In the age of data visualization, the presentation of data in a consumable format is critical to effectively communicating information and driving action. Accessible data is imperative in sales and service applications as sales personnel interact with customers in a variety of settings. Map integration with Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems makes it easy for users to locate customers or assets without any ambiguity.

Mapping customer data can also boost sales territory management. By enhancing customer data and integrating with data enrichment tools (e.g., Data Fox) to include prospects, senior management can determine the true value and quotas of a sales territory in order to plan marketing and sales efforts accordingly.

Presenting data in maps provides intrinsic business value, such as route planning, service coverage area representation, geographic impact on service or support, and the overall value of a strategic location for better brand perception and increased exposure.

Typically, opportunity pipeline and lead status reports are presented in static, tabular formats. However, for industries such as oil and gas, banking, real estate, urban planning, and public services, transitioning data from reports to maps provides significantly enhanced insights into sales and service organizations. Mapping customer support site visits and company assets on maps also helps organizations with service center resourcing and location planning.

Here are a couple of examples in which AST has successfully integrated CRM and CPQ applications with existing map APIs.

Example #1: A media company that manages online databases for real estate firms

Integration with maps has helped to streamline search capabilities for agents.  With map integration, an agent can now view premium properties (or another defined category) in a specific city, with accompanying details such as property percentage availability, map location, median property rate, or historic data.

Our team also implemented other visualizations as part of this project, such as enabling a map to display available properties in a specified zip code.

map 1

Example #2: Local government services

Our expert team enabled easier monitoring and deployment of resources in the case of a public health emergency by locating pandemic hotspots with map integration.

map 2

The mapping allowed the client to evaluate the services available in the specific area (highlighted in blue).

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Map integration has also helped the government to better manage contact tracing efforts.

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These capabilities enabled by map integration can be employed in any public service department to enhance government and citizen services, including fire departments, public event planning and coordination, and others.

Contact us to learn how modern map integration can transform your business and deliver value through enhanced service applications.

Is your government organization struggling to manage its Assessment Appeals processing? Will you be able to effectively manage the wave of appeals that is predicted due to recent times of uncertainty? 

County and City governments across the United States are burdened with manual, paper-based, and extremely time-intensive processes for property tax assessment appeals. Additionally, property owners who wish to reduce their tax burden with an appeal or exemption are faced with the same complex procedures and antiquated systems and a lack of visibility into the process and inefficient communication with the appropriate government office. To make matters worse, a wave of property tax assessment appeals is predicted to reach County and City governments across the U.S. in the coming months due to the economic upset related to COVID-19.   

Are your office, staff, and systems prepared? 

On Thursday, October 29, attend our webinar to learn how AST’s Assessment Appeals and Exemptions solution provides municipal governments the missing pieces to the appeals management puzzle – automation, efficiency, and centralized, accurate data. Our experts will discuss how the solution, built on the reliable and secure Salesforce cloud platform, provides a template for counties and cities to allow their citizens to apply for tax assessment appeals and exemptions entirely online! This informative session will discuss how our solution: 

  • Supports automated online and semi-automated paper business processes 
  • Provides accessible 24/7 self-service applications, amendments, postponements, and withdrawals 
  • Delivers automated workflows to help ease processing by city or county staff 
  • Centralizes appeals data 
  • Enables seamless back-end processes 
  • Integrates with electronic signatures (DocuSign) 
  • Enables automatic case creation 
  • Provides robust analytics and reports for city and county staff 

Comfortably ride the wave of property tax assessment appeals and exemption requests by eliminating inefficient, manual paper processes, and adopting completely remote assessment appeals and exemptions. 

Register today to secure your spot!  

 

The manufacturing process is replete with complexities. Its operations involve numerous partner organizations, forecasting, complex quoting/pricing rules and inventory management, and post-sales support. The implementation of a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool is critical to successfully managing these processes, ensuring accurate data entry and flow through the process stages, and increasing operational efficiencies and transparency.

AST is a leader in the CRM implementation space, with expertise in the Manufacturing industry and proven capabilities to streamline and enhance your business processes. In this article, our experts explain the business value that a quality CRM solution brings to a manufacturing organization.

Partner / Distributor Management

Working with partner organizations requires that your partner portal integrates with a global trade management system to screen all vendors, partners, suppliers, and customers. The distributors’ involvement in warehousing and logistics necessitates an outlet to empower your distributors to sell your products by registering deals, negotiating prices, and maintaining product inventory. Choosing a scalable CRM solution with an advanced partner relationship management system, that also provides restricted access to your organization’s data, streamlines the management of relationships with external parties.

