Readers based their votes for favorite business applications on a commitment to gaining competitive advantage through superior information and software flexibility, ease of use, and integration capabilities. Here are the three products readers chose as the top business applications.

Best CRM Software. Microsoft claimed its first of two business-application awards with Microsoft Business Solutions CRM's win as top customer relationship management (CRM) software. Readers noted the product's flexibility and ease of use in managing leads, opportunities, and incidents. Microsoft CRM offers integrated Customer Service and Sales modules. The Customer Service module helps you identify needs, then meet those needs using automated request routing, case management, communication tracking, and auto-response email. The module integrates with Microsoft Business Solutions Financial Management to map data such as accounts, contacts, product catalogs, orders, and price lists. The Sales module lets you route leads, track opportunities, and establish workflow rules for sales automation.

Best Document-Management/Imaging Software. Server-based, Web-accessible activePDF DocConverter claimed 75 percent of the votes in this category. DocConverter dynamically converts more than 280 file formats to PDF and supports conversion of more than 40 image types. An ActiveScripting interface provides post-conversion output control, letting you email output, post it to a Web site, or store it in a database and move it across file servers. DocConverter creates intelligent PDFs and offers a remote-submission COM component. Because you install DocConverter on a server (together with activePDF Server), you save license, installation, training, and maintenance costs compared to the alternative individual desktop software setup.

Best Financial Application. Great Plains earned Microsoft a second award for business applications, topping 20 other write-in contenders in this category. Great Plains comprises 53 integrated modules for enhancing visibility and control of business finances. Eleven of those modules help you perform core financial management functions such as payables management, general ledger, multicurrency management, and ebanking. Other modules target analytic, distribution, e-commerce, HR, manufacturing, and project management needs. A Web-based business portal provides role-based access to current information for employees, customers, and partners across your organization.

Best Business Applications
Best Customer Relationship Management Software
Microsoft Business Solutions CRM
425-882-8080,
http://www.microsoft.com
Price: Contact Microsoft for pricing
Best Document-Management/Imaging Software
activePDF, activePDF DocConverter
866-468-6733, 949-582-9002
http://www.activepdf.com
Price: Starts at $1365
Best Financial Application
Microsoft Business Solutions-Great Plains
425-882-8080,
http://www.microsoft.com
Price: Standard Edition starts at $4500;
Professional Edition starts at $6500