The newsletter for
Key Operators of
Vol. 7, No. 1
April 24, 2007
Comments? Tips for fellow dealers? Success stories? Ideas to improve ECi technical Support? Email email@example.com
Corrections for documentation? Email docfeedback or use the online Documentation Feedback Form.
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Key Ops Dispatch, an e-mail newsletter, comes free of charge to all DDMS® customers.
In This Issue:
Hello from ECi Technical Support! Each issue features a friendly face of one of your team's support techs. In this issue of the KeyOps Dispatch:
- What's New in ECinteractive 6.9
- 11 Tips on Validating Your Data Using the EnsiteEBS Utility
- Third-Party SQL Sales Reporting Tool Requires Authorization
- Setting Up ECinteractive® 6.8 Catalogs, Rewards, Remittance
- ActionEmco, O Henry, PPI Offer PSN Stock/Price Checks
- Tech Note: Third Party Billing with Leases and GSA Orders
- Tying Meter-Related Data to Machines, Not Just Contracts
- Microsoft Windows Vista Being Tested for DDMS Clients
Barbie Grant joined us in 1994, with a bachelor's degree in accounting from University of North Alabama, four years in customer service at Household Finance Corp., and seven years as executive secretary of treasury at Reed's Office Supply, a long-time customer of ECi subsidiary DDMS. ECi Associate Vice President of Technical Support Paul Lewis calls Barbie "The anchor of our accounting knowledge in support. Barbie has quite a following of loyal customers." Barbie says, "I love my job, the people here, and our customers. It's an exciting challenge to think on your feet and take care of the customer every time you pick up the phone."
Tom Lucas first joined us in 1996 with a background in retail and customer service. He soon became our resident guru in report writer, accounting, and serialized machines and equipment. "Tom's contribution to our knowledge base and team success is phenomenal," said Paul Lewis, ECi Associate Vice President of Technical Support. "He's valued as much for his dry wit as his conscientious eye for detail."
Melissa Craycraft first joined us in 1997, with an associate degree in computer information systems and a stint as instructor at Brazosport College near Houston. She was the company's first tech to support our software for the furniture industry, and eventually gravitated into positions managing Support's first response unit and even the Training department. "But when I was in Training, I missed the variety of helping customers with advanced issues, streamlining processes and creating efficiencies," Melissa said. ECi Associate Vice President of Technical Support Paul Lewis said, "We have been thrilled with Melissa's return to front-line support. She has shown great leadership as a senior tech in Team Pinnacle."
Jimmy Regan joined us in 1998 with a bachelor's degree in marketing from Texas Wesleyan University in Fort Worth, and retail work at the Container Store. "Jimmy has a knack for investigating issues that no one else has seen and keeping fellow techs abreast of troubleshooting tips," said Paul Lewis, ECi Associate Vice President of Technical Support. “Customers like to work with him. He continually has the highest customer satisfaction ratings in the department." Jimmy said, "I really like helping customers and alleviating concerns when they're stressed. Dealers should know: You can ask anybody on your team anything, and we'll do everything we can to get you the answer."
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What's New in ECinteractive 6.9
ECi has loaded ECinteractive® and is.D-Force2® Version 6.9 onto production servers as of Monday, April 23, 2007.
Version 6.9 includes the following enhancements to your Web Storefront:
- Customers will be able to access contracts and laundry lists of frequently purchased items that have been set up in the back-end DDMS(tm) system. The Contract/Laundry List feature offers customers quick access to frequently purchased items as well as customer-specific contract items. Display of contract and laundry list items has been integrated into both the customer order screen and Quick Order for additional purchasing efficiency.
- Additional product-specific attributes and icons will be integrated into the advanced search function, offering a larger range of search specificity.
- The new Order Manager Service architecture significantly speeds up the customer checkout process, especially on larger volume orders. It eliminates the delays that sometimes occur while the Web site communicates with the back-end DDMS system to complete the order. The new application works completely in the background, queuing incoming orders from your Web storefront and submitting them to the back-end system for processing, providing much more efficient use of your system’s processing resources.
- Users will be able to view item-specific images for many products in the United Stationers and SP Richards catalogs. For example, the image for a blue Post-It® Note will actually show a blue Post-It® Note, rather than a generic yellow note or a rainbow set as in the past.
Version 6.9 also includes the following enhancements to your Admin Control Panel:
- Admin page hyperlink to your Web storefront.
- Order Management admin page enhancements for status checks and detail drill-down.
