The Attivo Blog

Feb 10 2009

Use Free "Yes/No" Fields to trigger emails with Event Manager

If you are using Exact Synergy, have you ever wanted to have Exact Event manager send an email when a particular workflow task or request is completed, but only in certain situations? Exact Event Manager triggers on certain criteria are a great way to do this, but if the keyed data isn't exactly what you want, the email may not be initiated. If you instead use a Free Yes/No Field (checkbox field) however, you can limit the trigger to two criteria: "send" or "don't send".  This means your trigger may look like this:

WHERE  dbo.Absences.FreeBoolField_05  =  1 AND dbo.Absences.Type  IN  ( 102 , 200 )
The value of "1" indicates that the box is in a checked state.  The second line adds additional conditions to the trigger: in this case, the request is one of 2 specific types. Once you complete the rest of the EVENT, you can have the email send off to a particular recipient when the box is checked.  But what if you want to trigger the same email multiple times from the same request? I was able to solve this problem by adding a little SQL update script to the end of my EVENT. In addition to sending an email when the event is triggered by the above script, my event also runs the following:
update Absences set FreeBoolField_05=0 where HID={HID} and FreeBoolField_05=1
What does this do? Well, it simply resets the checkbox from a checked state, to an unchecked state! And the "where" clause defines the specific job that JUST triggered.  The only thing that remains to be done is to allow the job to run multiple times. This is accomplished under the Description Tab of the Event under the checkbox "Repeat notification for triggered items."  If that box were left unchecked, the email would never send again, even if you had checked the box again. That's it!

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Feb 10 2009

Significantly Improved Security with QuickBooks Enterprise Suite 9.0

With the Advanced User Permissions in QuickBooks Enterprise Suite Version 9.0,  you can control your employee’s access to only the information and activities they need to do their jobs, without exposing your data to accidental or intentional misuse.  QBES 9.0 allows you to configure access control over 115 individual reports, bank accounts, lists and activities.   The system comes with 13 Predefined User Roles to make new user set-up fast and easy. Each predefined role template comes with a complete set of permissions designed for that role. You can copy and edit each role template and assign any role to any user instantly, or apply multiple roles to a single user.  Predefined roles include: Accountant, Accounts Payable, Accounts Receivable, Banking, Finance, Full Access, Inventory, Payroll Manager, Payroll Processor, Purchasing, Sales, Time Tracking, and View-only.  Check out the full description of the security capabilities in QuickBooks Enterprise Suite. My CPA constantly complained about how easy it was to change data from a prior year, for which a tax return had already been filed.  Problem solved.  And in the off-the-shelf versions of QuickBooks, such as QuickBooks Pro and QuickBooks Premier, user security over data is very limited.  Also solved in QBES. Upgrading to QuickBooks Enterprise Suite is very easy, and provides the accounting and security control that most companies really need.  As a business owner I am very impressed with the new security functions in QuickBooks Enterprise Suite Version 9.0, and  I like that I do not have to worry about my company’s data being misused.

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Jan 12 2009

Afraid to purge Macola data? Use data retention instead.

Run Macola Lean and Mean

Macola Progression SQL users that have been using Macola for a long time and have not regularly purged the database experience significantly slower processing and much longer times for report execution, invoice posting, GL subsidiary ledger posting, etc. The Attivo Group has developed a data retention utility for Progression SQL that allows the user to first archive all historical data into a separate database, and then purge their system using data retention guidelines.  In this way, NO data is lost. Using SQL tools, the program removes all data that falls outside of the date retention period.  In this way,  historical reporting and analysis can still be performed as required against the archived data, leaving the production database "lean and mean". The data retention process is rules-driven to allow a company to define which files (tables) need to be archived and how much historical data is retained in the production environment. For example, 2 years of accounts receivables invoices and payments may be sufficient for most queries. However, your company may need to keep 5 years worth of receivables information to support some contractual or legal requirements. Using the Attivo data retention utility, the company can have both. 

