Advantage allows you to sell some of your inventory items in sets or packages. Package set-up was restructured in revision 2013R1 and moved to a tab on the inventory view (INVDAT). This Tech Tip explains how to set up a simple package--a set of items sold as one item.
Create the package item
1) First step – create the package inventory item at the inventory view (INVDAT).
- This is an item with the Package box checked.
- Also create the non-inventoried warehouse entry for this item.
2) Next step – choose a package type (CM = Component Package) and check ‘Use Component Package Price?’ checkbox. Complete the entry of the package by hitting ENTER.
3) Next, highlight the package item just entered into inventory in the item list frame and click the Packages TAB to Add the components. Paste content here. Then press OK.
4) Finally, use the package in an order. The item FINANCIAL-PKG shows as a line item at a price of 0.00 along with the three components and their respective prices.
Congratulations to the American Psychiatric Association, Gannett Government Media and Liturgy Training Publications on their recent upgrades to Advantage 2012r1.
Shruti Kulkarni spearheaded the project for APA, while the ACS team included Philippe Rowland as project manager, Linda Woodman as lead engineer, Larry Kleber as upgrade engineer, and Ray Zick as technical team leader.
At Army Times, Neal Hawkins led the charge with Philippe Rowland again serving as the ACS project manager. He was ably assisted by lead engineer Martha Krieg, upgrade engineer Larry Kleber, and tech team leader Ray Zick.
It was the first upgrade for Liturgy Training Publications and Amal Vellappillil managed the project for them. The ACS team was again Philippe Rowland,Martha Krieg, Larry Kleber and Ray Zick, with Linda Woodman, Paul DesRosiers and Eric Burbeck assisting at the end.
We’ll be exhibiting at the following trade shows and conferences this year. Plan to stop by and say hello if you’re in attendance.
- SSP (Society for Scholarly Publications), June 8-10 in San Francisco. http://www.sspnet.org/events/annual-meeting/event-home/
- Publishing Business Expo, September 23-25 in New York. http://www.publishingbusiness.com/
- Frankfurt Book Fair, October 8-13, in Frankfurt, Germany. http://www.buchmesse.de/en/fbf/
- Media Next, October 28-30 in New York. http://www.medianextshow.com/
We have an exciting list of new topics for this year as well as some popular repeats. Most topics will showcase the new .Net release of Advantage while still giving you tips to use at your current revision.
Topics of the 20+ webinars scheduled from now through the end of September include:
- Getting Around in .NET (May 13)
- FREE--2013R1 New Features (May 16)
- Packages Redesigned (May 23)
- AMB Data Entry and Administration (June 6)
- MSTPAY/ARPPAY (June 13)
- Customer Service letters (July 11)
View the rest of the schedule and reserve your spot soon by clicking the link below.
As always, email me with any questions or ideas.
The earning of premium sets can be tied to payment criteria; for example, the premium set can be earned when the order is n% paid-up. The paid-up percentage is not always straight payments against the invoice. Advantage considers miscellaneous credits, gift certificates, etc. to be recognized forms of credit/payment.
Gratis Product Orders
Gratis product orders where the freight amount was also 0.00 are always considered 100% paid up.
CIR 0.00 Orders
Subscription (CIR) orders where the order total = 0.00 are always considered 100% paid up.
Unable to Find Debit at customer receivables view
If the invoice does not exist in Accounts Receivable, the order is not considered as paid-up.
Calculation of Paid-Up on Invoices
If the invoice does not fall into one of the three categories above, the paid-up percentage is calculated as follows:
+ DISCOUNT AMOUNT
+ QUALIFYING MISCELLANEOUS CREDITS
+ OTHER SUBSCRIPTION CANCEL CREDITS
- ORIGINAL SUBSCRIPTION CANCEL CREDITS
- REFUND REQUEST THAT WAS CREDITED TOWARDS THE INVOICE
- CREDITS/REVERSALS APPLIED TO THE INVOICE
- QUALIFIED WRITE-OFF AMOUNT
These amounts are set as follows:
This is the total amount paid against the invoice. The total paid amount includes cash payments, write-offs, discounts given, cancel credits, etc.
This is the total discount given on the invoice. This could be automatic discounts given due to settings at the variance setup table (ARPTBL/VAR), manually given discounts during application of the payment, or terms code discounts. It is considered as “payment.”
Qualifying Miscellaneous Credits
These are miscellaneous credit amounts applied to the invoice where the “Classify as Cash for Premium Set Pay-up” flag is Y at the ARPTBL/GLD view. This feature was added in 2010R2. They are considered as “payment.”
Other Subscription Cancel Credits
These are credit amounts from a transaction against another subscription. For example, if you cancelled another subscription then applied that credit to this invoice, it is considered as “payment.”
Original Subscription Cancel Credits
These are credit amounts from a transaction against the subscription on this invoice. They are not considered as “payment.”
Refund Request/Reversal Credited Toward the Unpaid Invoice
These are non-cash credit amounts applied to the invoice. This could include bounced credits or declined credit card payments. These are not considered as “payment.”
Qualified Write-off Amounts
Write-offs are normally not considered as payment. However, you can set the MST option PRMERNWO to the percent of the total debit under which the write-off should be counted as payment. For example, if the PRMERNWO option is set to 5.00, then a 250.00 paid invoice could have up to 12.50 written off and still be considered paid. If the write-off amount is over 12.50, then it is not considered as “payment.” This feature was added in 2010R2.
The 2013R1 release introduced an exciting new feature which we call Workflow Events. This is the basis for functionality which will expand exponentially over time as more events and actions are supported and users discover its value.
Workflow Events provides a background service that continuously monitors events…such as payment entry or an agreement change…against configurable rules, and allows you to set up actions based on those events and rules.
Here are a few examples of how you might use the workflow event feature:
- Any time a customer is assigned to a collection agency: cancel all of the customer’s subscriptions, add a customer note, and use a pre-defined letter template to notify the customer via email.
- Any time an access agreement changes: send a notification to the CMS system.