- User and Usage Reports of exportable detailed transaction history.
- Migration of Dealer Station user data, including username, password, email address, rewards points, and favorites lists. (Training is required before the migration tools are enabled on each site; details will be sent via email to ECinteractive dealers.)
For information about all released changes, use Program Updates on our Web site to look up all corrections and enhancements. For information and documentation about enhancements we've released, see also eCommerce FAQs.
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11 Tips on Validating Your Data Using the EnsiteEBS Utility
Beginning with Version 8.11, several DDMS applications work primarily with data in a SQL database. Before you can use Customer Price Plans, Price Modeling, and so on, your DDMS data must be made SQL-ready.
DBF data validation is the most important step in implementing the new SQL applications. The new Microsoft SQL architecture has very rigid rules for database fields (or data types). By comparison, DDMS’s DBF flat-file database structure has been much more lenient. Important steps are as follows:
- Validate your DBF data.
- Make adjustments as needed to address validation exceptions, and test validation again until no more exceptions are found.
- Import your compliant data into the SQL database.
Your ECi Technical Support teams offer ten tech tips to help with this process: see 11 Tips on Validating DBF Data With EnsiteEBS Utility (pdf) .
If you have additional questions about validating your data, contact your support team.
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Third-Party SQL Sales Reporting Tool Requires Authorization
With Version 8.11, ECi achieves the first phase of its graphical SQL reporting project for DDMS.
In the process of developing the Price Modeling application for Version 8.11, ECi developers utilized the Microsoft SQL Server 2000 engine to redefine DDMS sales history tables and databases and generate an industry-standard relational, normalized database schema. In order to provide this new database to dealers, the Microsoft SQL Server 2000 Desktop Edition (MSDE) is packaged with the DDMS server installation and configured during the install process. MSDE gives ECi the engine to host the SQL data to operate DDMS applications. As a result, data required for building DDMS sales history reports is now available for use.
However, the MSDE does not feature a user interface for reporting and business intelligence. Dealers may use any third party SQL reporting tool to access and manipulate the data. For example, some dealers who use Crystal Reports® or Microsoft® Access® can design and save their own reports from DDMS SQL sales data. For instructions on accessing the data, see “Third Party SQL Reporting” in Setting Up C1 Report Designer for SQL Reporting (pdf).
If you don’t already use Crystal, Access, or similar database reporting software, DDMS Version 8.11 and higher comes with a free third-party reporting tool, C1 Report Designer, which is geared for SQL developers who are familiar with designing SQL queries and reports.
With authorization, you can launch the C1 Report Designer from the Keyop Menu in DDMS Version 8.11 or higher. C1 entails using Stuctured Query Language (SQL) statements, a relational database industry standard for manipulating data, to define SQL statements and reports. You can select from lists of fields and limits, customize each report’s display, and manage saved formats.
To obtain authorization for C1 Report Designer, a principal of your dealership or company must sign an agreement, Authorization Request For Third-Party C1 Report Designer.
For instructions on accessing the data, see Setting Up C1 Report Designer for SQL Reporting (pdf).
Other users can view and print your saved C1 reports in the Report Preview application, from the DDMS Reports menu. Report Preview can send the output to the printer, or export to Excel, PDF, or other options. For instructions on Report Preview, see your online help.
Please note: ECi supports the accuracy and integrity of the data in the new SQL tables, as required to operate DDMS applications. However, ECi has no plans to support custom SQL statements or the third-party SQL Reporting tools, including C1 Report Designer.
Upcoming enhancements include SQL formats for standard DDMS sales reports and a wizard-like interface to modify these reports. ECi will inform DDMS customers via email when these enhancements are ready for release.
ComponentOne’s HelpCentral offers documentation and a community forum (http://helpcentral.componentone.com) to support C1 Report Designer, which is part of ComponentOne Studio® and ComponentOne Reports™ for .NET Designer Edition.
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Setting Up ECinteractive® 6.8 Catalogs, Rewards, Remittance
We released ECinteractive and is.D-Force version 6.8 in March, with three highly popular features to help you build your online business. We’ve also published tech notes to help you implement each feature.
Note: To take advantage of ECinteractive and is.D-Force version 6.8, you should be running DDMS Version 8.11.40 or higher on your DDMS server. To request your software update, contact firstname.lastname@example.org, and include your account number, contact name, company name, shipping address, and phone number.
