The Settings form

As mentioned in the chapter on installation (see page 13), the Settings Form displays automatically when you first run ServiceDesk after it's initial installation, requiring some minimal settings before ServiceDesk operation can proceed.  After that, you can access it from the 'File' section of the main menu, of by pressing Ctrl-F1.

Basically, the form is used to set the primary operating parameters that are specifically customized by you for ServiceDesk operation.  It's divided into two sections: one for 'Local Settings' and the other 'System-Wide Settings.'  In regard to the latter, we have sometimes used the term "Network Settings," which is something of a misnomer, for settings here are relevant whether you have a network or not.  The real distinction is that, while the local section refers to parameters that are particularized for the specific station at which these values are being set, the system-wide (or "network") section refers to parameters that will apply to the entire ServiceDesk operation, regardless of whether it consists of just the one station or of many in a network.  If you have multiple stations, changes made in the local section will affect just the one station where it's done.  Changes in the system-wide section will alter the values for the entire system—regardless of the station at which they are done.

In the initial setup process, you probably did not take the time to set all the relevant values to where they need ultimately to be when you're actually using ServiceDesk to operate your business.  Let's take the time now to explain each parameter, and what you can do with it.

Local settings

In the upper-right corner of this section of the Settings form, you'll notice two boxes, side-by-side.  The first of these is labeled 'Drive Designation for the ServiceDesk Network FileServer'.  If you are running ServiceDesk from just one station, the setting here should probably remain at the default that is offered: 'Drive C:'.  Of course, if wanted (even on a single station system), you may designate a different drive if available (although you’ll have to add the basic ServiceDesk directories to it).  More importantly, if you will be running ServiceDesk simultaneously from multiple computer stations (i.e., you really are networking), please understand, the setting in this box is key to success in the process.

In general (and so far as ServiceDesk is concerned), the networking scheme is very simple.  As one component, you must separately install ServiceDesk on each computer where it will be used (you do not have to do this immediately, however, and certainly may add ServiceDesk to any new computer as convenience and need dictate).  As the other component, you must decide on which particular computer you want ServiceDesk to maintain its common data files.

Basically, all stations must read, as it were, from a common book.  In other words, if you have an operator at one station who adds a job to the schedule, this fact must immediately be evident from all other stations (i.e., as someone at another station looks at the schedule, he or she must immediately see it with the new addition).  This task is accomplished by keeping all the basic operating files for ServiceDesk (i.e., the ScheduleList, JobRecords, SalesJournal, and scores of other operating/data files) in one place—or, more specifically, on one particular computer's hard drive.  This makes it so that, when changes are made to such files (regardless of from which station), it's the one information set that is modified.  And, of course (and by the same token), it's this one information set that is read by any other computer in the system.  Thus, and by such means, all stations are enabled, as stated, to "read from a common book."

When referring to this commonly-accessed drive, we think of it conceptually (and refer to it here) as the "FileServer."  Understand, however, that aside from the fact that it's where we've decided to keep those common-to-the-entire-system ServiceDesk data files, it's just an ordinary drive (i.e., no more than the basic hard drive on one of your computers).

In ServiceDesk, so far as this scheme is concerned, there is one simple fact each station must know: where it is supposed to find those common data files (i.e., which drive is the FileServer).  And that, incidentally, is the precise and only purpose for this little box in the Settings form (i.e., the one labeled 'Drive Designation for the ServiceDesk Network FileServer').  This is where you must inform each station of where to find that "common book."

You may note, in such regard, that this is a local setting, because each station must separately know where to look, for the wanted drive, on the basis of its own Windows-based perspective.  And, importantly, you should realize that, depending on how the networking has been setup within Windows, the designation for this drive may vary from one station to another.

If you are wanting to run ServiceDesk within a network, it's very simple—at least so long as the Windows work (of setting up the underlying networked drive access) has already been accomplished.  Basically, just click on the down arrow in this box (the one labeled 'Drive Designation for the ServiceDesk Network FileServer'), then identify and select the networked drive you'll be using for the common ServiceDesk data files (i.e., the FileServer).  Then, click on the 'Save Local Values' button.

Do this at each station in which you'll be running ServiceDesk, so that all will ultimately look to, read from and write to that one common drive (which, from the FileServer itself, incidentally, will likely be designated as its own Drive C:).  Really, it's that simple.

At least, we should say, it's that simple so far as ServiceDesk is concerned.  But remember, we are assuming that work within Windows, to setup access to the networked drive, has already been done.  Unfortunately, you may find that the underlying work there has not been done.  If it has not, you'll find that, as you click on that box's down arrow to display available drives (with the intent of selecting some particular drive from another computer for the FileServer), that other drive does not appear.  In fact, unless you've already setup other applications for networking in such manner, you probably will not see the needed listing.  This means some Windows work is needed.  If so, it will be the one matter—a Windows matter—that may complicate your ServiceDesk networking process.

