Junxure-I is now faster and easier to use.

    Junxure-I has long been one of the better and more popular choices available to financial advisors looking for an industry specific CRM/practice management software package. The program, originally designed by Ken Golding and Greg Friedman for Friedman's planning practice, has always been a strong performer in relatively small practices, but some criticized its speed, or lack thereof, in larger environments.
    This speed problem was attributable to the fact that Junxure-I ran on an Access database. When the program was originally conceived, it's doubtful the founders envisioned the extent of the features they would eventually add, the size of some firms they would be serving or the sheer amount of data that Junxure-I would be called upon to manage. Eventually, the data processing needs of some users outstripped Junxure-I's ability to keep up.

Now In SQL
    With the release of Junxure-I version 5.0, these worries are a thing of the past. The new version of Junxure has been totally redesigned on an SQL database, which offers a number of benefits. First and foremost is data integrity. When compared with MS Access, SQL is much less susceptible to corruption. It is also more scalable. As a firm grows, SQL can grow with it, provided that additional licenses and additional hardware are purchased.
    SQL is faster. Junxure-I's speed depends upon the nature of the operation being performed, the size of the database and the number of users, but in some operations on large databases, the new SQL version performed up to 20 times faster than the old version. Security is better. SQL has many security features built in, so that administrators have granular control over the way users can interact with the database. Finally, SQL makes it easier for Junxure-I to integrate with other programs.
     only bad news about SQL is that some firms will need to purchase an SQL license in order to run it. Smaller firms with databases under 2 GB in size can run Junxure-I on the free MSDE version of SQL. Generally speaking, if the firm has less than eight employees, MSDE will work fine, provided that the 2 GB limit is not exceeded. (MSDE is optimized for five concurrent users. When more than five concurrent requests arrive at the server at the same time, MSDE will "throttle," or slow down, the speed at which requests are processed.)
    The good news is that SQL Server 2005 Express Edition, which is in late beta testing, can now be downloaded from the Microsoft Web site. This update of MSDE will allow for databases of up to 4 GB, with no throttling, so it may possibly support installations of 15 to 20 users without requiring a full SQL license. The folks at Junxure-I have already tested Junxure-I with SQL Server 2005 Express Edition, and they tell me that it works fine.

Interface Improvements
    The interface has undergone a less dramatic but significant upgrade. The main screen in the older version had evolved over time to offer more functionality, but it was beginning to look and feel a little bit dated.
    The new implementation of the main screen is a major improvement. Formerly, you had to click on a button at the top of the page to select a section (People, in this case). Depending on the button selected, the appropriate submenus would appear on the left of the screen. New users often found this arrangement confusing.
    Now, all of the navigational tools are on the left. Click on "People" and all of the submenus appear right underneath the menu heading. In the center section, light grey lines now delineate the rows and columns, making them easier to view. The arrows on the column headings make it clear to users that these columns can be sorted merely by clicking on the heading, another new feature.
    The pending action list now includes an "assigned to" field, an action type field, a process name field, "days till due" and a field for notes. The width of the columns can be adjusted by dragging them, and once they are adjusted the program will remember the user's preferences.
    The new panel on the right is divided into two sections, a search section on top and the recent client section on the bottom. It you type a term into the search box, all of the matches will be displayed below it. You can easily filter searches so that only fields applicable to clients, accounts, insurance or assets are searched. In order to filter the search, you just click the appropriate buttons directly below the search term. If nothing is checked, the program will return results from all fields. Clients' records that you have accessed recently are displayed in the lower right. Clicking on a name, either in the search results or the recent clients section, takes you to the corresponding client record.
    There have been a number of other usability improvements to the main menu. For the first time, users can check their e-mail here. The reports list has received a makeover. It now displays reports in a manner similar to the main menu. One column on the left contains the major headings, such as general reports, client reports, etc. Clicking on one of the headings displays all of the reports that fall under the heading on the right. When you click on the name of an individual report, a description of the report is displayed below.
    System alerts are improved. Junxure-I 5.0 allows users to dictate how often the system checks for alerts. The alert form now displays who entered an action, who the primary and secondary advisors to the client are, and who is the service representative for the associated client.
    The people list has undergone changes too. The style of the list has been modified, to make it more user friendly. Rules have been added to the people list, and the program will remember the last rule that you have applied. This can be very helpful. Let's say, for example, that you ran a "newsletter rule" to distribute your newsletter. The results of that rule will be visible the next time you go to the list. So, if the next day, you want to see to whom the newsletter was distributed, you can just go to the list and the names will be displayed.
    The client record (the client form in Junxure parlance) has undergone a redesign. The navigation buttons at the bottom of the screen have been removed, and new arrows have been installed at the top, a more convenient arrangement. Client records now can contain an unlimited number of addresses and phone numbers. E-mail addresses, which were somewhat difficult to locate in the old record layout, are now located in the center of the main contact page. A picture box has also been added to the main page. This allows the firm to add a jpeg file of the client to the primary record page.
    On the profile tab, a firm can now designate a primary advisor, a secondary advisor and a customer service rep for each client.