Future uses might include such things as an “Order Complete” event. You could define a rule such that email is automatically sent to the customer any time that event occurs. An “Order Shipped” event might trigger a similar action. Perhaps an “Order Complete” event would also trigger email to the warehouse if the “rush ship” flag is set.
Advantage 2013r1 supports the following events:
- Agreement Suspension Status Changed
- Agreement Term Access Changed
- Agreement Term Deleted
- Customer Assigned to Collection Agency
- Customer Debt Written Off
- Payment Application Posted
- Statement Effort Created
If you enable an event then Advantage will start recording occurrences of that event. The Advantage API service watches for the event to be recorded. For each event, it applies any rules that have been defined. The rule can apply a set of conditions (e.g. only apply this rule to customers in the UK), and you also apply a set of actions to the rule.
This first release supports these actions:
- Assign Customer to Collection Agency
- Cancel a Customer’s Subscriptions, Agreements, Book Club Series, Standing Orders, and/or Conference Registrations
- Suspend a Customer’s Subscriptions, Agreements, Book Club Series, Standing Orders, and/or Conference Registrations
- Create a Call Record
- Create a Customer Blocking Record
- Create a Customer Note
- Send an HTTP Request (e.g. to call an HTTP web API)
- Send an Access Control Notification (a SOAP web service notification for access control changes)
- Send Email
- Send Email using a Customer Letter
- Set a Customer’s Credit Status
Workflow Events will allow actions to occur in other applications. For example, a customer order in Advantage could notify the CRM application (Salesforce.com, MS Dynamics CRM) that such an order was placed. The possibilities are endless, and this workflow technology has captured the imagination of our clients and prospects alike. See the 2013r1 Release Notes for more details.
From our inception, there has been an attitude at ACS which I’ll call “can-solve.” It means we go all-out to come up with innovative solutions to business challenges. Recently, I overheard an experienced business analyst explaining to a newer analyst out in the hallway late one Friday that “we can’t just leave this problem over the weekend for Monday. We need to take care of it. Not solving it is not an option around here.” I was struck by how eloquently the experienced ACS'er encapsulated our culture. We bend over backwards to help our clients. We take problem-solving very seriously, both professionally and personally. In fact, it’s that ACS “ownership” of the problem which our clients say makes them trust us and stay with us.
Forgive me for tooting our own horn a bit, but this “can-solve” culture is one of the differentiating characteristics of ACS. And I think it’s one of the many attributes of our company which helps to explain our growth over the last 3 years. We’ve grown by about 24% in employees since 2010 – a substantial number, especially where our headquarters is located (Michigan, USA). Why is demand up? Because our clients want us to develop more and more innovative and business-problem-solving functionality into the Advantage engine, enabling them to grow and to meet the ever-changing demands of their marketers and visionaries.
And that’s what we do. We spend about 90,000 hours a year on new development to Advantage, ever increasing its scope, reach, and application to changing business needs. The evolution of digital publishing has been reflected in our product development and our clients are using Advantage as the transactional engine to selling:
- digital magazines
- access to content
- bundles of electronic and print products
and the list goes on and on.
Our most forward-thinking clients realize that a customer’s purchase of an edition on a tablet needs to be tracked in Advantage in order to have one source of customer transactional information. Otherwise, marketing and customer service become next to impossible.
We will continue down the road of “eventing” over the coming months, continuing to enhance the structure we’ve built that allows for rule-based events and their resulting actions to be defined. This functionality has sweeping implications for integration with other applications and establishing workflows to streamline your business and improve efficiency.
We will also have a marketing forum this year to engage marketers in a conversation which will be sure to help define our roadmap for marketing development for the next 1-2 years. There will most certainly be an emphasis on mobile technology as publishing continues to move in that direction. The potential there is huge.
So if we’re already the engine in your business, you will continue to see improvements and new developments. If we’re not yet helping you run your business, please call us and let’s talk.
Until then, enjoy your spring, which hopefully has arrived wherever you live.
Nick Glauch is the newest member of the ACS Client Services division, working as a project manager reporting to Levi Hyssong. Nick worked previously at the Altarum Institute, a non-profit healthcare research and consulting company, where he spent three years as a project manager involved in electronic records adoption for rural health clinics, federally qualified health centers, and private health systems. Before that, he worked at the University of Michigan in the development office doing system implementation.
Nick earned a Bachelor’s of Arts degree from U of M in economics and philosophy, but he found early on that he had an aptitude for managing projects. In addition to his studies and job, Nick has led endowment-building campaigns on behalf of public school districts (including his hometown district of Traverse City, Michigan) and managed political campaigns for state office.
Nick rationalizes his interest in technology as an extension of his background in philosophy. Software, he says, is really the implementation of a system of logic. He taught himself Java and Python programming languages and knows his way around software code. This ability is helping him to quickly ramp up on Advantage.
Nick and his wife, Nina—an optometry student—live in Ann Arbor. When he isn’t working, Nick enjoys fly fishing and is an avid reader. He loves reading old books, philosophy journals, The Economist, and more. He is also a private pilot although he hasn’t found much time to fly recently.
ACS is very pleased to welcome Nick to the Advantage family.
Hearst Magazines UK is now live on Advantage at CDS Global, completing a five month migration project. Hearst Magazines UK is one of the largest clients for the UK division of CDS Global.
After having worked through a busy holiday season to ensure the migration was delivered on time, Hearst Magazines UK was successfully migrated onto the Advantage platform in early March.
The CDS Global core project team included: Dom Toasland, Sharon Foxon, Anne Sentance, Agi Scott, Steve Merton, Bhavya Nagaraja, and Shelton Masuku. The extraordinary efforts and contributions from the staff were fundamental in ensuring the migration was delivered successfully and met the go-live deadline.
ACS project manager Bryan Varblow was supported by the following team: Sunil Chawla, who spent the majority of his time based on site at CDS Global in the UK; Philippe Rowland and Molly Mathe, who assisted with the project tasks; Paul DesRosiers and Dave Rees, who developed customizations and provided engineering support and finally, Tim Zapawa, who provided executive direction.
This is a fantastic achievement all around: congratulations to the project and migration teams at both ACS and CDS Global for all their hard work, commitment and determination; and thanks also to everyone who has contributed.
