the latest two versions of Pastelizer (7.8 for Pastel 2004 with Maximizer 8 and 9, and 8.8 for Pastel 2005 with Maximizer 8 and 9 –the two versions will run in parallel until Pastel 2004 is obsolete).

You can now turn the following transfer options on or off:

  • Creating new Pastel Debtors (ones that exist in Maximizer but not in Pastel)

  • Updating Pastel Debtors (they exist in both, newer in Maximizer)

  • Creating new Maximizer Clients (exist in Pastel but not in Maximizer)

  • Updating Maximizer Clients (exist in both, newer in Pastel)

  • (You must license Peer Pastelizer in order to be able to use the last two.)

    If you don't update in a particular direction, you can tell Pastelizer not to check that Debtor again (until it changes).

    These options appear at the bottom of the (first) "Open" Tab.  The option to update all Pastel debtors has been moved here too (from the "To Pastel" Tab).

    You can run with all these options off, and still transfer selected Pastel financial information to Maximizer ("To Maximizer" Tab) and do billing into Pastel (Recurring and Casual Billing Tabs).

    Please remember that Pastel 2005 does not run on Pervasive 9.0 and hence is incompatible with Maximizer 9.0:  If you want to run both Maximizer 9.0 and Pastel 2005, keep them on separate machines.

    You can download Pastelizer from the internet and run it as demo for testing purposes. For information and prices, and to download a copy, visit www.softwareafrica.co.za/pastelizer.htm.  The download is free of charge for existing customers.

    Maximizer Tips - The Sales Pipeline Report in Enterprise Version 9.0

    This report gives you a graphical representation of your forthcoming sales.   First you open the Opportunities window and select the opportunities that you wish to report on.  Next, you go to Reports | Opportunities | Pipeline Report, a dialog box appears asking you to confirm that you want to based on the selected list.  Click OK..

    The preview page will then open showing you the report.  Using the Escona database, I generated the following, which I saved as an Adobe file (but it can be saved in many other formats or printed out):

    This is the pipeline graph of the report.  Below is the rest of it.

     

    The rest of the report was then copied in from Adobe!  As you can see, it breaks down the Sales pipeline very clearly, enabling good forecasting of probable income in a period.

    Next month - Looking at the changes in Opportunities - The Sales Plan

    Excel Tips 27 – Basic Functions: AVERAGE

    The AVERAGE Function returns the arithmetic mean of the arguments. 

    The syntax is exactly like SUM i.e. "=AVERAGE(range)", where range is of the form cell1:cell2, e.g. =AVERAGE(A2:A6).  However, you can use separate cells or ranges, separated by commas, e.g.  =AVERAGE(A2:A6, A8, A10:A12).

    Tip: Watch out for blank (empty) cells: They are not the same as cells containing zero.  Zeros are counted, and will therefore reduce the average (more cells included, but nothing added to totals) whereas blank cells are not used (e.g. 7 cells in range, but 3 are blank, so the average is taken of 4 cells only).

    Remember:  We can Help you with:―

    • Writing your custom databases on Microsoft Access, or custom programs in Visual Basic.  If you can’t find that piece of software to do things your way, ask us!

    • Solving your Maximizer, Access, Excel, and Word problems.

    • Training your company on Maximizer, Excel, Word, Access and Windows.  We do all levels from beginners to Programming.

    • Software: We re-sell and support various CRM, timesheet, scheduling and productivity programs.

    All the Best from the team!
    Judith and Rick

    Directors, Communication in Action (Pty) Ltd t/a Software Africa
    PO Box 987, Gallo Manor, 2052 South Africa.
    Tel: (+27 11) (011) 802-2685.  Fax: 802-4576.  Cell: 082 389-3481/2.
    E-mail: info@softwareafrica.co.za

    This entire newsletter is Copyright© 2006 Communication in Action (Pty) LtdPlease share it with your friends or post it on your site as long as it is left intact with all links unchanged and includes this notice.  To Subscribe to this newsletter, Click here and SEND the resulting e-mail.  To unsubscribe, Click here and SEND the resulting e-mail.

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    Newsletter March 2006

    Editorial

    First an important piece of news from Microsoft:

    After 30 June 2006, Microsoft will no longer provide any incident support options or security updates for Windows 98, Windows 98 Second Edition, and Windows Me (and their related components). Now is a good time to do a final check of all your computer systems and those of your customers and migrate to the more secure and robust Windows XP.

    This means that these operating systems become legacy systems and will offer little or no protection against attacks from the Internet. 