Designed for ongoing use

The system is designed for ongoing use, as well.  Once you define the data retention schedule, the utility will add any data records in the production company that do not already exist in the archive company, and then purge the production company of any transactions beyond the data retention period. This provides the ability for the company to perform historical trends and analysis without taking up the resources in the production environment. Daily processing will go faster since the database that is being accessed is smaller, and there are fewer records that the system will need to look through when determining what information is to be used for a given process.  Users have reported reductions of 40-60% in database size.  Data intensive processes such as MRP regeneration, invoice posting, subsidiary ledger posting to General Ledger, etc. post a dramatic improvement in processing time.  The associated database size reduction also reduces daily backup time, as well.

Save an incredible amount of time

Can this be accomplished using the purge processes already in Macola?  Absolutely.  However, the time required to purge each and every file using the native system tools will take hours and hours, spread over several days or weeks, since you can't purge the system while people are using it.  The data retention utility will accomplish the entire job within an hour or so.  That's a huge gain in productivity for a system administrator, and encourages and facilitates regular maintenance to keep your Macola system operating at peak performance.

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Jan 03 2009

Event Management, Business Activity Management, and who needs it, anyway? Tip #1

Tip #1 - In business, things will go sideways.  Be prepared.

With all of the data that we're creating every day, especially as things become more automated, how can anyone possibly keep up with all of this?  Are we expected to spend more time reading reports?  That doesn't sound very productive. In business, knowing what didn't happen, or is not going to happen as expected is very important.  Knowing what looks like a problem in the making is extremely valuable.  That's one of the things that event management and business activity managment is all about - getting some advance warning about things that are about to go sideways. A great example is customer credit - something that definitely needs to be managed.  Under the old fashion way, a customer has to show up in the 60 day (or worse) column before someone swings into motion to make some collection calls.  And then you go through the dance - "Can you send us a copy of the invoice? It's waiting approval from so-and-so who's on vacaction until next Wednesday, It's in our check run for this Thursday" etc., etc.  (Call me if you need some more of these...I've heard some beauties).  Using an Event Management system, things can be VERY different.  Let's say one of your customers just went past their terms (like 10 days past 30 days).  And you are about to ship some more product to them, only your event manager system just notified credit, and either the credit department or your system has locked down printing of pick tickets for this customer until the hold is released.  Someone in customer service has also been notified that this customer's order will not be shipped until this credit problem is resolved, and optionally, the customer has also been notified that their order is being held up until the problem is resolved.  Within hours, a few phone calls are exchanged, and the problem is resolved, while you still have some leverage with your customer.  They might be embarassed for the moment, but it was their mistake, after all.  You resolved it with them while everyone was still friends.  They received the merchandise that they needed, and you received the cash that you were owed.  And they also know to not delay payment to YOUR company when the cash requirements report is printed next time.  They know that some vendors watch, and others, not so much.  You are now on their list of vendors that is watching.  The lesson here is that like credit, which will go sideways if you are not watching (guaranteed), there are many things in business where you can be prepared, forewarned or alerted that something important needs your attention.  It doesn't matter what type of software application you are using, or how many different applications or databases might be involved, either.   Business activity management systems look for pre-defined conditions in the database, and then execute your pre-programmed instructions.  The trigger could be something as simple as an email received with a particular word in the subject line.  The response that you plan for might be simply an email to someone that can affect the outcome, or it could be a complex series of outcomes.  In our example above, it might have been a simple email to the controller or credit manager, or a combination of that email plus automated credit holds on all orders and an email notification to the customer.  You define the action to take - whatever is appropriate for the issue at hand. Put these simple and inexpensive tools to work for you - and deal with fewer fire drills every day.  Fire drills are very expensive, and take time away from your productivity.

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Dec 30 2008

Year End Closing in Macola Progression and Macola ES

It's that time again - year end closing for those companies that follow a calendar year.  There are a few unique and important processes that need to be done to properly close the year in either Macola Progression or Macola ES.  We are coming up on the calendar year end...however, these rules would apply if you had a fiscal year end as well.  If you are using Macola Progression, starting with Version 7.X,  please click here for Progression Year End Closing Procedures.  You can also access this from our website in our tech center, at http://www.attivoconsulting.com/resource_center/index/techcenter.html. If you are using Macola ES (any version), please click here for Macola ES Year End Closing Procedures..  You can also access this from our website in our tech center, at http://www.attivoconsulting.com/resource_center/index/techcenter.html. Please note - you MUST complete your normal month end closing procedures and perform these processes IN ADDITION TO your normal month end closing procedures.  If you do not have a month end closing checklist, please contact us and we will gladly provide one for you at no charge. Happy year end closing, and may I also add...good riddance to 2008!  Have a happy, healthy and prosperous 2009!

