November 30, 2018 · Software

By Warren Strokes

Alphabet Soup

In the alphabet soup of computer software for businesses, there are very few standouts. One of these is SFA Outlook. So, what’s SFA stand for? Sales Force Automation, of course. SFA Outlook is not a brand name, but a class of plug-in or add-in to make Microsoft Outlook work smarter and not harder for you. Perhaps the most famous SFA Outlook plug-in was ACT, but there are now a lot more software companies making quality SFA Outlook programs.

Why Are There So Many?

Whenever one product makes money, there are bound to be a hundred other imitators usually making products inferior to the original. However, in the case of SFA Outlook plug-ins, this is not the case. The original SFA Outlook plug-in was ACT, but original is not always best in the business computer universe. Many computer experts today say that ACT is currently antiquated in comparison to many other brands of SFA Outlook plug-ins.

But ACT SFA Outlook still sells well and has just as many people who swear by it as there are people who swear at it. And you will find those many other brands with as many champions as detractors.

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Why is this? This is due to the nature of computers. Unlike many other kinds of equipment, like copiers or staplers, computers are very individual machines. Just because one hundred computers can use a particular brand of SFA Outlook does not mean that YOUR computer will be able to run it.

For all of these quirks, there are many companies out there putting out SFA Outlook plug-ins to help serve all of those cranky and individualistic computers and their components.

Because it s not only your computer’s hard drive and Outlook that your SFA Outlook add-in has to cope with, it’s also your ISP, your computer security programs and your email programs. With each new program, the chances for screw-ups and non-compatibility increase.

What Does It Do?

You know the old saying, “Computers aren t smart. They just do dumb things really fast”? Well, SFA Outlook does dumb things in Outlook very fast. They can automate a lot of time-consuming tasks for your business. Tasks that SFA Outlook programs can automate include order tracking, inventory management, sales forecast analysis and information sharing.

The best SFA Outlook plug-ins are integrated within Outlook itself, and can be used for Outlook 2000, 2003 or XP. (Oh come on no one seriously uses Vista yet!) This way, you only have to have one application up instead of two on your computer. Any applications slow your computer down, so it’s best to have as few on as possible.

Remember, SFA Outlook plug-ins are only for Microsoft Outlook. They are not made for any other word processing or office management program. They also do not work for Macs. (That might seem painfully obvious to you, but some people in business need practical advice).

Doesn’t CRM Do All Of This?

Don t confuse SFA Outlook with contact management plug-ins or add-ins. They are similar, so this confusion is only logical. They both need Outlook in order to work and both enhance qualities of Outlook to help make your job easier. Contact management programs are often known as Customer Relationship Management or CRM programs. There’s that alphabet soup again to make things a bit confusing.

But SFA Outlook add-ins imply a certain specific function within the CRM universe. So, all SFA Outlook is CRM, but not all CRM is SFA Outlook. Before you go pounding a sledgehammer into your hard drive, take a deep breath. SFA Outlook just refers to the function of making some tasks automatic in Outlook.

Or, go ahead and pound your hard drive with a sledgehammer anyway. It’s a free country. Your sledgehammer won’t automate common business tasks like SFA Outlook will, but it will probably be more therapeutic. And it may make negotiating your next raise front page news.

When you eventually get out of jail, get another job, get another PC and put Outlook back on it, you will want to be sure your next CRM program has a SFA Outlook function, because not all do. And definitely put the sledgehammer away. Smashing computers into junk never feels as good as it does that first time you do it.

About the Author: Author Bio: Warren Strokes is the co-founder and CEO of Avidian Technologies, makers of Prophet, The easiest CRM software for Outlook, SFA Outlook – Your Business Solution. For more information about Avidian, visit


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