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Quick Split for Packing Reports
10/31/2014
We know that every production facility, big or small, has different ways of managing the packing and shipment of their products.  Supplyit offers a number of ways of displaying packing reports in order to account for these differing needs.

Requests have come in recently to split a packing report into several smaller pack sizes based on a percentage.  This is often done during peak production times when a facility's output may exceed what their shipping methods typically handle.

We recently released "Quick Split" when printing a packing report in grid form.  For instance, if you want to split your packing report into two equal packs, you would enter "50,50" and your items will be split accordingly. The report will automatically round up for partial splits and adjust subsequent packs.  If are shipping 3 items and you are splitting the report into equal shipments of 50%, the first pack would have 2 items (3 ÷ 2 rounded up) and the next pack would have 1.

The reports are generated in real time, so no changes are made to orders or production.  We encourage you to experiment and let us know what you think!

Posted by Tim


Workflows
6/24/2014
One of the challenges we face is balancing broad functionality with a streamlined interface.  Every account uses Supplyit a little differently, and every location in every account adds uniqueness as well.  Despite all this variability, most users have one or more routines they follow on a daily basis.

Workflows are an exciting addition which simplify common interactions with Supplyit.  Here's how they work:
A sample workflow
  • A workflow is comprised of one or more steps.
  • A workflow step is comprised of a link that takes you to your desired location (e.g. Packing Reports) and additional instructions for that destination.
  • A location can have any number of workflows.
  • Workflows are custom to any location, but can be copied between locations.
  • Workflows appear on a location's homepage (see screenshot).
  • Workflows are also accessible from the navigation bar so that they can be used continuously while navigating through the site.

For the initial roll out of workflows only our Support Team is authorized to add them, but we'll be opening them up to general access in the near future.  

While you're doing your daily (or weekly/monthly) routine you shouldn't have to worry about 'what step comes next'.  We're hoping that the use of workflows improves productivity and answers that question.




Posted by Rob Mackenzie


Browser Compatibility
3/7/2014
This post begins a conversation around the idea of browser compatibility.  Browser type and version is sometimes a touchy subject because it can involve change.  Programming for browsers also gets tricky because we try to deliver functionality and stability for as many variations of browser type,version, and underlying operating system as possible. For instance, trying to support 4 browsers with 4 versions across 4 operating systems yields 64 environments (4 X 4 X 4) that we need to test with every release (which is around twice a week!).

Browser Overview:
A web browser is the software that we use to connect to the web.  There are four major web browsers that people use -- Internet Explorer, Chrome, Firefox, and Safari -- and each web browser has different versions.  Versions are "editions" of the software that are released as new features are built and bugs are fixed.  Some browsers automatically update while others require you to take some steps on your own. If you're using an old version of a browser you're missing out on important features and fixes that make the web faster, easier, and safer.

In order to continue to provide the best experience for our users, we are going to start phasing out support of old browsers.

What browsers does Supplyit support?
Our site is optimized for Internet Explorer 11 and the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, and Safari.  We maintain support for Internet Explorer 8, 9, and 10, but we plan on ending support for Internet Explorer 8 at the end of 2014.   Supplyit is not compatible with Internet Explorer 7 (which was released almost a decade ago!).

What does this mean for you?
Please visit www.whatbrowser.org to see what browser you're currently using. There you'll find links to download alternative browsers.

Note: If you're currently using Internet Explorer 8, we recommend upgrading to the latest version of Internet Explorer possible.  If your operating system is Windows XP, it is not possible to upgrade Internet Explorer. (Not sure if you are on Windows XP?  Click here.) Instead, we recommend you download Chrome or Firefox.

What about other websites that I use?
Most websites are best experienced using the latest versions of browsers.  However, some sites are compatible only with older versions of a browser.  We encourage you to explore what requirements other sites have before making changes.

Can I use more than one browser on the same computer?
Absolutely.  It is possible to use multiple browsers but not multiple versions of the same browser.  It is not unusual for some users to keep an old version of Internet Explorer on their system but to also use a modern browser like Chrome.

