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Archive for 2016

A Non-Exhaustive List of How VSS Can Make Your Life Easier

December 16th, 2016

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What is Vessel Service Solutions (VSS)? It is a solution designed for the boat assistance and towing industry. Simply stated, your business is assisting boaters and managing a fleet – and VSS is here to help you efficiently manage every aspect in between.

You’re asking, as the owner of a boat towing company, how can VSS help me?

First we’ll ask you a couple questions:

How do you currently handle your order processing? When you receive an order from BoatU.S. do you copy and paste, re-type, or hand write information before you dispatch your captain? What if, with the touch of a button, you could populate a form with the BoatU.S. order details and then send it to a captain?

How do you submit orders for payment? Do you use a two-part carbon copy form that you have to collect from your captains before you can scan and email or fax to BoatU.S.? Ever lose one overboard with a gust of wind? Do you find this process to be time consuming and results in payment delays? With VSS you don’t have to hassle with paper. Your clients can digitally sign a tow order and your dispatcher can email it to BoatU.S. the same day.

Still curious how VSS can assist you in streamlining your business operations?

Reduce paperwork or actually go paperless: Make your dispatcher’s life easier, reduce costs and waste. With VSS all order processing, log tracking, and timesheets are handled on your computer or iPad. There is no need to print forms.
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Assist boaters faster: When BoatU.S. sends a tow order to your dispatcher, VSS imports the order email directly into a standardized form. Dispatchers can add additional information and assign the order to a captain’s iPad – all with just a few clicks.

Send texts to alert captains of new orders: Once an order is assigned, VSS can send the assigned captain a text about the pending order – no need for additional phone calls.

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Captains can receive orders at sea: When an order has been assigned, captains can retrieve the orders on their iPads – there is no need to come back to the office or spend time on the phone discussing the new tow order with the dispatcher. iPads must have access to the internet to retrieve pending orders.

Easily update orders: While at sea, captains can update and edit orders on their iPads (no internet connection needed). Adding service items, updating time tracking, and getting customer signatures is quick and easy.

Quickly sync between central and remote: After the captain is done assisting the boater and has an internet connection, he can send the order back to dispatch for review and final processing.

Get paid faster: With VSS, you can create, edit, sign, and submit an order for payment all from your computer or iPad – there is no need to print or fax documents. When you’re ready to invoice BoatU.S., simply click a button and an email will automatically be generated with the invoice attached and the required BoatU.S. subject line: Tower ID – Member ID.

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Analyze your business’s success: Pull reports on orders, boats, and time sheets to review data, trends, performance, and profitability.

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Process payroll faster: The Timesheet’s module handles commission percentages, straight hourly rates, and day and night rates.

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Protect sensitive information: VSS has robust privilege settings, allowing management to dictate what information and modules employees can view, edit, and delete.

Maintain Employee Records: Store employee information in the system with the ability to easily and quickly update pay rates and contact details.

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Maintain fuel logs: Tracking fuel use not only helps you monitor boat expenses, but also helps you reconcile your monthly fueling expenses. Users can add fuel logs on the iPad and record the date, engine hours, cost per gallon, number of gallons, total cost, and fueling location.

Ensure all boat maintenance is performed on time: With maintenance schedules, you can ensure you never miss an oil change again. By creating schedules, you can track mileage and plan for boat maintenance, ensuring your fleet is always in top shape and you’re never down a boat on a busy weekend.

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Log maintenance performed: With the Maintenance Log you can track all maintenance on all boats, log the date, engine hours, services performed, and the total cost.

How VSS Helped Baltimore Marine Recovery Operate More Efficiently

December 14th, 2016

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Baltimore Marine Recovery, LLC provides emergency towing, salvage, refloat, charter, and launch services to the Chesapeake Bay area. Dale and Christine Plummer have been using Vessel Service Solutions (VSS) for three years. In 2015 and 2016, they won the BoatU.S. Smooth Sailing Award for “Superior Operational and Organizational Standards” – with help from VSS.

