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Newsletters 2003

Click on a link to any of our recent newsletters, or just scroll down.  Every month there are valuable tips and hints on Microsoft Excel, Maximizer and more!  In Internet Explorer, you can search this page for keywords using Ctrl+F. On our home page you can search this entire web site.  Click here for the list of ALL Newsletters.

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Communication in Action – January 2003 Newsletter

Happy New Year!

And may 2003 be the best to date!  Certainly coming from a sound Rand exchange rate means that we will be starting in a far stronger position than we did in 2003.  Although the situation in Iraq does not sit easily in anyone’s mind and war may be forced on a world that does not want it.  Famine in our neighbours is also of concern and will see more people looking for refuge within our borders.

Well done matrics – now for the real world!  Again, as we did last year, I am asking everyone in business to help us train more young people in computer skills.  We will meet you halfway with mentoring.  Suggestions welcomed!

“Even we do it” Section!

After six hard-working years, our Xerox laser printer is coming to end of life.  We know that PCs need replacing every 3-5 years, because operating systems and software require greater speed and memory, but somehow we hadn’t looked at our printers.  New parts look like costing us more than a new one, so we’ll be looking at replacements and keep you informed of what we find.

Development News

Productivity Manager update – It is fully installed in our premises and proving reliable on Windows 2000 Pro (XP Pro is to follow when we upgrade our next PC).  We are aware of more and more useful features that it offers.  Please call Judith on 011 802-2685 to find out more.

Insurance Information eXchange - We are now looking at installation orders for June 2003 from Insurance companies with 25 users or more who want to drive their businesses forward into the next decade and are implementing their vision NOW.  Please note that we will want to do a full analysis of your business process and will want to work closely with your actuarial staff in implementing the product.

Maximizer Developments

Maximizer Enterprise 7.5 is landing in South Africa next week and we will begin installing from the 7th onwards.  Training material on specific new modules will be completed by the beginning of February.

Please note that this version requires named users for its licensing, making the licensing no longer allow concurrent users.

Pervasive Engine – the Engine behind Maximizer

The Pervasive engine must be running on the server and the workstations for Maximizer to run correctly.  If you are having a problem, it is probably because the server engine has been stopped inadvertently.  Going to Start | Programs | Pervasive | Pervasive SQL 2000i | Engines | Pervasive Workgroup Engine will restart the engine.  Make sure its icon shows in the Systray.

Power User Tips for Maximizer 7x

This is going to be a regular feature from now on and any additional hints you would like to share are very welcome!

Using Catalogs – this with thanks to Lisa of SA Chefs, who opened my eyes to something that I had not looked at and what a useful feature.  Every time you search in Maximizer that search can be saved as a named “catalog”.  This means that the next time you do it, you can recall the catalog to re-run the search.

Hint – use names that mean something and make the catalog public so that other people can access it.

Reassigning Tasks – a powerful feature in 7x that means you can pass work or messages on to other people.  By reassigning a task from yourself to another, you are creating a workflow that moves Maximizer forward into the area of task management within a team.  I suggest giving the reassigned task an alarm so that the recipient is alerted to the event.

Hint – give yourself a reminder to follow up as well!

Outlook Integration – this really works!  Now I walk out with my HP Jornada (hand held PC) containing all my appointments.  On return, it updates with new appointments back into Maximizer.  I can also save e-mails to the sender’s documents as well as replying to them from within Maximizer – real time document management that completes my record keeping capabilities.

Tips from the Help Line:

Question:  In Excel I am adding VAT to a series of prices, and then adding them.  The total is sometimes wrong by a few cents.  Why is this?

Answer: If your prices have cent amounts, the 14% VAT will give you fractions of cents, which you won’t see if your figures are formatted for Rands and cents.  These can add up so that your total doesn’t agree with what you see on screen, e.g. R1.11 plus 14% VAT is R 1.2654, formatted to two decimals you see R 1.27: If you add two of these, Excel shows you R 2.53 (actually R 2.5308), whereas you expect R 1.27 + R 1.27 = R 2.54.

Q:  How can I fix this?

A: Use the =Round() function on every calculation.  Instead of =B2*1.14 use =ROUND(B2*1.14,2).  This will round each result to two decimals (which is what you see anyway) and your total will then be correct.

Q:  Can I round to whole Rand?

A:  Yes.  Use =ROUND(G2*1.14,0) – the “,0” tells Excel to use zero decimal places.  You can also round to tens of Rand, or hundreds, by using negative figures (-1 and -2 respectively).

Q:   I want to use the Euro sign in Word – Where is it?

A:  In Insert | Symbol.  The short cut key is Alt-Ctrl-e.

Since Redfern have terminated their support contract, support on Redfern Labels will be chargeable in future.  Our web site has the free download and answers to most user problems (90% of which are due to the PC being set up for US Letter paper size!).

Courses and Projects

We are a recognised training centre for Productivity Manager.  User training courses will be run per company as required.

We produce a wide variety of Templates on Excel, Word, etc. ranging from corporate faxes and letterheads to spreadsheets that produce files for SARS in their unique electronic format.  Or if you would like to create your own, we run courses and consult from beginners’ level to programming Macros.

The next Maximizer user course will be run on demand.

Using Windows 2000 Pro – we are able to give courses at user level on this powerful operating system.  Please phone us for details.

Looking for a free quotation spreadsheet that you can use with your price list?  There is one on our web site!

That’s all for now from the team!

Bye!

Judith and Rick

Directors, Communication in Action (Pty) Ltd
PO Box 987, Gallo Manor, 2052 South Africa.
Tel: (+27 11) (011) 802-2685.  Fax: 802-4576.  Cell: 082 389-3481.
E-mail: judith@softwareafrica.co.za

This entire newsletter is Copyright© 2003 Communication in Action (Pty) LtdPlease share this newsletter with your friends or post it on your site as long as it is left intact with all links unchanged and includes this notice.  To subscribe, e-mail info@softwareafrica.co.za with "Subscribe" in the subject line.  To unsubscribe, e-mail info@softwareafrica.co.za with "Unsubscribe" in the subject line.

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Communication in Action – April 2003 Newsletter

We are starting a new series of tips for Microsoft Excel users to help you get the most out of this versatile package.  Each month’s exercise will take you under 10 minutes and give you a good return on this time.  See “Excel Tips and Tricks” below…

Holidays and War

The war in Iraq overshadows everything and is continually in front of us, whether in the newspapers, on TV or on the radio.  It does not look as if it will end for many months and it is already threatening the US economy badly.  For SA, it is strengthening the Rand exchange rate on all fronts, making our imports cheaper and reducing inflation – except for oil whose price is rising!  It is hard to say where this situation will take the world in the next few months.

The school holidays and the general holiday feast of April is upon us again even so.  Many will be off to the sea or the wilderness for a few days – travel safely!  We want to see you return alive.

“Even we do it” Section!

In a follow-up to our Xerox Printer giving up the ghost, we have taken a Brother 9880 which sits happily on our network and does the following: prints; sends and receives faxes; copies and scans – this latter to a local PC only.  So now, when we send you a fax, it doesn’t get printed first.  Speed and print quality are great.

We have upgraded our oldest PC and now can fully test on Windows XP.

Development News

Productivity Manager update – This is growing day by day in facilities and will soon be able to synchronise remote site information back to the main database.  Currently there are some 20 customers testing the software at their sites with the option to become full users within the next month.  If you would like a trial version in your office please call Judith on 011 802-2685 to find out more.

Insurance Information eXchange – Update from the developers:

Here is a short list of current functionality and the enhancements made to IIX.

§         Integrated Workflow in which the user controls all processes

§         Integrated Document and Electronic file management within the Workflow process

§         Integrated Financial Management driven by the Workflow with Policy and Claim Management

§         Powerful, if not the most advanced Rating and Underwriting Module for a system of this nature

§         Fully Internet Enabled and Policies and Claims can be loaded at Source.

§         Technology is built on Microsoft SQL Server as the data base architecture with the Client front end developed in Visual Basic

§         Extremely Stable and “Clean” database structure, which enhances the response from the database for large volume clients

§         Full Multi-Currency functional and multi VAT functional for off-shore installations

§         Fully integrated Ledger for the management of premium income and expense accounts, as well as claim income and expense accounts.

