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Are You a Small to Medium Company?

Here's How we can Improve your Business for You:

  • Train your staff on PCs, particularly the more advanced areas of Excel and Word (see more)
  • Improve your staff efficiency with Maximizer Customer Relationship Management and Productivity Manager (see below)
  • Increase accuracy by connecting Maximizer (and other packages) to Pastel Accounting (below)
  • Locate software for you (if it already exists) or, if not,
  • Write custom software so that you can do things your way (see below)
  • Create Templates to enhance your corporate identity (see below)
  • Enhance your business by registering your Internet domain
  • Make your Internet connection independent of Telkom, with an M-Web cell phone modem (below)
  • Give you free business programs and spreadsheets (bottom of page).

Develop Your Business's Skills

Knowledge is Power – it is one thing that cannot be taken away from you as long as you live!  Most Personal Computer users use 10 - 20% of the power of their programs are your users amongst them?

How much time could they save if they knew their PC programs really well?  For example, let's say you wanted to transpose a 100 by 12-cell range in Excel that was filled with formulas: You could do it manually cell by cell, but if you know a little bit about Macros, you could do it in a fraction of the time!

Here are some red-hot tips that can improve your productivity right away!  Click on the program that suits you (a new window will open – just close it to return here):  Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Word, Microsoft Access, Maximizer, Windows and other Windows Programs.

We offer hands-on training to companies in South Africa and neighbouring states on Windows, Microsoft Office, Maximizer, and Productivity Manager.  Our specialised courses include programming Microsoft Access and Excel Macros, and Spreadsheets for Engineers.  If you're not in Southern Africa, don't despair, we are also willing to sell our manuals and examples disks.


Does everyone in your office keep having to change the formatting of documents they create?  Or retyping formulas they set up elsewhere?  Or reopening old documents to change and save as new ones – and sometimes forgetting to change the name until it's too late?

What you need is a template.  All of today's word-processing programs (e.g. Microsoft Word and Lotus Word Pro) and spreadsheet programs (e.g. Microsoft Excel, Lotus 1-2-3) let you save templates.  The idea is to set up a document with all the standard stuff –formatting, formulas, logos, even  signatures– and then save it as a template: Click File > Save As, in the "Save As Type" list choose "Template" and click Save or OK.  It's a good idea to check where the Templates are being saved: some non-Microsoft programs won't automatically save into a Templates folder.

To use your template,  you then click File > New (note: In Microsoft programs, you must use the menu, the "New" toolbar button by-passes the templates).  You may have various choices, for example there may be "Tabs" at the top of the dialog box that allow you to select different categories, but you should be able to find your template.  Click on it and click New/OK. The template should be created identically to the document you based it on.

However there is a surprise: When you click Save, the program will ask you for a new file name –no chance of overwriting the template!

There is a lot that can be done with templates.  You can protect the parts that you don't want people to change.  You can add programming so that you can be filled in from a customer list, etc. etc. 

If you find the idea of setting up templates daunting, we can do it for you.  We program and customise templates for Microsoft Word, PowerPoint and Excel, and Maximizer CRM.

Get a Domain – Get an Identity!

You've spent time and money on branding your company, with letterheads, logos and corporate identity development.  So why are you still @mweb/icon/worldonline etc?

Ever wondered why the web site for South African Airways (SAA) is www.flysaa.com and not the more obvious www.saa.com?  Because Southern Auto Auction of Connecticut, USA, got the name first!  Don't let this happen to you!

Take your branding through to your own domain so that the company is www.mycompany.co.za with email addresses that reflect your brand as well: me@mycompany.co.za.

As part of our service, we will do a search to find out if your company's name is available for domain registration or, if not, what is the nearest to it.

Another advantage of your own domain is that it belongs to the company forever and you are independent of your ISP.  Later, when required, mail spooling can be set up so that the number of internal addresses is control by the company as well, instead of paying for additional mailboxes.  This is usually cost effective from 12 mail boxes onwards.

Connect to the Internet via M-Web!

Do you know that you can connect via M-Web using Vodacom 3G HSDPA or iBurst?  Either of these modems connect to your PC or laptop via a USB cable.  This lets you have internet access anywhere, anytime so long as there is a Cellphone tower in reach.  3G Download speeds are faster than ISDN and currently the 3G package costs from R249 including VAT for the connection per month.  The modem costs R1194 including VAT once off, and the SIM card and setup cost R220 including VAT once off.  Additional download packages are available.

For the above M-Web will become your ISP, and, hey – no Telkom!  Contact us for more information.

If you do use Telkom ADSL, M-Web will handle your internet connection and mailbox from R219 inclusive per month.