Q: Why did you decide to start using Vessel Service Solutions?
A: We have 10 boats, about 14 staff, and we work out of 3 ports (Annapolis, Baltimore, and Middle River). On top of being busy all year-round, there is a lot of paperwork to deal with on a daily basis. We wanted something to make our lives easier and enable us to continue to deliver great customer service. Plus, VSS allows our captains to handle dispatch orders, fuel and maintenance logs on one iPad application.

Q: What goals were you hoping to achieve with a new solution?
A: Reduce paperwork! Before VSS, we used the standard issue 2-part carbonless TowBoatU.S. invoice. Forms were lost overboard, misplaced, or just were not returned by the captains in a timely manner. With three ports, it was hard to manage and the captains complained that managing paper in a windy, wet environment sucked!
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Q: How has VSS helped your business?
A: In addition to allowing us to go virtually paperless, we’ve seen an increase in boaters assisted and faster turnaround time on payments from BoatU.S. Being able to email a completed, signed order to BoatU.S. directly from VSS is great. I can also share the completed invoice with the boat owner by email.

The system has also made it is easier to process and track orders. I have an accurate and extensive historical record of all orders processed, that I can sort, filter, and search through. I no longer have to flip through old orders in a filing cabinet when BoatU.S. has a question on an invoice. VSS orders can also be submitted directly to my QuickBooks file. Three years ago, I hand entered every order into QuickBooks after I scanned and emailed it to BoatUS. Today, I push a couple of buttons and it is done.

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The Time Sheets module has made payroll much easier, as well. Instead of calling the captains for their hours, I run a simple report and see all timer entries. If something looks off, I can ask the captain to review and update the timer entries. Once that is done, the updated entries are immediately available to process payroll using the Time Sheet reports. I can run one report and have all employees’ time sheets for any time period complete with details for easy reference.

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Q: What is your favorite feature of VSS?
A: I have a couple favorite features. The first is remote dispatching. It is a total game changer. I can take my entire office with me. I have the ability to handle calls and dispatch orders from my son’s football game or from my home in the middle of the night – without getting out of bed.

The second would be ease of use. The system is very straightforward and user-friendly. Even those captains who aren’t tech savvy have found the system easy to use. Now that they know the VSS system, my Captains can’t stand using paper. If they manage to leave without an iPad aboard, they always come back and get it!

And third would be the text notifications that the captains receive when they have been dispatched an order – my guys use that as the basis for their timers. Each email has the invoice number and every invoice needs a timer so at the end of the day they have a running list to use to create or review their timers.

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Is 123sync the Right FileMaker to QuickBooks Integration Option for You?

November 14th, 2016

Here at Productive Computing, we talk a lot about FileMaker to QuickBooks integrations. We even did a webinar about it. This is because: a) FileMaker is a powerful and versatile database platform with (almost) unlimited possibilities to help you organize and analyze your data, and b) QuickBooks is the most popular accounting software for small and medium businesses in the United States.

That being said, what makes more sense than to have these two applications communicate and share information? Connecting these two applications via a plug-in (FM Books Connector and FM Books Connector Online) allows users to seamlessly exchange data between the two applications, saving time and money and reducing data entry errors.

A FileMaker and QuickBooks integration can be accomplished three different ways:
1. Custom integration with a plug-in
2. Purchase a CRM that is preconfigured to integrate with QuickBooks (i.e. Core5 Starter Edition)
3. Integration package

In this blog we’re going to talk about option number 3. Specifically, the 123sync™ Accounting Integrator.

The 123sync Accounting Integrator allows you to connect your FileMaker Solution with a variety of QuickBooks’ lists and transactions. 123sync, like other integration packages, offers clients a faster and more affordable option to the traditional custom integration. With two integration packages available (Basic and Advanced), you are able to achieve a virtually custom integration at a fixed price.

123sync is ideal for clients who:
1) Have an existing FileMaker solution
2) A well-structured QuickBooks file
3) A workflow that ensures all transactions begin in the FileMaker solution
4) Do not have an in-house developer familiar with plug-ins and QuickBooks or do not want to hire someone to do a custom integration

This application was built to communicate with one QuickBooks file and is compatible with QuickBooks Desktop for Windows, meaning Mac integrations require one instance of QuickBooks for Windows and FileMaker for Windows.