§         Powerful Debit Order Collection facility that is integrated with Policy and Claim management. The Debit Order system can manage different policy types in different bank accounts within different branches of the system to different banking institutions. This we believe is one of the strongest functions within IIX.

§         Configuration of products that are niche in the sense that this is not just personal lines or Multimark III. The system manages Funeral Insurance, Motor Warranty Insurance, Aviation Insurance, Marine Insurance, Crop Insurance, Personal Lines in different formats, Multimark III, Large Motor Fleets, Self Funded Fleets, Credit Life, Motor Vehicle Top Up Cover, Dealer Verification Guarantee etc, etc

§         Our Multimark III product configuration is very comprehensive in the sense that all the cover extensions, special perils etc, etc are part of the Policy Management with limits and premium. This is not typed onto the schedule separately after the cover is managed within the system. This includes specialised sections such as Motor Traders Internal and External.

Maximizer Developments

Maximizer Enterprise 7.5 is up and running at many sites in SA.  It is a winner that brings superb functionality to a product that was already good.  The Customer Service Desk enables the tracking of customer complaints from inception to resolution.  Order Desk shows your sales staff’s productivity by month and what your top products are for the month.  Installation is seamless.

Training material is close to completion for the specialised modules.

Please note that this version requires named users for its licensing, making the licensing no longer allow concurrent users.

Pervasive Engine – the Engine behind Maximizer

The Pervasive engine must be running on the server and the workstations for Maximizer to run correctly.  If you are having a problem, it is probably because the server engine has been stopped inadvertently.  Going to Start | Programs | Pervasive | Pervasive SQL 2000i | Engines | Pervasive Workgroup Engine will restart the engine.  Make sure its icon shows in the Systray.

Should the icon disappear from Systray for any reason, check in Task Manager whether W3DBMGR.exe is running.  If it is, end the task and restart the engine.  Make sure the Pervasive icon reappears in Systray.  If it does not, stop the process again and repeat until the icon is there.

This problem seems to occur on servers that are sensitive to lightning and no error is reported in the Pervasive logs.

It does not occur with the Client/Server version which is for 15 users upward, although you can purchase this version for less if required.

Power User Tips for Maximizer 7x

This is going to be a regular feature from now on and any additional hints you would like to share are very welcome!

Using Search to find out new prospects for the month – To do this search, you search on the ID field and type in the first of the month and the last of it as follows 030301* then 030331* for all March’s new prospects.  You can then print out this report to demonstrate how many new companies have been approached.

Using the same search with an additional field – Customer/Status and choosing the option that indicates they are a customer, you can print a report on how many new companies approached in the month have been converted into customers.

Using Calendar to set up an appointment for another User – The power of version 7x enable you to open the calendar of another user ( if they have allowed this – see below) and drag a contact from the Address Book into that calendar to set up an appointment.  Very useful if you are the telesales person making appointments for the team on the road.

Setting Calendar and Hotlist Preferences – when a company is working together to achieve objectives, then the sharing of access to calendars and hotlists is extremely useful.  Go to File | Preferences | Calendar/Hotlist and send Full and Read Only Accesses to your calendar and hotlist.

In this area as well you can make sure that your unfinished tasks carry forward and set up the ASK facility for e-mailing people the details of the appointment they have made with you.  You will then be asked if you want to send them an e-mail when you make an appointment.

SMS from Maximizer

There is a free plug-in for sending SMSs from Maximizer:  You need an SMS subscription with the supplier.  Please contact Judith for more information – works with versions 5.0 to 7.5.

New Series: Excel Tips and Tricks

The Problem:  To get a quick comparison of two columns of figures or text, where some figures differ but many are the same – for example where you send somebody data, and they change some of it and send it back.

Setup: To simulate the problem, open a new Excel Workbook, type several items (numbers or text) into column A (starting in cell A1), copy them to column B and then change some of them.

Solution 1 (Simple): In cell C1, enter: =A1=B1 (remember that you can type “=”, then click on, or use the left arrow key to point at, cell A1, then type “=”, then click on, or use the left arrow key to point at, cell B1, then press Enter).

You will see the word TRUE in the cell if the two cells match, FALSE if they do not.

Now copy the formula in cell C1 down as far as your data goes (remember that you must select the cell, then you can grab the little box at the bottom right corner of the cell and drag it down as far as you need to.  Another way is to highlight the formula and the cells below it as far down as necessary, then press Ctrl+D (fill down)).

All the non-matching cells will show up as FALSE.

Solution 2 (More fun):  In cell D1 (keeping the previous solution in C1), enter =IF(A1=B1,””,”***”), then copy down as before.

You will see asterisks opposite the mismatches, blanks where the cells match – this makes the mismatches stand out more.

How this works: The syntax of the IF function is IF(comparison, true part, false part).  If the comparison is True, you see true part in the cell (in this case just a blank, “”), otherwise you see false part (in this case three asterisks “***”).  Note that the strings (e.g. “***”) have to be inside double quotes.

Courses and Projects

We are a recognised training centre for Productivity Manager.  User training courses will be run per company as required.

We produce a wide variety of Templates on Excel, Word, etc. ranging from corporate faxes and letterheads to spreadsheets that produce files for SARS in their unique electronic format.  Or if you would like to create your own, we run courses and consult from beginners’ level to programming Macros.

The next Maximizer user course will be run on demand.

Using Windows 2000 Pro – we are able to give courses at user level on this powerful operating system.  Please phone us for details.

Looking for a free quotation spreadsheet that you can use with your price list?  There is one on our web site!

That’s all for now from the team!

Bye!

Judith and Rick

Directors, Communication in Action (Pty) Ltd
PO Box 987, Gallo Manor, 2052 South Africa.
Tel: (+27 11) (011) 802-2685.  Fax: 802-4576.  Cell: 082 389-3481.
E-mail: judith@softwareafrica.co.za

This entire newsletter is Copyright© 2003 Communication in Action (Pty) LtdPlease share this newsletter with your friends or post it on your site as long as it is left intact with all links unchanged and includes this notice.  To subscribe, e-mail info@softwareafrica.co.za with "Subscribe" in the subject line.  To unsubscribe, e-mail info@softwareafrica.co.za with "Unsubscribe" in the subject line.

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Communication in Action – May 2003 Newsletter

This month we continue our series of tips for Microsoft Excel users.  Each month’s exercise will take you under 10 minutes and give you a good return on this time.  See “Excel Tips and Tricks” below…

The Maximizer tips are also ongoing

Computer Faire

It has come and gone forever and was probably the best one we’ve been to as well.  Next year, look out for Furturex which will have a wider spread of interest.

Productivity Manager

Productivity Manager, the “Office Slave Driver”, is now available on our web site.  There are downloads for the full installation (10 MB) and the latest upgrade (1 MB).  Or download the Help File (170 KB) if you would like to find out about the program without applying for a month’s free License.  Look on www.softwareafrica.co.za/pm.

Replication (multiple sites exchanging data by e-mail) is currently in testing and is expected to be generally released later in the month.

Maximizer Developments

From 2nd June to 25th June, you can upgrade your existing Maximizer (any version except Microsoft SQL Enterprise 5.1) to the latest Maximizer Enterprise 7.5 at a cost of R1036 per user excluding VAT.  Installation and upgrade training is additional.  We charge R350 ex VAT per hour for installation and will gladly quote on your training requirements – on or off-site.  As you require a voucher to qualify for the offer, please send Judith your PSN number found in Help About Maximizer and proof of purchase, so that she can register you with Maximizer UK., who will send through the voucher.  Contact Judith via e-mail judith@softwareafrica.co.za

Power User Tips for Maximizer 7x – Looking at Enterprise Features

Marketing Campaign HTML template for e-mails – The document that you wish to send to your customers can be created in Word or Front Page and save as HTML.  It must be placed in the subfolder called email of the Maximizer database that you are using.  When you create the campaign template, you retrieve the document template and out it goes!  By using HTML, you can include a variety of fonts and colours as well as pictures, which should have picture placeholders and be on your company’s FTP site.  HTML documents are small in size and ideal for mail shots.

Reassigning tasks to other people – often a customer phones in and wants something done which you need to ask a colleague to follow up on.  Maximizer Enterprise 7.x allows you do this by reassigning the task to the responsible person.  The task then disappears from your hotlist and reappears in theirs!

