Professional Computer Systems, Co.

September 2018, Newsletter Issue No. 39

IN THIS ISSUE:


  • Workflow
  • Marc's Insights
  • Connect With Angie
  • Utilit-e Online- ARO Payments
  • BI Financials
  • PCS Improving Internet Service
  • It's Spam!
  • Connect - New Development List
  • Insight- New Development List
  • Welcome New Staff Member
  • Upcoming Webinars

  • Upcoming Conferences:

    NRECA Region 7&9
    Anchorage, AK
    Sept. 26-27, 2018

    Iowa Muni Finance Officers Assn. Fall Meeting
    Des Moines, IA
    October 17, 2018

    Annual Eaton Users Training & Technical
    Bloomington, MN
    October 23, 2018

    Iowa Rural Water Assoc. Fall Conf.
    Dubuque, IA
    October 23, 2018

    NWPPA 3C's Conference
    Vancouver, WA
    October 24, 2018

    Iowa Assoc. of Electric Coop. Annual Meeting
    Des Moines, IA
    November 29, 2018


    Upcoming Webinars

    Connect Balancing & More
    Oct. 16, 2018 1:30 PM CDT
    (Click here to sign up.)

    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





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    KEEP IN TOUCH:


    Phone: (888) 843-3106

    Welcome to the Newsletter

    Workflow

    PCS is excited to announce the upcoming release of the first generation of workflow solutions.

    PCS Workflow solutions provide great efficiency and improvements for utility operations. How many times have paper documents been passed between employees only to be lost, delayed, or held up in the routing of the document.

    Workflow is an enterprise topic and can relate to many applications, modules and users no matter if inside or outside the office. As we have discussed before, if a utility can implement and automate just a few manual and paper-based processes, it will reduce paper shuffle, increase collaboration, streamline operations, resulting in saving time and money.

    Benefits of solutions incorporating workflow capabilities include:

    • Improves productivity - Less paper shuffle workflow-enabled solutions reduce the time spent on manual tasks and staff can be electronically notified of processes and tasks.
    • Visibility - Workflows enable managers to see what is happening with business-critical processes at every point along the process, and at any moment in time.
    • Faster business reaction to change - Workflow software enables organizations to react quickly and smoothly to changes through process modifications. React to delays and identify bottlenecks.
    • Improves Accountability - Monitoring time to execute business functions creates productivity measurement and continual process improvement.
    • Reduce Paper - Companies want to reduce the PAPERFLOW throughout the organization.
    • Higher Level of Security - Process allows for staff to electronically accept, reject and complete work assigned to them.


    The first PCS workflow enabled module is Purchase Requisitions. This module allows staff to create a form with header information, notes, attachments, shipping instructions and unlimited detail lines associated with the purchase request. Once the employee is finished filling out the form, it can be "Submitted" and the document is routed.

    There will be several rule sets governing how the documents will be routed. As with most routed documents, they can be accepted, rejected, canceled and with proper permissions completed. Once completed, a purchasing agent can use the detail lines of the requisition to create a purchase order without the need to print the document.

    Likewise, General Workflow (GF) is an excellent module to route documents around the utility. GF is unique in that a utility can define unlimited types of general workflows, with the ability for each general workflow having unique fields created for that specific workflow. Like Employee Requisitions, each workflow can be "submitted", accepted, rejected, canceled, and completed.

    Throughout the process, users can see work assigned to them and users can see the status of the work they have submitted, accepted, rejected, canceled and completed. PCS is starting with two workflow enabled solutions but plan on incorporating this capability across many modules. Contact PCS to discuss how these solutions will benefit your utility.

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    Marc's Insights

    The Insight team has been busy getting great new features out to everyone and some fixes too. The web-based Requisitions module is complete, and those requisitions can now be turned into a purchase order to continue the process.

    As mentioned in an earlier email and newsletter, the (F3) lookup function experienced a change in behavior by a Microsoft Windows update. The development team has made a code change that will allow the (F3) key to function as expected.

    With 2019 just around the corner, here are a few things to be looking for.

    • The ability to enter a new pay rate for an employee and set an effective date for that rate to change.
    • Setting different amounts per direct deposit account per check.
    • The Employee Portal Time Entry application will be getting a face lift as well.

    If you have any questions regarding the Insight application, please feel free to contact Marc Rowedder, marcr@pcsco.com.

