Q3 Release Notes – Routing Improvements and Delivery Recurrence

A number of development items will be rolling out this quarter, but we wanted to make you aware of two of them today:

Routing Improvements

Once limited to the Security module, routes have come into their own! Expanded for use with both dispatching and non-dispatching environments routes allow you to define a series of checkpoints, either project-based or location-based and apply the results to either security, delivery, or service actions. Mobile users can then be directed from one checkpoint to the next as they complete their work. Exceptions can be built around checkpoints being out of order or taking too long. Work on a route can even automatically generate labor records for employees if desired.

DATArrive Routing Improvements

Delivery Recurrence

Expanding off our successful launch of recurring labor events we’re introducing controls for recurring delivery events. Now you can define specific delivery events, including delivery classes, package types, and equipment and attach these to defined patterns such as every other day, every Monday, once a month on the 15th, etc. You can even pre-define the employee who should be assigned if you wish. These recurring deliveries are part of the delivery dispatch system and can be automatically created each night before they become due.

DATArrive Delivery Recurence

Q2 Release Notes

The development team has been working at break-neck speed this quarter. Not only have they been delivering product for new customers, they have also been able to add new functionality to the core product. Here is the breakdown:

Labor Recurrence
We’re very excited to introduce recurring labor events. These allow you to define work for your employees based on a defined pattern, such as every three days, every weekday, once a month on the 5th, etc. Currently, the recurring labor details are implemented only on the labor and service dispatch board, but we look forward to expanding to other implementations.

Dispatch Sequencing
We’ve found that in many organizations implementing dispatching want to specifically define the order in which service is to be performed. Our new drag and drop sequencer tool allows a dispatcher to quickly and easily sort an agent’s daily service events. Currently implemented in service and labor dispatching, expect to see this soon for other dispatching environments such as delivery, janitorial, or airline service.

Billing and Invoicing
More and more companies are looking to DATArrive to handle additional accounting needs traditionally performed by enterprise or in-house software. Now, users with the billing add-on to the time and attendance module can define billing codes and track activity (both labor and non-labor) against those codes. Billing invoices can be created that automatically lock down related data to prevent further user edits.

Messaging
Our new messaging system allows users to send and receive  short text messages. When added into a mobile device or combined with a dispatch board, DATArrive messaging becomes an affordable and flexible alternative to SMS or push-t0-talk.

Special Announcement: www.sierradata.com is Brand New!

sierra-data-website

We are pretty excited about our brand new look at sierradata.com and wanted to share the news with you as well! Our team has been working hard to compile helpful content, up-to-date resources and a cleaner look and feel. In the end, our goal is to make it simple as possible to learn more about Sierra Data Systems, and the DATArrive™ product.

Take some time to learn why Sierra Data Systems is a leading enterprise mobility software company focused on transforming business processes to drive results for field service and logistics operations. Visit sierradata.com and check out:

Updates and Release Notes

The development team at Sierra Data Systems continues to work hard and has just published the release notes for the 3rd and 4th quarter.

Q4 2011 – Service Level Agreements
Create your own SLAs by defining results and notifications based on changes in status. Closely linked to dispatching services, but extensible to other implementations. SLA’s allow you to build your rules specific to each customer and/or cost code. You can further fine tune the implementation by associating SLAs with specific equipment, project, or location categories.

Q4 2011 – Delivery Dispatching
Now you can create manifests and dispatch out couriers to pick them up. Keep track of last know courier locations and status. Manage dispatching tasks in real time through the new delivery dispatch board.

Q3 2011 – DATArrive  Updates
We’ve included a number of new miscellaneous updates including:

  • New labor report: Pay Types Exception Report
  • New deliver report: Receiving Exceptions Report
  • Dispatching: Cloning service dispatching events
  • Dispatching: showing nearby agents based upon their current GPS location
  • Universal: Task classes – categories to break out tasks based upon the applicable service
  • Universal: improved and easier-to-use terminology page

Q3 2011 – Cabin Services
Used for any service managing stocking, cleaning, auditing, security, or other servicing tasks in a dynamic mobile environment such as a airport, bus station, or motor pool. Real time dispatching lets you view and assign missions throughout the day. Dynamic data feeds can be implemented for automated mission creation based upon your own custom rule set.

New Features: GPS Mapping

Our development team has been working hard this summer and we are excited to announce some new functionality within the DATArrive platform! While GPS functionality has been around for sometime, the real value is leveraging that technology to provide relevant information to make data informed decisions. These latest enhancements do just that.

