June 2016 Newsletter

Letter from the President - Epicor Support Update  

As I wrote in my last letter, I see light at the end of the tunnel regarding our number one issue facing the user's group this year...that being Eclipse Support.  I do want to be very clear on this subject that by me saying that I see light at the end of the tunnel, does not mean that the issue of Support has been reduce in importance or that all the problems have disappeared.  That is certainly not the case and the Board of Directors continues to hold Epicor accountable to improving the very real support issues we currently are experiencing.

The light at the end of the tunnel statement comes from the fact that Epicor is taking this issue seriously and has visibility at the highest levels.   As I mentioned in the previous letter, the Board was going to implement regular meetings with Ian Ashby, EVP of Support.  The purpose of that meeting was to get the status of what they committed to implementing since Insights as well as feedback from the User's Group on progress.  We did have that meeting on Thursday, May 19, from which I have the following to offer:

1)     EpicCare Update:  You are now using the new EpicCare system. 

a. The big takeaway is that this system is a work in progress and as any major system gets deployed, you can expect there to be changes coming as functions and features get dialed in using the real world.  Know this, what you see today is not the final product and there are many enhancements in the works (some of which you will probably see by the time you read this as an updated is scheduled for release on 5/23!).

b. Legacy Support Requests:  Currently, Epicor brought over two years' worth of history into the new system.  We discussed that this was not enough and we need to be able to see history back further than that, even if only for reference purposes.  We also cannot see the attachments.  Already, they have added the improvement of referencing the old support number but certainly more work needs done and they are working to meet our needs.

c.  Requesting an Update has been added per customer feedback and should be working by the time you read this!

d.  Epicor needs to provide a clear information path to Eclipse users on the changes to EpicCare.   Support agreed and will add additional avenues of communication with the changes they are making.


2)     ITC (India Technology Center) Update:

a.  Subject Matter Experts:  In order to improve the pace of learning, beyond the basic trouble shooting steps that cross all Eclipse, Support is training subject Matter Experts on very specific areas of Eclipse.  Two people have already been assigned to this roll and another two will be added shortly. 

b.  Product Knowledge Training.  Support has put forth a very vigorous training plan that revolve around not only product knowledge but also trouble shooting knowledge.  Foundation training is all but complete and next is a 6 week intensive training on two tracks of accounting or inventory.  Staff that does the one will move on to the other for the following 6 week period. 

c.  Soft Skills Training: ITC employees have 120 hours of soft skills training, which includes language skills and troubleshooting etiquette. 

d.  Representatives from the ITC visited a US based customer for several hours and videoed the event.  They then took the video back to the ITC for the support staff to see what actually goes on at a distributor and how the software applies to what they are doing. 


We agreed to have another meeting in about 30 days for another update on the progress and also provide feedback.  We'll keep you posted!


In the meantime, please do two things:
1)     Complete any Epicor Support surveys you receive. 
2)     Provide any feedback you want the User's Group to represent to either Mary Barlow or to myself Chris Bohn
Again, I want to emphasize that your Board of Directors is representing well the overall support issue on your behalf and telling Support where things must improve to meet minimum standards.  I believe in true partnership fashion, they agreed that there are issues and they are investing the effort to make things work better tomorrow than they are today.  We absolutely will keep vigilant and keep you updated.

Christopher Bohn
Your User's Group President
In This Issue
Click on the link above - It will take you to the June Calendar on our website. You can click on each class to see the detail, make sure to click the back button in your browser to get back to this newsletter.
New  Members May 2016
APSCO Supply
Willow Electrical Supply
Schiller Park


Utilizing Mobile Printing to Increase Efficiency
By: Dan Schreck, Supply Chain Services 

Optimizing Eclipse RF processes in the distribution center and branch sites can lead to significant ROI through incorporating mobile label printing. Today, many Eclipse users only print labels from a fixed desktop printer which leads to a lot of walking back and forth when printing labels on the floor. The ability to print labels on-demand, right from a user's hip (or lift) can lead to significant time savings and increased efficiency.
Typically, the greatest use for mobile label printing is in the receiving process. It allows product to be labeled immediately as it comes in the door. Any process where labels need to be printed from the floor would benefit from the use of mobile label printers.
Some things to consider before testing mobile label printers: 
  • Label Stock: Mobile printers print the same size labels as their desktop counterparts, but the roll size is smaller. Therefore, ordering the correct size label stock along with the printer is important. 
  • Configuration: There are some specific settings that are needed for the printers to work with Eclipse, so make sure your IT team and hardware partner are prepared. 
  • Power: The printers are battery powered, spare battery chargers are needed unless mounting and power wiring to a lift. If wiring to a lift, make sure to include your forklift mechanic to assist with proper connections.  
  • Wireless: These printers use the same wireless network as RF handhelds, so proper wireless setup is key. These are devices in motion that are being handed off from one access point to another, therefore proper wireless coverage and configuration on all printers for smooth hand-off is essential.  
  • Ergonomics: Does it make the most sense to wear the printer on the hip, over the shoulder or mount it to the lift? Whatever you choose, make sure to order the right accessories. If mounting to a lift, strategize with your hardware partner on the best mounting solution to ensure that the printer is in a convenient position for the user while not obstructing vision.