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    Connect with Angie

    Statement Update

    This year we've been enlightening you on the future vision for statement presentation in user letters, webinars, individual discussions and at the User Group Meeting. We are very pleased with the reception and already have several utilities expressing interest to move forward.

    All utilities produce a statement in some way shape or form, but believe it or not, many of you have some twist that makes you a little unique from the next utility. The team has found ways to incorporate many of those items into the base standard form - YEAH! That is good for all.

    Many have asked about the cost and/or timing of implementing the new statements. There are a few things the utility needs to consider.

    • PCS has developed a new statement report design funded by Connect application maintenance. The new statement report was designed to be very configurable or setup driven. This was done to minimize, and in many cases, eliminate the need for any client custom statement code. For utilities that implement the standard statement layout, there will be no additional license, maintenance or support. If a client's needs require client specific items on the statement that are above and beyond the standard statement report, that can be accommodated. That will cause an increase in implementation hours and may increase the annual maintenance/support.
    • The cost to the utility will be hours to implement. This includes efforts to determine exactly which features/switches the utility wants to use, setting it up and testing the end result. Exact effort will vary by utility, if you would like more information please contact Julie Fink (julief@pcsco.com) for more information.
    • An additional consideration is planning the implementation to match up with your statement form stock supply. So, if you are thinking about implementing a new statement layout in 2019, please contact us to discuss timing. We'll need a 2-4-month lead time to switch over. In some cases, we may be able to schedule a switch over before needing to order new stock. In other cases, you may need to re-order but maybe a lower quantity than you normally would order.
    • There are a few other miscellaneous items for consideration also that Julie would be more than happy to discuss with you.

    And now for the big question - When will it be available? The team is deep into the project confirming data accuracy and transforming that data into a new sleek statement presentation. The next couple months will be spent on this effort. The target goal is to have a beta deployment with a client using the new statement by the end of the year.

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    ARO Payments - Utilit-e Online & Customer Service

    Do you have customers that want to pay their ARO accounts online? How about staff who do not have a Cashiering batch open - do you want them to be able to accept an ARO payment? Now - both are possible. These functionalities have been added in R18.1.2, which was completed in August and is available for general release.
    Click here to read more

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    BI Financials

    Are you looking for a way to take a deeper look at you Financial Statements? Are you looking to change up your Financial Statements layout a bit? Are you generating Financial Statements outside of the Insight application? If you said "YES", then the BI Financials can help. The BI Financial report is built in Excel. The Pivot Tables allow you to see your Financial Statements in summary and also drilled down to the GL account level. The layout of the financials is setup driven and customizable by the utility. The report runs quickly to pull data from the Insight production and budget databases and populates over 10 presentations.
    To see more details on what this report has to offer click here

    .

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    PCS Improving Internet Service

    PCS continues to strive to maintain our service levels and improve them when possible.

    Part of that effort is the change in one of our Internet Service Providers (ISP).
    In the fourth quarter of this year PCS will be adding a new ISP. Mediacom will be providing a new 100mb Fiber service to PCS and will complement our existing 100mb service currently from our other ISP, WIN.

    This will give us over 200mb of total bandwidth that will be routable via the Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) to help keep data flowing over the most efficient route.
    The two providers utilize very different paths in and out of the Midwest U.S. and this will help when some areas are experiencing regional issues. PCS will have the ability to try different routes to bypass those affected areas.

    There will still be those times when things are bad enough that route changes will not help, but at least these changes will improve our capacity and give us more flexibility in choosing higher performing routes, as well as keeping us up with growing demand for new services.

    Notifications will be sent when PCS gets ready to make the changes here. It will not result in clients having to make any changes on their ends, this will all be handled on the PCS end.

    Current timetable shows PCS getting service turned up in November, testing in December and operational in production by end of the year.

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    Don't Open it! It's SPAM!

    This article is based on information from Leo Notenboom, a noted expert on end user experience with applications and especially how to protect yourself. Source is https://askleo.com
    Email spoofing is rampant. Spammers often send email that looks like it came from you, and there's little that you can do about it.
    People are reporting that PCS has sent them email and we know we have not. It is spam and it is not something that anyone at PCS has done and our systems are not compromised.

    SPOOFING

    Spammers forget the "From:" address for the email they send. This technique is referred to as "from spoofing".

