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VSS V 2.4: How to Push Invoices and Pull Balances with QuickBooks

July 11th, 2017

If your VSS system is configured with QuickBooks (Desktop or Online) using our FM Books Connector plug-in, you can push invoices to and pull payment and balance information from QuickBooks.

Please contact PCI if you wish to configure VSS with QuickBooks.

Before we begin, it is important to note that VSS is equipped with colored icons that indicate an order’s status in QuickBooks:

1. Red: Has not been pushed to QB/ needs to be pushed
2. Orange: Order has been pushed to QuickBooks and it needs to be updated/ re-pushed to QuickBooks
3. Green: Order is up-to-date in QuickBooks

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VSS can push and pull information about cases one at a time or in batches, we’ll first cover how to push and pull information for a single case.

How to Push a Single Invoice to QuickBooks:
Once you have a completed order, you can push it to QuickBooks by locating the sync icon next to the “Pushed to QB” field.

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When you click this icon, you will see a series of popups as the invoice pushes. The first will ask if you wish to continue, the next will indicate the invoice is pushing, and the third will indicate if the invoice pushed correctly.

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After you have pushed the invoice, you will notice that the “Pushed to QB” field will indicate the date of the push and the icon next to the field will be green.

If you make edits to the line items on an order – such as fix a price or adjust a quantity – after it has been pushed to QuickBooks, the icon next to the “Pushed to QB” field will turn orange. You can then push the sync icon again and it will update the invoice in QuickBooks.

How to Pull an Invoice Balance or Paid On Date:
You can post payments in QuickBooks and pull over balance information to VSS. To pull payment information, click the sync icon next to the “Paid On” field.

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If your order has been paid in full then the Paid On field will populate with the date the invoice was paid. If your invoice has an open balance, you will get a popup stating the amount of the remaining balance and the “Paid On” field will remain blank.

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The More Info tab provides you with additional information such as the QuickBooks ID, the date the invoice was pushed QuickBooks, the last time the balance was checked, and the invoice’s current balance.

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How to View your Invoice in QuickBooks
To view your invoice in QuickBooks, you can go up to the top menu bar, click on the QB drop down list and click “View in QuickBooks”.

Your order must be pushed to QuickBooks before you can view it in QuickBooks.

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Clicking this option will open up the invoice in your QuickBooks file for easy reference and editing.

How to Push Multiple Orders to QuickBooks at One Time (Batch Pushing):
To push multiple orders to QuickBooks at once, you must first mark the order as reviewed.

When an order is received back from a captain, the status will change to “Ready to Process” and a button will appear that says “Mark as Reviewed”.

Once you have reviewed the order and confirmed that it is correct, you click the “Mark as Reviewed” button and the order’s status will change to “Reviewed”.

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When you are in list view, you can click the “Push Reviewed to QB” button and the system will push all orders marked as “Reviewed” to QuickBooks. If you have modified an order that has been pushed to QuickBooks and the icon is orange, this “Push Reviewed to QB” will also push modified orders to QuickBooks again.

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You can also use the list view to do a mass pull of balances. The pull balances button will query QuickBooks for any balances due or paid invoices and update the system appropriately.

FileMaker 16 Compatibility Update: Plug-ins and Solutions

May 12th, 2017

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FileMaker 16 was just released and that blue color scheme is not the only thing that’s new! FileMaker 16 is debuting with some exciting updates for both Windows and Mac users.

For example:

– The Window’s version of FileMaker now has independent windows!
– FileMaker Go now supports animation and transitions with scripts, enhanced signature capture, and custom paper sizes.
– And among the many new features in FileMaker 16 for developers – you now have the ability to copy and paste value lists, utilize an enhanced data viewer, and integrate with new JSON functions, enhanced cURl options, and external script steps.

For a complete list of new features and to buy your upgrade today (at a discount) check out www.buy-filemaker.com.

To prepare our products for the FileMaker 16 release, we’ve implemented FileMaker external script steps in all of our plug-ins. These scripts will only be accessible when the plug-in is run in FileMaker 16 and allows a developer to specify plug-in functions as script steps instead of as calculation results.