    As these systems are also giving considerable problems with more recent software, we would recommend changing in the next few months.  You will be surprised by the performance enhancement!

    The first two months of the year have passed with unusual speed and we have taken some time to look into new products.  We will be showcasing what we have found over the next few months as we become familiar with them.               

    Gogga

    Change for March – the modem is now priced at R499.  Postage and packing are extra.  The package pricing has remained the same. To go for Gogga, contact Judith@softwareafrica.co.za and be truly mobile even in the bush!

    The new modems are really elegant and I am replenishing my stock currently.

    Broadband Gogga

    This is a new option and still being refined.  This method of internet access is much faster than entry level, however, due to the new technology being used (3G) customers may experience the following:

    • Network instability
    • Network coverage may be unavailable, but will switch to GPRS coverage automatically
    • Existing modems (PCMCIA) may cause disturbance on your PC Speakers (typical to cell phone disturbance)

    The 3G datacard taken with a 24 month package is bought at a once off cost of R1 249 including VAT but excluding postage and packing.  Contact judith@softwareafrica.co.za for more information or to purchase your high speed Gogga!

    eScan – Anti-Virus being the best and easiest one ever

    Still going strong – Contact judith@softwareafrica.co.za for more.

    PSNext – a true Project Control solution from Management Planning Systems

    This is the first of our new product offerings and we became involved with it in order to meet a specific customer need.  We will soon have demonstration software running at our offices.  We are authorised resellers and installers for the product.

    What does PSNext do?

    PSNext is the first of a new generation totally web based project management solutions with a highly interactive rich client interface.

    Project management tools are no longer just supporting project managers. Other managers such as resource managers, financial managers, operations managers, strategic planners, CEO's, and CIO's are all now served by, and participate in, this larger world of project management.  Due to the central database of projects used by PSNext, senior management have a much greater level of control. All projects and resources are available for viewing and reporting, depending on security settings.

    PSNext fully satisfies the requirements of project managers. For the first time, project managers have the traditional tools of their trade, such as Gantt charts, Network diagrams and WBS charts, available in a totally web based system, integrated with project (and other) documentation, issues, risks, extensive security and excellent reporting.

    PSNext has a number of unique features. These include: –

    ü       Easy implementation:  Due to its integrated design and simple architecture, PSNext is far easier to implement, use and maintain than other comparable systems.

    ü       Role based:  Managers only see functionality that their role requires. You only pay for the roles allocated to users.

    ü       Project Power:  PSNext uses the concept of “Work Packages” (WPs). A project may consist of many WPs. Each WP could be the responsibility of different managers in different departments. The project manager has a consolidated view of his/her project showing all WPs in that project, with network links crossing WP boundaries. Ideal for a matrix organisation.

    ü       Powerful skills management:  PSNext will help you find the right resource across the enterprise.

    ü       Flexible updating:  Actual hours and progress on tasks may be captured using a variety of methods.

    ü       Unlimited flexibility:  PSNext allows unlimited customization of data.

    ü       Robust Reporting:  PSNext probably contains the most powerful report writer in the industry, yet it is easy to create your own stunning reports.

    ü       Strong Security:  Not only is user security linked to their organisational structure and to project permissions, but in addition, any field may be given any level of security Ability to associate documents and issues to organisational units (such as departments and teams), as well as projects.

    ü       Developed in J2EE:  PSNext is fully Web enabled, running on any operating system with scalable architecture. Runs on Open Source Software.

    ü       Fully supports Project Portfolio Management.

    ü       Special features to allow easy reorganisation of business units.

    ü       And many others!

    Project Portfolio Management

    Project Management now includes an entirely new set of practices called Project Portfolio Management (PPM).  This grew out of a concern by senior management whether the projects that were being managed were the best projects for the firm to be working on.  PPM tools, such as PSNext, allow a structured, proactive prioritisation and selection of projects, as well as improved support for evaluating projects that are already in the pipeline. Please contact Judith for more information

    MaxiMail –the bulk mailing solution for ADSL users!

    This overcomes slow mailing out of Maximizer Enterprise and PE.  If you have had your marketing campaign blacklisted on web servers, then you know what a problem this can be.  If you have been running a very large mailing list through Enterprise's Campaign Manager, you may have found that your mail out takes a very long time.

    MaxiMail overcomes these problems by accessing the bulk mailing facility offered by Cybertrenz, a dynamic young ISP in Rivonia.  We liked their program I-Mail and asked if we could link it to Maximizer to make a really powerful solution for Maximizer users.  We now have a tested product – MaxiMail.