    Spammers use any email address they can find. That could include other email addresses they're sending to, email addresses fed to them by a botnet, email addresses harvested online, or perhaps even the addresses in the address books of infected machines. For instance, your email address can end up in the address books of people you don't know. Some email programs automatically collect email addresses included on messages received, or possibly from forwarded email.

    If they can, spammers try to make it look like the email comes from someone you know, often by discovering who your friends are on social media and other sites.
    They use all this information to create and send email messages with your name and email address in the "From:" line - email you never sent.

    THERE'S NOTHING YOU OR WE CAN DO TO STOP SPAM

    If someone accuses you of sending spam, and you are positive you did not do so, you have very little recourse other than to try to educate them about how viruses work.

    Point them at this article if you like. But be clear: your machine is not necessarily infected with malware, nor is your account necessarily compromised. It's some third party - the spammer - making all this happen. (Identifying that third party is difficult, which is why spammers use this technique.)

    In other words, there's nothing you can do.

    HOWEVER, THERE ARE THINGS WE CAN DO TO AVOID BECOMING A VICTIM

    Is that email really from who you think it is?

    Phishing is email that looks like it came from a legitimate source, like eBay, PayPal, your bank, or your Software company or email provider. It asks you to visit a site to confirm or update some information. When you get to that site, which again looks legitimate, you're asked to log in with your account name and password, after which you might also be asked to "confirm" additional private information by providing things like your credit card number.

    The problem, of course, is that the site isn't legitimate, and you've just given your login or personal information to a scammer, who probably uses or sells it within minutes.

    Phishing and advance-fee scams are two of the most prevalent traps we fall prey to. Some scams are very well-crafted. Some aren't, but people fall for those too. It doesn't take much success for a phishing campaign to be worth continuing.

    The bad guys, or "phishers", create an email that looks VERY much like an official email from some important entity, like eBay, Microsoft, PayPal, or perhaps a bank. The key is that the email asks you to visit some site via a link provided in the email. The site that you land on looks very official and proper. At that site, you're then prompted to enter all your personal information, typically in the guise of "verification".

    The problem is that you've just handed over all your personal information to a thief.

    The trick used here is that a link can be made to look like one thing, and yet take you somewhere else entirely. For example:

    http://www.ebay.com/

    That looks like a link to ebay, right? It's not. Click on it and you'll be taken somewhere else entirely. It's possible due to the way that HTML and rich-text email can be encoded.

    So, if you're tempted at all, hover your mouse over the link, and look before you click:

    • The actual destination should match what you expect. Exactly. If the link claims to be eBay, http://ebay.hacker.com is not where you want to go. Nor is ebay.cc (note that it's not ".com"). That's a big red flag.
    • The actual destination should be a name, not a number. If the destination of the link takes you to a link that has numbers, such as http://72.3.133.152, chances are it's not valid.
    • The actual destination should be secure. That means it should begin with https:. If the target destination for anything that claims to be secure, or account validation related begins with the regular, unsecured http:, chances are it's not legitimate.

    Avoiding this is simple. Never click on a link in the email you receive in these scenarios. Instead, open your browser and go to the site in question yourself using your own bookmarks or by typing the URL you already know to be correct.

    The misleading attachment

    Another common approach phishers use is to provide you with an attachment that, supposedly, contains important information for you to read or review. One common variant uses the promise of a package shipment via one of the popular shipping services that requires you to acknowledge the attached document.

    The problem here is that the attached document isn't a document at all. It's typically a mis-named file that looks like a document but is actually a program (report.doc.exe), or the "document" is in a zip file that you must first open' and inside another program to be run.

    That program? Malware.

    There is no package. Whatever the email is trying to convince you of, it's lying. By opening that attachment, you've just allowed your machine to become infected.

    Once again, avoiding this is simple: never open attachments that you aren't 100% certain are legitimate. When in doubt, don't.

    Misleading threat of closure

    A surprisingly successful phishing attack boils down to this: an email that threatens your online account with closure unless you respond with your account credentials.

    Including your password.

    This is the easiest of all to avoid. Legitimate businesses will never, ever ask you for your password via email.

    Never.

    Don't even think about it. Delete that email - better yet, mark it as spam - and move on.

    For any of these scenarios, if the messages you get concern you, and you want to ensure you're not missing something important, that's also very easily dealt with.

    Step one: ignore the email. Completely. Personally, I'd delete it right now.