Stop by and visit the Advantage booth at these industry exhibitions and conferences.
- UKSG (United Kingdom Serials Group), April 8 – 10, Bournemouth UK
- SSP (Society of Scholarly Publications), June 5 – 7, San Francisco
- Publishing Business Expo, September 23 – 25, New York
- Media Next (FOLIO:), October 28 – 30, New York
The Customer Search view optionally displays all current publications of the selected customer in a second lower list frame. This behavior is based on a system option added at revision 2010R3:
Option Class: CDS
Option Name: SUBLIST
When the option is set, the customer look-up dialog box includes a list of subscriptions under the customer search results. This list shows subscriptions belonging to the customer selected in the search results.
Subscriptions for Selected Customer
1) Click the Find ribbon control to open the Customer Search view.
2) The Customer Search view opens.
3) The result of your search displays all the current subscriptions of the selected customer in a second lower list frame.
To View Individual Subscription Details:
- Select the subscription line desired and click Inquire action (or Right-Click on it and choose Inquire)
- Use the up or down arrows to view the next subscription in Inquire mode
To Copy and Paste the List Frame Contents into an Excel Spreadsheet:
- Right-Click in the list frame area
- Choose Send List to Clipboard
- Open an Excel Spreadsheet
- Paste the contents of the Clipboard into Excel
There are several system options related to customer look-ups that can optimize how you search for your customer. All under the CDS Option Class, these options can make it easier for customer service representatives to find the correct customer:
CTMLKUCP (available starting at 2010r1)
This option controls the position of the cursor in the search box when doing customer look-ups. Entering the "C" option will place the cursor in the country type field. This is useful if you often look up international addresses as you avoid having to back tab to the country type field. If most of the addresses you deal with are within a single country, the "Z" option is a better choice and will put the cursor in the postal code field. The "N" option will place the cursor in the customer number field. If, in the majority of cases, you know the customer number, that may be the best default position for the cursor on a customer search.
DFADONLY (available starting at 2010r3)
By default, an SVCDAT search returns all addresses that satisfy the search criteria…this could be the default address, plus several others for the same customer. You may wish to have the system display only the default address in situations such as this. You can use the new CDS option DFADONLY (Default Address Only) to turn this behavior on. The option affects the search behavior in one of two places: SVCDAT and the Customer Lookup dialog.
When the DFADONLY option is enabled, the search result will always be the default address (and only the default address) for any matching customers---regardless of which address the criteria actually matched on.
FRSTNAME (available starting at 2010r1)
This option controls whether the first name field is available for use in customer searches without using the filter tool. Set the option to "B" to position the first name field before the last name field, or "A" to position it after the last name field. Setting this option to "N" will remove the field from the view.
SRCHWHEN (available starting at 2010r2)
Normally during customer searches at SVCDAT, you enter search criteria in the fields at the top of the screen, and then click the Search button to execute the search (you can also enter additional criteria through the filter feature, and/or provide other limiting criteria such as "search only for active customers").
You may want the search behavior to work differently---and more dynamically. You can use the CDS option SRCHWHEN to activate the new search behavior feature. The valid values are:
- ENTER: the default behavior; works as currently, and requires clicking the Search button.
- TAB: performs the search each time the search data is entered and the user tabs out of the field---there is no need to click the Search button as a separate action. This can be a way to progressively narrow your search as you enter your search criteria. It may enable you to locate the desired customer more quickly than if you had used the conventional searching.
- KEYSTROKE: performs the search each time a character is entered into a search field. This can narrow your search with each keystroke, and may enable you to locate the desired customer even more quickly than the above two methods.
The search behavior for the TAB and KEYSTROKE option settings depends on the presence of enough search criteria to effectively conduct a search. For example, if you type in just a country code the system will not perform a search. Advantage will require you to enter a few characters of additional information---such as postal code or last name---before returning search results.
The minimum amount of search criteria required for the KEYSTROKE or TAB option is at least one of the following:
- 3 characters of postal code
- 2 characters of last name
- 2 characters of company name
- 2 characters of e-mail address
- 4 characters of phone number
CITYNAME (available starting at 2010r3)
This option controls whether the City Name field is available for use in customer searches without using the filter tool. The value you provide for city in the search works as a “search contains.”
COMPNAME (available starting at 2009r1)
This option controls how values for company name are used when doing customer searches at Advantage views. This does not affect searches done during upload processes.
Use the P - Prefix setting if you want the value checked against the beginning of the company name field. For example, when looking for Holly Bookstore, you would enter "Holly.”
Use the C - Contains setting if you want the value used as a contains search. For example, when looking for Holly Hobby Bookstore, you could enter "Hobby". Note that using this setting is the equivalent of using a search filter for company with the contains operator for "Hobby". Using this option may result in slower searches than using the Prefix setting.
STR-PUB (available starting at 2007r1)
Among the available fields for the search filters at SVCDAT are Streets 1, 2, and 3, and Publication. You can tailor your searches using these fields, and include them with other search criteria set within the filters.
Perhaps, though, your customer searches routinely use Street, Publication, or both---and you do not want to defer these key fields to the search filters.
Use the CDS option STR-PUB to dictate whether street, publication, both, or neither, should display as one of the preset search fields at SVCDAT:
The Street field that is made available in the search is the same one you have indicated is "primary" for duplicate checking purposes (see below for more information).
PRIM-STR (available starting at 2007r1)
A customer's address must have a value defined for one of the three street address fields (except in the case of e-mail-only customers). Normally this is the first street field.
However, you can set a different street line to be the "primary" street (this may be desired for certain non-US Advantage installations). Use the CDS option PRIM-STR to identify the primary street address line. Advantage also uses this field in some match levels of the duplicate matching routines.
Here are some of the new features found in 2013r1. Contact your account manager to schedule your upgrade.
- A workflow events feature has been added. This feature provides a background service that continuously monitors events…such as payment entry or postings…against configurable rules, and allows you to set up actions based on those events and rules. For example, you could configure Advantage to send an email acknowledging a payment received or a change of address, or inform an external system of a subscription adjustment.