Series: Excel Tips and Tricks 2 – More on =IF:

The Problem:  Last month we looked at the IF function (IF(comparison, true part, false part).  This is great if you have an either-or situation, but what if I have, say, three possibilities?  For example, when comparing two values A1 and B1, I want to know if the two are equal, or which one is bigger.

Solution:  The solution here is to nest your functions, i.e. to put one inside another.  In cell C1, enter =IF(A1=B1,”=”, IF(A1<B1,”<”,”>”)) – if you are comparing a column of figures, copy down.

How this works: The first IF checks if A1=B1 and, if the comparison is True, shows “=” in the cell.  If the condition is false, the second IF takes place, checking if A1 is less than B1.  If this is true it shows a “less than” (“<”), otherwise you see false part “greater than” (“>”), which in this case is the only other possibility.

Remember with the “<” and “>” symbols, the wide part is at the big end and the point at the little end.

If you prefer, and have the space, you could write it out more explicitly, e.g. =IF(A1=B1,”A=B”, IF(A1<B1,”A<B”,”A>B”)) or even =IF(A1=B1,”Equal”, IF(A1<B1,”A is smaller than B”,”A is bigger than B”)).

Comparisons like this are particularly useful with dates, where it isn’t always easy to see at a glance which is bigger.

Next month: What if we have a dozen choices?  Thereafter: Making the results appear in different colours!

Courses and Projects

We are a recognised training centre for Productivity Manager.  User training courses will be run per company as required.

We produce a wide variety of Templates on Excel, Word, etc. ranging from corporate faxes and letterheads to spreadsheets that produce files for SARS in their unique electronic format.  Or if you would like to create your own, we run courses and consult from beginners’ level to programming Macros.

The next Maximizer user course will be run on demand.

Using Windows 2000 Pro – we are able to give courses at user level on this powerful operating system.  Please phone us for details.

That’s all for now from the team!

Bye!

Judith and Rick

Directors, Communication in Action (Pty) Ltd
PO Box 987, Gallo Manor, 2052 South Africa.
Tel: (+27 11) (011) 802-2685.  Fax: 802-4576.  Cell: 082 389-3481.
E-mail: judith@softwareafrica.co.za

This entire newsletter is Copyright© 2003 Communication in Action (Pty) Ltd Please share this newsletter with your friends or post it on your site as long as it is left intact with all links unchanged and includes this notice.  To subscribe, e-mail info@softwareafrica.co.za with "Subscribe" in the subject line.  To unsubscribe, e-mail info@softwareafrica.co.za with "Unsubscribe" in the subject line.

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Communication in Action – June 2003 Newsletter

This month we continue our tips for Microsoft Excel Users and Maximizer Power Users.

Maximizer Special 2 – 25 June 2003

Please contact us urgently about this not to be missed opportunity to upgrade to Enterprise 7.5 for R1036 plus VAT per user. Installation and upgrade training is additional.  We charge R350 ex VAT per hour for installation and will gladly quote on your training requirements – on or off-site.  As you require a voucher to qualify for the offer, please send Judith your PSN number found in Help About Maximizer and proof of purchase, so that she can register you with Maximizer UK., who will send through the voucher.  Contact Judith via e-mail judith@softwareafrica.co.za

Windows 2003

Has been launched and includes a POP3 mail server in it for “free”.  The system looks good and for a free mail server worthwhile particularly if you are thinking ADSL connections as the anti-spam software is making sending out e-mail very difficult.  On dial-up we cannot send to absamail recipients amongst others.

Thank Goodness it wasn’t us

Someone installed a fax program at a customer on their ISDN link and put the sender’s full telephone number in where it asked for the number to use to DIAL OUT.  ISDN has two channels so the fax shot went out on one channel and came back in on the other!  The intended recipients were never contacted.  Unfortunately the customer was charged for 200 phone calls.

Productivity Manager

How do you know that your employees are working?

They could easily be gathered around the water cooler or visiting one another to chat about the rugby and swap the latest jokes!

Productivity Manager from ADI Group forces every employee to account for a pre-set number of hours per day.  The program demands compliance and withdraws capabilities if it is not kept up-to-date.

You can then draw reports and graphs and see how employees’ time is being spent, and whether tasks are taking the expected amount of time.  Dramatic improvements in productivity are probable as employees, some for the first time in their lives, start developing a “work ethic” instead of a “laziness ethic”!

Employees who have already been pulling their weight will blossom as Productivity Manager, impartially and totally without favouritism, recognises them.

We support and train on Productivity Manager, and assist with smooth company rollouts.  For more information look on www.adigroup.info/pm.

Power User Tips for Maximizer 7x

Order Desk – The Maximizer Order Desk is an optional feature which you can activate if you see value in placing orders and enquiries from customers directly into Maximizer before pushing the information through into your accounting package.  It uses ecBuilder to link your website directly into Maximizer although you will need ecBuilder Pro to do this effectively.  If you want this kind of solution, please contact us for more information.

Using the Knowledgebase – Does your company problem solve regularly and would you like to make the solution instantly available when the problem recurs?  Then Maximizer’s Knowledgebase is the tool that you need!  Here you can link solutions to problems and other users can make use of them to speed up resolution in future.  As you create Knowledgebase articles, so the information in your company becomes accessible, valuable and alive to improve customer satisfaction.

Windows XP Pro and Office 2000 – a recent problem encountered here.  Unfortunately Windows XP Pro requires Office XP in order to convert Outlook from merely Internet Mail enabled to Workgroup enabled.  This means that Maximizer cannot use Extended MAPI to communicate and this option must be omitted.  E-mails still work through Outlook fortunately.

Series: Excel Tips and Tricks 3 – Introducing CHOOSE:

The Problem:  Last month we looked at the IF function and saw how if we have, say, three possibilities, we can nest IF functions, i.e. put one inside another.  This is fine for up to three or four choices, but what if we have a dozen?  For example, let’s say we’d like a function that will return the name of the day of the week, given a number.

Solution:  The CHOOSE function has the syntax  =CHOOSE(Index,Value1,Value2, Value3,…)

How this works: If Index (which might be a literal number, a formula, or a cell reference) is 1, the formula shows you Value1, if 2, Value2, etc.

Example:  Type the headings Date; Day No, and Day in cells A1, B1 and C1 respectively.

In cell A2 enter today’s date, e.g. 13/6

In cell B2 enter the formula =WEEKDAY(A2)   this returns a number, where 1 = Sunday to 7 = Saturday.

In cell C2, enter the formula =CHOOSE(B2,"Sun","Mon","Tues","Wednes","Thurs","Fri","Satur")&"day" – this will display the day of the week, e.g. Friday.

Now that you’ve seen how it works, you can combine the two formulas in B2 and C2 into one, by nesting (try this in D2):  =CHOOSE(WEEKDAY(A2),"Sun","Mon","Tues","Wednes","Thurs","Fri","Satur")&"day"

Change the date in A2 to see the results change, or select the date and the formulas, then drag the “+” at the bottom right of the selection down to cells below.

Next month: Making the results appear in different colours!

Courses and Projects

We produce a wide variety of Templates on Excel, Word, etc. ranging from corporate faxes and letterheads to spreadsheets that produce files for SARS.  Or if you would like to create your own, we run courses and consult from beginners’ level to programming Macros.  You can download a free sample of a generic quote sheet from our web site.

We are leveraging (that horrible American word!) our Pastelizer code by connecting other programs to Pastel Accounting.  Our latest project allows an Optometrist to push his clients’ data through to Pastel from Microsoft Access.  This is working nicely, and a connection for Excel is likely soon.

The next Maximizer user course will be run on demand.

Using Windows 2000 Pro – we are able to give courses at user level on this powerful operating system.  Please phone us for details.

That’s all for now from the team!

Bye!

Judith and Rick

Directors, Communication in Action (Pty) Ltd
PO Box 987, Gallo Manor, 2052 South Africa.
Tel: (+27 11) (011) 802-2685.  Fax: 802-4576.  Cell: 082 389-3481.
E-mail: judith@softwareafrica.co.za

This entire newsletter is Copyright© 2003 Communication in Action (Pty) LtdPlease share this newsletter with your friends or post it on your site as long as it is left intact with all links unchanged and includes this notice.  To subscribe, e-mail info@softwareafrica.co.za with "Subscribe" in the subject line.  To unsubscribe, e-mail info@softwareafrica.co.za with "Unsubscribe" in the subject line.

