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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AST has been named a 2020 winner of the “Chicago’s Best and Brightest Companies to Work For®” award by the National Organization of Business Resources (NABR)!  This is the third time AST has received this recognition.

Each year, hundreds of companies in the Chicagoland area contend for the opportunity to be named one of the Best and Brightest Companies to Work For. The NABR appoints an independent research committee to conduct a deep analysis of all entries, and only the companies with the most innovative and thoughtful human resources practices and company cultures are selected for this prestigious award.

“Through the first half of 2020, the Best and Brightest Companies to Work For® have demonstrated leadership and forward thinking as they pivoted their business and workforce through Covid-19. As the conversation and focus has shifted, our Best and Brightest winning companies have also been a voice for important actions regarding race relations. In these unique times, the Best and Brightest Companies to Work For excel and share their knowledge with others,” said Jennifer Kluge, President and CEO, Best and Brightest Programs.

Read the full Best and Brightest press release here

At AST, our Corporate Culture is our Competitive Advantage! Our people make the difference. We’ve discovered over our 25 years in business that the more we invest in our talent, the greater the return. We foster a culture of trust, ownership, and innovation at every level of the organization. All doors are open and everyone’s ideas matter, giving our people the ability to quickly understand our customers’ needs and translate those needs into action. While we celebrate individual wins, we always strive for shared success. We are One AST.

Learn more about our company culture and see career opportunities here

We are extremely proud of Team AST.  We cannot achieve success without the help of our employees, partners, and customers.  A huge ‘THANK YOU’ goes out to each of you for your hard work and loyalty.

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Earlier this month, AST’s Technology Services team conducted a successful Architecture Review Board (ARB) for the implementation of Oracle’s Service Oriented Architecture Cloud Service (SOACS) at the National Industries for the Blind (NIB).  Mallikarjun Balla, Senior Director of IT at NIB, and Nirmala Sivakumar, Director of Enterprise Applications at NIB were among the team members who collaborated with AST’s top architects from Enterprise Integration, Web Architecture, Security, and Content Management. 

With the objective of validating the design for NIB’s transformational project, the ARB presented high-level requirements and key design elements, discussed intended and unintended consequences of the chosen design, and validated the design based on best practices. 

The collaborative approach of an ARB brings together the specific objectives of an organization with the highly specialized individuals who provide the expertise to reach those goals.  This was AST’s first virtual ARB.  The 2-hour collaboration was engaging and successful, providing an in-depth discussion on the enhancement of NIB’s solution.

“The concept behind the ARB session is very creative and informative. The process where different architect(s) discusses the architecture/design that is being proposed to customer gives a sense of confidence to customer that extra set(s) of eyes are reviewing the solution,” said Balla.  “The NIB Team had to get to understand the thought process behind the design/architecture, perspectives from different architects, and pros and cons of the design. The NIB Team was really impressed with the talent present at the ARB session and the depth of the expertise brought to the table.”  

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Applications Software Technology LLC (AST) is now a member of the Colorado Technology Association (CTA).  AST proudly joins a number of its existing clients and other technology leaders in this achievement and is excited to be part of the CTA’s 25-year legacy of helping technology thrive in Colorado.

AST’s motivation for involvement with the CTA and its mission includes:

Advocacy – CTA partners with national and state organizations to advocate for computer science in education, specifically to ensure strong technology programs for females and underrepresented students. The organization offers a one-click tool for members to connect with policymakers in their district in order to support the interest of the information technology community.

Social & Professional Networking – Because of their shared values, several of AST’s customers are also members of CTA.  Our Colorado-based employees are excited to get to know the current and future customers at the numerous CTA-hosted events throughout the year.  The Mile High CXO event and the Colorado Women’s Technology Conference are two that top the list!

Talent – CTA attracts and nourishes technology talent so that Colorado stays competitive in the tech industry.  Members share ideas and grow together, honing skills that keep technology thriving in the Rocky Mountain region.

With a mission to advance Colorado’s tech ecosystem through talent, advocacy, economic development, and community, the Colorado Technology Association has been at the heart of the Colorado tech movement since 1994, providing leaders, innovators, and entrepreneurs the resources they need to thrive, and AST is proud to be aligned with the organization.

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