Forecasting 

Robust tracking of the opportunity pipeline, combined with a strong reporting and forecasting module in your CRM solution, is critical for accurate sales forecasting and essential for all industry types.  CRM becomes even more critical for the Manufacturing industry in leveraging sales pipeline to help with demand forecasting, operations planning, and increased accuracy of inventory orders from suppliers and vendors. Enabling distributor and sales partner access to this information enables all parties to meet business objectives.

Quoting and Pricing

A CPQ (configure, price, and quote) system complements CRM to provide the flexibility to quote and price products based on your industry and organization’s downstream manufacturing processes. Having a CPQ system ensures standardized pricing and quotation output across the enterprise. A CPQ system integrated with the Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solution allows organizations to incorporate item inventory or manufacturing constraints into the quoting process. Additionally, CPQ can provide multiple views of the same product configuration:  A sales bill of materials (BOM) will allow sales to configure based on customer specifications; a manufacturing BOM supports your manufacturing procurement processes as it acts as an intelligent translator to eliminate errors in order fulfillment. CPQ can even go further and extend itself to initiate the orchestration and sequencing of the manufacturing processes.

The flexibility of the CPQ system allows for the incorporation of manufacturing restrictions into the quoting process, ensuring that manufacturing lead times and batch limits are presented to the customer in the early quoting stages. Similarly, support and warranty agreements can be built into your quoting process, based on the level of support and period of warranty suitable for the customer.

Quoting and pricing strategies vary, depending on the type of manufacturing process employed.

 

  1. Make-to-Stock (MTS) Repetitive manufacturing, Mass manufacturing, and Batch production

Repetitive and mass manufacturing organizations typically employ customer-based price agreements and volume step pricing. Volume step pricing is a strategy in which customers are given additional discounts based on order quantity thresholds. It is crucial to track quoted quantities versus actual orders because of the broad range of product volumes and extended duration of contracts.  

Since repeat business is common in high-volume manufacturing, capturing historical information regarding pricing and order volumes enables the identification of trends and determination of the appropriate pricing strategy. This data can be leveraged by CPQ to generate AI-driven pricing graphs and indicators during the quoting process.  

  1. Assemble-to-Order (ATO) or Make-to-Order (MTO) Job Shop Manufacturing

Upon the acceptance of a quote or signing of a contract in which multiple subcomponents are manufactured, CPQ triggers the ERP system to initiate the manufacturing processes in the correct sequence.

  1. Engineered-to-Order (ETO) Project Production

Quoting for project production can be extremely complicated. Providing users with the ability to select preset models and configure them further helps to simplify the process and reduce errors in data entry for downstream systems. Revenue and expense/margin rules can be built into the system to decide if a project is worth pursing during the quoting process. Project production typically requires approvals from various stakeholders and design/production departments. In this case, the CPQ system can facilitate routing the approvals through the appropriate departments, based on rules defined by complexity, price, and other determining factors specific to your organization.

 

Customer Service 

Exceptional customer service is critical in the manufacturing industry, where long-term customer relationships are common.

A solution that tracks all products and services sold to a customer, along with service and warranty agreements, helps to understand the level of support required. The unified tracking of all service tickets, customer escalations, and communications in a single system provides the organization with a holistic view of its customers.

In today’s fast-paced, digital world, customers expect service via multiple channels and short response times to requests. Choosing a CRM that provides omnichannel customer support and contact center capability is imperative.

While selecting and implementing a CRM solution for your manufacturing business, consider partner relationship management, quoting and pricing, and service modules, along with a trusted and experienced implementation partner to provide a smooth digital transformation journey. 

Contact us to learn how we have helped Global Fortune 500 Manufacturing companies like Carmeuse, Velan, Inc., and Keysight Technologies adopt CRM and CPQ to streamline their Quote-to-Cash processes.

 

What is California Proposition 13?

California Proposition 13, or Prop 13, is an amendment to the California Constitution that passed in June of 1978, ensuring that property owners are assessed a fair market value for their property at the time of purchase. The original purchase price of the property then becomes the value on which annual tax increases are based and tax bills are issued.  Under Prop 13, the rate of increase in assessment is not to exceed 2% annually.  

 

What This Means for Property Owners

There is some controversy surrounding the impact of Prop 13 on property owners.  Some would characterize this amendment as being both a blessing and a curse. Prop 13 uses the property’s original purchase price as the base value for taxation, resulting in a severe variation of tax bills. 

