Office Tools Professional does staff scheduling, and handles client contact management, document and records management, staff scheduling and due dates, and simple time & billing. All of these are available in the $400 (sole proprietor) Professional edition. The vendor also offers other services such as remote data backup, secure file transfer and DVD training sets.

Even with all of these capabilities, Office Tools Professional is fairly simple to navigate. Choosing the desired overall function from a ribbon bar on the top of the screen brings up most of the screens pertaining to that function. This results in a rather busy screen, with different tasks for a particular function shown in separate panes. In many screens, you will need to select a particular subtask, and possibly scroll down a pane to find the data that you need or a place to enter new data. This sounds more complex than it actually is.

Installation is simple, and while the software uses MS SQL 2005 Express as the underlying database, the install routine handled the entire install with no input from us other than hitting the “Next” button. Reports are attractive and well laid out. While you can’t create custom reports, you can apply filters to many of the numerous reports supplied.

One thing to keep in mind is that while Office Tools Professional provides a lot of functions, most of them aren’t as full-featured as stand-alone applications. For example, the document and records management is pretty much an electronic filing cabinet, rather than a full-blown document management system such as Microsoft SharePoint.

But Office Tools Professional is neither as expensive as SharePoint, nor as complex to set up and use. For a smaller practice that can use its cornucopia of features, Office Tools Professional is a very good value.

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