What if I have further questions?
If you or someone from your IT group has questions, please feel free to contact support.
Posted by Rob Mackenzie


Localization Support
1/31/2014
Feliz Año Nuevo! We're excited to be rolling out support of multiple languages across Supplyit.  This process is known as "localization" and includes accounting for both language and culture (like dates, time, money, and punctuation).  For instance, a user can have "English" set as their language but "Great Britain" as their culture.  This would present the site in English but would present dates in the format "DD/MM/YY".  Another user with "English" as their language but "US" as their culture would see dates in the format "MM/DD/YY".

Here are a few common questions.

What determines what language I use the site in?
  • Every time your web browser requests a page, it sends a little bit of code that indicates the language and culture.  Click here to learn how to set your browser's language preference.
What languages are supported?
  • We have begun with translating our site's navigation into Spanish and will add additional languages over time.  [Updated 2/13/2014 -- we've added support for Korean.] Additionally, we will be translating other parts of the site such as warning messages, support hints, etc. 
How are prices converted?
  • No conversion is performed between currencies.  If a user enters a value of $1.00 for a price, but another user is viewing the site using Great Britain as the culture, they will see £1.00.  We suggest that all locations within an account use a standard culture to minimize any ambiguity.
How long does adding another language take?  [updated 2/13/2014]
  • Thanks to the power of the tools that we work with, including additional languages in the site is a straight forward process.  For instance, we were able to translate our site navigation into Korean in two days. 

Jera has been working with clients all over the world and we're excited to be able to continue to expand our features to better support them.
Posted by Rob Mackenzie


Season's Greetings
12/20/2013
2013 was a remarkable year as we pushed Supplyit into new markets while introducing powerful new features.  Our goal is to help our customers manage smarter, work faster, and achieve more. This year we made substantial progress towards that goal.

Looking Back...2013 in review

"A Journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step."

Perhaps the greatest change in 2013 was adopting an agile development strategy that spans all departments of our company.  The goal is to respond quickly and systematically to customers whether it's implementing a new feature, improving an account setup or training on specific features.  All of us want to make our customers happy.  Using an agile process prioritizes features, identifies stakeholders, and works on priorities identified by our customers.  Here are a few results of our new process:

  • Version 4.0 released - a new reporting engine, interface overhaul and backend improvements positioned us for continued growth.
  • API (alpha) released - we developed an internal API which is being used for custom reporting engines by several clients.  The API allows Supplyit to act as a platform instead of simply a web application.  Local reporting systems pull down data and manipulate it to the exact specification of the client.  Meanwhile, data entry is standardized through the web interface.  As we'll discuss below, there are many more opportunities with our API in the future.
  • Surveys released - Surveys are data magnets.  Any business unit has standard line-of-business data objects such as Orders and Invoices.  Surveys collect all the data that isn't captured by those standard data objects and allow standards and reporting to be applied to the datasets.  Whether it's recording drive-thru processing time, specialized delivery compliance metrics, customer feedback or more, Surveys provide a powerful place to put and report on that data.  We love seeing all the creative ways clients are using surveys and look forward to more in the future.


Looking Forward...2014 in preview

"Always have a plan (so you have something to deviate from)"

Our roadmap for 2014 includes many exciting new avenues of development -- and of course improvements to existing ones.  Here's a peak at where we're going:
  • Android/iOS integration- We're going mobile!  Enough users are using our current interface on tablets that the customer demand is clearly there.  Plus, the ability to interface with mobile device hooks such as geo-location services and barcode scanning greatly empowers our offering.
  • Improved API access - Our current API access is set on a Location-basis, limiting the result sets to that of a specific location.  While this keeps the flow of data properly bound to a particular context, it limits the view of the data.  Exposing improved API access is a business development that could allow for greater meta-analysis of data across regions of locations (for instance) or groups of locations that the user has access to.
  • Improved Order management - We needed to get a few ducks in order to tackle this one, but 2014 should see greatly improved Order management including the ability to easily pull items, rebuild relationships, and reapply rules and forecasted values.
  • Downstream Forecasting - We currently have upstream forecasting, which means forecasting is based on direct purchases.  Downstream forecasting is forecasting applied to purchase orders based on sales data....of related items!  Product composition will play a critical role here as we implement downstream forecasting based on related products, and should help with the ordering process.  
  • Lot Tracking  -  We already have some seeds of lot tracking in place and have released the Product Trace report which Lot Tracking will greatly enhance.

