Professional Computer Systems, Co.

October 2018, Newsletter Issue No. 40

IN THIS ISSUE:


  • Mobile Workforce
  • Net Metering- Banked Detail
  • Coming to a Screen Near You
  • Marc's Insights
  • Insight- New Development List
  • Connect - New Development List
  • 18.What.Who?
  • PCS Enhancing Internet
  • PCS Virtual Office Service
  • Proposed Postage Rate Increase
  • About Wright Business Graphics
  • Upcoming Webinars

  • Upcoming Conferences:

    Iowa Assoc. of Electric Coop. Annual Meeting
    Des Moines, IA
    December 6, 2018


    Upcoming Webinars

    Connect What Does Connect Have That You Don't?
    Nov. 13, 2018 1:30 PM - 3:30 PM CDT
    (Click here to sign up.)

    Insight Payroll W2's/1095 Forms
    Dec. 4, 2018 1:30 PM CDT
    (Click here to sign up.)

    Insight Accounts Payable- 1099 Forms
    Dec. 5, 2018 1:30 PM CDT
    (Click here to sign up.)

    To view the 2018 class schedule and dates Click here





    Know someone interested in receiving our newsletter?

    Forward this to them so they can sign up today at the PCS website in the client area at www.pcsco.com or email danai@pcsco.com



    KEEP IN TOUCH:


    Phone: (888) 843-3106

    Welcome to the Newsletter

    Mobile Workforce

    Over the last several years there has been a focus and emphasis on the PCS Smart Grid Enterprise and recently a focus on Customer Empowerment. Both efforts have been a great emphasis for development and have provided a mountain of efficiencies and streamlined operations.

    With the release of Outage Call Handling (OCH) these two efforts have come full circle. While both areas will continue to receive enhancements and updates, most of the development is complete. The results from these efforts include over 86% of PCS clients are allowing customers to access their account data, request changes and make payments. Also, over 60% of the client base are integrating with third-party solutions such as Automated Metering, Meter Data Management, Mapping etc.

    So late 2017 (and in some cases even before), PCS started an effort into developing mobile solutions which continues today. These solutions meet the goal of "Your Data, Anywhere, Anytime and on most any device".

    Mobile solutions provide a tremendous benefit to the utility by improving productivity, faster business response time, reduce the paper shuffle, and provides overall accountability. Mobile solutions are not new to the utility industry, but with the improvement in cellular, wireless and network connections, connectivity is available to just about everyone.

    Mobile applications are not new to PCS either, in fact PCS has a wide range of solutions available for our utility clients and utility customers to use and they include:

    • Mobile Service Orders (MSO): Eliminate the paper service order and communicate directly to the crew, no matter if in the office or in the field.
    • Web Customer Service (WCS): Allow staff to pull up customer information in a browser on a phone, laptop, tablet or desktop.
    • Virtual Office: Internal office applications can now be accessed securely outside the walls of the utility. The applications can include PCS accounting and billing and extend to even third-party solutions such as Automated Metering, Mapping and Outage.
    • Utilit-e Online including C&I screens: The customer portal has been available for many years, but recently additional capability has been added to allow third-party companies to handle after hours calls and make payments. PCS recently added the ability to view real-time demand usage for commercial and industrial customers.
    • Mobile Customer Access (MCA): With a few clicks on a phone (Android and iOS), a customer can view information on their account, make a payment and the utility can communicate messaging directly to the phone app.
    • Microsoft Power BI (PBI): Visualizations paint a thousand words and Microsoft has the most powerful and comprehensive tool on the market. These visualizations can be displayed internal to the organization or external to phones, laptops, tablets and desktops.
    • PCS Workflow Engine: This powerful solution allows documents, records and information to be routed around the office with a simple click of an "accept" or "reject" button. Information and processes can now be automated instead of creating paper and passing documents. This solution will only get better as more modules are workflow enabled.

    Mobile solutions are making their way to mainstream operations. While these solutions provide a host of benefits, they cannot be implemented overnight and require management support, planning, education and training to receive the full benefits they can provide. PCS clients are showing a lot of interest in all aspects of the Mobile solutions.

    The Mobile Workforce will be another great PCS emphasis for 2019 and beyond. Contact your PCS support team or business developer today to discuss how your utility can benefit from mobile workforce solutions.



