In 2007, when I returned to ACS after pursuing graduate studies, the iPhone was a relatively new phenomenon and the iPad was little more than an idea on a drawing board. Amazon also had yet to release the Kindle. Now, all these products are central tools exploited by many publishers. In less than four years, the worlds of publishing and marketing have undergone significant changes. Publishers have increasingly been looking at how best to digitize their content, and then monetize that digital content. They have re-oriented their marketing to reach consumers via new electronic means. At the same time, in this world of digitization, some publishers have been successful at increasing print circulation, often through the use of innovative marketing to a core demographic through both print and digital avenues.
Advantage is also changing to keep pace and evolve to meet these new demands. Advantage is a powerful tool that allows publishers to deliver content to consumers, analyze the sales of that content, connect with new prospects, and consequently market their products intelligently. In order to take advantage of the thousands of development hours put into Advantage each year, however, it's essential to have a plan for regularly upgrading your Advantage software package.
ACS typically recommends that an upgrade be considered every year or two. By upgrading on a regular basis, you can be assured that you will be receiving new features which will allow you to better market and deliver your content, as well as cutting overhead costs by doing these more efficiently. Having a regular upgrade plan also makes each upgrade smoother and more cost effective. Shorter intervals between upgrades ensure that your staff remains familiar with upgrade methodology and responsibilities, as well as providing a more manageable number of new features to implement. As any circulation manager, marketing director, or head of IT can tell you, there are many projects and tasks competing for their time. Having a regularly scheduled upgrade ensures that everyone can plan accordingly and set aside time for the upgrade to occur at regular intervals. This also ensures that upgrade responsibilities are manageable in addition to other obligations.
We complete 15-20 upgrade projects each year, and so have been able to develop a proven upgrade methodology to ensure efficient, well-managed upgrades. If you haven't already, why not talk to your ACS account manager today about setting up a regular schedule of upgrades?
Upgrade activity was busy in recent months as a number of clients moved to new releases of Advantage.
MOTOR went live on Advantage 10 R1 in early April and, due to their thorough testing procedures, the go live was nearly flawless.
Todd Ladson, Motor's Director of Financial Services, had this to say to ACS: "I just wanted to drop a note to let you know how smoothly MOTOR's upgrade to 2010R1 went. With Paul DesRosiers' leadership throughout the process and the support of your employees such as PhilippeRowland, Larry Kleber, Martha Krieg and of course, my favorite, Ken Darnell, the upgrade went extremely smooth. We have been live for the last 2 ½ weeks with no problems at all (and I mean no problems)."
National Auto Research (Black Book) upgraded from 2005R2 to 2009R2. They have 2 production areas - Black Book and Veretech Holdings, Inc., a company acquired in March, 2007. Veretech is a much simpler configuration (PRO Only) and they went live February 1, 2010. Black Book went live the weekend of April 3rd, 2010. Both go-lives were relatively uneventful thanks to Paul DesRosiers and his team.
"The time Paul spent with us onsite going over the Upgrade Audit results and Schema changes proved to be invaluable," says Ricky Land of NAR. "We were able to get both upgrade areas configured properly and moved into setup and testing much sooner than scheduled. Most importantly, our upgrade was completed on time and under budget, which is going to allow us to pursue some much needed custom mods!"
American Psychiatric Association also went live on 9r2 in March.
Congratulations to these clients on successful upgrades!
"Whether it involves tweaking renewal Invoice forms or working with System Upgrades over the years, Martha is thorough, conscientious, and keen on details," says Peter Loftus, of Standard Rate and Data Service (SRDS). "She is expedient in tackling problems and issues and she goes out of her way to make herself readily available. She has a great temperament and no job seems too big for Martha."
Martha is a member of the Upgrades and IT department led by Ray Zick, and serves as an upgrade engineer for a dozen or so clients each year. As one project winds down to completion, the next is entering the initial busy stage. Upgrade projects happen in four phases: first, the upgrade audit, which may take anywhere from a week to a day. Second is the code configuration, which ranges from two days to two weeks. The third component, testing, can take as long as several months, depending on the complexity. Finally comes the week or two immediately after the cutover to the new revision. During the time the client is testing the new software and immediately after the go-live, Martha acts as a triage person—fixing the things she can and sending the rest to the appropriate ACS engineer.
Ev Acton, Support Center manager, frequently works with Martha. "Martha does a great job of explaining issues to clients at a level that they can understand," says Ev. "She is always VERY willing to help out our customers and it really shows. She's very patient, which many clients really appreciate."
One reason that Martha enjoys working on upgrades is the direct client contact. She has built relationships with a number of clients that she has worked with over the years. One such client is Dottie Thomas of Army Times Publishing. Martha took time on a recent family vacation trip to stop and have dinner with Dottie. "Martha is wonderful," says Dottie. "We at Army Times have worked with her mostly on our upgrades, with an occasional problem solution/fix here and there. Professionally, she is always responsive to our needs and her work is always accurate. Additionally, she takes the time to explain what she did and why. Personally, she is a really nice, interesting person and fun to be around (and she has a really nice family!)."