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Communication in Action – July 2003 Newsletter

This month we continue our tips for Microsoft Excel Users and Maximizer Power Users.

Maximizer Special – Thank you for your support

First of all, a very special thank you to everyone who took advantage of this offer.  The software will be in the country soon and we will start installing.  Any problems or questions - Contact Judith via e-mail judith@softwareafrica.co.za

Windows 2003

We will be testing the POP3 server side of this software in the near future to see how it works and what it means to SMEs as a cost saving.  We’ll also look at some of the other aspects of this operating system, which is the only one easily available from distributors now.

Virus Problems

More and more, we are hearing that people have virus problems and that their Antivirus solution is not working.  The biggest culprit behind virus attacks is Outlook Express, as unsolicited e-mails come in and open immediately in the Preview Window, allowing the virus to jump.  To stop the invasion of e-mails addressed to “undisclosed recipients”, go to Tools | Rules Wizard and set up a rule that deletes such e-mails from your ISP’s server.  This will cut down the number of potentially virused e-mails plus a lot of unsolicited spam!

You can do the same in Outlook itself.  With both solutions, CLOSE your preview window so that you can vet the e-mails and delete “iffy” ones without opening them.

With regards to your antivirus solution, make sure that it is checking everything coming from the Internet and e-mail or ask your network administrator to set this up  for you.

Productivity Manager News

Are your employees working or loafing?  Productivity Manager from ADI Group is the program that forces every employee to account for their time and lets you draw reports and graphs to see how the time is spent.  You can also set tasks for each other, manage resources like conference rooms, and set group appointments.

Our latest news is that Productivity Manager will be supporting SQL Server (installations of 20 users and above) from 14 July.  You can, however, start with a small site –say 10 key employees– and then upsize as the benefits become obvious.  Replication has been working for a while now: This lets a company have Productivity Manager at different sites, but share contacts, appointments, tasks, etc. between the sites.  Managers at one site could, for example, draw reports on employees at other sites.

We support and train on Productivity Manager, and assist with smooth company rollouts.  For more information look on www.adigroup.info/pm.

NB: Small Business Owners – New VAT Imposition!

If you are a VAT-registered small business owner, therefore de facto an unpaid slave of the so-called SA Revenue "Service" (SARS), please note:

According to the May 2003 "VAT News", as of 1 April 2004 VAT Vendors will be required to issue tax invoices WITH THE RECIPIENT'S VAT REGISTRATION NUMBER where the invoice is for R1000 or more.

What purpose can this possibly serve except to make us do yet more unpaid work for SARS?  Surely it is utterly unnecessary for us or SARS to know our customers' VAT numbers!  If customers want to claim back VAT, THEY have to deal with SARS to do so.  This is just extra admin, to further disadvantage (particularly) small business, for no logical reason!

Please make representations to SARS, the Minister of Finance, JMCCI and other groups of which you are a member, insisting that SARS drop this stupid and unnecessary new regulation!  Only through concerted pressure will we get Big Government to improve conditions for small business.

Power User Tips for Maximizer 7x

Order Desk – Recognising your best lines with the reporting is simple.  Order Desk allows you to report on the top 10 products by value or quantity of sales.  Open the Order Desk by clicking on its icon and then right click and choose Reports.  Select the one that you want and ask for All Entries.  You can preview the report and see the graph and the written results before printing them out.

Customer Service – This new window in Enterprise 7.5 takes the original concept to a real service interface.  Now you can track a customer complaint from first call-in to resolution.  The problem receives a case number (automatically generated by the system) and can be assigned to the appropriate person in the company as part of the initial input process.  The matter is then tracked through to resolution with costs (if applicable).  The resolution of the problem and how it was done is retained for future reference.  In this way, problems can be resolved faster when they recur and a full customer service record for each client is kept.

e-mail problem – a recent problem encountered here.  Enterprise 7.5 and Outlook XP have a problem in that the incorrect SMTP address is passed when using File | Send e-mail.  It does not happen when you e-mail from the editor or from Marketing Campaign.  For an individual e-mail, delete the bits in bold being the person’s name and the bracket on either side of the e-mail address Judith Taylor <info@softwareafrica.co.za> .  The e-mail then goes out correctly.  We are hoping for a fix for this soon.

Series: Excel Tips and Tricks 4 – Conditional Formatting 1:

Background:  Over the last few months we have looked at functions that can show us radically different results in a cell depending on certain choices.  To make these differences more obvious, we would like to format the results in different colours. 

The Problem:  We are running our bank account on a spreadsheet and we want debit amounts and overdrawn balances to show up in red.

Solution:  Use a currency format with negatives in red.

Example:  Select everything in the table below:

Date

Description

Amount

Balance

01/07/2003

Brought Forward

 

2000

02/07/2003

Rent

-2000

 

03/07/2003

Credit Card

-1500

 

04/07/2003

Salary

5000

 

Copy to the Clipboard (shortcut: Ctrl+C).

Swap to Excel.  Start a new workbook.

In Cell A1, Paste (Ctrl+V) (if you prefer to retype the spreadsheet, the heading Date must be in cell A1).

If the dates don’t show correctly, re-enter the top one, and fill down (Grab the little cross at the bottom right-hand corner of the cell and drag it down).

Widen columns as required (drag or double-click between column headings).

To calculate the running Balance, we need a formula in D3: =D2+C3 – this calculates the next balance as the previous balance plus the new Amount.

Copy the formula down (Select D3.  Grab the little cross at the bottom right-hand corner of the cell and drag it down to D5).

Now we are ready to format the cells.  Select C2 to D5 (the amount and balance columns).

Click Format > Cells (or press the Ctrl+1 shortcut).  Select the “Number” tab at the top.

You have two choices: Number, or Currency, depending on whether you would like a currency symbol.  In the case of “Number”, choose “Use 1000 Separator”.  For Currency, you can change the symbol.  In both cases you can set the number of decimals.  The important point for us is that you should choose the bottom choice under “Negative Numbers” – this shows the figure in red, with a minus sign.

Your debit amounts and balances will now show up in red.

Next month: Making the credit amounts appear in a different colour!

PS: Save this spreadsheet for next month.

Courses and Projects

If you are enjoying the “Excel Tips and Tricks” series, would you like us to run it more frequently?  Please let us know!

Would you like to train your staff to be more productive?  We run in-house courses on Excel, Word, PowerPoint, Access, and Visual Basic Programming at levels to suit you.

We produce a wide variety of Templates on Excel, Word, etc. ranging from corporate faxes and letterheads to spreadsheets that produce files for SARS.  You can download a free sample of a generic quote sheet from our web site.

Remember that you can call us with queries on Maximizer, Microsoft Office and Lotus SmartSuite.  We do not charge for problems that can be solved in less than 5 minutes.

That’s all for now from the team!

Bye!

Judith and Rick

Directors, Communication in Action (Pty) Ltd
PO Box 987, Gallo Manor, 2052 South Africa.
Tel: (+27 11) (011) 802-2685.  Fax: 802-4576.  Cell: 082 389-3481.
E-mail: judith@softwareafrica.co.za

This entire newsletter is Copyright© 2003 Communication in Action (Pty) Ltd Please share this newsletter with your friends or post it on your site as long as it is left intact with all links unchanged and includes this notice.  To subscribe, e-mail info@softwareafrica.co.za with "Subscribe" in the subject line.  To unsubscribe, e-mail info@softwareafrica.co.za with "Unsubscribe" in the subject line.

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Communication in Action – August 2003 Newsletter

Virus Warning

News of a new and dangerous virus affecting humans (rather than computers) first:  In the wake of the SARS virus comes the YUNO virus.  This virus attacks and rots the brain, affecting the speech centres.  It is spread by word-of-mouth and is therefore very difficult to contain.  Symptoms are the inability to put together a sentence without including the words “you know” –in severe cases several times in the same sentence– as the virus attempts to spread, you know, to others.  The virus has already infected a large number of radio presenters and their listeners, as you know if you listen to Talk Radio.  If you know you are infected, what can you do to prevent, you know, transmission?  Think before you, you know, speak!  Listen to what you, you know, are, you know, saying!  If you find that you are, you know, constantly inserting “you know” into your, you know, speech, then stop!  Rather, you know, replace it with, you know, one of the older and, you know, less infectious standbys, “Obviously”, “I mean”, “Err”, “Um” or “Ah”.   You know what I mean!

