“Where are my Analytics?” and “Where did these work orders come from?”
We’ve been hearing these questions often. Here are the answers.
Waiting for Ascend Analytics:
Over the last several weeks it’s been taking longer and longer for the previous day’s numbers to appear on Analytics. Most recently it was taking until well into the afternoon. The short explanation is our systems were overwhelmed with the amount of data to process every night. Not only do we have the Analtyics numbers to process, but we’re also handling the growing volume of eCommerce exports to SmartEtailing websites and Trek product registrations.
We apologize for this situation. We know that many of you look at Analytics the first thing every morning to see how your business is performing. Our standard is to have Ascend Analytics updated every day by 7:00am Central Time, 8:00am Eastern Time. We have taken immediate steps to return to this standard. This morning, the update was complete by 6:40am Eastern Time. We will continue to streamline our overnight processing to make sure this continues for now and in the future.
Reappearing Work Orders:
Since upgrading to Ascend Version 2.3, many of you have called to tell us that finished work orders reappeared. Here’s what happened. With Version 2.2 a bug was introduced. Work orders that were paid in full but not marked complete stopped showing up on the Work Orders Due screen. We fixed the bug in Version 2.3. So when you upgrade, any work orders that you didn’t mark as complete while running Version 2.2 will reappear. To get rid of them, all you need to do is to open them and mark them as complete. If you need assistance with this, contact the Ascend Support Team.
Credit Card Processing Outage:
One final note: Our support line was flooded Sunday afternoon when many of you couldn’t process credit card charges. A technical problem affecting the entire Visa network stopped many people around the United States from using their credit and debit cards for about 45 minutes on Sunday from 2:40 p.m. to 3:20 p.m Eastern Time.
Last April Steve Novoselac, our Development Team Manager, introduced us to the “Day of Autonomy”. It was a takeaway from an RSA Animate short he watched entitled “Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates us”. Click here to read his blog post and watch the video. The idea is simple: Give our development team one day to program anything they want. The only requirement is that at the end of the day it is workable and can be demonstrated.
As the Ascend Product Owner I was open to the idea but reluctant to do it. In our Agile environment we have a fixed number of points that we can program in any two-week sprint. We also have a large number of points in our backlog to program new features for you. So points are precious. This last sprint we found the ideal time to try it out. On the afternoon of December 21st we kicked off our first Day of Autonomy with a deadline of 2pm the following day. We met at 2pm on the 22nd to view the results. They were, in short, awesome.
Chad, Damon, Jason and focussed on improvements to Ascend. Chad created an Android prototype of AscendScan (in 1 day!?). It gave us a glimpse of what we will be able to do for mobile apps in the not too distant future. Earlier in December, Damon helped me fill in for our cashiers in the Trek cafe where they use Ascend. He noted several inefficiencies and devoted his Day of Autonomy time to them. He created a “cashier mode” in the Sales screen. When you enable it, Ascend will return to the Sales screen immediately after you complete a sale and will continue to do so until you turn it off. He also created a hot key for the Gift Card payment type (Ctrl+G) and set the credit card number field to blank out after an invalid card swipe. Jason noticed that the links to our on-line help were lacking. He created a button on each screen to link to our on-line help website. When you click the button you can choose to go to our table of contents or to specific topics that pertain to the screen you’re in.
Adam, Gregg, Jamie and Jeff focussed on improvements to streamline our daily work. Adam created an automated workflow to streamline our release process at the end of every two-week sprint. Gregg created a utility to easily and quickly switch between our 3 different country environments (Germany, North America and U.K). Jamie created a utility to detect any problems with connections in their test environments with the ability to click and correct any problem connections. Jeff created a web utility to help us more easily post software updates to our different dealer groups.
It was clear to me that the Day of Autonomy was worth doing. It was worth the time we gave up working on other items. The work done will provide immediate and long-term benefits to all of us. The developers had a great time doing it. The entire team had fun seeing their results and applauding their efforts. Moving forward, we will plan to have a Day of Autonomy once a quarter.
My advice to any business manager is to try this. We all have more to do than we can possibly get done in the time we have to do it. But, from my experience, this is a win/win proposition. You will get valuable improvements for your business. Your employees will appreciate the chance to do it and to show you what they’re capable of doing.
Let me know how the Day of Autonomy works for you. Have fun!
The next update to Ascend will be available this month. We’re very excited about the new features in Version 2.2:
- We’ve totally revamped the On Sale process in Ascend. We’ve created a new screen for adding items to an On Sale. Dealers with multiple locations will now have the ability to download On Sale records created at any of their other locations. We are also showing your On Sale prices all over the application (Products Folder, In-Store Product Window, Select Products Window, etc.)
- We’ve updated the Work Orders Due and Ready For Pick-Up screen. You can now easily switch between the two views from the same screen. We’ve added e-mail and phone number columns and each user has the ability to configure all the columns in the order they want them. New features have also been added to the grid to allow you to search within the work orders listed and to group them by any column you specify.
- We’ve added the ability to print Special Order receipts from the Vendor Order screen. Ascend will print out transaction receipts that you can attach the items to help identify them. When the customer comes in to pick up their special order, you can scan the receipt to open up their sale and finish it.
- We’ve completed our e-mail integration. Now, every place in Ascend where you can send e-mail messages uses our integrated service. In addition to that, we’ve added the ability to create a custom auto-signature that will appear at the bottom of any message you send out.
- We’ve updated our Chase Paymentech credit card integration. The VeriFone PIN pads will now work on Windows 7 – 64 bit PC’s.
- For our Trek Product Registration program we’ve added a confirmation message to appear at the bottom of your customers’ receipts. It’s the same message they’d see if they register their bikes on the Trekbikes.com website.
We will be hosting instructional webinars the week of December 12th. Watch for more details on registering to attend or view one of these sessions.