    Top of Page

    A REMINDER

    2019 Maintenance & Support Notices were sent October 1st via email.
    Invoices for 2019 Maintenance & Support will be mailed in early December.

    Connect with Angie

    Net Metering - Banked Detail

    Woohoo!! Webster Electric Cooperative has completed their internal training and trial runs with the new net metering bank detail functionality and has recently enabled the new functionality in their production environment. This functionality will not only fully accommodate the Missouri state laws which include a first-in, first-out bank approach with an expiration date of banked units on the thirteenth month, but it will also provide them with a more complete picture of what has occurred.

    The banked detail tables provide:

    • The opportunity to convey better data to the customer on his/her statement
    • The utility staff visible history of what has occurred on the account

    This functionality is available with release 18.1.4. If you are banking net meter generation and interested in hearing more, please contact your Connect support person.

    Top of Page

    Coming to a Screen Near You!!

    Card maintenance - a popular hit at the UGM will be rolled out in November. Specifically, that is the ability for customers via Utilit-e Online or MCA and utility staff via Cashiering or Customer Service to:

    • Delete a saved payment method
    • Maintain the expiration date and/or zip code for a saved credit card

    This feature requires an upgrade by both PSN and PCS. The plan is for PSN to put their piece into production the week of November 12th. Once that happens, anyone with R18.1.3.3 or higher will see these new capabilities. These new features were designed with the intent of being intuitive and self-explanatory; but as we all know, it may result in a few calls by customers to the utility.

    Top of Page

    Marc's Insights

    Many of you are budgeting for 2019. Keep in mind that PCS is willing to come to your office to train new employees, do refresher training for existing employees, do a review of your processes, etc. If you would like some training, put some money in your budget and contact us to talk about what kind of training you'd like and a timeframe that would work good for you. I'm already working with a couple of clients for some training in April.

    Order forms for W-2's and 1099's will be sent in November. PCS is adding the option to e-file both W-2's and 1099's, and this will include no printing of forms by you in your office. When the forms are e-filed, the e-filing service will print and mail the employee W-2 and vendor 1099 copies. It will also include the filing of the W-3 and 1096. A process will be run to create a file, upload that file to the NELCO e-filing service, and that's it - NELCO will take it from there. Disclaimer: this functionality will be in the November 30 or December 31 release, and not all clients will have this release in time to do the 2018 filing. If you want to use this method for filing your 2018 forms, contact Marc Rowedder, marcr@pcsco.com to discuss expediting the release for you.

    As noted in the Development table below, the new web-based Requisitions module will be available in the October 31st release. PCS thought this was ready to go in the September 30th release, but we ran into a last-minute snag, it is now ready for release. This includes 2 pieces. One is the web-based Requisitions module where an employee can enter a request to purchase something (material inventory or non-inventory items) and route it to a supervisor or manager for approval. The 2nd piece is that when the requisition is approved, the purchase order clerk can then see if in the Insight Purchase Order module and turn the requisition into a purchase order.

    Top of Page

    Insight New Development List

    18.1.4 (October Development)

    Development Topic Status
    Mass pay rate change A screen to edit employee pay rates in mass rather than having to go to each employee's screen.
    Added bank name to direct deposit What this means is that if you want to print the bank name on the employee's direct deposit advice slip, we now have the ability to do that. Contact us if you'd like us to add that to your advice slip report.
    Requisitions & Workflow Continuing to work on the new Requisitions and Workflow products. Requisitions, including the functionality to turn a requisition into a purchase order, will be available in the October 31st release.

    18.1.5 (November Development)

    Development Topic Status
    Effective date of pay rate change Enter new employee pay rate and indicate the day that takes effect. Time sheet entry will automatically use that date.
    W-2 / 1099 / 941 e-file Ability to e-file W-2's, 1099's, and 941. This includes the e-filing service printing and mailing the employee/vendor copies rather than printing in your office and mailing them.
    Payroll benefit adjustment screen A new screen to make benefit (vacation-sick-holiday) adjustments, such as increasing or decreasing someone's hours.