- An AMB agreement can now contain CIR subscriptions and PRO order lines (along with traditional AMB access points, these are referred to as the agreement’s “components”). This permits you to carry a set of subscribed items for a customer under a single number (the agreement ID). The components can be entered on the agreement singly, or as part of a package. In either case, renewing the AMB agreement will automatically renew the CIR subscriptions, and also cause a reorder of the PRO components.
- Pricing setup for CIR, AMB, and PRO has been consolidated under the data element of an Advantage “price code” (the price code approach replaces CIR and AMB rate codes). This can simplify and standardize your pricing setup and usage. All price setup now occurs under the item at INVDAT. Price codes do contain module-specific elements (for example, a CIR price code allows you to define valid donor types, set up block pricing or term-based pricing, etc.), but otherwise the concept spans the CIR, AMB, and PRO modules.
- In the current release, the basic architecture of workflow events has been implemented. Going forward, ACS plans to add more events and actions to the base feature.
- Advantage now offers a detailed statements feature. This allows you to gather and present multiple invoices to the customer under a single statement, with links back to the details of the creating order so that these may be easily added to the outgoing statement form. In addition, the new workflow events feature (see above) can be used to perform tasks at the “nth” statement effort…for example, to suspend or cancel some or all of a customer’s subscribed services (CIR, AMB, BCL, CEM, and STO).
- The AMB module now fully supports the renewal page number feature. As with CIR, you can have the AMB renewal process create the numbers, send them out with the renewal efforts, and use these on the way back in as a shortcut for building the full AMB renewal order.
- You can now enter multiple CIR suspends in a single customer service transaction. You could, for example, set up a customer to temporary-suspend for the first two weeks of July and the last two weeks of September, and also log an indefinite suspend beginning on December 1…all as part of one customer service action.
- On a given order, your customers may want to use a dedicated address for credit card authorization, which is neither the billing nor shipping address on the order. Advantage now permits capture of a “credit card billing address” during order entry, which is associated with the transaction going forward.
- The lengths of the Street 1, Street 2, and Street 3 address fields have been increased from 40 to 80 characters each. In addition, the City field (formerly 35 characters) and the Department field (formerly 40 characters) have been increased to 80.
- The allowable length of CIR pub codes has been increased from 3 to 16 characters. (Upgrading clients may choose to retain their current 3-character pub codes.)
After several years of bad weather in January, the Advantage User Group Steering Committee decided to move the annual user conference from January to February. This seems to have done the trick because, for the second year in a row, the weather—this year in San Antonio--was incredibly beautiful, with temperatures in the mid-70’s and sunny. By all accounts, the conference was a tremendous success, and not simply because of the weather.
There were 64 attendees representing 24 client companies. The general atmosphere was one of a warm family reunion, as clients from all over the country came together to catch up with each other, renew acquaintances and meet new friends, share some laughs, and exchange thoughts and experiences regarding Advantage.
After a welcome by Eric Fishman of APA, the conference opened with a keynote presentation by Cal Franklin, President of TN Marketing. Cal has many years of experience in direct marketing and delivered a fascinating presentation on his business and how it has adapted to changing conditions over the years. He also provided some keen insights on the meteoric explosion of social media and what it might mean for all of us.
(Above:) Eric Fishman of APA kicked off the conference.
Dick Hile provided an update on new technology developments at ACS, and Dan Heffernan gave a presentation on ACS News, Strategy, and Direction. There was a lot of interest in ACS’s 2012r2 revision, our first fully-.NET revision. Agora Publishing, having recently completed an upgrade as our first client to migrate to the fully-.NET revision, participated in a panel discussion with ACS to share a wealth of information for clients who will be upgrading to .NET soon.
User presentations throughout the conference addressed hot topics that have been creating a lot of buzz within the user community in recent months. One decidedly popular session was on OrderStream, which piqued the interest of numerous clients. OrderStream delivers a new process to standardize and unify the various uploads in Advantage across a number of modules. Many of the current upload transactions are now available through a standard Advantage XML schema. It’s very flexible, allowing you to create rules for bad data conditions, and is freely available as of 12r1. No new licensing needed.
Another presentation addressed CRM integration. Many clients are interested in using CRM products already on the market such as SalesForce and Microsoft Dynamics. ACS shared its work on eventing and how we envision using it for real-time interfaces with these CRM products.
In addition to the various presentations, there were a number of roundtable discussions where clients shared tips and tricks as well as wish-list ideas, and ACS provided updates on coming developments for the particular topic.
(Above:) Phil Montgomery led a popular, and packed, AMB roundtable session.
On Thursday evening, conference participants were treated to a private guided tour of the Alamo, after which small groups scattered to enjoy dining at one of the many restaurants along the famed San Antonio Riverwalk.
(Above:) Attendees were treated to a private guided tour of the Alamo on Thursday evening.
As yet another successful Advantage User Conference came to a close, a huge winter storm was brewing in the Midwest and Northeast. Conference participants scurried on Friday to make last-minute travel adjustments and some decided to stay in San Antonio for the weekend due to cancelled flights.
Stay tuned for word on next year’s user conference location.
(Above:) “Hats off” to Dick Hile (holding the beer stein) who is rumored to have offered after-hours client sessions at a popular Riverwalk location….
Drew Pompa is a new member of the product development team led by Howie Brooks. He joined ACS after graduating from the University of Michigan where he earned a Bachelor of Science in computer science from the engineering school.
Although he had no programming experience before college, Drew has always been a fan of technology in general. Drew likes creating computer programs and being able to see what is behind them. He explains that, in programming, you really have to balance logic and creativity. You work with limited types of constructs but within them, you can create many different things. He has a particular interest in developing functional user interfaces and in the overall usability of the software.
In addition to his technical abilities, Drew has a strong creative side. He minored in art history and he enjoys drawing and painting. He is also musical—he sings and plays guitar, bass, drums and synthesizer. He likes to record demos and mix music just for fun. And of course he couldn’t claim to be a true programmer unless he played video games, which he does enjoy.
Drew grew up in Holly, Michigan and now lives in Ann Arbor.