Editorial

Judith has been out of action first with a broken right ankle and then, apparently as a complication to the anaesthetic, a Deep Vein Thrombosis (blood clot) in the left calf.  She is now (11 August) back home and convalescing, and is able to do some customer support by telephone, although not on site again for some weeks.  Thank you all for your good wishes and continued support, and to our backup companies for picking up the pieces and keeping our customers up and running.

New Pastelizer 6.0B on Special

As you probably know, the Pastelizer program links Maximizer, the Customer Relationship Management (CRM) package, to Pastel Accounting, which means no more retyping contact details, plus non-accounting staff can (with permission) create invoices and other Pastel documents directly from Maximizer.

Until the newly-released 6.0B version of Pastelizer, only the customer’s Account Balance and Credit Limit could be brought back from Pastel into Maximizer.  This was useful to let the sales staff decide whether a sale should be made to that customer, but users felt that it was not enough.

The New Pastelizer 6.B can transfer 71 fields from Pastel to Maximizer!  While you don’t have to use them all, you now have a choice of transferring:

·    Is Account Blocked? (Y/N)

·    Last date customer paid

·    Last amount customer paid

·    Payment Terms: Current / 30/60/90/120 days

·    Monthly debtors aging: Current / 30/60/90/120+ days

·    Interest: None / One period after terms / After 30/60/90/120 days.

·    This/last year's balance/sales per Period (1-13)

·    User-Defined fields 1-5, and

·    If invoicing was done from Pastelizer, the latest Invoice Numbers and/or dates.

Now your customers’ sales staff can see all the accounting information that they need, right in the CRM package, while keeping their sticky fingers out of Pastel!

To facilitate e-mailing of invoices from Pastel, Pastelizer 6.0B also transfers e-mail addresses to Pastel from Maximizer 7.0 and later.

For only one more week –until 15 August– the new Pastelizer 6.0B is available at the same price as the previous, more limited version!  (Pastelizer is priced according to the number of debtors the client is transferring to Pastel, and whether they want the billing option or not.  Prices range from a “starter pack” of only 100 Debtors and no billing at R800 + VAT to Unlimited Debtors and Full Billing at R4,800 + VAT.)  Registered Maximizer and Pastel dealers get special prices.

Power Tips for Maximizer Users: Remembering Searches

One of the powerful features in Maximizer is its ability to search on any field (including your own, “User-Defined” fields).  You can also search with combinations of fields (“or” –match one or more– or “and” –match all).

To get there, click Search > All Fields.  You then click the Add button and add the required fields and their values or ranges of values.

Set the options at the bottom, and you are ready to click OK.  But wait!  –What’s that button “Catalog” at the bottom right?  This is the button to use if there is a chance that you may want to do this search again some time!

Click Catalog and you can then click “Add…” to add a new named search to the list, Save to save the search you’ve just set up over (replacing) the highlighted search name.

To re-use that search, click Search > All Fields, Catalog, select the saved search, and click Retrieve.  The “Search by All Fields” window is then filled in with the settings saved for that search, and you can now use them again.  If you want to, you can change the search criteria, click Catalog again, and save (update) any saved search, or save a new one.

The great power of this, compared to saving lists, is that the search is done afresh.  Any changes that affect the search are taken into consideration, e.g. you might be searching for companies marked “Y” in the “Customer?” field: Re-doing the search will include the new customers.

Series: Excel Tips and Tricks 5 – Conditional Formatting 2:

Background:  Last month we looked at using Format > Cells (Ctrl+1) > Number > Number or Currency, to show negative numbers in red.  This month we will look at an alternative that will let us use different colours (and other formatting) for various conditions.

The Problem:  We are running our bank account on a spreadsheet.  We have an overdraft limit of R1500 and we want balances over this limit to show up in bold red.  We also want debit balances (i.e. between 0 and -R1500) to show up in orange.

Solution:  Use Conditional Formatting.

Example:  Last month we set up the following example, and saved it for this month:

 

A

B

C

D

1

Date

Description

Amount

Balance

2

01/07/2003

Brought Forward

 

1800.00

3

02/07/2003

Rent

-2000.00

-200.00

4

03/07/2003

Credit Card

-1500.00

-1700.00

5

04/07/2003

Salary

5000.00

3300.00

(The formula in D3: =D2+C3, copied to the cells below, is used to calculate the running Balance)

Note that we’ve reduced the figure in cell D2 from last month’s example!

We want to conditionally format the Balances, so select cells D2..D5.

Click (menu) Format > Conditional Formatting.

Set Condition 1: Cell Value is | less than | -1500; Format Colour = Red, Font Style = Bold.

Click Add for a second condition.

Set Condition 2: Cell Value is | less than | 0 (zero); Format Colour = Orange.

Click OK.

Your –R200 debit balance will now show up in orange, and the –R1700 balance in red bold.

Note the order in which we did the Conditional Formatting: It applies the first formatting it finds that matches a condition.

Exercise: Can you get the Credit and Zero balances to show up in Green?

Next month: Dealing with varying conditions.

PS: Save this spreadsheet for next month.

Courses and Projects

Our web site is gradually undergoing a transformation.  Please visit it and let us know what you think!

If you are enjoying the “Excel Tips and Tricks” series, would you like us to run it more frequently?  Please let us know!

Be more productive with trained staff!  We run in-house courses on Excel, Word, PowerPoint, Access, and Visual Basic Programming at levels to suit you.

You can call us with queries on Maximizer, Microsoft Office and Lotus SmartSuite.  We do not charge for problems that can be solved in less than 5 minutes.

A reminder:  You have only a few more days to order Pastelizer 6.0B at the old price!
Call now before the, you know, virus strikes!

That’s all for now from the team!

Bye!

Judith and Rick

Directors, Communication in Action (Pty) Ltd
PO Box 987, Gallo Manor, 2052 South Africa.
Tel: (+27 11) (011) 802-2685.  Fax: 802-4576.  Cell: 082 389-3481.
E-mail: judith@softwareafrica.co.za

This entire newsletter is Copyright© 2003 Communication in Action (Pty) Ltd Please share this newsletter with your friends or post it on your site as long as it is left intact with all links unchanged and includes this notice.  To subscribe, e-mail info@softwareafrica.co.za with "Subscribe" in the subject line.  To unsubscribe, e-mail info@softwareafrica.co.za with "Unsubscribe" in the subject line.

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Communication in Action – September 2003 Newsletter

Editorial

Thank you for all the best wishes for my (Judith’s) recovery – they worked because here I am back again and rushing around as usual!

Spring has definitely sprung and the birds are up to no good at all waking us up at 5am.  On the work front, the virus threats of last month seem to have affected companies ignoring the advice to update their anti-virus solutions regularly and to have good firewalls if they are major concerns.  We hope that they have all recovered now without too much damage having been inflicted.

The prospect of interest rate cuts continuing will no doubt ease the pressures against economic growth and enable businesses to move forward into 2004 with more confidence. 

Maximizer Enterprise is even more affordable

Good news has been a substantial price cut in the cost of Maximizer Enterprise at the end of August.  If you are still thinking about it and have an old quote, let us know so that we can revise it for you.

Pastelizer 6.0B

As you probably know, the Pastelizer program links Maximizer, the Customer Relationship Management (CRM) package, to Pastel Accounting, which means no more retyping contact details, plus non-accounting staff can (with permission) create invoices and other Pastel documents directly from Maximizer.

Pastelizer 6.B can transfer 71 fields from Pastel to Maximizer.  Amongst others, you now have a choice of transferring: Account Blocked (Y/N), Last date & amount paid, Terms, Monthly debtors aging, This/last year's balance/sales per Period, etc.

Now your customers’ sales staff can see all the accounting information that they need, right in the CRM package, while keeping their sticky fingers out of Pastel!  What is more, your Accounts staff can use Maximizer to do their collections and record when cheques can be collected etc, plus setting follow ups to make sure that the money comes in.  They will have a record of their conversation as well – provided they type it in!

This means that Maximizer becomes a communications facilitator in a key area of your business and is no longer just a sales and service tool.

To facilitate e-mailing of invoices from Pastel, Pastelizer 6.0B also transfers e-mail addresses to Pastel from Maximizer 7.0 and later.