We've run across many Eclipse RF users that have tried mobile label printing in the past, but have not been able to get it to work. Successful testing is a joint project between IT, operations and an experienced hardware partner who knows Eclipse's requirements. Once properly deployed, this solution can lead to significant improvements to your operations. 
Supply Chain Services / Phone: 866-205-4310 /  info@supplychainservices.com

Enhancement Committee - Using the Ideas Site
by Kevin Stevenson, Enhancement Committee Chair

The Ideas Site, available through the Eclipse Users Group website, remains a great resource to help turn your ideas into new enhancements.  All ideas are reviewed with Eclipse developers, and your votes determine the priority they receive. 
If you are new to the Ideas Site, it can seem confusing at first.  The Ideas Site is divided up by communities that are based on the major functional areas of Eclipse, such as accounting, order entry, warehouse logistics, inventory & purchasing, system & utilities, showroom, and many more.  Simply open a community to see all of the ideas related to that topic.
Voting is key.  Ideas with the most votes get the most attention.  To vote, click the up or down arrows at the top of an idea, or just click the bar next to the arrows for a quicker approach.  You have several voting options:
            +3         This idea is on my top 10 list
            +2         Great idea, can't wait to see it
            +1         Good idea, but needs some work, or is just a minor convenience
             -1         Not too bad, but needs editing or further development
             -2         Bad idea, or doesn't solve a real problem
             -3         Don't do it!  This idea would make my life harder
Ideas progress through a set of defined stages before they are realized.  You may add an idea to your watchlist if you want to be notified when it reaches a new stage.  Ideas are assigned one of these stages:


 New ideas are active and may be voted on
Already Offered                                 

 Idea is already offered in Eclipse
Under Consideration                         

 Idea is being considered for a future release
Targeted for a Future Release           

 Idea is on the development roadmap
In Development                                

 Idea is currently being developed
General Available                               

 Idea has been added to a release and is  available
Not Planned                                     

 Idea is not planned to be implemented

The most important aspect of the Ideas Site is YOUR PARTICIPATION.  If you haven't visited recently, please take a few minutes to review the latest ideas and add your voice to the conversation!
Users Helping Users Article
This question peaked my interest as it is a topic that we have discussed at our company lately as well.
Glad there are so many people willing to share experiences! 


1.    Use of Fill Rate and Customer Service Level Reports


In addition to utilizing the GMROI and Aged Inventory Reports as Key Performance Indicators, we are also attempting to utilize the Service Level and Fill Rate reports for Customer service level analysis. However, the results can vary (BIG TIME) depending upon how you answer certain parameters. For instance...The Fill Rate report has options such as:

1) Report Type: Summary for Quantity vs. Summary for Line Item (What's the difference between these two?)
2) Product Status: Do you run for 'STOCK' only? (Or do you include all types)
3) Report On: First or Last Gen? (Which do you use? We have all kinds of reasons why there may be subsequent generations of an order that might or might not desire to be included in the analysis)
4) Product Rank#: Do use the number of the rank type for HITS, SALES QTY, OTHER?
5) Product Rank Value: Do you measure only A items, A&B items, or ALL?
6) Do you Include Directs? (I would think NOT, but am open to suggestion s otherwise).
7) Exclude/Include Exceptional Sales? (We choose not to. Do you include? If yes, reason?)

I know that EACH of our companies may have different philosophies and 'tolerance levels'. However, I'm anxious to know if ANYONE is making an attempt to regularly measure their Service Levels using the standard Eclipse Reports.

If you are reluctant to share your methods/measurements because of possible competitor conflict-of-interest, then please at least post your name/company and contact info and whether you might be open to discuss with a company located in an alternative part of the country. (eg: Central Illinois)

Thanks to all whom can contribute.
Answer #1:
This is VERY VERY hard to measure. We have tried, but there are too many factors that mess with the numbers.
First generation would work fine IF it was billed right away....no procurements or PUT-UP-HOLDs (which we have many of)...LAST generation won't work because it would give you a 100% fill rate for everything. And if a generation is cancelled and redone....it gets a zero fill rate.
We have daily transfers that interfere with numbers also. If it is a next day delivery and we can fill it 100% with a nightly transfer, why would you want to take a hit on anything less.
Would also be anxious to hear from anyone having any success with it.