Martha excels at handling masses of data and detail and she puts these skills to good use in working on upgrades. The initial code compare between the previous version and the new is an exercise in detail which Martha truly enjoys.
Perhaps it is her training in Library Science that makes that kind of detail child's play to her. A native of Ohio, Martha began her education with a bachelor's of arts in English from the College Of Wooster in Ohio. She and husband, Larry, then moved to Michigan so that she could attend graduate school at the University of Michigan, and they have lived in the area ever since. Martha earned a master's degree in Romance Linguistics and one in Library Science, but jobs in the teaching and library fields were hard to come by at that time. She went back to school and earned a PhD in Romance Linguistics at U of M, but as jobs in the field were still scarce, after working as a proofreader at the Middle English Dictionary. she thought computer science would be more practical. She signed up for some computer classes at a local college, and there she found her new profession. She began teaching computer programming at Eastern Michigan University and the local community college, and returned to school again, this time earning a master's degree in computer science from U of M. And somewhere in there, she found time to raise three children.
Martha then decided to enter the corporate world, and joined ACS (then T & B Computing) in 1995. She worked on the CIR team, led by Karl Davis, where she did some software development and worked in the technical support area. She began working on upgrades a few years later.
Paul DesRosiers, Project Director for Upgrades, can't say enough about her. "Martha is our 'go-to' person for Upgrade Audits because of her thoroughness and attention to detail. I can always count on her to complete the task on time and completely," says Paul.
He goes on to say: "She also receives kudos from clients for her thorough responses and analysis of issues. It isn't the simple ‘I've fixed it, try it again' type of response either. She describes her analysis, explains the impact on other areas of the software, suggests areas to test and confirm, as well as documenting her change and why it needed to be changed. Many clients are very appreciative of the extra information that she provides."
Paul credits Martha with making his job easier. "Her hard work has ensured countless successful upgrades and has been instrumental in making our clients more stable and more knowledgeable. Martha builds confidence in our ability to successfully complete projects for them," he explains.
Martha lives in Ypsilanti, Michigan with her husband, Larry, a retired college professor, and two cats. Her married daughter lives close by and Martha enjoys spending time with her 4- year-old grandson. Her daughter is expecting a second child in September. Martha's other two children live out of state—her son in Seattle and her other daughter in Washington, DC. As their children were growing up, Martha and Larry opened their home to a series of 10 exchange students as part of the Youth for Understanding program. She keeps in touch with them all over the world. She and Larry have become second parents to Megumi, their final exchange student, a young woman from Japan, who has come back numerous times to visit and lived with them when she attended college here. At Megumi's recent wedding, Martha and Larry were accorded the same honor as the bride's birth parents.
Martha's interests and hobbies are many and varied. Her fascination with medieval times has led her to participate in medieval reenactments, sew the old-fashioned garments, and sing in a medieval choir. But that's not all—she has won prizes at the state fair for her bobbin lace-making, and she grows peonies, iris, and daylilies. She is also a lay associate of the Cistercian (also called Trappist) order and participates in many activities with that order and with her local parish. Martha speaks fluent Spanish, and also knows French and Italian. She has translated several books from these languages into English for Cistercian Publications and articles for Brill.
Even with all these activities in her life, Martha is not done learning. She remains fascinated by new technologies, and loves to learn about new features and functionality as they are added to Advantage. We could all learn something from you, Martha!
- to get new features designed to give you a competitive edge
- to realize efficiencies designed to reduce your cost of doing business
- to decrease the project length by doing upgrades more often
To help you meet this objective, we have continued to refine our project methodology and to decrease the time and resources needed to complete an upgrade. As a result, today, over two-thirds of our client base are on a revision within three years of the current (Release 2005r0 or higher). The higher this percentage goes, the more it allows us to focus resources on the current revisions of the software instead of on maintaining older releases, which is something everyone benefits from.
Who is upgrading?
2008r1 is being implemented at three sites, with go-lives for all three in April and May. Five additional clients are slated to get this release early second quarter, with another dozen clients discussing upgrade plans with their respective account managers. We will complete more than 20 upgrade projects this year, and by year's end, 12 15 clients will be on an 8r1 or higher revision.
The first client to use the 2008r1 revision in a live production environment is expected to be ACS! We use the Advantage software to track issues and have multiple users in the system every day. We also employ web capsules to show your open issues lists via the client web page. Our go-live is targeted for early April and we're currently working through the upgrade methodology like any other client would.
What's in this release?
The 2008r1 revision brings many fantastic new features and enhancements including:
- * The Global Process Request View CDSREQ. One centrally located workspace to request processes, reports, and job streams. This display also supports the scheduling of job streams.
- * CIR Subscription fields in MSTDAT scripting
- * Telesales to Teleservice redesign
- * Plus many, many more
For more information on any of the new features in the 2008r1 release, contact your ACS account manager to request a downloadable version of the full Release Notes. If you're looking for something more abbreviated, you can ask them for the ‘Highlights' document that touches on the most high profile changes of the release.
When can I get the current release?
Now! 2008r1 was released on February 15. 8R2 will be available June 9th. Contact your account manager today to start the process.