Power Tips for Maximizer Users: Graphing your results

Do you need to know how well your advertising is working and in which print medium?  How many customers have been seen on each day this month?  Sales values (if you’re using Pastelizer) for the month, quarter or year?  Graphing the information is the way to get the picture immediately!

Select Tools > Graphing and then choose the User Defined Field that you want to graph.  If it has field values already, you can then select the ones you want to look at or quickly click on Select All to cover them all.

If it is a number value that needs graphing, you may have to set these values up the first time.  To do this, you click on Ranges and then set up consecutive ones such as 1 – 1000; 1001 – 2000; 2001 – 3000 etc.  Once you have set them up to match what you want to graph, again choose Select All to take them through as the ranges to be graphed.

Notice that you can catalog this selection for future use.  If you are going to graph this regularly, save it in the catalog so that you can retrieve it easily.  Once you have done this, notice that nothing will be graphed that has no value attached to it.  Maximizer also distinguishes between numeric and alphanumeric for sorting.  Check that the choice it has made here is correct for what you are graphing.

Next, click on OK.  Now you are taken into the Chart Wizard and first to the Gallery of graph types.  Choose a graph type and whether you want 2D or 3D.  Click Next.

Choose a Style and click Next.

Type in a Title and click Next

You can put in Category and Value titles if you wish then click on Finish.

Your graph is now displayed and can also be added to a catalog as well.

Series: Excel Tips and Tricks 6 – Conditional Formatting 3:

Background:  Last month we looked at using Format > Conditional Formatting to show debit balances down to a fixed overdraft limit in orange and balances below that limit in bold red.  This month we will look at dealing with a varying limit.

The Problem:  We are running our bank account on a spreadsheet.  We have a reducing overdraft limit and we want balances over this limit to show up in bold red.  We also want higher debit balances to show up in orange.

Solution:  Use Conditional Formatting.

Example:  Use the spreadsheet we set up last month, or copy and paste the one below.

·    Add a new column E for the Limits.

·    In E2 enter the starting Limit, –1900.

·    In E3 the formula:  =E2+100 – copy this down.

·    Copy the format from cell D3 (negative values in red) to this new column.

·    The formula in D3: =D2+C3, copied to the cells below, is used to calculate the running Balance.

·    Add a few more rows of data and, except for the formatting of the Balances, you will have this effect:

 

A

B

C

D

E

1

Date

Description

Amount

Balance

Limit

2

01/07/2003

Brought Forward

 

1800.00

-1900.00

3

02/07/2003

Rent

-2000.00

-200.00

-1800.00

4

03/07/2003

Credit Card

-1500.00

-1700.00

-1700.00

5

04/07/2003

Tips

50.00

-1650.00

-1600.00

6

05/07/2003

Tips

60.00

-1590.00

-1500.00

7

06/07/2003

Salary

5000.00

3410.00

-1400.00

We want to conditionally format the Balance and then copy the format, so select cell D2 only:

Click (menu) Format > Conditional Formatting and modify your existing conditions:

Modify Condition 1: Cell Value is | less than | =E2; Format Colour = Red, Font Style = Bold.

Note that if you use the red arrow button on the extreme right of Condition 1 to point out cell E2, it will appear as =$E$2.  You must delete the dollar signs because we want the formula to refer to different cells as we copy it.

Keep Condition 2: Cell Value is | less than | 0 (zero); Format Colour = Orange.

Click OK.

Now copy the formula down to the remaining balances.  The easiest way to do this is to click on the format painter (“paintbrush”) tool (on the Standard Toolbar) and then drag over the remaining cells.

Your debit balances will now show up in orange while they are above or on the adjacent limit, and in red bold when below it, as shown above.

Click on cell D3, Format > Conditional Formatting. And notice that it uses =E3 in the condition, not =E2 as used in cell D2.

Exercise: Save the file and repeat the Conditional Formatting, but instead use =$E$2 in the condition.  Copy the format down and notice the difference!

 

That’s all for now from the team!

Bye!

Judith and Rick

This entire newsletter is Copyright© 2003 Communication in Action (Pty) LtdPlease share it with your friends or post it on your site as long as it is left intact with all links unchanged and includes this notice.  To Subscribe to this newsletter, Click here and SEND the resulting e-mail.  To unsubscribe, Click here and SEND the resulting e-mail.

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Communication in Action – October 2003 Newsletter

Editorial

We have already spotted Christmas fare in Woolworths Rivonia no less.  Why do stores insist on bringing Christmas to us earlier and earlier?  Surely this diminishes the effect for children, never mind boring the adults out of their skulls.  If nothing else, this is a real example of a lack of understanding around customer relations.

Retail stores appear to believe that everything has to be marketed as hard as possible and some of the results are the equally interminable sales of the products that no-one wants.

Real service however starts with determining the need to be met or the value the customer expects from the purchase.  This is a real problem in the IT market and we are very much aware of it.  It is my observation that the customer wants things that work consistently and do not update more often than every two years.  In fact the majority of SA companies only update software after 5 years or longer.  When you look at the investment made in software and hardware as a percentage of operating costs, then it is obvious that it is taking too much of that budget without necessarily giving a concomitant return on investment.

Each time a revision comes out to Microsoft Office or the Windows operating systems, staff need refresher courses to cover the new aspects in the packages.  With the operating systems, this means in most cases a complete re-learning of the system as changes tend to be enormous.  Again, despite the training levies, the cost of training is high and does not equate with a 50% back of the levy in any way.

In Germany, this problem is overcome with incentives offered by the government for companies to upgrade their infrastructure and train their staff.  Have we taken the wrong route in South Africa?  Should we, if fact, be lobbying government via the Chambers of Commerce, to look at the carrot approach?  Certainly, I would argue that the SETA model requires revisiting based on its minimal impact on providing skills into the market.  Even more, we need a model that encourages an up-to-date infrastructure with well-trained staff in order to grow the economy in a way that would bring more people into it, thus reducing unemployment.

With 500 000 school leavers a year, we require more dynamism!

Maximizer Enterprise update

We now have manuals covering all the features of Maximizer.  The key workshop covers the Strategy Library and Opportunity Manager and this is run for management over two days.  After that, users are introduced to the main package over one day; Opportunity Manager takes half a day; Customer Service is also half a day; Administrator and Company Library is half and day as is Campaign Manager.

Manuals can also be purchased for self help.

Pastelizer 6.0B

Problem debtors whose promises need chasing?  Give your debtors’ controller Maximizer and Pastelizer so that they can record promises and excuses, plus hot list the follow up.  No more lost pieces of paper and the sales people and managers can see where the problems are.

Productivity Manager

This product is one solution to constantly upgrading software to newer versions!  It is rented not sold and thus never involves an upgrade cost, while you can add or remove users on a monthly basis.  Your branches can update to Head Office regularly, so that you know what they are doing from day to day.

Productivity Manager’s strength is its reporting of time allocated to tasks and appointments.  If the billing of these is a priority for your company, here is an ideal solution at very low cost.  Please contact Judith Taylor for more information.

Power Tips for Maximizer Enterprise Users: Reporting your results

The reporting functions in Maximizer are growing in power.  They are based on the skill you apply to your searches – see August newsletter!  In Enterprise, you can report on the status of Opportunities, Customer Service incidents and on the Order Desk.

Our favourite search is to find out what our Opportunity Manager prospect status is, as we need to forecast sales into the next six months to a year!  It is also one of the simplest to obtain:

First click on the Opportunity Manager icon, this opens the window and display all the current opportunities, irrespective of whose they are.

Next click on Reports > Opportunities > Forecast Analysis to open up the Print Opportunity Report dialog; choose your dates for the report and ask for a Preview, then click on OK.

You then obtain an overview of the likely income based on the status of the opportunities, with a report of actual and weighted income.  The latter is drawn from the Probability of close that has been assigned to each instance.

You can then print the report if required.  By using Opportunity Manager to track potential sales and the whole sales process, reporting is made much easier and in fact Opportunity Manager becomes the area of Maximizer most used to drive the sales process as everything can be done there.

The major advantage of this is that you can track the process in detail, without it becoming confused with other things that may be going on with a customer.  For your sales manager, you have the ability to present a clear report on where your actual and potential sales stand with three or four mouse clicks!

Note for Maximizer PE users – you can also report on Opportunities, but your process in weighting them is more manual as there are no strategies.  You have to take informed guesses as to how hot a customer is!