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Dec 22 2008

Stop Printing Paper - Use Free PDF Creators Instead

Everyone has "going green" on their minds today, and one of the easiest ways to do this is to stop printing most of the things that you print.  Printing to a PDF (Portable Document Format) print utility instead will not only save the paper, you will save precious time, and improve your productivity.  Remember - more productivity equals one of two things: (1) More work accomplished in the same amount of time, or (2) The same amount of work accomplished in less time.  You choose - both outcomes are good things! When you print a document, you must get up to retrieve it, along with the inevitable chores of putting paper in the printer, etc., and then do something with the paper afterwards like filing it somewhere.  Then all of that filing needs to be dealt with at some point, and put into storage.  You're probably thinking - what about the state and federal records retention requirements?  Don't I have to keep these records for 7 years?  Yes, you probably need to keep certain accounting records for that long.  but they do not have to be hard copies - it is perfectly acceptable to the IRS and others to have electronic copies of these valuable documents available rather than hard copies.  It is actually easier for auditors to use electronic copies, rather than sifting through a mountain of paper.  Which means less time spent on the audit, and the sooner the audit can be completed, the better the chance of a "no change" result. If you don't already have a PDF creator software such as Adobe Acrobat, which can cost $450 for the full version, consider one of the many FREE PDF creators.  One of my personal favorites, which I use and recommend to all my clients, is CutePDF Writer.  So far, 740,000 people have downloaded it from www.downloads.com alone.  You can also download it from www.cutepdf.com.  There is a freeware version, as well as a few other, more functional versions at very reasonable prices. The only other choice to make is where to save all these electronic documents.  They should definitely be saved where they will be backed up, such as your network server if you have one.  Come up with a scheme to store the documents, such as a master folder for "2008 Accounting", with subfolders for each month of the year below that.  When you save the documents using CutePDF, it will prompt you for a name for the document.  For those routine documents, such as accounts payable registers, come up with a short, concise recognizable name for the document and use it consistently, perhaps just changing the date at the end of the file name each time. And don't forget to start using the 2nd monitor that now sits on your desk (see my previous post) to pull up these electronic documents from your easy to navigate electronic filing systems...

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Dec 10 2008

Event-Managing the Conditional/Scheduled Report. The Right Way.

In addition to being "The Event Manager" here at Attivo, I also write many Crystal Reports, most commonly for ISOMan.  ISOMan is always asking me for a new Crystal Report displaying a different collection of Product Information for him to present to our clients' Quality and Product Managers. Sometimes we deploy these reports via some means of on-demand distribution, like the Crystal Enterprise Suite or the HTML Wizard Recrystallize.  And sometimes we deploy the reports via a scheduled job in Event Manager, sending 1 or more daily reports each afternoon at the close of the workday. Event Manager, as you may know, is fully capable of automatically running any Crystal Report and attaching them as .pdf files to an email, before spinning that email off to a predefined recipient. But what if you ONLY want that report to send off when there is data to display in the report? What if the range in data for the report varies from 0 to 100's of results? In this instance, you will need to create a conditional/scheduled report. Anyone with any experience in Event Manager knows that the first step is to create a query. We need to know WHEN to run the report.  So we begin by creating the query, adding/ linking the tables, and adding the columns and filters.  However, do not spend too much time on the columns. Why? Because we won't be needing any database columns beyond the unique ID to tell our scheduled report to run.  The columns you pick will soon be deleted once we have verified our data.  save point Once you have created your filters and your preview displays only those results you are looking for, click the SQL tab and check the box stating that you will manually edit the SQL for this query.  First, break your SQL up into it's three main components, the 'select' statement, the 'from' statement, and the 'where' clause. Next, delete everything in the select statement EXCEPT the unique column you selected earlier.

