capsule review

Avidian Prophet 4.0 Personal Edition

At a Glance
  • Avidian Technologies Prophet 4.0 Personal Edition

    PCWorld Rating

If business sales leads seem to be trickling through your fingers, you need a good customer relationship management (CRM) application to help you keep closer track of your sales opportunities. Avidian's Prophet 4.0--a simple and easy-to-use CRM add-on for Microsoft's Outlook--can help you convert mere opportunities into actual sales. I tested the shipping version of the single-PC, $150 Prophet Personal Edition and found the installation straightforward, albeit a tad time-consuming. Prophet seamlessly integrates with Outlook, adding a new mail folder and toolbar to the e-mail client.

Version 4.0 introduces the ability to set follow-up actions at each sales stage. It also offers improved search capabilities, with a greater array of filter types, and additional reporting templates and filters. The reporting tools are a notch better than I expected from this simple CRM application, which even includes a basic sales forecast.

Clicking the Opportunity icon within Prophet's Outlook toolbar calls up a form to describe and categorize the sales lead, and to associate it with an Outlook contact. You can add tasks to each opportunity, too, such as a reminder to prepare for a sales presentation.

Prophet comes in three flavors. The Personal Edition, which is aimed at individual users, lets you manage your sales opportunities in Outlook, track incoming and outgoing e-mail, send personalized group e-mail, and share sales data by e-mail or peer-to-peer over a network connection. The Professional Edition ($300), designed for sales teams, adds data-sharing capabilities over a central server; centralized team reporting; and a Sales Assistant that automates follow-up e-mail and appointment scheduling. The Enterprise Edition ($400) is appropriate for larger teams with longer and more-complex selling cycles; it adds workflow management capabilities such as advanced user permissions. (For mobile users, Avidian offers Prophet 4.0 extensions for Palm, Windows Mobile, and Pocket PC.)

Among all the CRM offerings on the market--from venerable stand-alone packages such as Sage's Act to online services such as Salesforce.com--Prophet competes most closely with Microsoft's own add-in for Outlook, Business Contact Manager (BCM). In this head-to-head comparison, Prophet outshines BCM thanks to its data-sharing options (as well as to the more full-featured team reporting in the Professional and Enterprise packages). However, BCM costs less than Prophet, particularly when it's acquired as a bundle in some editions of Office 2007. Furthermore, BCM offers better accounting-system integration, via Microsoft Office Accounting.

If you're not a fan of Microsoft Outlook, you're unlikely to switch to it for the sake of running Prophet. If you already use Outlook, though, Prophet is worth considering if you'd like to integrate CRM capabilities within Outlook and manage just one contact database.

Richard Morochove

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    Pros

    • Easy to use, even for CRM neophytes

    Cons

    • Requires Microsoft Outlook
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