Pick 'n Paste

If your employees keep typing the same thing over and over, why keep doing it?  Some Microsoft programs have a clipboard that holds up to 10 items, but it only works between certain programs, and loses its contents when you shut down.

Here is a nifty little tool that acts like a permanent multi-item clipboard: Paste text onto it and it remains permanently available until you delete it (or exit without saving).  You can also make items available to your whole team: Click here.

Contact Management

Is it at all possible that you are losing sales because your salespeople are not following up when they said they would (we won't mention Webmail/Interface Media), or are harassing certain customers too often because they don't know that someone else did it just last week? (Samsung, are you listening?)  You need a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) program.  This can be as simple as a spreadsheet with the columns "Company", "Contact Name", "Phone No.", "Fax", "e-mail", "Last Contact date", "Contacted by", "Gist of Conversation", and "Next Contact Date".  You sort on the "Next Contact Date" column to find out who to contact next.

If you have Microsoft Office, you already have a rudimentary Contact Management program in the form of Outlook.  You can keep a list of addresses, and set reminders of when to contact people.  You can also download free programs like Digita Organiser.

A drawback to the above programs is that they are not easy to share amongst several salespeople.  For several users, you are much better off with a database.  In Microsoft Office Professional and higher, you already have a database –Access.  Access will create a simple Contact Management database with very little work on your part –except that you have to ask someone to write it! (tell me more...).

For better solutions, you need to look at paying for good software to do the job!  For example...


Maximizer is the solution for Customer Relationship Management. This product is now in a mature version 10.5, and comes in two versions, Entrepreneur and Group.  The latter has special tools to maximize your return from sales campaigns.  Contact us for more information.

Productivity Manager

If you are an employer, you'll have realized a sad thing:  Your employees are not as dedicated as you are. If you are really lucky (or have a good eye for choosing staff!) you may have people who work hard and are worth their salaries, but so very often there will be the loafers, the coasters, the 9-to-fivers (who are really 9:20-to-four-thirtyers) and who are protected by the unwritten employees' code that "no-one tells the boss".

We've all dealt with businesses that needed a dictionary to find out the meaning of the words "Customer Service"!  (We won't mention Telkom or SARS)  Is this happening in your business?

No-one can monitor all the staff all the time, so what do you do?  You get the staff to monitor themselves, and you then pull reports on where they spent their time.  For this you need a program that forces accountability: Productivity Manager.

Custom Solutions

It may be that neither Maximizer nor Productivity Manager quite suits your business.  If so we can develop a custom solution for you in Microsoft Access or Visual Basic. Contact us for more information.

Connect to Your Accounting Package

Firstly, are you using a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) package? (if you aren't, you are losing sales!)  Maximizer is the best CRM package and. using the MaxPal add-in. it can be easily linked to Pastel Accounting, the program "9 out 10 Accountants recommend" (but don't use themselves). There is also an add-on to link Maximizer to QuickBooks, the program your Accountant does not want you to use because it is so user-friendly.

That means no more retyping a whole list of contact details when the potential customer you have been chasing in Maximizer, finally becomes a real customer and requires billing from Pastel.  You just mark the new customer in Maximizer and the next time MaxPal runs, the Customer will automatically be created as a Debtor in Pastel, and the account number is automatically filled in for you in Maximizer.

What is more, vital details chosen by you, such as Account Balance and Credit Limit, can be brought back from Pastel into Maximizer.  This lets your sales staff decide whether a sale should be made to that customer, while keeping their sticky fingers out of the Accounts package – good security!

Secondly, we have ported the MaxPal code that communicates with Pastel, into other applications, notably Microsoft Access and Excel.  Your own in-house-written database or customer list spreadsheet can be interfaced with Pastel.  Again, no more double entry, and fewer unwanted sticky fingers in the company’s Pastel!  This is already running at a prominent Optometrist’s practice.

Thirdly, what about invoicing?  When the salesperson makes a sale, don’t they have to either (a) go into Pastel anyway to generate an invoice, or (b) get someone else to do it, thus tying up the accounting staff?

No more!  MaxPal (and of course custom code developed from it) can post an invoice directly into Pastel – into an open batch.  All that the Accounts department has to do is print and post the batch.

MaxPal can do two types of invoicing into Pastel: Recurring, and what we call “casual”.  Recurring billing is set to take place at a specific time of the month, either monthly or annually.  Casual billing takes place whenever someone asks for it, using parameters you set up and, if required, looking at Pastel’s Inventory itself for prices!

Oops, did I say “Invoicing”?  In fact MaxPal’s “Casual billing“ can create any type of Pastel document: Quotes, Sales Orders, Credit Notes, Debit Notes and yes, of course, Invoices.