New Features
    Each client record can now be assigned an "owner." An owner can be an individual or a group. By enabling "owners," the firm can control who can and cannot view a record. The owner field can also be used with rules, so for example, you could generate a report (show name a list of all John's clients) or action (send a letter to all John's clients) based upon ownership.
    SQL also provides for "user rights." Junxure contains 108 areas that rights can be set for. If a right is set up for "everyone," or if the employee is part of a "group" that is permissioned to see (or manipulate) the record, it will be available to that employee; if not, it will be restricted. Examples of fields or views that can be restricted include: accounts, assets, estate planning documents, insurance and goals.
    Junxure-I now includes a form of automatic protection for those who accidentally delete a client record. According to Junxure-I developer Ken Golding, "Even though we require four prompts to delete a client record, we know from out tech support staff that mistakes happen more frequently than one would imagine." To protect users, the latest version backs up deleted client records to an Access database before it is deleted from Junxure-I. All of the Junxure-I data for each deleted client is backed up to that database. In an emergency, this data can be viewed with the help of technical support. Right now, they do not have an automatic restore feature, but support staff will help with the recovery of data if necessary.
    Some major enhancements to the "Actions Tab" were made. The ability to print all e-mail to a specified client for a date range has been added. Agenda items for a client can now be viewed and edited from the "Actions Tab." The search feature on the action page (accessed by clicking on the binocular icon) has been improved. Saved searches are now clearly displayed at a panel on the left. The print button adds a new level of control. From this button users can chose to print a single action, a type of action, actions within a date range or all actions.
    Text fields are now adjustable so that it is easier to view Notes, Action Descriptions and Follow-up actions. Actions can now be copied or moved from one client to another, which reduces redundancy and minimizes data entry errors.
The "Deliverables" tab includes some interesting additions. There is now an option to "add deliverable sets." With a single action, advisors can now make sure that a client (or prospect) receives a predefined collection of documents. For example, if a new client is about to open up a brokerage account at the custodian, and the client is required to fill out forms, clicking a single button will assure that the client receives all the forms. Also new: a deliverable action. This will alert the primary advisor seven days before a deliverable (like a performance update, for example) is due.
    The layout of the Assets tab is much improved. It now resembles a spreadsheet, with a grid and columns that are fully sortable. Cost basis, current value and the difference between the two are clearly visible at the bottom of the page.
    The accounts tab has been updated to include a hyperlink to the account, with user name and pin fields, so if you have permission to access your client's 401(k) account, for example, you can do so effortlessly from here. The total value of each account, which was strangely lacking in the past, has been added.
    Junxure-I continues to improve its connectivity with other programs. Client holdings can now be imported from Allbridge Solutions Web. Basic client information can be exported to a file, and then imported to NaviPlan Desktop versions. There is also some ability to import data from FolioFN.
    The program offers three options for dealing with e-mail. The first is "no e-mail handling." When using this option, Junxure will not check Outlook for e-mail at all. The firm must have an alternative method of saving e-mail.
    The second option is "Junxure e-mail handling." When this option is selected, Junxure will check the inbox on a regular basis and only bring in e-mail that matches an existing client.  You can also use the Grab Sent Items button on the options form.
    The third option is "Outlook e-mail handling." When using this option, Outlook is used for sending and receiving e-mail. Junxure then scans the Outlook inbox and sent items, grabbing all e-mail. E-mail that matches a client is added to the client record. All other e-mail goes into an unassigned e-mail form. From there it can be added to a new client or to an existing client or the address can be added to the "ignore" list.
    Of course, with all of the changes outlined above, and many more that we did not cover, there will be a small price to pay for some current users. Data must be converted from the old format to the new one. The folks at Junxure have created a program to handle this chore, and early adapters of the new version will receive free online assistance.
    Due to a rewrite of the "rules" logic, current rules that include parentheses will have to be saved again before they can be run. The move to SQL will necessitate a change to the backup routine as well. This version of Junxure must be backed up at the server. Those using the full version of SQL will now use a network backup utility to perform backups of Junxure. Those that use MSDE will have to use an MSDE management tool to configure backups.

Joel P. Bruckenstein is publisher of Virtual Office News.