Setting up each tech as his own parts center

It’s well known that, typically to avoid payroll taxes and workmen’s comp expense, some servicers setup their techs as “independent contractors.”  Often, such techs are “independent” in name only.  However, there are some servicers who truly make their techs into genuine, independent business centers—to the extent the techs purchase their own parts and manage their own inventory.  This had been a problem for ServiceDesk to manage, since our design assumption had been that all parts were purchased and owned by the company itself.  As of April 2005, however, we created a solution.

In principle, the solution is very simple.  Rather than having the various parts management files kept in the \sd\netdata folder on the server—as is the normal practice, and which results in there being only a single parts system that’s common to all users—we provide an option whereby each ServiceDesk operator can instead maintain and manage their own unique set of files.

To invoke this option, you simply need to create a new sub-folder, within the \sd\netdata folder, on the server.  Give this folder the name of the tech to whom you wish it to apply, with exactly the same spelling as his listing in the Settings form’s ‘List of Station Names’ (i.e., you’d be making a folder such as c:\sd\netdata\John Smith).* When ServiceDesk sees this folder (and matches it with the name of the person who’s logged in as operator), it will deduce that all parts-related files, as associated with that person’s specific work, should be located in that folder.  Thus (and as desired), that person will end up working with his own unique set of such files.

When companies operate in this mode, techs end up getting listed both there and in the Tech Roster, since, as true business centers, they end up working both from the normal office end, and as techs.

A remaining problem relates to warranty claims.  Since each tech is purchasing parts from various distributors under his own account, it follows that for each warranty claim, it’s that tech’s account number that needs to be included.  To accommodate this need (i.e., to make that inclusion automatic, so an operator doesn’t have to manually insert the appropriate account number with each claim), you need to create a file for each such tech that provides such account numbers for him.

It’s likely easiest to make this file in Excel, though you could do it in any text editor.  The general idea is you make one line of text for each manufacturer for whom you do warranty service.  Each line of text has two fields (or columns if you’re working in Excel).  In the first field you place the HighVolumeClient abbreviation for the manufacturer of interest, as setup in the QuickEntry template for them.  In the second column, you place the account number of the tech for the distributor from whom parts for that manufacturer are normally purchased.  If working in a text editor, the two items of text should be separated, simply, by a single Tab.  If working in Excel, you’ll need to save as a tab-delimited text document.  In either case, the file should be saved in that same special folder we mentioned above, under the name TechsOwnAccountsFile.txt.

When ServiceDesk sees this file, and it’s inserting data to a FinishedForm as applicable to the tech for whom the file was created, it will look in the file to find the applicable distributor account number as placed therein, rather than the one that’s in the QuickEntry template as applicable to the company as a whole.  Assuming its finds such, this is what it will use instead o the number as provided in the QuickEntry template itself.  If it does not find the special number as applicable to the tech and manufacturer, it will revert to the number as found in the QuickEntry template.

A final matter concerns the question of which files are looked in, for the sake of finding parts used from stock or special ordered, for insertion to the FinishedForm.  Our largest concern is to assure that any part as actually used on a job get included in a claim.  Since there is some chance that parts as used might be reflected in a tech’s personal parts files, or might be reflected in the parts files for the company itself, we’ve structured the system to look in both places.