We welcome Drew to the Advantage family.
Stephen Whitney recently joined ACS as a member of the product development team led by Howie Brooks.
Stephen is a recent graduate of the University of Michigan and earned a Bachelor of Science in computer science from the engineering school there. With a father who is a programmer at the university, Stephen was exposed to programming at an early age and was always interested in computers. He got his start in high school, when he and a friend wrote a program using a TI-83 calculator. He likes the idea of “telling a computer what to do” and then seeing the result.
Raised in Dexter, Michigan, Stephen had a rather unusual high school experience. He attended Dexter High School for his first two years but then went to Washtenaw Technical Middle College, a charter high school that is really a community college. Stephen spent three years there, but graduated with an Associate’s degree and 52 credits that transferred to the University of Michigan. This meant he was able to graduate after 2.5 years at U of M.
When he isn’t working, Stephen enjoys playing ultimate (Frisbee), which he does twice a week with a local league. He also likes to play basketball, card games such as euchre and video games online with friends.
Welcome, Stephen, to the Advantage family.
The worldwide Advantage community was deeply saddened by the sudden death of our friend and coworker Kathie Porter in January.
Kathie was an employee of ACS for 13 years, and was a member of the Advantage user community at Wolters Kluwer Health and J. B. Lippincott for 11 years prior to that. During her years with ACS, our clients and staff greatly appreciated Kathie’s deep product knowledge and hard work. She had a special knack for leveraging her knowledge to address the practical business needs of clients. Over the years, many clients have expressed gratitude for Kathie’s exceptional skills in trouble-shooting and analysis. Kathie also became a close friend of many here at ACS, and was a fantastic team player—always willing to drop what she was doing to help someone else.
She was the recipient of many ACS kudos, accolades and other awards and commendations over the years. Here are selections from some of them (client names have been removed).
- “Kathie continues to go to extraordinary lengths to help [Client] over the remaining hurdles. They recently sent an email thanking Kathie for her dedication and exceptional effort in staying up past 1:30 a.m. to finish fixes to a crucial item on their list. This is just one example of the late nights and early mornings that Kathie has given to this project.”
- “Kathie has been an absolute star working with us on this. She has been all over the project and we would never have hit the tight deadlines without her assistance and expertise.”
- “The accounting folks absolutely love Kathie. They really appreciate being able to have direct contact with her because she quickly grasps their issues and runs with them.”
- “Kathie totally saved me with this issue. I went through two other people and in the end, Kathie was my knight in shining armor. I love that girl! You have no idea.”
- “Above all, it was Kathie who made this project the success it was. She knows the business better than anyone. She anticipated their needs, wrote reports, consulted on how to spec the mods, tested the mods, helped them to verify and adjust their business practices. And to top things off, she was available during her vacation for daily conference calls (sometimes several) in order to keep things moving in the last week before cutover.”
- “Kathie stepped in at the last minute and took charge of the AMB Roundtable at AUG after the original person fell ill. Kathie did this with her usual cheerfulness, enthusiasm and practicability. She is always totally professional, but has a way of seeing things from the user/customer point of view that is unequalled. There was a mixed group of attendees at her roundtable, but she made sure that everyone was able to take something away.”
A native of Connecticut, Kathie received a BA from the University of Pennsylvania and lived and worked in the Philadelphia area for more than a dozen years before moving to Michigan and joining ACS. The proud owner of four cats, Kathie never saw a stray she couldn't help, whether human or feline. She loved gardening and cultivated a wild meadow garden and was also an active online gamer.
She is greatly missed.
Several clients sent condolences which included their memories and experiences with Kathie. Here are excerpts from a few of them.
“I got to know Kathie through many email conversations, phone calls and also in person at several conferences and visits to Ann Arbor. There was so much to like about her: on a professional level, she was superb and everything I could hope for from a supplier – knowledgeable, questioning, delightfully frank and honest (I’m sure many people will say that!), communicative, and utterly capable. She was dedicated and professional at all times and yet never took things so seriously that there wasn’t time for a joke. She got me out of trouble on more than one occasion at a conference when I had to lead a discussion group, coming to my rescue with the answers when I got out of my depth!
On a personal level, I enjoyed catching up with her on my visits to the US, knowing that there would always be a cheerful chat or discussion on some topic of interest. Most recently, we debated the merits of Scottish single malt whiskies, arguing whether the best came from the Islands, the Highlands, or the Lowland regions. We never did get that one resolved but vowed to push on with dedicated research.
I will miss her and hope that it might bring you a small amount of comfort to know that far away in England, there will be someone that will on occasion, open a bottle of Scotch and have a silent little toast to a wonderful woman” –Andy Wright, Oxford University Press
“We were shocked and saddened to hear of Kathie’s death. We were privileged to have worked with her and the staff at APA who use Advantage held her in high regard. We were impressed with her knowledge and experience in systems, accounting, and publishing. She knew so much. Kathie helped us design our AMB application and use it successfully in our business. She was always willing to roll up her sleeves to get us through reconciliations and conversions, and to be honest, to figure out and correct the errors we brought upon ourselves. Everything was done with grace, a great sense of humor, and a true dedication to her work. We’ve lost a friend and a colleague and we share in your sorrow and loss.” – Kathy Stein, American Psychiatric Association
“Kathie helped us during one of our conversions and always had an interesting way of looking at the system and life. She always made us laugh and will be missed.”—Michelle VanArman, Crain Communications
Someone had to be the first. Advantage 2012r2—the first Advantage release totally in the .NET environment—became available last July, and although ACS went live on it immediately, Agora Publishing stepped up to the plate as the first client to implement it.
Agora is on an annual upgrade schedule. Even though this upgrade was a bit more involved—with not only new features, but also such improvements as a new user interface and the use of C# programming language for select sets—it took just 20% more time than a typical upgrade. And with NO adjustments to the original target date.
Suzanne Earley, manager of Advantage projects at Agora, gave a presentation at the recent Advantage User Group meeting describing how the upgrade went. She was assisted by Doug Moore, the Advantage project manager.