    Top of Page

    Connect New Development List

    18.1.4 (OctoberDevelopment)

    Development Topic Status
    Outage Call Handling Integration PCS is completing the Outage Call Handling (OCH) integration with Cooperative Response Center (CRC): This provides the ability to enter an outage call in PCS Customer Service or MCA or in the CRC system and it be visible within both PCS and CRC. Integration with Milsoft OMS has also been completed. Outage calls entered in PCS are passed to the Milsoft OMS and vice versa. Trimble integration is in process.
    PSN Card Maintenance PCS and PSN is providing the ability for the customer to maintain their credit card(s) on file via Utilit-e Online and MCA. This will allow the customer to update the expiration date and/or zip code of the card billing address. In addition, the customer will be able to remove a saved card. Testing continues. Deployment will begin in November.
    Statement Redesign Work is on-going on the new statement design. Current expectation is to have a beta deployment by the end of the year.
    MSO Enhancements Enhancements include:
    • General Service Orders (GSO) reading entry formerly via overlays now update database
    • Ability to reassign crew from the mobile device
    • Save transfers data on in process orders back to the server similar to the Complete button
    • Images and remarks can display at both the beginning and end of mobile service order
    • Readings entry screen defaults to numeric keypad

    18.1.5 (November Development)

    Development Topic Status
    Outage Call Handling Integration Continued efforts on integration with Trimble OMS system..
    Statement Redesign Work is on-going on the new statement design. Current expectation is to have a beta deployment by the end of the year.
    Reconnect of Visibility of Amount to Pay
    • Develop a setup driven method to determine the amount to pay to be reconnected
    • Display or communicate that amount in numerous places
      • CS - Account At A Glance screen
      • Web Customer Service
      • Cashiering
      • Disconnect for nonpayment service orders
      • Utilit-e Online
      • CRC Integration
      • Payable amount passed to PSN and IVR.
    OCH - Notification to Utility Staff Send email to utility staff when an outage is reported
    Web CS Additional screens
    • AR Detail screen
    • Landlord screen
    • Service Order Tracking screen
    Dispatch screen - add more functionality

    Top of Page

    18.What.Who?

    You commonly hear us talk about or see articles on new features or bug fixes that are in this release or that release - 7.0.712, or 18.1.3 or 19.1...We know that for the most part those are meaningless numbers to you, but unfortunately a necessary evil for us to manage all the code.

    The numbers themselves have never had much meaning other than an internal tracking mechanism to help PCS with code control and to know which client has what release. We started the 7.0.000 release numbering schema way back in 2009. In 2018, we decide it was time to make the numbering schema make a little more sense.

    In mid-year 2018, we started down that path; but since it was mid-year and with what we already had in the mix we could only make partial improvements. We changed things up, so the first segment represented the calendar year. The second segment was kind of stuck at "1". The last segment represented the month, but to confuse things a little bit we started counting at 1 in the month of July, so 1=July, 2= August and so on.

    In a couple months, you will see yet another slight adjustment to that numbering schema.

    • First segment - represents the year
    • Second segment - represents the month
    • Third segment increments for each release (sometimes called a patch) within a given month.

    The first release of 2019 will be 19.1.000. This is the January 2019 development release. This means PCS is doing coding and testing throughout the month of January and closing the release on (or very close to) January 31, 2019. The release will be available to install on client systems in the month of February. To help make the release numbers a bit more meaningful we have added the grid with development items for the month that also includes the release number.

    Top of Page

    ITS with Joe

    PCS Enhancing Internet Service

    The new fiber Internet service has been installed and PCS is now working on the migration plan to add this service into The BGP routing service to make it available to traffic to and from the hosting center in Denison.

    There will be a period of design, implementation and testing then PCS will provide notification of when the planned cutover will occur. Since PCS has separate existing services, we do not anticipate any extended downtimes during the transition while the additional service in being added. The result of this investment is that Central hosting clients now have multiple high-speed internet paths to the hosting center. This in turn provides a greater insurance to accessing the hosting center, not only for utility staff but also for utility customers who have shown they make payment 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

    The investment does not end here, PCS is planning additional enhancements in 2019 to the internet services to continue to provide the highest level of access for clients and their customers. Look for more information to be released in early 2019.

    Top of Page

    PCS Virtual Office Service

    This service has been around for many years but some of you may not have heard of it.