As always, we remain grateful to our customers for giving us the chance to serve you and your business needs.

Happy holidays!

Posted by Rob Mackenzie


Custom Shelf Life
12/13/2013
We've recently introduced the ability to define a custom shelf life for a product.  This allows our users to accurately take waste on a variety of products, not just those that get thrown away at the end of the day on which they're ordered.

You can see the shelf life for a product by viewing its details.  For example, the shelf life for this sample product is 3 days:













The shelf life is listed in the format Days.Hours:Minutes.  Though we anticipate most users will only specify shelf life in days, we have allowed for the possibility of more specific time-frames.

You'll notice that we also provide the "Waste Day Offset" when listing the shelf life.  The waste day offset allows us to match a waste record to its relevant order.

Examples
  • If a product has a shelf life of 12 hours, the Waste Day Offset = 0 (the waste and order should share the same date)
  • If a product has a shelf life of 1 day, the Waste Day Offset = 1 (the waste should be one day ahead of the order)
  • If a product has a shelf life of 3 days, the Waste Day Offset = 3 (the waste should be three days ahead of the order).

    Additional Information
    As a final note, custom shelf lives are directly related to custom forecast specifications which we recently blogged about. Say for instance that a product has a shelf-life of a year (to make a clear, extreme case).  Upstream forecasting involves looking at the purchase history and subtracting the waste.  With custom shelf lives, the waste examined is offset forward, and in this case by one year.  Custom forecast specifications allow us to properly look back one year (or two or three) so that the forecasted order uses last year's purchases and subtracts this year's waste.  Without custom forecast specifications, we'd be trying to match waste on that item that was 51 weeks in the future (which clearly couldn't exist yet)!

    Summary
    Custom shelf lives are a win for our customers and greatly empower the ability to accurately track usage. The shelf life for a product is designated within the catalog and applies to all locations that use that product.  If you're interested in getting started with shelf life, please contact Support!
      Posted by Rob Mackenzie


      Forecasting Enhancements
      12/9/2013
      Custom Forecast Specifications are now available.  Prior to this new feature, forecasting was set on a rolling average.  While this approach suited recurring fresh items, it was rigid and prevented more creative uses of existing history.  With Custom Forecast Specifications, users can apply more meaningful dates which then get bundled and averaged.

      Examples (click images to see a larger version)

      Day-of-Week (default) 
      This uses the previous 4 weeks.  Users do not need to actually add this forecast specification because it's what is used if no other specification is found.


















      Day-by-Day Forecasting

      This uses the previous 4 days and is useful for high-volume products that have short lifespans.

















      Year-over-Year Forecasting
      This uses the previous 2 years and is useful for seasonal products


















      A few things to note:
      1. Specifications are accessed under Location Console > Administration > Catalog > Forecasts
      2. If a product is set to use forecasting, but there is no matching forecast specification, it will automatically use the 'Day-of-Week' forecasting listed above (previous four weeks of data).
      3. Products can only belong to one forecast specification.
      4. Forecast specifications can currently only have four or fewer day offsets.  We will likely be increasing this limit in the future.

      Forecasting Roadmap
      Some of the things we'll be adding with forecasting include:
      • Downstream forecasting - ability to forecast orders based on sales order data from related products.
      • Improved messaging - improve some of the messaging around the type of forecasting used by a product.
      • Add 'adjustment factors' so that a previous year's purchases can be adjusted based on overall growth trends.
      • Build in forecasting tools into our API to work with third-party forecasting software.

      Conclusion
      We've worked with several accounts with the new forecasting system and it has been well received.  We took great pains to not require any extra work by accounts already using forecasting.  We're very much looking forward to enhancing this area in the New Year!