Their presentation pointed out that while retaining the functionality of prior Advantage releases and adding many new application features, the new .NET Advantage provides many system-wide enhancements. The major system-wide changes involve the way you navigate through Advantage, the introduction of the "ribbon," and the replacement of the Advantage tools with C# programming language for select sets. Code deployment is also quite a bit more organized and streamlined.
Agora is very pleased with the release. As the guinea pig, they uncovered numerous issues that have now been resolved, making the upgrade process even easier for the second, third and subsequent clients.
Some amount of training will be necessary for these main areas: navigation, select sets and ribbon customization, as well as for the new features each client chooses to implement. Navigation training was pretty straightforward while select set training was expected to be rather gnarly. However, all agreed that it went more smoothly than expected, and the introduction of C# means that it will be easier to hire and train new employees from the large pool of C# savvy people.
Users at Agora gave positive feedback on the overall usability of the new release and especially liked the ribbon. “The Ribbon customization has been hugely beneficial in streamlining the individual teams’ needs within the system,” reports Suzanne. She went on to comment: “The search function from the menu has made administrators' jobs easier. It’s not necessary to remember all the views that you need to go to randomly for system setup projects.”
The other key area involves deployment. In the past, ACS would provide individual code components for the client to rotate into production, but now ACS pre-compiles and delivers just one set of code. The code is all maintained at ACS which helps with configuration management and reduces code rotation errors. It also means that users can stay in the system during code rotation. “The .NET version does not require users to get out of the system to rotate a new piece of code,” explains Suzanne. “They just receive a pop-up letting them know that a new version is available.”
Once a client is on a .NET release, code deployment should be a simple matter. The system administrator can see a list of all the software changes and can request a deployment package from ACS with the code that they want.
You’re probably thinking at this point that a change of this magnitude can’t be ALL rosy. And, yes, there were some challenges with the release.
New version deployment is normally inclusive of all the fixes since a client’s last update, which is a change from the previous approach. Although it may seem that the number of changes to test with each update is overwhelming, this is only the case for the first .NET upgrade, which involves a new platform, language and underlying code. They will be easier from then on, and the more often a client gets updates, the simpler the testing will be. ACS is still reviewing deployment options, so please discuss your needs with your account manager.
Agora team leader Suzanne Earley wishes to thank the many people—too numerous to list--at Agora that participated in the project.
The ACS project team for this upgrade included Doug Moore, project manager, John Moore, lead engineer, and Angie Moore, project analyst, with additional support from Scott Ghormley, Ashley Richter, Dick Hile, Ray Zick, Larry Kleber and Matt Varblow.
See your Advantage Account Manager to discuss your upgrade to .NET.
A-lehdet—Finland’s third-largest publisher—recently went live on Advantage after an exciting and complex implementation project. Based in Helsinki, A-lehdet publishes 18 consumer magazines, many in the women’s and home style categories.
The extensive project had many complex technical requirements, which were managed by a phenomenal project team spread across 6,000 miles from Helsinki to Ann Arbor, and involved numerous cooold days and looong nights in Helsinki.
As a publisher of high-circulation consumer magazines, A-lehdet relies primarily on the Advantage subscription functionality, making heavy use of the new OrderStream upload powerhouse – to the tune of nearly 10,000 orders each day.
In addition to project manager Eric Burbeck and lead engineer Karl Davis, the ACS project team included Tom Hermans, Levi Hyssong, Paul DesRosiers, Dave Rees, and Jim Austin.
The core A-lehdet project team was made up of Oili Kalm-Parantainen, Timo Kurkikangas, Mika Sahlman, and Eija Rauhala, and was managed by Pekka Kivenjuuri of Deloitte Finland.
Congratulations to all involved!
In February 2014, the SEPA standard for Direct Debit will become compulsory for the full Euro zone. All European countries outside of this Euro zone will have until 2016 to comply.
SEPA (Single European Payment Area) is a project carried out by all European countries to develop a common standard on all payment methods. This standard will replace current standards that vary widely country by country, especially for Direct Debit.
Among major changes introduced by SEPA are:
- the BIC/IBAN format will be the standard for bank accounts
- authorizations will be handled through a mandate that the vendor will manage instead of the bank
- a new XML exchange file will be established between banks and companies for all of Europe
ACS anticipated and prepared for the new standard. The BIC/IBAN format can be set up beginning with the 2012R3 release and the XML file format is available in release 2013R1. Advantage already provides other features that enable handling of other aspects of SEPA, such as mandates.
All Advantage clients that wish to move SEPA must contact their account manager in order to schedule this change. As banks will become more and more occupied with these projects when the cut-over date gets closer, you should allow at least three months for implementation.
The SEPA standards may be accessed either by:
- An upgrade to 2013R1 that will incorporate the changes requested for SEPA
- A retrofit of the missing SEPA features in your current release
Besides the retrofit, time will be needed for the conversion of the current bank account numbers to BIC/IBAN, the setting of communications with customers, mandate management (paper or electronic) with related potential vendors, and sufficient testing to ensure readiness.
ACS will support all clients that want/need to move to this new standard. We will work with you to do so within your timeframe, but please note that other factors, such as participation by your bank(s) will affect the timing.
Many Advantage clients completed upgrades this past year, keeping the ACS upgrade team hopping. These included the following.
Bayard Presse went live on 2012r1 this past summer, upgrading from 2009r1. The project was more complex than the usual, due to the many interfaces, but was successfully completed through the efforts of a large team of people.
Our Sunday Visitor also made the jump from 9r1 to 12r1, with a summer go-live.
American Medical Association is also live on 12r1. They were making the jump from 8r2 and were upgrading the Business Intelligence module for the first time, as well as some important interfaces.
Farm Progress also upgraded to 12r1. FPC is especially excited about the new customer service letter and credit card handling features. The credit card rules table and the ability to easily send customer service letters based on responses received from the credit card vendor will be a big improvement to their business and make their customer service department much more efficient.
Another successful 12r1 upgrade was achieved by Kalmbach Publishing. KPC was very interested in new AMB features included in the 12r1 revision. On the heels of this upgrade project, KPC will implement AMB and redesign their web pages to expand their digital presence.