    Pastelizer 7.8.12 and 8.8.12 Released

    Pastelizer copies Customer data from Maximizer to Pastel and financial information from Pastel to Maximizer.  This allows you to separate the Accounting roles from Sales and Marketing, and buy fewer Pastel licenses.  You can create individual or bulk invoices in Pastel out of Maximizer, and optionally transfer customer data from Pastel to back Maximizer.

    There are several improvements to the latest Pastelizer (version 7.8 for Pastel 2004 with Maximizer 8 and 9, and 8.8 for Pastel 2005 with Maximizer 8 and 9 –the two will run in parallel until Pastel 2004 is obsolete).  To view the changes, click here.

    You can download Pastelizer from the internet and run it as demo for testing purposes, or just download the extensive HTML Help File. For information and prices, and to download a copy, visit this page.

    Excel Tips 28 – Basic Functions: COUNT

    The COUNT Function counts the number of cells in the target range that contain numbers.  Its syntax is exactly like SUM i.e. "=COUNT(range)", where “range” is of the usual form “cell1:cell2”, e.g. =COUNT(A2:A6).

    Watch out for blank (empty) cells: They are not the same as cells containing zero.  Zeros are counted, blank cells are not!  It can be confusing if you have turned off zero values (Tools > Options > View >Zero Values unticked).

    Tip: If you want to count all filled cells including those that contain text –not just numbers– use the COUNTA (“Count All”) function instead.

    Maximizer Tips – Looking at the changes in Opportunities – The Sales Plan in Enterprise Version 9.0

    This is less complex that setting up a Strategy!  Start by going to File | Libraries | Action Plan Library.  This opens a window, which may have no existing plans in it!

    Click on Add to start your template:

    Type in a template name and description and then add an activity by clicking on Add in the middle of the window.

    Choose whether it is to be an Appointment or a Task.  If you choose Task, this is your next window:

    The activity can be scheduled to happen before the Plan Start Date or After it.  So it allows for pre-planning of the plan!

    Look at the filled in activity above.  It can be assigned to the Current User or to any other Maximizer user.  You can check the spelling as well!.  Once you have completed your activity, click on OK.

    This gives you the updated template:

    Now, let's add an appointment:

    Put in your information about what the appointment is intended to achieve and the resources required to achieve this.  Then click on OK.

    Notice how the plan is being built up to define your sales process.  Also note that you can restrict access to the template.

    Once your plan is complete, the template will look something like this:

    This clearly states your purpose and also gives you a time frame to work with on this particular sales cycle!

    Now to use the template with your customer list!

    Find a customer for whom you have an opportunity and drag them to the Opportunities icon.  Set up the opportunity:

    Then close it!  Right click in the window and choose Schedule an Action Plan:

    Open the dropdown box and choose your plan!

    Clicking on the Advanced  button gives you this view.  Note the "Current User" is now replaced with your name and you can skip non-work days.  Click on OK.

    Now open your opportunity and click on the Sales Plans tab:

    Your plan is ready and the necessary tasks are listed for Action!  The tasks due will be in your hot list awaiting actions and appointments will be set up – note you will have to act on actually confirming the correct date and time of them as you make them with the customer!

    Useful Hint – it might be better to leave the appointments out and just make a task to set them up!

    Next month – Some Administrator set ups for Opportunities and Appointments

    Remember:  We can Help you with:―

    ·         Writing your custom databases on Microsoft Access, or custom programs in Visual Basic.  If you can’t find that piece of software to do things your way, ask us!

    ·         Solving your Maximizer, Access, Excel, Word, and Lotus 123 problems.

    ·         Training your company on Maximizer, Excel, Word, Access and Windows.  We do all levels from beginners to Programming.

    ·         Software: We re-sell and support various CRM, timesheet, scheduling and productivity programs.

    All the Best from the team!
    Judith and Rick

    Directors, Communication in Action (Pty) Ltd t/a Software Africa
    PO Box 987, Gallo Manor, 2052 South Africa.
    Tel: (+27 11) (011) 802-2685.  Fax: 802-4576.  Cell: 082 389-3481/2.
    E-mail: info@softwareafrica.co.za

    This entire newsletter is Copyright© 2006 Communication in Action (Pty) Ltd Please share it with your friends or post it on your site as long as it is left intact with all links unchanged and includes this notice.  To Subscribe to this newsletter, Click here and SEND the resulting e-mail.  To unsubscribe, Click here and SEND the resulting e-mail.

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    Newsletter April 2006

    April 2006>>

     

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