To put this into context, two parties with an identical house on the same block can pay two different amounts based on when they purchased their property. The party that owned their property longer will pay a lower tax bill assuming that each property’s current value is equal. 

 

What This Means for Counties in California 

Proposition 13, among other variables, has resulted in a significant rise in the amount of property tax assessment appeals filed in local California counties.  If property owners disagree with the assessed value of their property, they can file an appeal with the county. 

Tracking and managing assessment appeals has become a massive challenge for counties due to complex, manual, and paper-based processes that are extremely time-consuming and result in extended turnaround times.  

 

AST’s Solution Saves Time and Money

AST’s Assessment Appeals and Exemptions solution is purpose-built for counties in California and across the United States who face inefficiencies in the management of their property tax assessment appeals.  Our solution automates and streamlines property tax assessment appeals and exemptions in the cloud, delivering completely remote administration of the entire process, as well as features like automatic postponements, smart letters, automated workflow, email notifications, and robust analytics.  Built on the Salesforce platform, AST Assessment Appeals and Exemptions implements best-practices for county governments, saves citizens time and provides them increased visibility, and reduces county costs and processing time. 

Learn more about how AST’s Assessment Appeals solution provides municipal governments the missing pieces to the appeals management puzzle – automation, efficiency, and centralized, accurate data.

Boomi-Authorized-Partner

 

AST is excited to announce that we are now a member of the Dell Boomi partner program!  Dell Boomi is a leading organization in the technology and integration space, specializing in integration platform-as-a-service, API management, Master Data Management, and data preparation. To celebrate this exciting milestone, AST will be co-hosting a workshop with Dell Boomi on Wednesday, September 23, that will focus on JDE integration. 

This workshop will focus on hot topics, such as integrations for Order-to-Cash and JDE/Salesforce connections. Dell Boomi will discuss how its distributed architecture allows for hybrid deployments with cloud, multi-cloud, and multi-geography. Special guest speaker and long-time JDE customer, J.B. Poindexter, will share how they cut costs by leveraging Boomi’s architectural flexibility and speed to build robust integrations. 

To show appreciation for your time and participation, one lucky attendee will be selected from the audience to win a pair of Apple Air Pods! 

If you’re a JD Edwards customer or a company with a growing interest in a variety of integrations, this is a workshop you shouldn’t miss. Join AST and Dell Boomi on September 23 at 1 PM CDT.  Reserve your spot today!

You’ve heard terms like “automated testing”, “test automation”, “application testing”, and “testing-as-a-service” …but, what does this all mean?  Whether your applications are on-premise, you’re new to the cloud landscape, or you’re a seasoned cloud professional, the efficient testing of your applications is imperative to effective business operations and saving your organization time and money.  

Our testing experts have compiled concise answers to the 10 most frequently asked questions they receive about application testing.  

  1. What is Automated Testing?

Automated Testing uses technology to write and execute test scripts. The primary goal of Automated Testing is to reduce the number of test cases that are run manually, not to eliminate manual testing altogether.

  1. When should I automate a test?

Test automation is recommended for:

  • Repetitive tasks
  • Sanity tests
  • Testing of multiple data sets
  • Regression testing

The decision is often based on return on investment.

  1. When should I not automate a test?
  • When the application to be tested changes frequently
  • For one-time test cases
  • For ad-hoc or random testing
  1. What are the steps in the automation process?
  • Select the testing tool
  • Define the scope of automation
  • Plan, design, and develop scenarios
  • Execute tests
  • Maintain test automation
  1. What is covered during the planning phase of automation?
  • Selecting the right automation tool
  • Selecting the right automation framework (if any)
  • Identifying the scope of testing items
  • Test environment setup
  • Preparing a Gantt chart of project timelines for test script development and execution
  • Identifying test deliverables
  1. Can I use test automation with the Agile method?

Automated testing may not be useful for agile methods when:

  • Testing drives changes to requirements
  • An exhaustive level of documentation is required

Note: Automation testing may still be suitable for regression tests on agile projects, such as continuous integration.

  1. What are the primary features of a good automation tool?
  • Good debugging facility
  • Robust object identification
  • Object and image testing abilities
  • Database testing abilities
  • Support of multiple frameworks
  1. What standards should be used for authorizing scripts?

While writing scripts for automation, good standards to consider are:

  • Uniform naming conventions
  • Three lines of comments for every ten lines of code
  • Adequate indentation
  • Robust error handling and recovery scenarios
  • Use of frameworks wherever possible
  1. How can I measure the success of my test automation?
  • Defect detection ratio
  • Automation execution time savings
  • Reduction in labor and other costs
  1. Why shouldn’t I just keep testing manually?