In regard to further ServiceDesk setup, we'll now move our attention one box to the right.  Now, we're in the upper-right corner of the of the Settings form 'local' section.  Here, you'll see a box labeled 'Name of person using this station'.  Why is this name wanted?  One thing you'll find, in ServiceDesk, is that as various tasks are performed, ServiceDesk documents who it was that performed them (and typically the date and time as well).  Basically (and with some exception), if work is done at a particular station, ServiceDesk assumes it was done by the person who is designated, here in this box, as the person assigned to the station.  Plus, if any mail is sent to a particular person, or a Callsheet's transferred to that person, and so on, ServiceDesk goes by the name designated here to determine whether such matters should be displayed at such person's desk.  Thus, it's important to put the actual name here of the primary person who'll be using the station (or desk) in question.  By convention, we put just first and last name (in normal order, no commas), in upper and lower case (i.e., do it like "John Smith").

Now, below these two selection boxes in the top-right corner of the form, you'll see an options frame that allows you to select the appropriate CommPort for your computer's modem.  In most installations, this will be CommPort 2, but it might, potentially, be any other.  If the setting is not correct here, ServiceDesk will be unable to access your modem for autodialing and similar functions.

Finally, arranged in a long column (and somewhat separated groupings) at the left of the local settings section, you'll see a list of features that may, optionally, be turned on or not.

In the top grouping we have first an item labeled 'Enable auto-setting of Capslock'.  Set this if you want ServiceDesk to manage placing your keyboard into capslock, or not, as appropriate for each context (recommended).  Second, is an item that reads ‘'Include full mailing address with all street name insertions'.  Use this feature if you're planning on generating mailing lists for all your customers.  The full mailing addresses (i.e., including zip and state) will need to be in each Callsheet, so as to ultimately be included in a mail list.  Third, is an item labeled ‘Include full month reference with each appointment insertion.  Set this to true if you want all inserted appointment notations to include a number for both month and day-of-month (as in “12/31 THU”) versus simply the day-of-month (as in “31 THU”).  Fifth, is an item reading ‘Sound periodic chimes to alert of past-due Callsheets.’  Pretty self-explanatory.

The second grouping involves three options related to the DispatchMap.

The first of these, for example, is labeled 'Show mini-map in dispatch map'.  If it takes a lot of panning to view your entire dispatch map, you may want this feature turned on, to help maintain a sense of which portion of the map you are viewing at a given  moment (you can turn it on temporarily, to try it, at the very least).  Mostly, however, we find the little insert is distracting, and prefer to keep it turned off.

Next is a feature labeled 'Show 5-mile range lines within dispatch map'.  Again, you can certainly turn the feature on to try it, and if you like it, keep it turned on (particularly, if you need with some frequency to know distances from your headquarters).  We find there is little distraction in the range lines, and like to keep them turned on.

Finally, in regard to the DispatchMap, there is an option labeled 'Show individual mileage estimates in dispatch map'.  Our purpose: we found some of our dispatchers were not paying sufficient attention to making the routes for each tech as efficient as possible (i.e., minimum travel between jobs).  So, we invented a utility that instantly estimates the number of miles for each route (or instantly recalculates with each routing change).  This provides a "score," as it were, by which the dispatcher can grade how well he or she has done—and, we hope, gives some motivation for doing better.  We find the extra data is somewhat distracting on the map (roster-wide estimates are given at the top of the map regardless), but may nevertheless be worth the clutter.  If wanted, you can choose a middle ground: keep the option turned off, but, when wanting to momentarily view mileage estimates while viewing the DispatchMap, simply press and hold down your keyboard's 'M' key.

Next there’s an option all by itself, labeled 'Switch this station into TechMode immediately upon startup'.  The purpose: if you have a station that you've setup pretty much for exclusive use by your technicians (i.e., in reporting on their jobs, etc.), it may be helpful to have ServiceDesk switch into the TechWindow mode immediately upon starting up.  By turning 'on' this feature, you can have such a station do so.  Of course, you can still switch it out again using the semi-secret key code (see page 116).

Finally, there’s a group of three options.  These are somewhat special in that, given what they do, there’d be no purpose in having any one of them turned-on from more than one station in your system (of course, there is labeling there to let you know this).

The first two of these relate to the WipAlert system as described at page 118.  First is a feature labeled 'Send WipAlerts (Callsheet notes re stale JobRecords) to this station'.   Turn this on at one the particular station where you want such alerts sent (probably your primary secretary's desk).  Do not turn it on elsewhere.  Second, is an item labeled 'WipAlert-Supervisor (informs if job more than 2 days past alert)'.  Turn this on at the one particular station where the owner or supervisor works, assuming this person is separate from the primary operator, and also assuming this person wants to be informed if the ordinary WipAlerts (see above) are not being promptly attended to.