Handset Locator Map

The handset locator map can be used to get the last known GPS location for your handsets. This map will automatically center on your central office. A map legend is provided to help you identify whether the location shown is pinpoint GPS (from the handset itself) or comes from the nearest cell tower. Depending on your mobile device and GPS conditions at the time the data was captured, you may see more or less cell tower GPS values. Clicking on a map icon will give you more details and provide a direct link to that user’s GPS breadcrumbs.

Handset Locator Map

Breadcrumb Map

The next map: “Breadcrumbs” will allow you to pick a date and user and see their movement throughout the day. This map also has a legend that can be helpful and an option to show cell tower GPS values in addition to pinpoint GPS (the default). The details for the breadcrumb map are stored for one month.

Breadcrumb Trail

GPS Dispatching Assistance

Finally, if you are using the delivery, inspection, or service dispatch boards you can take advantage of a new feature where DATArrive can suggest an agent for a particular assignment based on their last known location. Simply, select the deal that needs assignment and press the Suggest Agent button. A map will appear centered on the key location for the activity and icons will represent the nearest agents. Click on an icon to see more details or to assign them directly from the map.

Dispatch Agent Suggestion
These new features will provide tremendous value for companies within the courier industry, field service industry, security industry and construction industry.

FYI – Blog Migration

We’ve just completed the migration from our old blogging service to WordPress. There was no way to import our old blog entries so they had to be recreated by hand. Unfortunately, this means:

  1. The old URLs won’t work. You may need to use the search tool to locate the post in the new system.
  2. The date and time stamps associated with the blog entries are all off. We did get them put in the correct order though. UPDATE: we’ve corrected the dates!
  3. I’m listed as the author for all of the migrated posts even though Brett actually wrote many of them. UPDATE: we’ve corrected the authors!

We’ve tried to correct all cross-links within the posts, but if you find any broken links, please leave a comment on the appropriate post.

Asset Management Meets Proof of Delivery

Typically, asset management is thought of monitoring and managing pieces of equipment out in the field to do a particular job. It is all about keeping track of the moving pieces and trying to minimize the delays in asking, “Where is the ______?” or “How many _______ do we have?” or “do we need to purchase another ______?” But recently, DATArrive was brought to the table to help answer another question related to asset management: “May I use the _______?” This question brings up an often-neglected piece of asset tracking known as proof of delivery.

This nationally based, equipment-imaging company has millions of dollars of assets available for a sales force to leave with potential clients over a trial period. The challenge was to not only monitor and manage the location of these assets, but also to provide an integrated way for sales reps to request equipment, validate shipment and ensure a trustworthy chain of custody is in place. This challenge revealed the need for complex shipping manifests with multiple items, proof of delivery and an entire chain of custody solution.

Essentially, what was needed was a robust asset tracking solution married to a proof of delivery/logistics solution. This recent opportunity was yet another instance where the multi-module platform DATArrive is built upon was able to provide a tailored solution that could’t be answered with a boxed solution. Upon implementing this solution, this company is now able to identify each asset and greatly enhance the complicated process requesting, delivering and receiving product across the United States.

ROADMAP OF FUTURE DEVELOPMENT
Opportunities like this reinforce the direction of our product roadmap and our goals for further development in the area of scheduling, dispatch, job costing and billing. To get a better grasp on the areas we are focusing on, be sure and download our 2011 roadmap here.

De-TERM-ination

Sub, grinder, hero, hoagie, Italian sandwich, po’ boy, wedge, zep, Hodgson, torpedo: there can be a lot of terms used for essentially the same item. For sandwiches, these terms can be regional, cultural, or generational.

When it comes to business, terminology is often more heavily effected by:

  • Corporate culture
  • Industry standardization
  • Functional inertia

With the DATArrive Engine we’ve considered this need and built a terminology system into the web application that allows organizations to define their own terms for common business objects. We think this is a great feature and allows us the flexibility to support many more types of work flows then otherwise. However, it does present an issue with marketing. For example, our branding and marketing material might describe a way to associate “customers” with “projects”, but a potential client might be turned off because he was looking for a solution that would allow him to link “accounts” to “work orders” even though – at a basic level – these are the same needs.

I wanted to take this space to document some of the more important business objects in the DATArrive Engine and some of the common terms associated with them. (more…)

What is a “Work Order” really?

We’ve been having this debate here internally for some time now. Customers come to us and ask for some variation of a “work order system”. Invariably, each customer has a different definition. Some are similar, differing only in terms, other a wildly different. A delivery company for example, would consider each package to be a work order. A home builder however, might consider each lot to be a work order. We’ve found that when customers say work order, they could really mean any of the following:

  • Project / Job
  • Cost Code / Task
  • Customer Account
  • Location
  • Inspection
  • Activity
  • Package
  • Incident

Sometimes, as far as a customer is concerned, it ends up being a combination of more than one of these.

So, what do we consider to be a “work order”? (more…)