In this update:

Majorly Upgraded Direct-Integrated Parts Ordering with Encompass

In the last major release, we announced, among other things, a third option for direct-integrated-ordering of special-order parts. Previously we'd created that feature to work with Marcone, and then Tribles. Now we have it for Encompass as well.

It turns out, however, there was a significant weakness in the initial functionality as released for Encompass. It was this:

If you included any partnumber/make combination in your order that Encompass did not recognize as being valid, its system would reject the entire order request.

When we first received reports from would-be users encountering this, we thought the solution would be for Encompass to modify its side of the integration, to make it so valid items in an order would be accepted, while notice was nevertheless sent back regarding items Encompass's system did not see as being valid. We'd in fact already coded (and tested items individually) with such expectation in mind.

Encompass said no. They said the solution was for our system to first inquire, in regard to each part that a user requested for inclusion in an order, to check on its validity. So, that is what we've now done with this release.

It's a major new element of functionality in the integration. You'll still use the same standard method in the F8 PartsProcess interface (view items inQuiry/Order mode) to mark items that you wish to include in an order (Ctrl/Right-Click in an item's info-band). You'll still hit Enter on your keyboard to initiate the order going out, and you'll pick as follows for Encompass:

(You may note we've somewhat rearranged the sequencing of options in this list)

A difference is that now, before actually submitting your order to Encompass, ServiceDesk goes though each item that you've marked for inclusion. On each, it does a behind-the-scenes search request with Encompass. Either of four different results may come back:

First, the Encompass response indicates your partnumber and make combination are valid and unique. In this case, ServiceDesk proceeds with confidence it may safely include said item in your order, and no further dialog with you is required.

Second, the Encompass response indicates your partnumber is unique and valid, but for a different make than you've specified. This could happen, for example, if your technician ordered an aftermarket item to go on a name-brand machine. In such a case, ServiceDesk will present you with a dialog similar to this (and of course will respond according to your answer):

Third, the Encompass response indicates your partnumber is valid, but is not unique (i.e., there are multiple instances of that same partnumber, applicable to different brands). In this case ServiceDesk will present you with a dialog similar to this (and of course will incorporate into your order according to your response):

Fourth, the Encompass response indicates your partnumber is not valid at all (at least insofar as any of their own internal part listings are concerned). In such a case, you'll be presented with a message similar to this:

In a nutshell, ServiceDesk now does all this direct checking with Encompass (and potential resulting dialog with you) -- to help assure your order is positively perfected -- before sending it onward to Encompass.

The happy thing is that, if every item that you've indicated for inclusion in your order is in the first category above (i.e., a unique partnumber with valid make indication) there will be no intervening dialog at all.

Improved Early Exports

Over the years, we've heightened and improved our standards in a number of areas.

One of these has to do with data exports (a great plethora of which are featured in many different ServiceDesk contexts).

Way back in the day, our standards on these exports were not that excellent.

As one attribute of non-excellence, often an export was offered only in tab-delimited format, and with a saved filename having a ".txt" extension. This could be problematic when you wanted to open the file in Excel or similar, requiring extra measures to assure Excel would open in the expected tabular format.

As another attribute of non-excellence, these early-created exports often did not have, as part of the dialog upon completion, an offer for ServiceDesk to open the exported file for you.

Since the early days, we improved our standards, and all exports created since have done far better, in regard to these attributes. Nevertheless, while going over some features during a class at ASTI, it was realized some of the early-created exports had never yet been brought up to our now more modern standards.

In result, we've now gone through all those old exports, and revised them to correct those early attributes of non-excellence. We believe there are no longer any old exports that do not offer (and default to) a comma-delimited (having filenames with ".csv" extension) instead of tab-delimited format (which makes them open with ease into Excel or similar with correct format), and which ServiceDesk will likewise offer to open on your behalf.