     The disadvantages of manual testing include:

  • Greater need for time and resources
  • Inaccuracy
  • Executing the same test cases repeatedly is tedious and error-prone
  • It is impractical to manually test very large or time-bound projects

In today’s everything-as-a-service, internet-of-everything world, the business of application testing has become infinitely more complex. Testers must now consider myriad applications, multiple platforms, numerous devices, browsers, security roles, and more. Combined with the pressure of digital transformation, compressed release schedules, and the need for more frequent test iterations, it is quickly becoming necessary for enterprises of all sizes to automate their testing processes and test cycles.

AST has you covered with a comprehensive suite of automated testing and QA services across all Cloud and On-Premise solutions!  Contact us today to learn more about our proven application testing services

Traditionally, enterprise integrations have been done using point-to-point (P2P) connections. Integrations of this type are difficult to maintain and modify, and this approach leads to a complex integrated ecosystem with a high probability of failure, as it requires a great deal of time and labor to maintain.

The approach to enterprise integration has changed in recent years with many organizations now embracing Application Programming Interface (API)-led connectivity and reusable APIs to ensure a seamless flow of data between multiple applications. This is a strategic paradigm shift across industries.  APIs are developed for real world scenarios, such as retrieving data from an application, data processing using various operations, and sending data to other applications or APIs.

AST partners with MuleSoft to provide API-led connectivity, an architectural approach that puts the APIs in focus for easy accessibility.  It improves communication between applications and streamlines business capabilities. MuleSoft’s API-led approach to integration defines methods for connecting and exposing assets and promotes decentralized access to data and capabilities, ensuring the necessary visibility and agility in a digital landscape.

API-led connections simplify integration by helping companies adapt to changes using a multi-tier API approach. This ensures that any changes are only present in the Experience layer for a new channel, reducing development time and significantly improving productivity with reusable assets.  All of this allows organizations to quickly roll out new features and integrations.

Based on some of our recent engagements, we’ve compiled the top reasons your organization should embrace API-led integration:

  1. Agile Delivery – There is no ‘one size fit all’ approach to integration. With API-led integration, APIs are broadly divided into Experience, Process, and System APIs. With this approach, adding a new medium would mean simply adding an extra experience API instead of rebuilding the entire system. Likewise, the addition of a new business process only requires a system API. This also lends predictability by accurately estimating code changes and providing effective delivery with minimal impact to the business.
  2. Ease of Maintenance – APIs are easy to change, maintain, version, and test. Once organizations begin using APIs, they realize that breaking down a complex integration piece into APIs makes it easy to maintain in the long term.
  3. Increased Productivity – Organizations can start with any aspect of integration and slowly build a suite of APIs that can be reused across departments. This results in faster turnaround for work involving overlapping areas.
  4. Faster Time-to-Market – With API-led integration, organizations can achieve a distributed pattern of releases by creating multiple APIs, enabling them to prioritize certain integrations depending on data sources and complexity. One of our customers was able to go live with a complex piece of integration in just 2 weeks!
  5. Greater Operational Visibility – API-led connectivity provides a great amount of flexibility, granularity, and control of the environment. Using an API Gateway, organizations can set appropriate controls and restrict access to certain APIs, depending on policies and business requirements.

Contact AST today to learn how API-led integration can help your organization improve data connectivity and streamline business operations. 

Many industries today favor rentals over ownership, especially in industrial equipment, hi-tech, and healthcare.  This growing trend is driven by the business’ need to shift focus away from maintaining outdated equipment and more onto its core business offering.  In this time of hyper-growth, it is imperative for rental organizations to establish systems that make it easy for customers to find what they need…at the right time, for the right price, and across multiple channels.

AST has proven experience helping customers find solutions for their rental businesses.  Our team understands the needs associated with operating a successful rental organization and can provide the right software to enable your business with flexible and intuitive user interfaces for pricing, customer service, and inventory management and servicing. 

The ideal solution, Oracle CPQ Cloud, is highly customizable with a visual and intuitive user interface, allowing clients to rent equipment based on their specific requirements for duration and price.  When the customer selects a rental product, the system should recommend additional relevant products and services typically required or desired with the selected items.

 rental

Example of a rental product catalog.

Additionally, the solution prompts the ancillary requirements of renting, such as insurance, damage coverage, delivery, and others.

 

rental 2

Pricing, product availability, and customer service form the core foundation of successful rental organizations.  Achieve excellence in these areas with AST and Oracle CPQ cloud.