Answer #2:
Couple years later...
Still all good questions. My opinion is there is no right answer. It's not my job function to regularly measure these but I think as a preliminary view I like the Order Service Level Report (since it gives both Quantity and Line Item at the same time) but I only see need to focus on just Stock status, report on First Gen, exclude Directs and Exceptional Sales. Then I still like more detail but using the Product Fill Rate Report for just Stock Ranked A & B on Hits.
Ignore Require Date option is usually something you want to select - or if you have the control record set to "Force Required Date to Match Ship Date on Phantom Process" and/or other required date settings and disciplined sales procedures. I think I also saw another control record for making Credit/Rebills be exceptional sales.
But no matter what I think you will always find situations that are not reporting the way you want them to. I think evaluating what is Nonstock and Stock is a function that should be handled elsewhere. I could go on but I don't want to hog the spotlight. Anybody else out there have more thoughts? I find this a great topic to keep revisiting.
Question #2:
How can you ignore the require date? Additionally, can you create something in a control file that forces the require date to be 3 days from the order creation date?
Answer #3:
Product Fill Rate Report and Order Service Level Report both have an option to Ignore Require Dates (last line in Eterm, or check box in Solar.) Or at least for me they give me that option. The way our system is setup I have to ignore that date to get any decent fill rate data. Try the reports both ways and see what you get. It forces the Report On setting to be the first generation, I think that basically means that the first gen is considered on-time and any other gen is late.
I do not believe you can force the require date to be +3 days, I think you would have to rely on all of your order writers to do it. But in theory it sounds like that could help, if anyone else knows of a way to do that I'd test it to see if it is more accurate or if it skews the fill rate too much in the other direction.
I hope I understood your question. And to stay true to the original post...we still do not regularly measure our fill rate because of these factors that can make it very subjective. But we still have hope for the future and look forward to hearing from anyone with success stories.
User Tip
How we utilize a 3rd Party to manage our Printers more effectively
by Kris Hopkins, Echo Group Inc

Several years ago we realized that a lot of our support tickets into the IT department were related to printers.  We need toner, the printer is not printing, there is an error in the display, and the list goes on.  So we started looking for a way to eliminate the headache of printers in our company.  With a little over a 100 printers streamlining the maintenance of them would save a lot of time.  Then we ran across Harland Technology Services (HTS) in Omaha, NE.  At first I thought they were just a local company.  Come to find out they are much larger than we thought. They have locations all across the US. 
HTS has a Managed Printer Software that you load on your network that scans for all printers, then pulls back the information needed to proactively manage your printers. For each location you advise them of a site contact name and address, then they take it from there.  As a part of our onboarding process they went to each location and labeled all our printers with a unique service number and the phone number to call for issues.  Now instead of our employees calling us with printer issues, they call HTS directly.  HTS conducts scheduled maintenance as well as comes onsite when we have a printer down.  In most cases where we have locations they are out within 2 hours of a call!  Our downtime due to printer issues has drastically reduced.  They have even placed a loner printer onsite if they have to wait for parts to conduct the repair.  When doing that they make sure to use the same IP address and Eclipse LP number to keep things consistent and IT never has to get involved except sometimes to run the enable command in root.
HTS manages our toner as well, so we no longer order toner for any of our printers!  This is a great feature since no one ever remembers they need toner until they are out.  With the managed printer service, the printer notifies HTS when they put in a new toner cartridge.  Then HTS sends out a replacement immediately so every printer always has toner.  In addition to this, they also have a recycling program.  Just request prepaid boxes for the used toner, then put the old cartridge in the box and return it at no cost to you.
Once every 6 months I sit down or have a conference call with my account representative regarding our printers.  They supply a list of all printers by location, the print per page of each, how many service calls each printer has had, and recommendations on possible replacements if there is a cost savings to offset.  HTS will manage our printer forever and not require us to switch any printer out. However, if there is a newer printer with a less expensive toner and service agreement they will make recommendations to change it out if it saves us money.  Honestly these reviews are like having a teacher's conference for a straight-A student. The system just works and the only time I think about printers now in our IT Department is every 6 months when we do these reviews.
I highly recommend this service to anyone that has printers to manage, which is all of us!  The website is  www.harlandts.com.   I hope you check them out.  Maybe it will save you some time and headaches too!