123sync gives the user the power to push, pull, modify, and delete various QuickBooks Lists and Transactions. The chart below reflects the functionality of 123sync version 9. Functionality is subject to change and we recommend you check out this functionality chart for the latest updates.

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With the release of version 9, users can take advantage of the updates listed below:
– Added compatibility for QuickBooks 2017 Pro, Premier, and Enterprise US, Canadian, and UK editions.
– Added compatibility for FileMaker 64-bit.
– Added new module to the Advanced Integration package to allow users to push and pull Vendor Bill Payments. 123sync will post new or modified check payments to Vendor Bills and pull check payments applied to Vendor Bills in QuickBooks. Credit card payments are not posted.
– Added ability to use multiple currencies to the Invoice and Payments module.
– Enhanced the Customer list to pull additional Customer information from QuickBooks.
– Enhanced the Vendor list to pull additional Vendor information from QuickBooks.
– Enhanced the Payments module to retrieve posted customer payments.
– Added visual indicators to each module to notify users when there are items ready to post.
– Added ability to pull the Currency list to the Basic and Advanced Integration packages
– This plug-in is verified compatible with FileMaker® Pro 13-15 for Windows (32-bit) and FileMaker Pro 14 -15 for Windows (64-bit)

As mentioned earlier, there are two integrations packages available. Depending upon your QuickBooks needs, you can either purchase the Basic Integration Package or Advanced Integration Package. 123sync requires a $600 yearly subscription that covers unlimited users and phone technical support. Your subscription qualifies you for free upgrades to the latest versions of 123sync and FM Books Connector plug-in – and ensures your 123sync file is always compatible with the latest versions of FileMaker and QuickBooks.

For more information please visit www.fm2qb.com.

FM Books Connector Online Edition Debuts Added FileMaker 64-bit and Mac Compatibility

November 1st, 2016

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The most recent release of our FM Books Connector Online Edition (FMBOE) plug-in (version 2) contains some pretty exciting updates. At least we think so. We have redesigned the plug-in for both FileMaker 64-bit and Mac compatibility.

Originally scripted with a C# wrapper, the plug-in was not compatible with the FileMaker 64-bit architecture. After extensive research, we were able to rebuild the plug-in with standard C++ libraries that enabled it to be 32-bit and 64-bit compatible.  This redesign allowed us to branch out and let the plug-in take on a more flexible nature.

With version 2, we knew it was important for us to also focus on Mac compatibility. While there have always been work arounds for Mac users who wish to accomplish a FileMaker and QuickBooks integration with the FMBOE plug-in (robot machine or Windows instance), it was important to us to provide our customers with a QuickBooks plug-in that was inherently compatible with the macOS.

Over one million customers use QuickBooks Online to send invoices, track sales and expenses, and manage their cash flow. The FM Books Connector Online Edition plug-in makes the user’s work flow even easier by connecting their FileMaker solution with their QuickBooks Online file. An integration allows users to push invoices and customers with the click of a button, or perform vendor or purchase order data exchanges, customer balance queries, time sheet imports, and more.

Version 2 of the FM Books Connector Online Edition features:

FileMaker 64-bit compatibility for Windows and Mac OS in addition to the existing 32-bit compatibility

A redesigned plug-in for improved performance meaning you get your work done even faster

Built-in authentication to allow the user to authenticate to QuickBooks Online using an in-app browser (Mac only). This makes it even easier and faster to begin your session and authenticate the plug-in with your QuickBooks Online file

Updated Developer’s Guide, Migration Guide, and Functions Guide to assist you with your integration

New installer packages for Windows and Mac for easier installation

Updated Demo file for a more enjoyable test drive experience

Verified compatibility with Mac OS 10.10 – 10.12, Windows 7/8/10, and FileMaker 13-15 (32-bit) and FileMaker 14-15 (64-bit)

QuickBooks Online gives its users the flexibility to work from anywhere with real-time information and the security of automatic software updates and data backups. With the FM Books Connector Online Edition plug-in you can utilize the flexibility of QuickBooks Online, while continuing to streamline your workflow with a QuickBooks and FileMaker integration. With a new suite of instructional videos and expanded compatibility it is easier than ever to accomplish an integration.