Using script steps instead of the more traditional methods can make scripting within a solution more direct, as well as help with data entry validation. Some functions accept calculation-style input, while others accept a Boolean “true” or “false” option, and others employ a drop-down list for the developer to choose an option from. As stated earlier, the functionality of the plug-in script step is identical to its functionality as a calculation function.

Here is a video from our CEO, Marc Larochelle, with more information about external script steps.

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Currently, all of our plug-ins have been updated to provide this plug-in script step functionality when used with FileMaker 16. Along with the external script steps, calculation functions will still be provided for use in development; this is to ensure that scripts already integrated with any of our plug-ins will still be viable and functional, and the developer now has the option to utilize the plug-in script steps at his or her discretion.

For the latest information or downloads, please click on the product you’re interested in:

Solutions:
Core4
Core5 Starter Edition
Vessel Service Solutions

Plug-ins:
Outlook Manipulator
FM Books Connector
123sync
FM Books Connector Online
Address Book Manipulator
iCal Manipulator
eSign Signature Capture
Biometric Fingerprint Reader
PDF Manipulator DC
Change Printer
File Manipulator

Vessel Service Solutions – The Perfect Example of the Flexibility of FileMaker

February 23rd, 2017

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When someone unfamiliar with FileMaker asks me what we do here at Productive Computing, I first try to explain that we work with a software that allows users to build solutions, databases, and apps custom to their needs, and that we also build “plug-ins” that enable those solutions to talk with other third-party programs – such as QuickBooks.

When all I get back is a blank face or the, “well how does that help me and my business?” question, I immediately remember what my college professor told me about job interviews – when the interviewer asks you what your strengths and weaknesses are, you don’t just say, “I’m a team-player”, you tell them an anecdote about a time when you worked with a team to achieve a desired goal. That’s when I talk about VSS (Vessel Service Solutions). VSS is a perfect and concise example of what FileMaker can do. It is a vertical solution that solved a big problem for a niche industry.

So what is VSS?

Similar to how you call AAA when you have an issue with your car, a boat owner calls TowBoatUS when he has a problem with his boat. The captain that responds to the call is part of the marine assistance and towing industry.

The flexibility, capability, and simplicity of FileMaker allowed us to create a beautiful, easy-to-use, customizable, and highly mobile solution for this industry – all at an affordable cost.

Utilizing FileMaker Pro and FileMaker Go, captains and dispatchers have the ability to work in the office or remotely from their homes, their son’s football game, while traveling, or down on the docks.

Here is how it works, when a distress call is received any employee can assign that case (using a desktop or iOS device) to a captain. The captain then receives the case on an iPad or iPhone and, after assisting the boater, he updates the case with customer and service information, grabs a signature, and submits the case back to dispatch for final processing.

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Above and beyond the basic tow order processing functionality, VSS is integrated with QuickBooks and can perform single or batch pushes and pulls of invoices, items, invoice balances, and payment information. The solution also includes Fuel Log, Maintenance, Time Sheets and Reports modules for 360-degree management of the business.

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VSS has been a collaborative effort since its inception. We were thankful to have a lot of support from industry leaders when we released version 2; and when we started working on this release, we asked for feedback from our current customers. We wanted to know what was working well, what processes and features could be improved, and if there was anything that could enhance their team’s workflow. The responses we got back were tremendous and the end result is a great new version with some exciting improvements.

New features in the version 2.4 release include:
– Accessibility on iPhones using FileMaker Go
– Ability to manage multiple tower IDs and assign one ID to each port of operation
– Ability to dispatch orders from an iOS device
– Ability to create a new order on the iPad with no internet connection
– Warnings and catches for fuel and maintenance log entries with bad or missing data
– Improvements to the tow order form for easier boater assistance and record keeping
– QuickBooks status icons to indicate when an order is ready to push to QuickBooks, needs to be updated in QuickBooks, or is up to date in QuickBooks.
– Improvements to the Reports module for easier business analysis and payroll processing
– The ability to automatically create a timer entry when submitting an order from the Remote file to the Central dispatch file

We all know that one size never fits all. Every business, even in the same industry, has different business standards and practices. Building VSS in FileMaker has allowed us to create and continue to improve upon a comprehensive solution that is also easy to customize specific to a client’s needs.

