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Eclipse Users Group/UFO NewsletterSeptember 2011 Vol 411

President's Update

Terry Kin, UFO President


As always a lot has been happened since the last newsletter. I'd like to update you on the top priorities.


In September the UFO executive group met with the Epicor executive group in Yardley. The meeting went well and continues to build the relationship between the UFO and Epicor. We spent quite a bit of time discussing the new combined company and the changes that have already happened. Epicor will be trying to leverage all in house software products and merge where possible. We should be seeing some pretty cool companion products in the near future. Epicor is just at the beginning of that endeavor. Eclipse will continue to be a go forward system in the Epicor house, but more development will be happening in Solar versus Eterm.


We also discussed the I-Support website and our difficulties with using it. Epicor has started a project to pick one support website platform for the whole company, but that won't be done quickly. We discussed the need to provide a fix short term so users will start using the site again.


Other highlights of the meeting: There continues to be more UFO enhancements in the product. The metrics page is done and to be posted on the Eclipse Support website in the next week. In support trackers there shouldn't be any more internal posts, i.e. you get to see every post on trackers. Ecomm (Process where Epicor gets a report on your system) is back and working to monitor your vital Eclipse components. Epicor managers will (on a routine basis) give a short update on their area (Dan Heulitt is the first volunteer) and post on the Eclipse Support website.


It was a productive meeting and I feel there will be more changes to come from Epicor. The UFO board will continue to monitor and relay as they happen.


The UFO and the Eclipse product managers are working on a meeting or forum where big picture improvements can be discussed for the Eclipse system. Stay tuned on the meeting but for now you can post ideas to the Deep Dive bulletin board on the UFO website. We have the ability to help steer where the software goes and I urge you to take part and have your say in the future product.


In October the UFO board will have its annual face to face meeting in Hyannis. This meeting is important to the planning and improvement of the UFO organization. You will see updates of the meeting in the future.

As always if you have any feedback don't hesitate to contact myself, Mary Barlow, or any other UFO board member.



IN THIS ISSUE - Click the Title to go to the Article
Connor Co - Phocas Inc
Did You Know? Website Offerings
StarShip Upgrade - Epicor
User Tip
How are your dues invested?

New Members
Associated of Los Angeles
Los Angeles, CA
Electric Supply Center
Burlington, MA
Mission Electric Supply Inc
San Antonio, TX
South Side Control Supply
Chicago, IL

Returning Members

Best Plumbing Tile & Stone
Somers, NY

George T Hall Company
Anaheim, CA

Vendor Partner Presentations -Free

Schmitt ProfiTools      Oct   13th


Optimum Systems     Oct   18th


Nxgen Payment Sys   Nov  15th


epaCUBE                  Dec    6th

See Vendor Page on the website for vendor details.

Connor Co. enhances existing Eclipse ERP system with Phocas business intelligence.

Connor Co. has been around for 75 years and is a wholesale plumbing, heating and industrial company, carrying a broad range of lines across 24 locations. With around 5000 active customers and 300 primary vendors, Connor Co is successfully using Activant Eclipse ERP.

Three years ago, they adopted a business intelligence tool to complement Eclipse.  Julie Driscoll, Director of IT at Connor Co shares her experience with Phocas BI and the benefits it has brought.


Why bring on board Phocas?

Everybody knows that the data is in Eclipse. But accessing it in a meaningful way is not always easy. I found that people were hesitant to kick-off a report within Eclipse.   Some find it cumbersome and time consuming to run reports, re-sort them and run them again, and sometimes you are constrained as to what the report will allow you to print.  A lot of training was required. There was also a worry about performance - running certain reports can impact server speed.

This led us to select Phocas as our business intelligence tool, and for the past three years, Phocas has been working alongside our existing Eclipse system. It organizes our data, puts it right at our fingertips, and in just a matter of seconds.     With little or no training, users are able to just drill in to exactly how they want to see the data. Non-technical users will just jump in and not have an issue with trying it.


Who uses Phocas?   

Senior management and other key managers, such as the plumbing manager and the HVAC manager. We also allow some of the corporate employee and branch managers to take a look. Once we installed the link on their desktop they migrated to it very quickly.


How was the integration with Eclipse?

It was seamless. Phocas knew the Eclipse layout (it was obvious they had worked with many other Eclipse sites) so there really wasn't any learning curve for either one of us. We sent them the data, and it just went smoothly. Implementation was just a matter of weeks - but that was just because we chose that pace! It was very straightforward.

In fact, we haven't yet come across anything that Phocas has said no to!


How does it complement Eclipse?

Yes definitely anyone who has worked with Eclipse even for just a short amount of time would find that same consistency within Phocas. Fields that we use a lot are Bill To, Ship To, the Writer of the Order, Product Line, Buy Line, Price Line. With just a couple of clicks, our team has become familiar with the Phocas environment, and the way they are able to sort, and organize and view the data.


