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eVantage Newsletter Masthead

Alma Talent Goes Live on Advantage

by Cindy Twiss

Congratulations to Alma Talent (the new business unit created when  Alma Media acquired  Talentum ), who went live on Advantage in May of 2016 after an 18-month project. 

The project team invested many months of hard work and overcame substantial challenges, including a merger of the business in the middle of the project. The implementation of Advantage at Alma Talent replaces the existing circulation, fulfillment, inventory management, reporting, accounting, invoicing and payment systems, along with a revamp of many related, integrated systems and platforms. Many of these legacy systems had been in place for almost 20 years. Advantage is a true evolution for the Alma Talent business.   

Welcome New Employee: Thomas Paquin

by Cindy Twiss

Thomas Paquin is the newest member of the Customer Service Division at AdvantageCS. He is currently working in the support center, reporting to  Scott Ghormley, but is slated to join the implementations team at some point.

A mathematics major at Eastern Michigan University, Thomas was planning to be a math teacher. During his last semester at college, however, he began working part-time at ParishSOFT, a developer of church management software. After an 18-month stint in the support center, he switched to the data services department. There, he became interested in databases, including data conversion, data integrity and other aspects of data management. He worked his way up to become the manager of the 7-member staff, and brings valuable experience to his position at AdvantageCS.

Peeking Behind the Curtain of Advantage QA

by Eva Weissman

At any given time, we at AdvantageCS are working on at least one, usually more, large development projects, be it in collaboration with clients or as AdvantageCS-funded research and development. Recent examples include our eCommerce platform  Cider , a  Single Sign-On  solution and  Members Advantage , our membership project. From a QA standpoint, the challenge is to ensure that hundreds or even thousands of hours of development work get tested and that the resulting product is robust and easy to use.

The role of testing in Agile methodologies

Our software development projects are organized in an agile framework called  Scrum. Unlike " waterfall" projects, agile projects don't have successive analysis, design, development, testing and rollout phases. These activities are  executed continuously throughout the project, which means that each piece of functionality gets tested as it is being developed. In other words, we don't wait for programming to be complete before testing begins---both manual and automated tests are part of the process from Day 1.

" Adopting Scrum has allowed us to pursue two seemingly incompatible goals. On the one hand, we need to deliver new features quickly and continuously to keep up with changes in the marketplace. On the other hand, despite continuous changes to the software, we cannot compromise the stability and reliability of our product---our clients are relying on Advantage to run their businesses. Agile methodologies have effectively solved this conflict, and the positive feedback from clients encourages us to continue down this path. "

- Eva Weissman
Team Leader, Quality Assurance
How Many Groups Are You a Member Of?

by Dan Heffernan

With apologies for the ending preposition, let's think about this question for a moment. I'm personally a member of:
  • Amazon Prime
  • Delta SkyMiles (and about 7 other airline frequent flyer programs)
  • My church
  • Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan
  • The Society for Scholarly Publishing
  • Hilton HHonors (and about 5 other hotel loyalty clubs)
  • Costco
  • My local public library
  • Consumer Reports
  • National Car Rental's Emerald Club
  • Best Buy Reward Zone (and many other stores)
  • My homeowners association 
Conservatively, I'm a member of roughly 30 organizations/clubs---not to mention my "membership" in my family, my community, the management team of my company and the human race! If you take the time to list your memberships, it's likely you'll find a similar amount. 

Three Ways to Increase Your SQL Smarts

by Corey Mantel

All of the data that you are used to seeing in Advantage is stored in a Microsoft SQL Server database.  If you are involved in creating or modifying Advantage reports, then familiarity with Transact-SQL (or T-SQL for short) can help you.  T-SQL is the language you use to query a SQL database and is used by most common reporting tools (Excel, Crystal, SSRS, etc.).  The better you know T-SQL, the quicker and better you can respond to reporting requests from your customers.

I've found these three things to be most helpful in expanding my T-SQL knowledge and expertise. 
  1. working on my MCSA certification
  2. reading SQL blogs regularly, such as these: http://www.cathrinewilhelmsen.net/https://spaghettidba.com/  
  3. Attending a user group meeting

Conferences and Events: A Growing and Stable Revenue Stream

by Eva Weissman

Traditionally, conferences and events were the domain of B2B publishing, where revenue from events has been surpassing print and ad revenue for some time now. However, consumer publishers are discovering that events are an important diversification strategy in their market as well.
Getting creative with events

From pop culture festivals organized by the likes of New York Magazine and Entertainment Weekly, to kid expos and bridal shows set up by local news publishers , events allow publishers to get creative. In the UK, Time Inc. is branching out into cycling events to complement its titles Cycle Sport and Cycling Active while in the US, The Atlantic presents the Aspen Ideas Festival . Near our AdvantageCS headquarters, the Detroit Free Press even sponsors the Detroit Marathon . As diverse as these events are, the key is to create an experience that fits the publisher's brand and audience.

Start planning your trip to the 2017 Advantage User Group conference! Located at the Holiday Inn San Antonio River Walk (217 N St. Mary's Street, San Antonio, TX 78205), the conference will take place February 1 - 3. Complete details and registration information will be on the client portal of the AdvantageCS website soon. Or contact your account manager or any member of the AUG Steering Committee for more information. 
Hope to see you there! 

Travels to Trade Shows

by Cindy Twiss

The AdvantageCS sales team is hitting the road this fall to take part in some important trade shows. These industry events are a great way to network with a lot of people in a short time. The team loves catching up with old friends as well as meeting new ones. And learning new things along the way.   

October 18 STM Frankfurt, held the day before the Frankfurt Book Fair, always has a lot to offer in the Scientific, Technical, Medical arena.  Dan Heffernan and Mona Hidayet will be in attendance.

November 1 and 2 : The FOLIO: Show will bring Dan and Mona to New York. Dan will be participating in this panel discussion on Wednesday afternoon, which is sure to be informative.  If you plan to attend, stop in and hear what the panel has to say. You can set up a meeting by contacting Dan either before or during the show.

December 13 and 14
: Rounding out the 2016 season, is the ASAE Technology Conference and Expo in National Harbor, Maryland. You'll find Dan and Mona at the AdvantageCS booth. If you're in the area, plan to stop by and say hello. Or contact Dan or Mona to arrange a meeting.

Check out our blog for the most up-to-date news and information about Advantage. New posts weekly!
Editor: Cindy Mikol Twiss

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