Reporting on Customers by Area – also a useful one as you may well find you have an area bias!  First search for customers by City, if you are putting in the suburb rather than a generic Johannesburg or Pretoria.  If you are putting the suburb in Address 2, then search on that instead.  In either case, choose a range say from A* to G* and say OK.

Once the search is complete make sure your view includes the field searched on.  Now click at the top of this column to sort by city / suburb.  Print out the resulting Column Report if required.  Remember to catalog your search for future use.

Reporting from Order Desk will give you useful reports like your Top Ten Customers by Quantity Bought or by Value.  These reports are done from the Order Desk window itself.  Before printing them, click on Preview.

To save paper, it is a good idea to preview all reports – that may be all that you want as they can be recreated as required.

Series: Excel Tips and Tricks 7 – Making Cell Addresses Absolute:

Background:  This will be old hat for many readers, yet the self-taught may not have stumbled over this powerful point.

The Problem:  When we copy a formula, the cell addresses referred to in the formula change.  Sometimes we want this to happen, other times we don’t.  How do we gain control over it?

Solution:  The $ (dollar sign) in cell references makes the part of the address after the $ absolute (unchangeable).

Example:  Calculating VAT using a single cell for the VAT rate:  Set up the spreadsheet below.

 

A

B

C

D

E

F

1

Item

Price

VAT

Total

 

VAT Rate

2

Widgets

1800

 

 

 

14%

3

Dingbats

2000

 

 

 

 

4

Dingamaleries

1500

 

 

 

 

5

Wotsits

500

 

 

 

 

6

Dinguses

600

 

 

 

 

7

Wossenames

5000

 

 

 

 

·    In C2 enter the formula to calculate the VAT on Widgets, i.e. =B2*F2.

·    If we then copy this down to cells below, the rest are zero – why?

·    Because =B2*F2 changes to =B3*F3, =B4*F4, etc.

·    We want the B2 to change to B3, B4 etc. as we copy it, but the F2 must always stay the same.

·    The solution is to change the formula in C2 as follows: =B2*$F$2

·    Now if you copy it down, we get =B3*$F$2, =B4*$F$2, etc:

How this works:  The $ prevents the row or column after it from changing, so the first $ stops the column (F) changing, and the second $ stops the row (2) changing.  One of these $ signs is actually redundant – which one?

Quick Recap:  In the mini-spreadsheets below, the formula in A1 is copied horizontally, vertically, and diagonally.  Notice what changes and what remains the same:

 

A

B

 

 

A

B

1

=F2

=G2

 

1

=F$2

=G$2

2

=F3

=G3

 

2

=F$2

=G$2

 

A

B

 

 

A

B

1

=$F2

=$F2

 

1

=$F$2

=$F$2

2

=$F3

=$F3

 

2

=$F$2

=$F$2

 

Courses available:

 

Maximizer:      User Training one day course for either PE or Enterprise

                        Workshop for Opportunity Manager and Strategy Library configuration – two days per department unless a small company

                        Implementing Opportunity Manager – half day workshop for the users

                        Customer Service and the Knowledge Base – half day workshop for the users

                        Maximizer Database Administrator training, includes Company Library maintenance, User Defined Field set up etc – half day for two people

User Defined Field configuration workshop  - two days for managers in large companies, can be less for smaller companies

Shorter sessions of half a day can be run for User Defined Fields and Strategy Library if the users understand the concepts behind them.

 

That’s all for now from the team!

Bye!

Judith and Rick

Directors, Communication in Action (Pty) Ltd
PO Box 987, Gallo Manor, 2052 South Africa.
Tel: (+27 11) (011) 802-2685.  Fax: 802-4576.  Cell: 082 389-3481.
E-mail: judith@softwareafrica.co.za

P.S.  Do visit our web site at http://www.softwareafrica.co.za where you can find all sorts of free stuff to download.

This entire newsletter is Copyright© 2003 Communication in Action (Pty) LtdPlease share it with your friends or post it on your site as long as it is left intact with all links unchanged and includes this notice.  To Subscribe to this newsletter, Click here and SEND the resulting e-mail.  To unsubscribe, Click here and SEND the resulting e-mail.

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Communication in Action – November 2003 Newsletter

Editorial

Interest rates and the temperature both came down markedly in October!  Rain also made a welcome appearance.  Now that we are moving towards the end of the year, it apparent that the economy has not grown as needed.  Perhaps the welcome drop in interest rates will stimulate a burst of growth before the year is done!

Telkom’s ADSL offering is however making an impact on how we communicate via e-mail.  M-Web is also offering some excellent solutions around ADSL which mean that you pay more for more gigabytes, but then your speeds remain constant.  ADSL is still significantly cheaper than ISDN for heavy users who access the web for research and it makes updating your antivirus package a pleasure.  It is also cheaper than Diginet by far.  A close watch on Telkom is showing that they are not providing the best service to subscribers to telkomsa.net e-mail, as they have been down for long periods.  If you have been inconvenienced by their lack of service, try complaining to HelloPeter.com or contact us for the more reliable connection via M-Web!

What is growing, and exponentially, is the Internet and the numbers accessing it daily.  This is good news as the cost can now go down – in other countries they pay significantly less that we do here, so let’s fight for our costs to go down as well.  It is also bad news, as web sites become overloaded and crash.  This means a greater investment in infrastructure by the affected companies, as well as in support staff.  More and more, the Internet is becoming a source of information and of income.  This is truly moving us towards the reality of the global village.

Maximizer Enterprise update

Maximizer Enterprise is in all CRM spaces from the single user through to the very large company.  The Pro edition suits up to 10 relatively unsophisticated users.  Next is plain Enterprise for Pervasive SQL with Customer Service, Knowledge Base, Strategy Library, Opportunity Manager, Marketing Campaign and Company Library.  This version is the first to allow remote users and sites that synchronise with the main database via e-mail or FTP.

The total power lies in the Microsoft SQL versions, especially the eCRM version which allows your customers, partners and employees to access their data over the Internet through their log on portals.  Customisation for all products in the range is powerful and integration with accounting solutions is part of our offering.  We also produce templates for auto-fill into a Word document.

On a simple level, Maximizer is also a document management facility, with the ability to link all types of documents to the customer record.  It saves e-mails directly to the customer on sending (Enterprise uses Outlook seamlessly as its e-mail editor) and can save incoming e-mails back into the sender’s documents.  No more hunting all over to find the e-mail you received a week ago!

New Quote Sheet 2.0

The latest version of Communication in Action’s Free Quotation sheet is on our web site for download, just in time for your Christmas sales!  As with earlier versions it is a generic template suitable for many types of business, but we can customise it further for you.  This new version allows you to export Quotes and Bills of Materials to a separate Excel spreadsheet for e-mailing to clients.  All that is required from your side is to register it with Communication in Action, a process where you e-mail us the serial number and we autorespond immediately with a unique unlocking code.

Pastelizer 6.0B

Pastelizer 6.0B.5 (Revised 24 October 2003) is now on our web site, a free download for existing 6.0B customers (6.0 customers must pay an upgrade fee).  This version improves the reconciliation of troublesome matches between Maximizer and Pastel, and allows both the Pastel Account UDF in Maximizer and the file used internally by Pastelizer to be corrected in the case of past mismatches.

Just when you thought you had everything organised –out comes Pastel 7.0!  Pastelizer 6.0B does not work with this version (also called Pastel Partner 2004), but we will have Pastelizer version 7.0 out in the New Year.  Watch the Pastelizer page!

Productivity Manager

This product is one solution to constantly upgrading software to newer versions!  It is rented not sold and thus never involves an upgrade cost, while you can add or remove users on a monthly basis.  Your branches can update to Head Office regularly, so that you know what they are doing from day to day.

Productivity Manager’s strength is its reporting of tasks completed and time spent.  If the billing of time is a priority for your company, or you want to know how your staff spend their time, here is an ideal solution at very low cost.  Please contact Judith Taylor for more information.

A useful tool – Download Accelerator Plus

This freeware is a real assistant for large downloads, especially antivirus updates.  There is a purchaseable version as well which offers more features.  Its biggest plus is restarting a failed download from where it left off.  However, it does not seem to work too well on Windows XP Pro as it grabs all the memory!  Do a search on Google or similar to find the site for download and enjoy!  Or type in www.speedbit.com to get there faster!