The third item in this last group reads ‘Do nightly Archive/Cleanup of files’.  This is where you activate (again, it should be done on one computer only) the Auto-Archive feature, as described beginning at page 209.  

After you have all settings as wanted within the local section, click on the 'Save Local Settings' command button.  Return to the form to change any feature you want, as often and whenever wanted.

System-Wide settings

In the first box, labeled 'List of Station Names', you should (as the label implies) create a listing of the names at each station in your network.  Use the same simple name format as for the local station name (i.e., first and last, normal order and upper and lower case, as in "John Smith"), and be sure that after typing each name, you hit Enter to make it insert into the list (if you have just one station, list just the one name).

In the next box, labeled 'List of Technicians', you should (again as the label implies) create and maintain a listing of the names for each of your techs.  Again, use the same simple name format as described above (i.e., first and last, upper and lower case and in normal order, as in "John Smith"), and make sure you hit Enter to insert the typed name into your list.

One caveat, in respect to these names: ServiceDesk uses initials in several contexts for the names of both techs and station operators.  If you have two people with the same initials (i.e., a John Dillon and a Jennifer Dougherty), difficulties could arise.  If such happens, you might use a middle name for one of the two persons in lieu of their first, a nick name, or use some similar expedient to avoid identical initials.

To the right, in this purple 'net-wide' section, you'll see another array (similar to those in the 'local' section) of features that may, optionally, be turned either on or off.

First among these is the 'Departmentalize Sales' feature; check it to true if you want to categorize your sales among different departments (see page 172).

Next is a feature labeled 'Enable Source of Jobs Survey.'  Basically, you'll want to turn this feature 'on' during the particular period (or periods) when you're conducting a survey (see appendix for directions on setting up), and leave it off at all other times.  When it's on, your operators will be prompted to ask the caller a series of questions the time they schedule service.

Next is an item labeled 'Mandatory 10-digit Dialing.'  The purpose here: in some areas of the country, even local calls require use of area code when dialing.  If this feature is turned 'on', ServiceDesk will add the local area code when auto-dialing any number that does not otherwise indicate an area code.  Conversely, if the feature is not turned 'on', yet a number-to-be-dialed shows your own local area code (the latter is itself determined by the voice telephone number listed for your company), ServiceDesk will delete the area code when dialing.

Next is an item labeled 'Allow for divergent sales tax rates depending on locality, type, etc.'  This is for those few clients whose territories encompass multiple jurisdictions that each have different sales tax rates (or which require separate sales tax reports, etc.).  For such users, it obviously would not work to specify one particular set of rates for all sales company-wide (see next paragraph).  If this is your situation, check this option and read the technical section beginning at page 299.

Finally, in terms of net-wide features that may be turned on or off, there's a feature labeled ‘Immediate Call-in Option.’  This is to enable the approach, as described at page 112, where you elect to have your techs call in both on arriving and departing from every job, plus you take a complete PostVisitReport from each with the second call-in.

Following each of these feature settings, in the net-wide section of the Settings form, are several self-explanatory boxes.  Some are for inserting your company's current address and telephone numbers (used in some of the documents ServiceDesk creates).  One is for your bank account number (ServiceDesk includes this on the deposit slip it prepares for you), and two others for the materials tax and labor tax rate applicable to your sales (ServiceDesk uses these in checking totals on your completed sales, etc., assuming you haven't selected the option described in the last paragraph).  Of course, there's also a box for entering the next invoice number in your sequence (defaults to start at invoice number '00001', but should be changed to start at whatever number fits with the sequence you already have in use).

A final box is labeled 'Area codes for which '1' prefix should not be inserted when auto-dialing.'  The reason: there are many cities where, in recent years, area codes have multiplied uncontrollably.  In some of these, it is both allowed and preferred (some say it's cheaper) to dial the nearby area codes without first using a '1'.  If yours is such an area (or if you have mandatory 10-digit dialing yet the '1' prefix is not necessary when dialing your own area code, you may list all such codes in this box.  On the other hand, if you do not have mandatory 10-digit dialing, there is no need to list your own area code here.  ServiceDesk will assume (without separate listing here) that any number which has the same area code, as the one listed for your voice telephone number, does not need a '1' first.

Much like in the local settings, when you're done with the System-Wide Settings, click on the command button labeled 'Save System-Wide Settings'.

You can enter the Settings form, as often as wanted, to change any parameters as need or preference may arise.  Don't be afraid of it.  It's simple and easy.