The FM Books Connector Online Edition plug-in is available for $120/user/yr with multiuser discounts available. Please contact sales@productivecomputing.com or call 760-510-1200 for more information. Visit www.fmbooksconnectoronline.com for more information and to download the demo.

Introducing Core5 Starter Edition CRM – Intuitive, scalable, and pre-configured for QuickBooks

October 20th, 2016

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CRM – that ubiquitous acronym you hear a lot in business. Customer Relationship Management or a Customer Relationship Manager can mean and do a lot of different things. It embodies how you handle your customers, how you structure your workflow, and how you build relationships with clients. The market is flooded with various CRMs for your business. Some are simple, some are robust, some are industry specific, and some service a broad spectrum of businesses. However, it is our opinion that the best CRMs are those built in FileMaker. FileMaker allows you to design simple, intuitive solutions, as well as complex, specialized, and expansive databases, capable of processing and analyzing mass amounts of data.

Our latest offering builds upon to the existing repertoire of FileMaker CRMs, but what sets it apart is it beautiful simplicity, unlimited possibility, and affordable price tag. If you are looking to get started with FileMaker and (or) are interested in quickly integrating your QuickBooks file with a CRM, the Core5 Starter Edition CRM is the perfect pre-built solution for you.

This solution is designed to integrate with your existing QuickBooks company file (Desktop or Online). After purchasing our FM Books Connector or FM Books Connector Online Edition plug-in, you can quickly import your contacts, tax rates, items, and vendors in to the Core5 and then begin pushing contacts and invoices to QuickBooks and pulling payment and balance information back into Core5.

Some of you may be familiar with our existing Core products, the Core5 Starter Edition joins this family and provides an option for those who are interested in a simplified, yet surprisingly versatile, CRM solution.

The Core5 allows you manage the following aspects of your business.

Contacts: The Core5 is designed for you to easily import your contacts from your QuickBooks file or other data source. Once you are up and running, you can easily add leads, customers, and vendors.

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In the Contacts module you can also track related notes, maintain appointments and to dos, and link contacts to estimates, orders, invoices, and documents.

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Sales: Create estimates, orders, and invoices for contacts and track your sales progress as deals develop.

 

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Integrate with QuickBooks to easily push invoices to QuickBooks and pull invoice balance information back into the Core5 for your team to view.

 

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Documents: Go paperless with secure document storage, link documents to related contacts and tag with keywords and descriptions.

 

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Dashboard: Managers can use the Dashboard to analyze various graphs and charts on customers and sales and get an overview of contacts, to dos and appointments, and all sales transactions. The bookkeeper can use the Dashboard to perform batch pushes of contacts and invoices.

 

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There are three licensing options for the Core5 Starter Edition:

1. Free Core5 Starter Edition Desktop – A free, single-user desktop CRM. This is a great option if you are a one man team and want a quick way to get started with a CRM.  Interested in taking Core5 for a trial run? We encourage you to order this free runtime solution as a way to get an idea of what the Core5 Starter Edition can do. However, this version of the Core5 Starter Edition is not customizable and all infomation is local to the machine it is installed on.

2. Core5 Starter Edition SaaS – This is the ideal option for a team. We host the solution allowing you and your team to work seamlessly across iPad, Windows, Mac, and the web. Customization is available for an additional fee, and we provide all necessary FileMaker licensing.

3. Core5 Starter Edition Site License – The site license is fully unlocked allowing you to customize it to your heart’s desire. You also have the ability to host the file for mobile and multi-user access.

All plug-ins for QuickBooks integration are sold separately.

Please visit www.Core5CRM.com for more details, to request your free runtime, and for additional product and training resources.