      Posted by Rob Mackenzie


      Rule Enhancements
      11/22/2013
      We recently published a few enhancements to the 'Rules' section.  As a reminder, 'Rules' apply to order quantities and can be applied to all contacts or to individual contacts.  Here are the two primary changes that we've introduced:

      Round Direction
      This feature allows a producer to specify the round direction when a rounding multiple is enabled.  Prior to incorporating this feature rounding always rounded up.

      Long-time users might recognize this feature because it actually existed years ago.  We removed it due to lack of usage.  So what has changed?  Our business units are much more varied and many more locations are now using forecasting.

      Imagine the following scenario:  a supplier has a rounding multiple of '24' set for Product A.  A customer is dutifully taking waste on Product A and wants to start forecasting.  The forecasting engine will calculate the optimal quantity regardless of rules, so it's entirely possible that our customer has a suggested order of '25'.  In previous versions the customer would then receive a quantity of 48! (25 rounded up to the closest rounding multiple).  Well that's not quite fair...they're essentially ordering 23 more than they'd like.  This has made some customers hesitate to enable forecasting.

      If the supplier in the above scenario had Round Direction set to 'Closest' the customer would receive 24...still not the exact quantity they're after but probably more desirable than over-ordering (and over-paying) by such a large amount.

      By default Round Direction will start out with 'Always Round Up' to keep the legacy behavior.


      Availability Dates
      Availability Dates are an incredibly useful feature that allow a supplier to specify the start and end dates of a product.  Both start and end date can be entered by themselves.  Some examples might include:
      • Seasonal products (12/1/2013 - 12/31/2013)
      • New long-term offering (1/1/2014 - ?)
      • Expiration of product (? - 12/31/2013)
      Once enabled, the effect is that any quantity ordered against this item is negated for the full amount.  This should help communicate to customers why they aren't receiving a particular product.  

      It's worth noting that even though a Rule might prohibit a customer from ordering a product, it doesn't preclude them from adding it to their order template.  The advantage to this is that customers can prepare the quantities that they'd like, and once the product becomes available they'll start receiving it.  In other words, it facilitates a smooth paced rollout of products for both suppliers and customers alike.



      Here we see a rule definition with the rounding quantity set to 'closest and a start date of 1/1/2014.  


      More to Come....
      Rules are an important component to standardizing the ordering (and hence manufacturing and packing) process.  We'll be working on enabling customer rules which will match to a specific rule-set, and then reconcile against supplier rules (i.e. a customer's minimum couldn't be less than a supplier's minimum).  We'll also keep improving that inline communication over time so rules are clearly communicated when applied without cluttering the interface.  Stay tuned!
      Posted by Rob Mackenzie


      System upgrade
      11/6/2013
      We recently completed an upgrade to our backend systems and thought we'd review how our maintenance window works. Our maintenance window is from 7:00pm - 8:00pm ET.  We use this time to perform maintenance tasks including security updates and patches, performance checks and more.  This is different from our code updates which happen several times a week.

      Once a month we use this time to perform a full maintenance which requires downtime on our systems.  This downtime typically takes less than 30 minutes. Occasionally we’ll use the full window for more significant purposes, as was the case recently. By having a specific maintenance window we’re able to be proactive in managing our systems while giving our customers clear expectations about any minor disruptions in service.
      Posted by Tim


      Continuous Improvement
      5/17/2013
      With the release of Supplyit 4.0, Jera has moved to a type of software development called agile development. Agile development is based on publishing small incremental changes to the live site on a frequent basis. Our departments meet weekly to discuss improvements to the platform and to determine the steps necessary to introduce these changes.

      Manufacturing and production facilities may refer to this process as "continuous improvement". This involves examining internal processes, incorporating feedback from all stakeholders, and making small incremental changes. Defects can be addressed quickly and product improvements can emerge quickly. Unreleased code is not unlike inventory overages in that it represents invested capital that's not being put to work. Agile development gets the code off the shelf and into the hands of our customers.


      What does this mean for our customers?

      New features will be available to you on an ongoing basis. Customers will no longer have to wait for a big release to see improvements in the application. Customers who have requested or suggested a particular feature will be contacted directly once that feature has been released. Jera will continue to update this page with new features and send out an email to groups of customers on specific enhancements that are particularly relevant to them.

      Posted by Tim