To kick start our series of reviews of the Sage Abra modules, I interviewed Mark Boutilier, Vice President of Implementation, and head consultant with Dresser & Associates for the past fifteen years. Mark is a man with a vast amount of experience in the HRIS industry, an absolute computer whiz, and an avid gamer!
I chose Alerts & Workflow as the first module in the series due to the fact that it has experienced some major changes in the past few months. Sage moved it’s endorsement from Global Systems Alerts (what we called Sage Alerts) to VineyardSoft Alerts (now called Sage Alerts & Workflow). Customers with the “old” Alerts module are able to transition to Sage Alerts & Workflow, a much superior product, at no extra cost. However, this leads to a completely new installation and requires the creation of new alerts, a potentially time-intensive and frustrating process.
To minimize the stress and minutes wasted, Mark created and presented a two part video series on the new changes and he provides step-by-step instructions and guidance on using this new product. Part 1 and Part 2 can be found on our YouTube channel!
With that said- let’s jump into the ideal company profile for Alerts, pros/cons of Alerts & Workflow, and Mark’s favorite features.
A company that is an ideal fit for Alerts is one where the employees receive electronic communications via e-mails, texts, or IM on a daily basis. Alerts is becoming especially effective with the widespread use of smart phones to exchange information. A company where employees have access to computers and the internet throughout the day, versus a company where the majority of workers are out on the manufacturing floor, is the optimal environment for Alerts.
Sage Alerts & Workflow, which we will refer to simply as “Alerts” from now on, has a great number of wonderful features that provide an endless supply of automated and customized processes and alerts. Once it is set up, it prompts and executes various procedures behind the scenes, serving a unique function and purpose to your business. A little known fact is that, since Alerts has the capability to access data in all of your Sage products, including Timberline, it can effectively be set up to seamlessly run programs, change and insert data, and run VB or SQL scripts. An example of this is would be setting it up to run a daily, weekly, or monthly report on the amount of PTO time that is available, and have it automatically update employee records depending on the time used, and then create a report showing the respective balances. It could also be used to schedule back-ups on a regular basis. Alerts can also present and analyze data in a variety of different formats including web pages, e-mails, excel spreadsheets, and Crystal reports.
Due to the immense capabilities of this program, it does require a rather high level of understanding of file and field names, where data is stored on your server, and the relationship of the data. The other downside of Alerts is that it is typically installed and resides on the server, which requires users to have access to it in order to create or revise alerts.
Lastly, some of Mark’s favorite features of Alerts include the magnitude of customization and editing that can be done on the reports and e-mails. Alerts has the ability to kick off Crystal Reports to include graphs, charts, and links that can be used in presentations, reports, or sent the C-Suite for analysis. Furthermore, one could use HTML formatting in the e-mails sent by Alerts to present data in an aesthetically pleasing way and supplement the aforementioned Crystal Reports. In the “old” Alerts, the reports could not be separated or differentiated between the old and new ones and they could only be formatted in plain text, but now there is much greater control over the appearance and they can be edited to the same extent as Crystal Reports.
Sage Alerts & Workflow is a very powerful tool that could save your company time, money, and stress! It can be complicated to set up, but definitely worth it in the end. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to call us at 866-885-7212 and you may even be able to speak with the big man himself!
Photo Credit: Alan Cleaver