    Step two: go to the site in question manually. Use your own bookmark, or type what you know to be the correct URL into your browser by hand and log in to your account as you normally would. If there's something you need to do or verify, then you'll probably see it then.

    If you're still not sure, then give the institution a call or contact their support line or search their support site. Trust me, they'd much rather have you ask than deal with the possibility of identity or account theft.

    Any questions, please feel fee to contact the ITS team at PCS, its@pcsco.com.

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    Connect New Development List

    18.1.2 (August Development)

    Development Topic Status
    ARO Payments in Online, Customer Service & Web CS The ability to pay an ARO balance that is associated with a Connect account, is now available in Utilit-e Online, Customer Service module - Payment Options screen and Member Number screen, and Web CS. See ARO Payment article above for more details.
    Click here
    C & I Display in Utilit-e Online A new screen has been added to Utilit-e Online with commercial and industrial (C&I) accounts specifically in mind. This new screen automatically pulls a real-time reading from the AMI system every 15 minutes. Online in turn displays that usage and graphs the interval usage. This functionality is available with release 18.1.2. Implementation will require coordination and testing with the utility's AMI vendor.
    Member Number Screen - Make a Payment All accounts, as well as any associated ARO accounts, can be paid from the Member number screen. See ARO Payment article for more details, even if you don't use the ARO module.
    Click here
    Net Metering - banked detail The ability to create and retain detailed transactions for adding and removing excess generation to/from the bank has been developed. This will be going into beta deployment very soon. The functionality is available for general release with 18.1.2. This functionality may cause a utility to want to make some statement presentation changes and/or need a specific method of calculation change which will be scheduled as identified.
    Outage Call Handling (OCH) PCS has added the OCH capabilities that are available in the Customer Service module to the Web Customer Service module. You can now report; view and close outage calls via the Web CS module. This is scheduled for general deployment in September.
    Outage Call Handling Integration PCS has completed integration with the following Outage Management Systems (OMS): Star Energy and Data Voice. This provides the ability to enter an outage call in PCS Customer Service or MCA and have the system integrate seamlessly to the OMS provider. Integration with the following vendors is in process: CRC, Trimble and Milsoft.

    18.1.3 (September Development)

    Development Topic Status
    Batch Processor Enhancements Enhancements to the batch processor are:
    • Minimize the chance that the batch processor job is not running
    • Add dependency between jobs - require Job A - Bill calc & statements finishes before Job B - Daily balancing reports begins
    Outage Call Handling Integration PCS is completing the Outage Call Handling (OCH) integration with 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 Trimble and Milsoft is scheduled for October.
    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 October.
    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. See Statement Update article above for more details.
    Click Here

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    Insight New Development List

    18.1.2 (September Development)

    Development Topic Status
    F3 lookup As you may have found, a recent Microsoft Windows update changed the behavior of the F3 key. We have made a code change to correct this so that F3 works like it has in the past.
    Inventory bins Allow warehouse/bin combinations to be deleted for an item where that combination will no longer be used for an item.
    Requisitions We recently completed work on a web-based Requisitions module. Those requisitions can now be turned into a purchase order.

    18.1.3 (October Development)

    Development Topic Status
    941 upload Ability to upload the 941 to Nelco for electronic processing
    PR benefit adjustments A new screen to make benefit (vacation-sick-holiday) adjustments, such as increasing or decreasing someone's hours.

    18.1.4 (November Development)

    Development Topic Status
    W-2 upload Ability to upload the W-2's to Nelco for electronic processing. This and the 941 will work almost identically to the ACA 1095 process that many of you have done the last few years. For at least this year, we will still offer the option of printing the W-2's in your office.
    PR deductions Ability to have a deduction that spans multiple years, and have an amount deducted until the balance reaches $0. Example would be a computer loan to an employee.

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    Welcome New Staff Member

    Theresa Beeck, Project Analyst

    Theresa was born and raised in Denison. As of August, she is an empty nester. The youngest of her three children is off to college. For some of you Theresa may be familiar, as she was on the Financial Applications team in the early 1990s. In the years since then Theresa has used her accounting degree in banking as a loan officer. Theresa brings to the team exceptional customer service, problem solving skills and utility industry knowledge. Please welcome Theresa back to PCS when you have the opportunity to visit with her during a support call.

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    Upcoming Webinars

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

    Connect Balancing & More
    Oct. 16, 2018 1:30 PM CDT
    (Click here to sign up.)

    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.)

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