17 August 2012

Hints & Help: Data Importing

This weeks' blog covers the subject of data import. With pupils, parents, lessons, instruments, receipts  schools, teachers and so on, there is an inordinate amount of data to put into the programs. Today, we will examine approaches to data import and the contexts in which they can be used.

The processes in question are as follows:
  • Import Data
  • Import Tuition Batch
Import Data is designed principally to handle large amounts of general data, and Import Tuition Batch is purpose built for the import and allocation of pupils. There are some key differences between these import methods, which we'll examine in more detail, but firstly it is important to know how we get to the data importing stage.

How Do I Get Started?
The first thing to do is to create a template for what you're about to import. Luckily, this is a quick and painless process.
  •  Firstly-ribbon menu Tools -> Housekeeping -> Import Data -> then select the field you wish to import. Click ‘next’ followed by Create Template, which will create the right kind of spreadsheet.
  • Within the spreadsheet there are a number of bold columns-these are required fields and must be filled in. Populate the fields with whatever information you have outside of the pre-requisites.
  • Save and close the document, and on the next screen of the Import Data process locate the spreadsheet you have just created. Clicking next allows the software to validate the data, and upon completion of this task press Next and your data selection will import into the system.















Fig 1. The Tools Tab, Housekeeping and subsequent drop-down menu.

Import Tuition Batch

Open the spreadsheet you’re using for the information. Only 3 headings are required for this method of data import.
  • UPID
  • First Name
  • Last Name
Save the spreadsheet with these headings only, from column C onwards. Make sure you only put in the data and no extra text headings in the spreadsheet fields, ie if it says UPID in the heading you don’t need to put it in the main body of the page as well:



Fig 2. Example spreadsheet 

Saving
The next step is to save the spreadsheet properly. The system will only recognise one type of file for this process, an Excel 97-2003 spreadseet/workbook(it’s named different things on some systems). Check this is a .xls document and save it, then close.
Importing
Click Pupils on the ribbon menu, on the far left click Import Tuition Batch. Click Open and search for the required file. Once you open it it should open in the aforementioned screen. Highlight the pupils you wish to move by clicking on the far left edge of the screen and dragging it down.

Once you’ve done this, click Import Pupils.









Fig 3. The Import Pupils/Create Tuition buttons.

















Fig 4. The selection screen with the pupils highlighted.

Once you have selected those Pupils, click Create Tuition. You will then be presented with this screen:
















Fig 5. The process screen.

From within this screen you can choose the School, Year, Activity plan etc. Once the criteria are all satisfactory, click the Start Process button at the top left and the system will populate the required fields with the selected information.

Import Data

One of the largest amounts of data you will have to input into the system is instrument details. Within Ensemble and its associated programs it is possible to import the details of the instruments and their serial numbers, which makes keeping track of your hires significantly easier. In order to bring the instruments into the system, you first need to create a template. The template is effectively an Excel spreadsheet pre-populated with the headings required for the system to recognise  the data instantly and attribute it to the correct areas. For example, the template created for the instrument serial numbers automatically contains the headings InstrumentSerialNumber, InstrumentType and InstrumentLocation.




Fig 6. An example of the Instrument Import Data template.

Both the Import Data and Import Tuition Batch are essential tools in compiling appropriate and useful information into the database. We hope that this week's blog has been of use to you, especially with the new term coming up!

8 August 2012

Hints & Help: How To Write A Support Ticket

We are often asked the best way to write a support ticket-how to lay it out, get the right information across quickly, and how to reduce the amount of time spent waiting for results. The most effective way to deal with these scenarios is to compose your ticket properly, as doing so will allow the support team to see the issue and its potential solutions. In this blog post we’ll cover the most effective way of setting out your ticket, including attachments, using screen shots and using the Help Guide.
Blog 1 New Ticket Button
Fig 1. The Help tab, Support Ticket button and New Ticket button

Upon discovery of an issue that requires support, the first thing to do is set up a new ticket. Paritor features an integral fault reporting system, the Support Tickets. These tickets come straight through to first line support in our office. You can add screenshots and files to them, but more on that later. To access the Support Tickets click the Help tab at the top right of the upper menu(the ‘Ribbon Menu’). This will display the above picture. Click on Support Tickets to raise the Support Ticket Manager, where you can see tickets you’ve sent and their progress. In the upper menu click New Ticket to raise a new issue to the support team. Pressing New Ticket will yield this screen:
Blog 1 Support Ticket Basic
Fig 2. An empty example support ticket

