Relationship management software makes contact and activity lists available to the entire enterprise

InterAction from Interface Software is an enterprisewide contact management software package for Windows-based systems. With InterAction, you can create contact and activity lists for companywide access. Users can create their own contact lists and share them with other users through complex security relationships.

InterAction has two components: an administration program for administering the system, and a client application so users can retrieve information. Administrator, the administration software, runs on Windows NT or Windows 95; the client software runs on any Windows release. In addition, InterAction software requires a SQL database, so you must have a server running an Oracle, Sybase, or Microsoft SQL Server database.

Setup and Installation
Installing InterAction requires preplanning and technical setup. Before installing the software, you must set up a database on your database server. Naturally, the first question any database administrator will ask is, "How large must the database be?" Unfortunately, the InterAction documentation doesn't include information about database size or guidelines based on company size, so you're on your own.

After you set up your database, you're ready to install the InterAction Administrator. This program lets you configure the InterAction Directory Server, the database that contains all the tables and records for InterAction, and set up other information such as users, groups, relationship types, address types, and activity types. The first time you run the InterAction Administrator, you must set up the Master Directory Server and assign it a name, administrator account, and password. After you set up your Master Directory Server, you can install the client software on workstations. Client software setup is fairly straightforward.

For large companies with several sites connected over WAN links, you can run the Interface NT Replication Service to reduce the amount of traffic InterAction generates on the WAN. This service automatically duplicates the information from your Master Directory Server to all Secondary Directory Servers on your WAN. Users in remote offices can then retrieve the information from their secondary InterAction server, the server on their LAN, and configure the system to automatically publish updates back to the master InterAction server.

InterAction groups data in directories. The two categories of directories are person directories, for information including contact people; and company directories, for lists of companies. Each type of directory lets you create listings with different attributes for each listing. Not only can you track standard contact information, such as name, address, phone number, electronic contact information (fax number, Web address, and email addresses), but you can track information such as a person's position, special notes, and activities. Screen 1 shows some example data. When you create certain entries, such as an activity entry, you can set a scope for that entry. The scope defines who can view the entry, and scopes can be global or limited to users of the directory in question.

If a directory you need doesn't exist, InterAction lets you create it. During the creation process, the software prompts you for directory information such as name, type, and description. By default, no one but the directory's creator can access the directory. To grant access to other users, the directory's creator must edit its access rights; you can assign it read, write, link, and administration rights.

Mobile users always present a unique problem, and Interface attempts to address their needs with a special InterAction component called Mobile. This component lets you work with InterAction data, any time, anywhere. To achieve this location independence, InterAction creates a local directory server on your mobile computer. You then download information from the master database to your local machine. You can access and edit all the information in the local database as if it were on the master server database. Synchronization between local and master servers is a complicated process because another local user can update the master server before you do.

An optional module, InterAction Web Access, lets you publish information from your InterAction databases on the Web for global access. Additional information regarding the product and its capabilities is available from Interface's Web site.

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