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Posts Tagged ‘VSS’

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.

VSS: How to Push Invoices and Pull Balances with QuickBooks

April 22nd, 2016

 

If your VSS system is configured with QuickBooks using our FM Books Connector, you can push invoices to and pull balances from QuickBooks. Please contact PCI if you wish to configure VSS with QuickBooks.

Pushing an Invoice to QuickBooks:

Once you have a completed order, you can push it to QuickBooks by locating the QB menu item in the top toolbar.
 
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This QB drop down will give you three options:
1. View in QuickBooks
2. Push/ Update Invoice to QB
3. Pull Invoice Balance
 
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When you click Push/Update Invoice to QB, 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 an invoice, you will notice that the Overall Status will state “Pushed to QB” and the Pushed to QB status will indicate the date of the push.

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If you make edits to the order after it has been pushed to QuickBooks, you can select Push/Update Invoice to QB and it will update the invoice in QuickBooks.
 
Pull Invoice Balances:
You can post payments in QuickBooks and easily pull over balance information in VSS.

When you click “Pull Invoice Balance”, it will ask you if you wish to pull balance information for a Found Set or This Order.

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Found Set:

Clicking Found Set will pull balance information for all of the orders in your found set (if you have performed a find) or it will update the balance information for all records in your system if you have not performed a find.

For Example: In the graphic below, I performed a find for all invoices for a specific time period. My found set was 10 records. If I clicked Found Set on the pull balance prompt, it would pull the balance information for these 10 orders.
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In this graphic, I did not perform a find, so I am currently managing all orders in my system (84). If I clicked Found Set, it would update the balance information for every order that had been pushed to QuickBooks. Please note, if you have a large number of records, this could take some time.

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This Order:

Selecting this option will only pull the balance information for the current record you are viewing.

Once you have pulled balance information, your Paid On status will update with the date of the last payment.
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The More Info tab provides you additional information such as the QuickBooks ID, when the invoice was pushed, the last time the balanced was checked, and the invoice’s current balance.

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View in QuickBooks
In order to “View in QuickBooks” you need to first push the order to QuickBooks.
Clicking this option will open up the invoice in your QuickBooks file for easy reference and editing.

Vessel Service Solutions. Think AAA for the Sea.

April 12th, 2016

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Our wonderful products team here at PCI has been hard at work on Vessel Service Solutions (VSS) 2.0 – a new and improved vertical solution for the boat assistance and towing industry.

VSS was first released over two years ago in January 2014 and sold as a customizable framework for covering ship or watercraft breakdown emergencies – kind of like a Big Mac – you could have it your way. We provided you the burger and bun and you decided all the delicious toppings you wanted. The idea behind the product was to help an industry, which relied heavily on 20th century processes (think scans and faxes), streamline their workflow by going paperless and digital.

VSS has come a long way since then. We’ve taken this framework and turned it into a truly wonderful and efficient solution with expanded functionality—yet still delightfully customizable.

Here’s how it works.
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The process is simple enough—but saves the dispatcher and captain considerable time eliminating double entry and doing away with the necessity to print, scan, or fax any paperwork. The entire process from receipt of the order to sending it for payment takes place in one interface.

Other than an efficient orders process, the solution also offers users the following modules to track almost every aspect of their business:

Fuel logs per boat with information including: engine hours, location, and cost per gallon.
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Maintenance Log where users can make an entry each time maintenance is performed on a boat.
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Maintenance Schedule that graphically shows the viewer when the next required maintenance is to be performed.
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Time Sheets where personnel can link day and night hours worked to a specific order, calculate commission totals for an order or bill by the unit (ft. yd. mi.) for services performed.
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– A variety of reports can be pulled on Orders, Boats, and Time Sheets.
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Preferences is where the magic happens. This is where the user can customize some modules, manage QuickBooks, add boats and ports to the fleet, manage personnel contact information and update QB items/ services.
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VSS is packed full of all types of goodies and nifty features for the user—much too much to discuss in a blog. If you’re interested in learning more about what else this solution has to offer contact us at sales@productivecomputing.com or 760-510-1200.

We also invite you to visit our website www.vesselservicesolutions.com for addition product information, capability overviews, and instructional videos.