For more information on this product, please visit www.vesselservicesolutions.com or call 760-510-1200.

How VSS Helped TowBoatU.S. San Diego Go Mobile, Paperless, and Save Money

January 19th, 2017

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TowBoatU.S. San Diego, founded in 1987, is the most established Towboat company in San Diego. Their experienced staff assists thousands of boats a year off the coast of Southern California and Baja, Mexico. Rob Butler’s company is ranked number four in the U.S. in terms of caseload volume. TowBoatU.S. San Diego is 100% mobile and 100% paperless.

Q: What challenges were you experiencing prior to purchasing VSS?
A: While we’re at sea, it’s hard to keep track of new service requests coming in by phone and it is difficult getting invoice details back to the main office. Imagine those busy days when you barely get a chance to write up an order or the paperwork gets lost. It’s easy to misplace, lose the invoice or forget to write up the order. How do you follow up with a client weeks or months after the service was done? We knew we needed to change something to become more organized and remain competitive and responsive in the marketplace.

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Q: What led you to decide to use Vessel Service Solutions?
A: We needed a way to streamline our method of receiving and processing orders to improve business, turnaround time, and efficiency of service. Before VSS, we were using a work order software that allowed us to dispatch orders to a captain’s iPad, but since the majority of our orders come from BoatU.S., we wanted something that would actually import the BoatU.S. order information directly into a form in the system. With the old solution, our staff had to copy and paste the email into the database, which was labor intensive and slow.

We were also using a completely separate software to track all fleet maintenance, but the solution was too complex for our needs. The Fuel Log and Maintenance modules in VSS are very easy to use and perfect for our needs – we only record the information we want to track.

Q: What goals were you hoping to achieve with a new solution?
A: We wanted to provide our captains with a simple, paperless, easy-to-use system. We needed the ability to quickly update the data needed for an order (times, services, etc.) and get the customer’s signature all while assisting a boater. Making sure we could do this without an internet connection was very important. VSS did all of this and it has an incredibly short learning curve. The captains can pick up an iPad and start using VSS confidently in a day or two.

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Q: How has VSS helped your business?
A: It’s been great. We’ve been using VSS since 2014. And since then we’ve seen an improvement in payment processing and an increase in customer satisfaction. Now all towing orders go in and out through our iPads – keeping everything up to date and our office completely paperless. My boat captains are able to receive an order on their iPad, edit and update the order at sea, and send their orders back to the main office for invoicing. Paper forms are completely eliminated, customers in distress are assisted faster, and the payment process with BoatU.S. or non-member customers has been greatly improved. The system tracks all orders, so it’s easy to follow up and collect payment. I would estimate that VSS saved us at least $60K in 2016.

Q: What about VSS do you use the most?
Probably the remote dispatching feature. With VSS, I – or anyone else – can dispatch tow orders on the road. No one has to be sitting down at a computer to send out a tow dispatch. With VSS, it’s easy to work on the go – we don’t really have an office anymore. Our entire operation is mobile.
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Q: What is your favorite feature of VSS?
A: My office manager really appreciates the fact that you can instantly push invoices from VSS to your QuickBooks file and send completed orders directly to BoatU.S. This ensures that the main office stays up-to-date and completely eliminates manual re-entry of data. Sending orders directly to BoatU.S. without having to scan or fax anything has helped reduce the time spent in the office and helps us get paid faster. I’d estimate we’ve reduced our office work by 90%

I also really appreciate the maintenance message pop-ups that remind staff when a service is due on a boat.

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Q: You’ve been using VSS since 2014, is there anything you’re excited about with the release?
This solution has just continued to get better and better. There is a lot to be excited about, but if I had to pick one new feature, I would say it is the fact that captains can create an order on the iPad while at sea. We used to send captains blank order from the central dispatch file. Now, when my captains come across a stranded boater in the middle of the ocean, they can create a new order themselves, instead of having to call into dispatch to get a blank order.

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For more information on Vessel Service Solutions please visit: www.vesselservicesolutions.com

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.