Fact sheet and downloads for MaxPal.

Free Software for Your Business:

The software and spreadsheets below may be downloaded free of charge.

In the case of Shareware, if you find the program useful, we ask for a small contribution (shown below in Rand (R) if you are in Southern Africa (a SADC country), otherwise in US$). You may pay by cheque, Postal or Money Order (postal address here), or by Credit Card.

If it's not labelled "Shareware", it's CareWare.  CareWare is free, but we ask that in return you do something to improve the planet:  You decide what and how much.  Some suggestions:  Give away something you've made; help someone else; watch an hour less television; plant a tree; say encouraging words to young people, make them feel welcome on Earth (many do not)...  More about CareWare.

File Types: Windows programs will run on Windows NT/ME/2000/XP/Vista.
Excel files require Microsoft Excel 2000 or later.

Installation Instructions:

Windows programs are zipped. Unzip the file to a suitable folder (e.g. C:\Temp ) and run Setup.exe.
To get WinZip, click here.


All free programs and spreadsheets are supplied "as is" and without warranty of any kind. Under no circumstances will Communication in Action cc trading as Software Africa or any of its staff accept liability resulting from the use of, or the inability to use, these programs.  If you find any bugs, please tell us.

To start downloading, click the Download Link (first column) below, or go to the download page link:

Program & Download

Description & Link

Size & Price
(if any)

Excel Spreadsheets (some with macros)

Quotation System with Bill of Materials

Spreadsheet for producing general small business quotations. You can enter your own price lists. Output can be personalized with your company name and details.
To download, go to Quotation System page
818 KB (zipped)

Free.  Register (also free) to personalize the output.

Bank Reconciliation

Includes the "Big 4" South African Banks

Excel spreadsheet into which you can paste from the on-line statements of various banks. Reformat selected data into single-line entries for ease of sorting, with columns to check your running total against the bank's, and available balance.  Click here and SEND the resulting e-mail, and you will receive the file within minutes by return e-mail.
More about the Bank Account Reconciliation spreadsheet
490 KB zipped to 100KB. Free
Fuel Consumption Fuel Consumption Excel spreadsheet together with sample data.  Enter your kilometre readings, litres, and amount paid.  It will work out fuel consumption and cost per litre: Click Here and SEND the resulting e-mail.  Allow a few hours for a response.
More about the Fuel Consumption Spreadsheet
75 KB.  Free
Water Meter Readings Water Consumption spreadsheet with sample data, web address and instructions on submitting water readings to Johannesburg Water, with 2006/7 rates for checking your water bill: Click Here and SEND the resulting e-mail, and you will receive the file within minutes by return e-mail.  More about the Water Meter Readings Spreadsheet 70 KB.  Free
Electricity Meter Readings Spreadsheet This works like the Water Meter Readings spreadsheet and lets you enter your monthly power readings (3 phases).  It contains Eskom's latest Johannesburg Domestic Tariff charges for checking your bill.  To get it, Click here and SEND the resulting e-mail.
More about the Electricity Meter Readings Spreadsheet
61 KB.  Free 
Mattress Turning Schedule Certain mattresses require you to turn them on a regular basis.  If you don't, your guarantee may not be valid.  This spreadsheet solves the problem with a ten-year turning schedule including pictures of how the mattress should be placed.  To get it, Click here and SEND the e-mail.  Allow a few hours for a response.
More about the Mattress Turning Spreadsheet
104 KB.  Free 
ALV(9) South African Vehicle Licence Form Tired of laboriously filling out the Vehicle Licence form by hand every year? Not to mention when the Post Office or Licensing Department has run out of forms!  Help is at hand. Our macro-enabled spreadsheet (with sample default data) asks you all the questions and writes them in the right blocks.  It even crosses the boxes in response to your answers. To get it,  Click here and Send the e-mail.  Allow a few hours for a response.
More about the Vehicle Licence Form Spreadsheet
75 KB.  Free 
  What will we think of next?  What's your greatest challenge?  Let us know...  

General Tools for Windows


Windows File-Matching Utility, useful for selective backups.   Compare two folders, automatically mark newer files, user may change selection, copy files in either direction.  Version 1.8 of 8 March 2006 allows file lists to be output to a Tab-delimited file for use in Excel, and has code for setting the scroll bar on a list box.

1. 7 MB (zipped)

Source code is Shareware (R25 / $25)*

Need More?  Contact Us:

We constantly strive to improve this site.  Please tell us what you want:

For programming, templates and database needs – rick@softwareafrica.co.za
For all our details Click Here.

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