- ECinteractive Catalog Management lets you limit the number of global catalogs your site uses, which speeds up the catalog search results, and prevents overloading the servers. Dealers can assign specific catalogs to ECinteractive users. Before you create user accounts, you may want to get your custom items and catalogs set up so that you can assign them to accounts as you create them. For detailed instructions, see Setting Up Catalogs in ECinteractive (pdf).
- Create multiple incentive programs to reward your customers with points for each dollar they spend. Customers can use accumulated points to purchase additional products, based on the point value you assign to the reward items. Unique to ECinteractive is the ability to award points to individual users, even if they are not the final approver of the order, and the option to apply all of a customer's reward points to a single reward account. For detailed instructions, see Using Point Rewards in ECinteractive (pdf).
- Simplify your receivables with the online accounts receivable (remittance) feature released in ECinteractive and is.D-Force 2® 6.8. Let specified user accounts access their outstanding A/R balances from the backend system. Customers can now select invoices to pay, print a remittance form and mail it with payment. For detailed instructions, see Using Online A/R in ECinteractive (pdf).
See also eCommerce FAQs and What’s New in ECinteractive (pdf).
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ActionEmco, O Henry, PPI Offer
PSN Stock and Price Checks
Thanks to recent enhancements on the ECi Private Supply Network, you can now look up stock availability and pricing with ActionEmco, O Henry, and PPI from both text based and graphical order entry.
- The biggest difference with ActionEmco is because of their merger, we use "EMCO" as the vendor id for PSN. That means that even if Action is set up in your Vendor database, you must enter EMCO as the destination ID. For detailed instructions, see Setting Up and Using the ActionEmco PSN (pdf).
The stock and price check enhancement was enabled on the PSN server, and does not require a software update as long as you have already loaded DDMS Version 8.10.42-A or higher. If you need assistance setting up your PSN vendor communications, please contact your ECi Technical Support team.
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Tech Note: Third Party Billing
With Leases and GSA Orders
Do you take furniture orders for a leasing company, inter-market dealer, and for GSA customers?
Third party billing allows the sales history to be created for the customer receiving the product, while the accounts receivable is created for the company (third party) who will be paying the invoice.
For detailed instructions on setting up and using third party billing, see Third Party Billing (pdf).
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Tying Meter-Related Data to Machines, Not Just Contracts
To assist machine dealers with tracking performance data for the life of each serialized machine, some meter-related data has been shifted from the Customer Contracts Meter tab to the Machine Detail Meters tab, as of DDMS version 8.11.
As a result, meter-related history is kept with the machine, rather than being tied to a contract with a particular customer.
Further enhancements also allow machine dealers to be more consistent when setting up multiple meters per machine, for example, when setting one to track black copies and one to track color copies. This consistency can help set the stage for reporting your machine service and performance data to BEI Services (www.beiservices.com). Due out in April 2007, Version 8.12 of DDMS Machines & Equipment edition will feature a new application that extracts dealers’ serialized information to create reports for BEI Services.
To learn how to set up your machine meters, convert existing meters if necessary, and set up the department break-out for meters in your Contract Types Department Tab, see Machine Meter Enhancements (pdf).
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Microsoft Windows Vista Being Tested for DDMS Clients
Microsoft released a new workstation operating system called Windows® Vista™. In the wake of this news, we would like to provide guidance for DDMS dealers who are considering upgrading, and allay concerns about support for older operating systems.
DDMS Clients. Vista is not yet an approved operating system for DDMS® clients. ECi has begun testing our software’s compatibility with the Windows Vista Business edition, and is considering the Vista Ultimate edition.
As with Windows XP Home, the Vista Home editions are NOT considered business-calibre operating systems, and will not run the DDMS software.
For workstation purchases, we continue to advise dealers to comply with our System Requirements.
ECi continues to support DDMS client software loaded on Windows 2000 SP 4 and XP Pro. Microsoft’s Life-Cycle Policy indicates that Windows XP Professional licenses will be kept available via retail through Jan. 29, 2008, and through system builders through Jan. 29, 2009. We have verified that our own suppliers, including Hewlett-Packard and Dell, continue to sell workstations with Windows XP Pro, which meets our requirements.
As ECi completes Vista testing, we will update our System Requirements and inform dealers via email.
DDMS Servers. For servers running DDMS business systems, ECi continues to support Windows Server 2000, and Windows Server 2003, depending on the dealership’s business needs.
Windows Vista is NOT considered a server-calibre operating system. Microsoft is still beta testing its next-generation server, codenamed Longhorn.
For more information, see our System Requirements.
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