select imitmadt_sql.id
We want to COUNT the amount of times this id comes up. Remember, our REPORT which will get triggered by this query will display all the required columns. This query is to determine IF the report should be run ONLY. Our short query becomes:
select count(imitmadt_sql.id)
Skip the 'from' section and proceed to the 'where' filters you added earlier.  Assuming you created the filters correctly using the Event Manager Filters tab, you will just need to add one more 'filter' to the very end of your SQL statement.
where... imitmadt_sql.activity_cd='F' AND imitmadt_sql.aud_action='A'
Becomes
where... imitmadt_sql.activity_cd='F' AND imitmadt_sql.aud_action='A' having count (imitmadt_sql.id)>0
Note that there is no AND between the last 'where' clause and the new 'having' clause which includes the same count formula we used in the select statement earlier. This keeps this query from triggering when there are no results! Click Preview and confirm that your results should look something like this where '3' is the number of hits that came up the FIRST time you Previewed this query:
"Column1" 3
Click Save and Close and go to Events. Create a new Event that uses the query you just made and select the Reports tab. Add the report that you wanted to be conditional but didn't want to send with zero results. Remember to set the Output Type/Style. Finally, draft your Email in the email tab, add subscribers in the subscriber tab, and schedule the report. That's it, no more reports without data! If there is no report sent, your recipients will know that there was no data generated by that report for that day.

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Dec 09 2008

How to spend $179 and increase worker productivity over 15%

A few weeks ago I attended a CPA Technology Seminar.  I know what you're thinking - he gets all the good assignments!  Actually, it was pretty interesting.  Lots of new announcements from Intuit regarding their QuickBooks Enterprise 9.0 software (not your small business software anymore!)  Great third party vendor showcases, and excellent, straight-talking seminars given by seasoned veterans.  The joke of the day was about people who still work with only one monitor on their desk.  I saw a few single-monitored people leaving before lunch.  They couldn't take the embarassment any longer.  One of them even dropped their slide rule on the way out. The point was made clear though, that using a single monitor requires a user to regularly minimize what they were working on and open other applications.  And people that regularly check their email every time one comes in (like me) consume even more time with clicking the mouse and opening and closing.  Having a second monitor to bring up an electronic document for viewing eliminates the need for printing certain types of documents, as well.  This is really important, since it is estimated that it takes an average of 7 minutes for a worker to get up and retrieve a document from a shared printer (given the usual distractions, loading more paper, etc.), Numerous studies have been done that prove that the majority of workers gain a significant increase in efficiency and productivity when working with two monitors instead of one (i.e. more work gets done each day).  The average seems to be about 15-20%, which translates into 1.2-1.6 hours per day!  I can tell you from my own experience that it is definitely true.  I perform a lot of tasks where I need to have source material up on one monitor, while I work on a spreadsheet or other document on the other.  At very least, I have my email up on the left monitor while making calls using my CRM system, or when writing a blog, for example.  It only took a day or two to get used to, and now I can really tell the differnce when I don't have the second monitor (while working on my laptop, for instance). A good document management system also helps a lot - Check out Exact Synergy as an option.  I'm gradually letting go of all paper, myself, but it can be a significant behavioral change.  Most CPA offices have gone paperless when it comes to client documents, for example.  A lot of attorneys have done the same thing.  They've learned what a huge cost savings that can be for them, and that they can actually find documents when they need them.  Most personal computers out there today are already capable of supporting two monitors, so get out to Best Buy and spend $179 for another 19" monitor already!  You'll probably be best served by two of the same kind and size on your desk, so you may need to mix and match in the office a little.

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Dec 08 2008

What is productivity, really?

Productivity is the engine of profit, or, more precisely, we earn profit by being productive.  In fact, when we go to work in the morning, our goal is to return home with more profit than we had when we left, not less.  We do that by being productive.  It really isn't more complicated than that, so don't overthink this. Profit is simply the wages of being productive.  Making a profit is done by providing a good or service that is of more value to someone else than it cost you to produce.  Profit is not a bad thing...it is our responsibility! Since we all have the same fixed amount of time each day, our goal should be to continuously look for ways to improve productivity so that we can maximize our profit each day.  It is the responsible thing to do as good stewards of our available resources.  With business slowing pretty dramatically in many areas, meaning volume is down, productivity gains are pretty important just to stay even.  One sure way to gain productivity is to manage information as efficiently as possible.  Check out www.AttivoConsulting.com for some innovative ways to improve the way that you manage and use information.  And check back here regularly for tips and tricks that will keep the productivity - and profit - rolling in. Do you happen to know what "Attivo" means?