The ‘Raised By’ field will be populated by the name of the individual who raised the ticket. Email will also self-populate. The Priority Fields are designated as follows:
  • Low: Problems which do not affect the operation of the software.
  • Medium: Problems that affect the way the service functions, causing the software not to function as specified but does not prevent the software from being used.
  • High: Critical problems that prevent the use of the software under normal operating conditions.
Accurately setting the Priority Fields lets the support team attend to your concerns within the correct timeframe.
On the Support Ticket screen you will see a box marked Feature Request. Ticking this box marks this support ticket as a suggestion; Feature Requests are the elements that you would like to see featured in the program. If there is something that you need access to all the time that is not catered for within the existing framework, this is your suggestion box. It is worth noting that some requests may not be possible to include, may exist within the program already in another form or are currently available but undiscovered. Should you submit a request that is currently catered for we will inform you the best way to reach it.

Attachments

One of the most important parts of a Support Ticket is the Screenshot. These used to be very complicated involving Paint, Word documents and so on, so we’ve included a function called Insert Image. This allows you to capture the Screenshot from the Support Ticket without having to engage an external program. When you type in the main body of the ticket, the upper menu will change to this view:
Blog 1 Insert Image New
Fig 3. Insert Image button.

When you click Insert Image, this allows the Screen Rectangle Capture button to emerge. Clicking this button allows you to drag a rectangle across the part of the screen you wish to capture and cut it out into your ticket.
 Blog 1 Capture and Close
Fig 4. Screen Rectangle Capture button.

Once you are satisfied with the image(as you may take as many as you like), click Save and Close to place the capture within the ticket as seen below:

Blog 1 Captured Image in email
Fig 5. A Support Ticket with the Screen Capture inside

Having the Screenshot included in the ticket allows the support team to deal with your query much more efficiently. A great deal of the systems work incorporates tables and process screens, and being able to see a specific and troublesome part of your query can help us understand the root of the issue swiftly. The Support Ticket also contains a button marked Add Attachments. This button allows you to add other files to your ticket, such as .rptx custom report files which are a common part of the system.

Content

The most important part of any ticket is Content. The way in which you describe your query dictates how quickly we can assist you. The most helpful way to lay out a ticket is as follows:
  • Statement of concern-‘I can’t get my invoices to print’
  • Method of arrival-‘I went through these steps to get here’
  • Effects-‘I can’t do this now either’
  • Timescale-‘I’ve got to get these off today-can you take a look at it now?’
Laying your ticket out in this method allows us to see exactly what has taken place and how you arrived at the issue. Your issue can be linked to a number of factors, such as incorrect data entry, incorrect procedure, a lack of training or unreleased software updates. Always include a Screenshot where possible.
The Ensemble, Lite and Academy systems have been designed to operate in a specific way, and trying to work around certain issues can make difficulties appear more regularly than they otherwise would. If you are uncertain how to approach something, consult the Help Guide.

The Help Guide

At the top right hand corner of your program is the Help Guide Button. This activates the systems’ internal help service-the chief function of which is to allow you to get as much out of the program as possible. As the system has been designed to be intuitive, use of the Help Guide will allow you to navigate much more efficiently through the system itself, increasing your productivity. This means less time spent on support and more time spent on progressing through the work you need to do.
Blog 1 Help Button Ensemble
 Fig 6. The Help Guide activation button.

You can also access the Help Guide through the Help Tab.
Blog 1 Help Tab
Fig 7. The Help Tab and Display Help button.

Through either means, when you click the ‘?’ button the following screen will display itself:
Blog 1 Help Guide Front Page
Fig 9. The Ensemble Help Guide front page.

This is the front screen of the Help Guide. The guide contains information on the processes contained within the program. Typing key words into the search bar at the top left corner will bring up a number of related headings in link form:
Blog 1 Help Results Blue
Fig 10. Search bar and resultant information.

Clicking the links will display their information like this:
Blog 1 Help Guide Actual Info
Fig 11. Clicking the links inside the Help Guide will give you results like these.

At the top of these pages are three buttons marked Up, Previous and Next. Up takes you back to your search results. Previous and Next guide you through the topics available. The Help Guide entries are in procedural order by heading, so an entry on billing will take you through the processes required over multiple screens.

Hopefully you have found this blog of use-if you feel there are key issues needing to be addressed, or there is a part that you feel should have been included, please contact us through the Support Tickets (which should now be no trouble at all!).