Staffs Can Prophet From Outlook

Avidian Technologies' Prophet 2004 builds a sales force application into Microsoft's Outlook at a reasonable price.

Avidian Technologies Prophet 2004 does something that should have been done a long time ago: It builds a sales force application into Microsofts Outlook at a reasonable price.

Because the $150 Prophet 2004, which began shipping last month, sits in Outlook, I could not only sync information with my contacts but could also create tasks, track them and send e-mail—all from within the application. Furthermore, I could use Prophet to create reports detailing performance across a sales team based on any number of criteria.

The product design is clever in that user data stays in a SQL database on the client system but is accessible by other users running Prophet, provided they are connected to the network. Although this isnt a desirable feature in an enterprise, it should work for small businesses without the IT resources to manage a database. Avidian is working on a Microsoft SQL Server-based enterprise version that will be available in the first quarter of next year.

The working environment is divided into two sections: Contacts Manager and Opportunity Manager. Opportunities can be defined using standard lead stage, tracking, revenue and probability criteria. What Avidian has done well is present information in an easily digestible manner as well as give simple access to tools that help salespeople track the progress of deals. For example, I could record and track notes about opportunities from a single screen in which every note was time- and date-stamped.

The New Opportunity screen, in which lead information is recorded, can even be customized to a certain degree. Administrators can change pick list values and field names. I would have liked to reassign the data types for each field, but, unfortunately, they are set in stone.