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Nov 04 2008

Blogger Bios

Productivity Man

Len Reo, General Manager, has over thirty years of industry experience in financial accounting, cost accounting, operations management, and business information systems solutions implementation across a wide range of manufacturing, service, and distribution industries. Prior to founding The Attivo Group, Len worked for Golden State Foods Corp., Durham School Services, Teradata and The Brown Jordan Company. Len graduated with a BS from Providence College, and earned his MBA degree from California Polytechnic University in Pomona. He holds APICS Certification in Production and Inventory Management (CPIM), and has served in various roles within APICS including Past President of the Los Angeles Chapter. Len is well versed in all ERP Software applications, including e-commerce, EDI, warehouse management solutions and custom application development. He is extremely insightful with Business Process Assessments, and recommendations for process improvements.

Flex Man

Terry Moore, Consultancy Manager, came to Attivo from Exact Software with over ten years experience in the software industry involving business process reviews leading to implementation of best industry practices, integration of software applications, managerial and end user training, and project management. Prior to working in the software industry Terry held leadership positions involving various combinations of Product Development, Market Development and Financial Analysis, generally with an analysis focus, for Boeing Aerospace. Terry has held key roles on corporate development teams to improve business practices, both in engineering and manufacturing. Terry holds Bachelor of Science, Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering from Purdue University and Master of Business Administration, University of La Verne. Terry earned a Certificate of completion in both Supply Chain Management and Materials Management from APICS, as well as MS SQL Server Administration and Implementation. Terry is well versed in all ERP Software applications, e-commerce, EDI, warehouse management solutions, and web applications. He is particularly talented with design and development of custom software applications and management of development projects.

SQL Man

Tony Stacey, Senior Consultant, has over thirty five years experience as an information technology specialist. As a systems engineer with IBM, Tony was instrumental in the development and implementation of major systems to the manufacturing, distribution and medical industries. Tony has also led the MIS team of Hyundai Motors of America where he directed the organization in the development of a fully functional automobile import distribution system. Tony has consulted with numerous mid-range organizations requiring his planning and programming expertise. Tony delivers ERP training and implementation support services and has extensive expertise in Microsoft SQL Server, Crystal Reports, and custom application development.

ISO Man

Claude Cormane, Director of Compliance Services, has over 25 years experience as a results-oriented manager in high tech electronics and medical device manufacturing industries. He completed his studies for a Bachelor of Science degree at the University of La Verne and has managed diverse organizations including functions within Production, Engineering, Quality Assurance, and Operations. Claude held positions including Director of Manufacturing and Quality at STM Wireless, Inc., and Director of Operations at Medstone International, Inc. before he completed his Lead Auditor credentials from the Registrar Accreditation Board in 1998. He has served as Provisional Auditor for two Registrars, as well as providing consulting for clients pursuing ISO 9001 certifications. Claude joined the Attivo Team in 2005 where he has excelled in manufacturing process optimization and ERP training & implementation as well as providing leadership for Attivo’s compliance services. Claude specializes in ISO 9001 and AS 9100 compliance consulting and certification assistance, and Quality management system design, documentation, and implementation.

The Event Manager

Joshua Eddy, Software Consultant, is a graduate of Chapman University, with a degree in Liberal Studies and a recipient of the prestigious 4 year Presidential Scholarship Award for his academic excellence. Josh has been with the Attivo Group since 2005, holding several ERP Software certifications and specializes in Document Management Systems, Workflow Process Management, Human Resource, CRM and Project Management systems. He is particularly talented with Business Intelligence Tools such as Exact Business Analytics. He works extensively with Microsoft SQL Server, Crystal Report Writing, web-based applications, e-Commerce solutions and implementation of business alerts using Event Management software.

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Synergy CRM Video Series: Creating Quotes and Orders, Step by Step

Synergy is unlike any regular CRM system. Usually, when people consider CRM, they think of just sales management: storing customer data, the sales funnel, and a phone queue. Synergy CRM is fully integrated with Exact Macola 10 ERP, allowing for seamless integration of customer data into one database. Your clients, business partners, employees and vendors are automatically associated to one another and to all relevant and important business transactions. The integration also allows you to monitor, understand, manage and maximize sales performance, as well as leverage customer information into long-term customer loyalty and retention – anytime and anywhere from your web browser or mobile device.

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