Pricing strategies

The pricing of products within rental software should be dynamic, based on availability and prevailing market conditions (e.g. high inventory rental items should be subsidized to attract customers).  Pricing rules must also be configured in the system based on specific industry and business drivers. Data on pricing and orders can provide insights into rental trends to determine the best pricing strategy and effectively address seasonal demand fluctuations.  

Commonly used pricing strategies in rental organizations include duration-based pricing, customer-specific price agreements, and packaged rental offering.  Customer-specific agreements are widely used to help build customer loyalty by providing discounts through rental history tracking.

Repeat customers typically make up the majority of a rental company’s business.  Therefore, it is vital to understand customer behavior, business operations, and rental requirements, including timing, to ensure rental inventory is available. Subscription pricing is an attractive incentive that should be made available to valued repeat customers.

Product availability and inventory management

Inventory management must be precise and reliable, providing an up-to-date status of product availability. Oracle CPQ will help you track issues, returns, and equipment conditions for fast and accurate billing.  

Automated workflows can be designed to ensure regular service and upkeep of equipment, based on usage or last service date.  Notifications and reminders for rental returns and servicing are established to ensure equipment is returned and serviced on time.

 Customer service 

A seamless customer experience, including ease of transactions and transparency, can be accomplished with an intuitive multi-platform interface for rental tracking, standardized templates for rental agreements and invoices, and electronic signature with PCI compliant payment options.  

The solution should autogenerate and email billing invoices to customers based on set intervals (e.g. monthly invoicing) for items rented for multiple years.  The implementation of Oracle Subscription Management Cloud with Oracle CPQ will help you achieve these goals for a reliable and secure customer service experience. 

Operational data capture and analysis should guide improvements in operations, customer retention, and pricing strategies.

Let AST Implement Oracle CPQ Cloud for your rental business to achieve:

  • An easily configurable pricing strategy;
  • Rental item tracking and servicing without an excessive operational overhead; and
  • An intuitive interface, ensuring customer acquisition and loyalty.

Contact us to learn more about how AST and Oracle CPQ Cloud can optimize your rental business in a time of industry growth and increasing competition. 

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For years, local governments across the United States have processed property tax assessment appeals with manual, time-intensive methods, and costly, antiquated systems based on paper and spreadsheets.  Property owners filing an appeal often face similar frustrations, along with the requirement of going into a county office to initiate or manage the process.   

With cloud solutions on the rise and a society accustomed to instant access, citizens now seek efficient ways of handling personal business from the comfort of their own homes. 

Let AST implement modern best-practices for you and your taxpayers with AST Assessment Appeals and Exemptions! 

AST’s Assessment Appeals solution provides a pre-built template for counties and cities to allow property owners to apply for and manage assessment appeals and exemptions completely online.  

Our exclusive cloud solution automates and streamlines the assessment appeals processprovides robust analytics for reporting, integrates with electronic signatures, and provides portal access for applicant monitoring.  

 AST Assessment Appeals and Exemptions adds value to your organization with: 

  • 24/7 self-service for assessment appeals  
  • Completely remote management of the process 
  • Streamlined communication with property owners 
  • Significant improvements in process efficiency
  • Centralized appeals data 

Contact us to learn how AST Assessment Appeals and Exemptions can save your citizens time and provide them with increased visibility, while reducing county costs and processing time.  

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AST is excited to announce our participation in the ‘C-Level @ A Mile High’ event, hosted by the Colorado Technology Association (CTA), on July 30. 

C-Level @ A Mile High is an annual event where Colorado tech companies go beyond networking, do business, and build lasting relationships.  This has been CTA’s largest fundraiser since 2007 and this year, CTA is bringing this world-class C-Level experience to our homes with a completely virtual event. 

At this event, 50+ C-level “celebrities” come together to discuss upcoming IT projects with their peers and allow attendees to bid on exciting experience packages that include outdoor activities like hiking, cooking classes, and various sporting events. Winners of the auctions spend their experiences with C-Level celebrities, giving them additional networking and relationship-building opportunities.  All proceeds from the auction enable CTA to continue its efforts in supporting the technology industry in its community.

C-Level @ A Mile High offers a variety of additional opportunities for participants to network and engage, including speed networking, “celebrity” pitch rooms, and one-on-one meetings.

AST is a member of the CTA, and we are proud to be part of an organization that shares similar values. The CTA has been a pillar for the technology community in Colorado since 1994. Over the last 25 years, they have provided resources for their leaders and entrepreneurs to thrive. 

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