Last but not least, Vidal also went live on 12R1. The cutover was smooth and the team at Vidal was pleased to be live precisely on schedule.
Pacific Press went live on 11r1, making the jump from 8r1.
ACS project managers John Hughes, Philippe Rowland, Daryl Vautour, and Eva Weissman wish to thank all who helped on one or more of these projects:
Andrea Best, Jim Blaney, Todd Gilson, Al Grunas, Mike Hasey, Levi Hyssong, Derek Johnson, Larry Kleber, Martha Krieg, Linda Lorenz, Pete Oas, Paul Sauter, John Sheehy, Philippe van Mastrigt, Kelly Vautour, Matt Varblow, Bryan Varblow, Stephanie Widrig, Linda Woodman, and Ray Zick.
The Economist Newspaper has chosen Advantage as their Business Continuity System for their subscription fulfillment. Advantage will be installed and users trained, so that everything is ready in case a back-up is needed to maintain service.
The Economist is an English-language weekly news and international affairs publication, based in London, which has been continuously published since 1843. For historical reasons, The Economist refers to itself as a newspaper, but each print edition appears on glossy paper like a news magazine. In March 2012 print circulation stood at over 1.5m while digital circulation was 123,000 (digital editions are available on Android, iPhone and iPad and other devices).
We welcome The Economist to the Advantage community.
In view of the increasingly global nature of our clients’ business, ACS is working hard to ensure that Advantage supports the needs of international commerce. One such need is the incorporation of Unicode.
First, some background.
In the late 80s and early 90s, several big computer companies grew tired of the ad hoc approach that had been the norm when it came to non-Latin character sets. The systems of the time were limited to 128 or 256 characters and the non-Latin characters may have been Russian, Greek, Hebrew or a host of others. This was not easy to deal with across systems or programs and so the companies joined together to create a uniform code, which they called Unicode.
In addition to creating a uniform code that standardized the characters, they also set up an organization to govern subsequent changes and updates to Unicode. Over the years, more and more scripts—or character sets—were added, including ideographic (symbol-based) scripts such as Chinese and Japanese. Currently, about 100 scripts exist in Unicode and development is still being done on the more obscure ones (think: dead languages).
Now for the relevant part. Advantage now handles the part of Unicode called the BMP (Basic Multi-lingual Plane) which covers virtually all character sets currently in use in the world.
What does this mean for you? When you upgrade to Advantage 2012r2 or later, you will be asked if you want to enable Unicode in your database or not. If you say yes, you will be able to enter data using Greek or Korean characters, for example. If you’re very ambitious, you can consider translating the Advantage user interface into another character set.
Terrific! But enhancements often come with a caveat and there are three in this case. First, since Unicode uses two bytes for every character instead of one, it will significantly increase the size of your database. Second, although this advancement allows you to incorporate the character sets needed for such languages as Chinese or Japanese, it does not mean that the software has necessarily been “internationalized” for the postal or taxation requirements of those countries. And third, it does not yet support right-to-left languages such as Arabic or Hebrew. All in good time.
Are your subscribers switching publications, moving to different pricing models, or dropping print in favor of online access? Increasingly, we're finding our clients looking for ways to offer customers more options to change the content being delivered to them. Managing and reporting this movement is important to maximize opportunities with your customers.
Some of our clients perform deep data analysis and modeling using our Business Intelligence (BI) module to perform analysis on specific events, such as:
- Upgrades from free online access to paid-premium access
- Switches to different publications or products within the same product line
- Migrations from print to digital versions
- Marketing campaigns with bundled print and digital content
You can manage these events in Advantage using the subscription modification codes at the SVCCIR view. Specifically, the Upgrade (UPG), Downgrade (DNG), Migrate (MIG), and Replace (RPL) functions can be used to capture these customer events.
- The Upgrade and Downgrade operations are best used when you can definitively categorize an event as an upgrade or a downgrade. For example, you may have two publications of similar content, but one has more. You may discover a trend of subscriber movement to the publication with more content that you could track using the Upgrade operation code.
- Migrate enables you to move subscribers to a different pricing or fulfillment model within the same publication. An example is transferring a subscriber to a different geographic variation of a publication identified through a different subscription type.
- Replace, introduced in the 2011r2 release of Advantage, provides you with more sophisticated options for transferring a subscription from print to digital or from a single subscription to packaged content. For example, you may offer print content as well as packaged content including print and online access. You can offer customers the option to replace the single subscription with the package. Some of our clients report that these types of offers can be highly effective for customer retention.
Here is a reference table for each of these operations.
The flexibly of these methods allows your business to construct creative marketing campaigns and empower your customer service representatives with options to retain customers. They can also be extremely valuable in BI analysis to make important business decisions and formulate new promotions. Consult your Online Help or ACS Account Manager for more assistance in determining how these methods can assist your business model.
Dennis Choi is a recent addition to the Product Development team at ACS, led by Howie Brooks. Dennis graduated from the University of Michigan earlier this year with a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Engineering from the College of Engineering. He is currently working on changes to business logic in the Access Management and Billing (AMB) module.
Although his parents are Korean, Dennis was born in the US when his father was attending graduate school at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo. His family moved back to Korea when Dennis was a baby and he grew up in Seoul. However, he held dual citizenship.
When he was 15, Dennis returned to the US as an exchange student and continued to do so each year from then on. He spent his high school years with several host families in Michigan cities, both large and small, returning to Korea each summer to be with his family.
His interest in computers began in high school with his first programming course, but he entered the University of Michigan College of Engineering without a major in mind. He really enjoyed his first programming class, but what clinched the deal was a presentation to students from professors from all the engineering departments. The professor from computer science was the most compelling—and also the funniest. That tipped the scale and Dennis has been happily coding ever since.
Dennis lives in an apartment in Ann Arbor with his roommate who is also a computer science grad. When he isn’t working, Dennis enjoys movies, TV (he perfected his English by watching American sit coms), and video games. He also plays tennis and racquetball and enjoys snowboarding in the winter.
Welcome, Dennis, to the Advantage family.
