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  • How To Always Know What's New in Advantage

    Stay up to date with Automatic Notification of Continuous Update Features

    What do these seemingly unrelated Advantage features have in common?

    A right-click action at all Advantage list frames to copy the value of any currently displayed column to your clipboard.

    The addition of data entry scripts for agreement orders and maintenance, whether using the Fast Entry or the dedicated agreement view.

    The consolidation of all select set setup in Advantage under the single Selection view.

    If you answered “they’ve all entered the product within the past four calendar months,” you would be correct!

    Advantage development, which has always been fast and furious, has become even more so with the introduction of the continuous update track within the past year. How can you keep up on …



  • Bug Extinction – Automated Testing Using Frameworks in Advantage

    “What is best in life? To crush your enemies, to see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentations of their women.” 

    -Conan, the Barbarian

    As software engineers, we find ourselves fighting a war against an enemy of our own creation. An enemy armed with complexity, obscurity, and redundancy. From a fortified position in legacy code it charges forth using our past compromises as a battle cry. Like the Hydra, software development can work against us: each problem we fix with a cutting change can sometimes spawn more bugs. What is an engineer to do in the face of such odds?

    Creating bug-free software can happen in one of two ways. Write no bugs, which given the complexity and breadth of Advantage is impossible, or find the bugs that are created and fix them. To this end, bug …



  • Dan's Blog: Communication has Incredible Consequences - 6 Tips to Improve Yours

    One of our traditional movies to watch around this time of year is the revered "White Christmas" starring Bing Crosby and friends. For those unfamiliar with the story, things begin to go wrong when the nosy housekeeper eavesdrops on a conversation but only hears 1 side of the message. She draws her own conclusions and sets off a string of events which produces the main tension in the storyline. Since it's a movie, it all ends well and they live happily ever after. But the movie has supremely good examples of all kinds of problematic communication:

    misunderstanding what the other person said

    misunderstanding what the other person didn't say

    beating around the bush

    talking about two different things and missing one another

    sarcasm

    deception

    bad assumptions

    and the list goes on …



  • Advantage Contact Center: Introducing Customer Service Workflows

    Some time ago, a project was begun here at ACS to consolidate various customer service views. The result is called the Advantage Contact Center.

    Contact Center introduces a new feature called Customer Service Workflows, which are guided customer service transactions. Each Advantage customer service workflow guides a customer service rep through a set of phases. The Advantage user interface can be customized based on workflow scripts, which determine the phases of the workflow, the fields available for data entry and the defaulting of transaction values. At the conclusion of the workflow, a customer note is created to log the call outcome.

    Here’s an example of one such workflow:

    A customer calls to inquire about a premium which hasn’t arrived yet.

    The first phase in the workflow …



  • 2016 AUG Conference in Sunny Las Vegas

    Wednesday February 10 – Friday February 12, 2016

    Users picked Las Vegas as their destination of choice and so the Tropicana Hotel in Las Vegas will be the site of the 2016 Advantage Users Group Conference. A great location and an exciting program make this a can’t-miss conference.

    Growing numbers of Advantage clients have made the leap to continuous updates, and many more are looking to make it in 2016. If you are considering it or are wondering what the benefits are to you, the conference is a great place to get answers from users that have been there and done that.

    The conference will cover a variety of topics, most of them suggested by users at last year’s conference. The agenda is below.  There’s still time to register---Click here for registration information.

    Wednesday, …



  • Congratulations to Soon-to-Be Retiree Jim Austin

    In his nearly 35 years here at ACS, Jim Austin has worked on numerous projects with too many clients to count. Through it all, his sense of humor, patience and dedication to client satisfaction have remained intact.

    Jose Garcia, VP of Technology at Health Communications, has worked with Jim for more than 20 years. “When I learned that Jim was finally going to hang up his ACS code skills, mouse and keyboard after almost 35 years, my first thought was ‘wait’---I thought he’d retired once before and ACS brought him back because they just couldn’t let him get away.  Thank goodness he came back, because in the 20+ years I’ve known Jim, he’s gotten me out of more than one Advantage royalty problem. As a matter of fact, at HCI, Jim came to be known as ‘King James’ because of the many times he …



  • Advantage Software: Cider Update! (Long Overdue)

    Wow, it has been a while since we provided an update on Cider. If you need a refresher, you can read my previous posts here and here. In short, Cider is our fully integrated eCommerce platform. So, what have we been up to? A lot! First and foremost, Cider is live! It was made available earlier this year with the 2015 annual release of Advantage. We continue to be hard at work with client implementations, modifications, and R&D.

    There are currently three clients live on Cider.

    Jerry Baker - Jerry Baker's store offers high-quality home and health products while allowing customers to mix-and-match bundled offerings.

    Palm Coast Data - The primary focus here was targeted self-service landing pages for subscribers served through email notifications.

    Ogden Publications - Ogden employs a …



  • Welcome New Employee Geoff Bunce

    Geoff Bunce is the newest member of the support center staff, reporting to Scott Ghormley. Geoff joined ACS in August, and has been working diligently to learn Advantage and Support Center procedures. He finds it “challenging, but fun,” and thinks it’s interesting to see how various clients use Advantage in different ways.

    Technical support, however, is not new to Geoff, as he joins ACS after three years providing client tech support for an accounting software company. There he honed his problem-solving skills and learned the finer points of troubleshooting technical issues, including the art of asking the right questions to get at the root of an issue.

    Geoff’s educational background is rich and varied. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice from Northern Michigan …



  • Harmony, Stability and R & D

    Earlier this month we hosted several people from our most recent European client. During dinner, I got to talking with the senior executive about the company culture at AdvantageCS. He commented that we were quite unusual for a software company in the way that HARMONY seemed to permeate the interactions he observed among our people during an extended tour of our facilities. And he noted that same harmony spilling over into the many meetings of their visit. He was also struck by the long length of stay of our people (14 years average), and that the mission of the company requires the owners to be employees, which means we never entertain the frequent offers of outside investors.

    He was applauding our commitment to stability for our clients and employees as a very good business growth …



  • Dan's Blog: eCommerce Platform Pitch at FIPP World Magazine Congress

    In October, I had the distinct pleasure of attending the FIPP World Congress in Toronto, Ontario. (FIPP is the Federation of International Periodical Publishers, in case you are not in this space.) This magazine congress is held every two years in a different country, and is attended by hundreds of magazine publishers from around the world.

    As one of the sponsors, AdvantageCS had the opportunity to provide a 100-second pitch of our product. This is a brilliant idea on the part of the FIPP team to allow sponsors to explain their product or service but to keep it brief. In fact, these 100-second pitches are placed between major presentations and become a bit of a game, which keeps the audience in their seats.

    Most publishers don't like to be "sold to" but the attendees can't resist …



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