    Here is the story on the service we call PCS Virtual Office.

    As businesses move out of the confines of a secure building, managing access to sensitive corporate resources has become a top concern for IT managers. There is a need for an intelligent access security solution that provides policy-based access to guests, customers, partners and employees.

    Trends such as BYOD (Bring your Own Device), cloud and remote working bring their own unique set of challenges, but fundamental problems remain.

    • Unauthorized users gaining access to company data and applications
    • Malware infected devices acting as conduits to infect company systems
    • Maintaining a reliable service across different mobile platforms with zero impact to business
    • Interception of company data in transit on unsecured public Wi-Fi networks
    • Compliance with audit and regulatory requirements

    The PCS Virtual Office is based upon the SonicWall SSL VPN portal and is an advanced access security gateway that provides secure access to the PCS hosting network from any device.

    The portal offers centralized, granular, policy-based enforcement of remote and mobile access to Utilit-e Central servers and data, both on network and in the cloud.

    The PCS Virtual Office Access Control Engine ensures risks originating from users, endpoints or applications are evaluated prior to granting data access. Remediation actions, such as session quarantining and alerting are enforced to minimize user frustration and reduce helpdesk calls.

    The PCS Virtual Office empowers your users with secure remote access to their PCS hosted files, applications and resources they need in order to be productive with an intuitive client that is easy to deploy on Windows, Mac OSX, Linux, iOS, Android, Chrome OS, Windows Mobile and Kindle Fire devices.

    PCS Virtual Office portal delivers best-in-class security to minimize surface threats, while making organizations more secure by supporting latest encryption algorithms and ciphers. Utilizing clientless access security, the PCS Virtual Office portal with HTML5, embedded application agents provide a secure window to the most frequently utilized data types, while providing protection from malicious attacks and malware propagation.

    These feature rich agents keep parity with native application functions, which is critical for a great user experience. Clientless security provides zero-day device support, requires zero need for installation and thus leaves "zero" footprint, making it perfect for third party or un-managed end point access.

    The PCS Virtual Office service can provide that anytime and anywhere access to the hosting center when there is Internet service. This is a great benefit for the mobile worker such as staff working at home or away from the office, line personnel in the field, and management attending meetings. For a minimal investment the utility can provide secured access as needed by the utility.

    Top of Page

    Proposed Postage Rate Increase

    The USPS's proposed postage increases and decrease for First Class Letters Mailing Services are:

    • Letters (1 oz.) - the price will increase from 50 cents to 55 cents.
    • Letters additional ounces - a price decrease of 21 cents to 15 cents.

    If approved, this new pricing will be implemented on Sunday, January 27th, 2019.

    Click Here for more information

    Top of Page

    About Wright Business Graphics

    Wright Business Graphics (WBG) Critical Communications Division (CCD) is a print manufacturer dedicated to the success of customers across the country. WBG has many capabilities including traditional forms, high quality commercial and digital printing as well as packaging.

    For more information please contact your PCS Customer Service Representative or click here for more information.

    Top of Page

    Upcoming Webinars

    Upcoming PCS webinars are listed below... click on the title to register

    Connect What Does Connect Have That You Don't?
    Nov. 13, 2018 1:30 PM - 3:30 PM CDT
    (Click here to sign up.)

    Insight Payroll W2's/1095 Forms
    Dec. 4, 2018 1:30 PM CDT
    (Click here to sign up.)

    Insight Accounts Payable- 1099 Forms
    Dec. 5, 2018 1:30 PM CDT
    (Click here to sign up.)

    Top of Page

    Click here to view all our Prefered Partners

    This message contains confidential information and is intended only for the individual named. If you are not the named addressee you should not disseminate, distribute or copy this e-mail. E-mail transmission cannot be guaranteed to be secure or error-free as information could be intercepted, corrupted, lost, destroyed, arrive late or incomplete, or contain viruses. The sender therefore does not accept liability for any errors or omissions in the contents of this message, which arise as a result of e-mail transmission. If verification is required, please request a hard-copy version at info@pcsco.com. Please do not reply to this message as the "reply to" function does not allow us to receive your email. If you no longer wish to receive our newsletters, please click here to unsubscribe.