Hearty congratulations to Duke University Press, who recently went live on Advantage. Duke publishes more than 40 academic journals and 120 new book titles each year. This places the Press's journals publishing program among the five largest and the books publishing program among the twenty largest at American university presses.
(Photo, left to right: Ariel Dela Fuente, Sonya Johnson, Ling Mao, Lesley Jones, Pam Spaulding)
Located in Durham, North Carolina, the Press publishes primarily in the humanities and social sciences and issues a few publications for professional audiences (e.g., in law or medicine). Duke University Press is best known for its publications in the broad and interdisciplinary area of theory and history of cultural production.
Duke University Press contacted Oxford University Press when they began searching for a new books and journal fulfillment system, and OUP suggested a look at Advantage. Duke needed a system which would integrate all aspects of a customer’s interaction with their website and e-platforms and would allow them to expand their multi-product approach with packages, bundles and more granular content. After a thorough review, Advantage was chosen for its breadth and integration, not to mention our satisfied clients.
This implementation included a large number of modules, most of which also required a data conversion program. Ling Mao led the conversion programming, Ariel Dela Fuente developed the web interface, and both assisted in the development of numerous other extracts and interfaces with Advantage. Levi Hyssong, project manager on the ACS side, would like to thank everyone who has helped along the way to get Duke University Press live on Advantage, with a special thanks to Lesley Jones, the project manager for Duke, who did a great job keeping everything organized and moving forward while dealing with various challenges throughout this long project. Thank you all!
No, I’m not talking about a personal diary. I’m talking accounting – everyone’s favorite subject. Read on though; you may be able to bring a smile to your organization’s accountant’s face.
Whenever a transaction has a financial effect, Advantage creates a journal entry. The journal entry includes debit and credit lines for all the accounts needed to record the financial effects of a transaction. The Journal entry transfer file (MLGTGL-M) contains all of the journal entries created by the “revenue” modules – AMB, ARP, CIR, INV.
You can access the information in this file through:
- the ARP580 report
- the user-defined report/extract feature (MLG reporting category)
- or the CDSTGL and CDSSGR views
Do you know about the CDSTGL and CDSSGR views?
CDSTGL is the General Ledger Transfer Detail view, which focuses on MLGTGL-M records. CDSSGR is the Sub Group Reconciliations view, which focuses on Sub Group records. (A Sub Group is Advantage’s name for a journal entry ID.) Journal entry lines satisfying your criteria are listed at CDSTGL. Journal Entry IDs (sub-groups) can be viewed at CDSSGR. The standard search tool is available at each view.
The inquiry view at CDSSGR organizes information across tabs as shown below. (The inquiry view at CDSTGL does not include the sub-group details tab.)
The amounts on journal entry lines are typically summarized values. It is possible to log and view the detail from which a summary amount was determined through the Ledger Extract feature. When this feature is active (for a journal entry source) you can view the detail behind a journal entry line by inquiring on the journal entry line and then bringing up the Detail Extraction Data tab.
The CDSTGL and CDSSGR views provide the ability to dive into detail from a summarized entry. Showing that to your accountant should definitely make them smile.
Keep in mind that everyone uses the accounting journal entry information differently. If you are using Advantage’s MLG module, these records are deleted as they are moved into MLG (by the MLG405 process). You may have a similar process that extracts and reformats this information for transfer to a different financial application. That process may delete these entries or they may be retained.
You may want to check with your ACS account representative about how your organization uses the accounting journal entry information. Check out that Ledger Extract feature too.
We are pleased to welcome Jonathan Osment to the Advantage family. Jonathan is a recent graduate of Kalamazoo College in (where else?) Kalamazoo, Michigan, where he earned a Bachelor’s degree in both computer science and economics.
Although Jonathan’s father and older brother both have careers in IT, Jonathan didn’t plan to follow in their footsteps when he entered college. He was originally interested in a business career, but found something he liked even better when he took his first computer programming class as a freshman. He very much enjoys analyzing and then solving problems. In his words, Jonathan would rather be the architect of the house rather than the actual builder.
However, as an outgoing people person, Jonathan wanted to retain the more social aspect of the business world. He found the perfect combination here at ACS in the Client Services Division. As a member of the team led by Bryan Varblow, Jonathan will be working on new client implementations and other projects.
Jonathan recently moved to Ann Arbor from his hometown of Farmington Hills, where his family still lives. He shares a house with a roommate and two cats named Archie and Theo. When he isn’t working, Jonathan enjoys Tae Kwan Do, playing video games, watching movies, hanging out with friends and writing the occasional historical fiction short story.
ACS is happy to announce that the Aller Group has chosen Advantage and is beginning implementation. Aller was founded in 1873 in Copenhagen, Denmark by Carl Julius Aller and his wife Laura. Aller sells more than 3 million weeklies each week in Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Finland. Aller has more than 90 titles in the Nordic region, and their market share for weeklies in that area is 61%. Aller had a turnover of 4.0 billion DKK in 2009/10 and employs more than 2.000 people.
The ACS project team includes Eric Burbeck (project manager), Tom Hermans (project director), and KarlDavis (lead engineer). Implementations of the four Nordic countries will be staggered over several years.
We are delighted to welcome the Aller Group to the Advantage community.
Adam Richards recently joined the Advantage team—more specifically, the eCommerce and Enterprise Integration team led by Matt Varblow. As a part of that group, he has worked on deployment systems and software modifications.
A recent graduate of the University of Michigan, Adam earned his Bachelor of Science degree in computer science earlier this year from the College of Engineering. Although he had always had an interest in the IT side of computers, such as building and fixing them, Adam found his niche when he took his first programming class. Some of his favorite classes included Operating Systems and User Interface Design. “Operating Systems taught me a lot about low-level computing at a conceptual level,” says Adam, “and User Interface Design was very useful for getting a working knowledge of the psychology behind usability and how to test for and fix problems around it.”
A native of Muskegon, Michigan, Adam now lives in Ann Arbor, sharing an apartment with two roommates. When he isn’t working, Adam enjoys reading, video games, and going to football and hockey games. He is also active at New Life Church.
Welcome, Adam, to the Advantage family!