Office 2003 is on its way

Another case of “we need time to take a breath”!  However, Windows Server 2003 and all the related products have pushed another rewrite of Office out at us.  There are some excellent features in Outlook particularly that will assist in preventing spam being delivered to the desktop and tighten up security in this area.  Much greater working together capabilities are also available using Sharepoint Portal Server features.  XML has been fully exploited to give more power to the converting of information into templates and in creating databases.

One negative – this version really wants you to have a 17” screen or larger, as there is a lot of information on the screen.  This version of Office will only load on Windows 2000 Pro with SP3 or Windows XP Pro with SP1.  We will be going further into this version in the next few months to investigate its running problems, if any, and the advantages to users.

Power Tips for Maximizer Enterprise Users: Using Customer Service to track problems and their solutions

The Customer Service module in Maximizer Enterprise is powerful and enables you to track the progress of a problem from its being reported to its being solved.  A problem can be worked on by more than one person and can be escalated to another person during the course of its life.  To start a customer service incident, you drag the relevant contact to customer service and then fill in the form that opens with all the details.

There are special user defined fields for customer service, which are created by your Maximizer administrator who is also able to allocate standard UDFs to customer service as well.   This part requires some thought and is ideally a team effort.  The customer service team also needs setting up by the administrator, so that only the people involved and/or interested in the customer service handling receive notifications of problems and their status.

Behind customer service is the knowledge base, where a comprehensive list of solutions is held in article format.  As users build information on common problems and their solutions, so the level of customer service rises and problem solving becomes faster and more cost effective.

Through the Reports menu, reports can be run on the status of all incidents daily, weekly and monthly.  See below for training courses on this module.

Series: Excel Tips and Tricks 8 – Improving Your Excel Experience:

Do you find that Excel “does its own thing”?  Here are some settings that can make life easier for you!

Problem 1:  Every time I create a new Excel file, it comes with three sheets.  Mostly I only use one, so I have to delete two (or I leave them blank, which looks unprofessional).  How can I change this?

Solution 1:  Click Tools > Options >General, and set “Sheets in New Workbook” to 1.

Problem 2:  I frequently open files I’ve opened previously, using the list at the bottom of the File menu. Can I show more files here?

Solution 2:  Yes, you can show up to nine.  Click Tools > Options >General, and set “Recently used file list” to 9.

Problem 3:  Every time I create an Excel file, the font is Arial, which is boring.  How can I make Excel create all new files with a different font?

Solution 3:  Click Tools > Options >General, and set the “Standard Font” and Size.

Problem 4:  I’m sick of this new Microsoft feature that hides half my menus.  How can I get rid of it?

Solution 4:  Right-click on any Toolbar or Menu and, on the pop-up menu, choose Customize…  Click the Options Tab, and remove the tick next to “Menus show recently used commands first”.

Some of the Courses available:

Maximizer:

·       User Training one day course for either PE or Enterprise

·       Workshop for Opportunity Manager and Strategy Library configuration – two days per department unless a small company

·       Implementing Opportunity Manager – half day workshop for the users

·       Customer Service and the Knowledge Base – half day workshop for the users

·       Maximizer Database Administrator training, includes Company Library maintenance, User Defined Field set up etc – half day for two people

·       User Defined Field configuration workshop  - two days for managers in large companies, can be less for smaller companies

·       Shorter sessions of half a day can be run for User Defined Fields and Strategy Library if the users understand the concepts behind them.

Excel:

·       Excel for Engineers and Scientists – this course explores how to use Excel to solve formula problems in the engineering and scientific environment.

·       Programming with VBA in Excel covers how to program in Excel using the Visual Basic Interface –halve the time you spend on simple operations buy using Macros!

·       Advanced Excel covers pivot tables, data analysis, solver, backsolver and other advanced features.

Please ask us about other specialised courses on Microsoft Office products.

That’s all for now from the team!

Bye!

Judith and Rick

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Communication in Action – December 2003 Newsletter

Editorial

Our very best wishes to you all over the Festive Season and the very best for the New Year from all of us at Communication in Action (Pty) Ltd!  Thank you for your custom during 2003 and for your feedback on our newsletter.  May you travel safely to and from your holidays and return truly refreshed and raring to go in order to make 2004 the best year ever!

Maximizer update

Things are becoming very exciting on this front – but it’s all hush-hush until March 2004 – watch this space!

Productivity Manager

This product is a solution to the constant cost of upgrading software!  It is rented not sold and all upgrades are provided as part of the rental.  You can show it as running expense instead of a Capital disbursement.

Productivity Manager is constantly being improved by its owners, ADI Group.  The latest feature lets you get quotes on Travel bookings, Conference venue bookings and general Product Services.

Pastelizer 6.0B

Pastelizer 6.0B.6 (a small bug fix with extra debugging capabilities) is now on our web site.  It is a free download from the Pastelizer page for existing 6.0B customers (6.0 customers pay an upgrade fee).

Quote Sheet 2.0

Download the latest version of Communication in Action’s Free Quotation system from our web site.  It is a generic Excel template suitable for many types of business.  This version allows you to export Quotes and Bills of Materials to a separate Excel spreadsheet for e-mailing to clients.

A useful Tool – Maxdoc.exe

Want to make the most of tracking your documents in Maximizer?  Then download Maxdocs from the CABC website – www.cabc.co.uk!  They give you a 60 day trial before purchasing

Microsoft Office 2003

We hope to be checking this out during December and will then report back.

Series: Excel Tips and Tricks 9 – Improving Your Excel Experience:

Here are more settings to get Excel to do what you want it to do, not what it wants to do!

Customizing Toolbars:  There are a lot of useful buttons you can add to toolbars, that do not come standard on any toolbar.  We particularly like to use “Paste Values” and “Paste Formatting”.  Right-click on any Toolbar or Menu and, on the pop-up menu, choose Customize…  Click the Commands Tab.  Under Categories, choose Edit (the Edit menu).  Scroll down in the right-hand list (Commands) until you see the button you want (“Paste Values” is a clipboard showing “12” and “Paste Formatting” is a clipboard showing “$I”).  Drag each button and drop it onto whichever toolbar you like.

Saving Automatically (Excel 2000 and earlier):  Do you lose valuable information because you forgot to save regularly?  Excel 2000 (and earlier) can be set to save automatically at a given interval, or prompt you.  Click Tools > Add-Ins… and load the AutoSave Add-In.

Saving Automatically (Excel XP and later):  These versions allow you to save AutoRecover information (as Word has done for a long time).  Click Tools > Options > Save, make sure “Save AutoRecover info” is ticked, and set the interval.

 “Yes, I really did mean to Drop that on something else, you stupid program” Department:  By default, Excel warns you if you drag (move or copy) a range and drop it on top of other non-blank cells.  If you know what you are doing and Microsoft’s “nanny” philosophy annoys you, you can turn it off:  Click Tools > Options > Edit and untick “alert before overwriting cells” (In any case you can always Undo (Ctrl+Z or Edit > Undo) if you realize you’ve just made a mistake!).

Just a Reminder!  We can Help you with:―

·         Training your company on Maximizer, Excel, Word, Access and Windows.  We do all levels from raw beginners through to Programming using Visual Basic.

·         Personal Training: If you’re an MD or Executive and embarrassed to show the rest of your staff how little you know about computers, we can arrange one-on-one training to suit your schedule.

·         Templates for your Corporate Identity.

·         Creating stand-alone programs, databases, and spreadsheets for you.

·         Developing your own databases and spreadsheets:  Do your own development in Microsoft Access and Excel, call us when you get stuck – we’ll help with the tricky bits and explain them so that you can do it on your own in future.

·         Productivity Software: We re-sell and support a select range of our own and other companies’ programs.

That’s all for now from the team!
Bye!
Judith and Rick

Directors, Communication in Action (Pty) Ltd
PO Box 987, Gallo Manor, 2052 South Africa.
Tel: (+27 11) (011) 802-2685.  Fax: 802-4576.  Cell: 082 389-3481/2.
E-mail: judith@softwareafrica.co.za

This entire newsletter is Copyright© 2003 Communication in Action (Pty) Ltd Please share it with your friends or post it on your site as long as it is left intact with all links unchanged and includes this notice.  To Subscribe to this newsletter, Click here and SEND the resulting e-mail.

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