How has Connor Co benefited?

Phocas gives us the ability to discover our data, rather than just look at static reports. Ultimately we can use Phocas to identify where to focus our efforts in order to increase sales.


For example, upper management might notice a branch going up or down in sales. They would then quickly pop into Phocas and get immediate answers to questions. For example, what is shifting? Are we gaining new sales in certain areas? Or is something trending downward? In tough times, we have really noticed which customers are struggling, which products aren't being sold as much. We can start to analyze lines of products within specific vendors, and this helps us to know when and where to target efforts, and to make better business decisions.


Another example is our marketing department, who often run sales promotions (right now we have  a sales promotion going on as part of our 75th anniversary celebrations). We can monitor this regularly in Phocas, to see where they are at and how close they are to achieving their targets, in real time. There is no easy way we could do this in Eclipse.


We even use Phocas live in sales meetings. And we would frequently analyze a customer's sales, export it to Excel and send it over to our customers. We would also use it on the phone with a customer, live.


Sometimes we have customers that purchase in different territories. We want to see why. Phocas gives us the ability to analyze this, and to find out whether their home branch is not stocking certain items, so that it has to be shipped from another branch.


We actually had trouble with one vendor. We used Phocas to track those sales being lost - and we were able show them exactly how much business they were missing out on! It was an excellent negotiating tool. Although we didn't have any reports set up to specifically deal with this problem, we were still able to jump in and get straight to the point within a few moments. If we had done that in Eclipse, it would have been hours of reporting.  




To sum up, it is a great user friendly BI solution, especially for the price, and it allows us to analyze sales and purchasing within a matter of seconds - something that people wouldn't take the time to do in Eclipse. We have the ability to look at variances and compare the data at the click of a mouse.


The minute we saw it, we thought it was too good to be true. Seriously, and then it was just up and running in a matter of no time! In fact, if we tried to remove Phocas, it would not go over well! I think if other Eclipse users can see it, they will be very impressed.




Phocas Inc
Phocas Inc



Did You Know? Website Offerings

By Julie Driscoll, UFO Board Marketing Committee Chair


Did you know... the new Eclipse Users Group Website has been live for a few months? While it seems that there is a lot of activity on the Bulletin Board Forums, there isn't as much activity on the rest of the website as we'd like. We thought it would be beneficial to start highlighting important features of the new site that are underutilized. The Training page is one you should check out!

Did you know... the Training page has more than 19 upcoming classes and roundtables scheduled throughout the rest of this year? Just click on Training and then Classes to see the complete list of upcoming events. Whether you are a newbie or a veteran, you will find something useful.


Website Training



Did you know... that you are able to view free videos on the Training Videos page? Click Training Videos on the Training Menu tab. The very popular "Eclipse Merges & Purges" roundtable session have been split into short sections and posted for you to view. Browse through the training videos and even if you do not have time to watch the complete video, you can view a snippet. We hope to post more and more previously presented classes so check back every month.

The video page has a filter which you can use to select the video by category. Some of the presentations are for Eterm or Solar only but many combine both platforms. Systems Processes are almost always Eterm only. There are videos on how to use the Ideas site and a web page overview video.


Website Video Category


Did you know...The Training Committee surveys the membership each year for topic ideas on web, on-site and roundtable webinars? They work with the trainers to develop the class content and the schedule of the upcoming year's classes. Your input directly effects how we help you! The survey for 2012 classes will be emailed soon. Please take the time to complete it for us.



NewsFlash: Epicor StarShip Upgrade

By Bill Wright, Sr. Product Manager Epicor  


Newsflash:Time Is Running Out for Required StarShip Upgrade - soon, StarShip version 9 will no longer be supported! 


 As one of the 130 Epicor customers using StarShip, you need to be aware of the required upgrade to StarShip 11, and the urgency for taking action as soon as possible to avoid downtime by December 31, 2011. This important message is a follow-up to the message sent by V-Technologies on December 31, 2010.

In an effort to ensure business continuity, Epicor will be working with you to upgrade your company to the StarShip 11 product as soon as possible. However, we can only upgrade a certain number of customers per month. The upgrades will be handled on a first-come, first-served basis, so please contact your sales rep and we will work to schedule time for your company's upgrade. Please see the information below and call your Epicor Inside Sales Representative ASAP.


Why You Need to Upgrade:

  • FedEx has retired the API subscription transaction. This means that you are now unable to add or re-subscribe FedEx accounts in StarShip v9.
  • FedEx will retire all API transactions on May 31, 2012. This means you can no longer ship FedEx packages in StarShip v9 after this date.
  • Enhancements, Potential Developmental patches and fixes will no longer be available.
  • StarShip v11 includes support for FedEx Web Services for customers that have the FedEx carrier add-on. This will give you uninterrupted FedEx shipping with added features such as FedEx SmartPost and Electronic Trade Documents. FedEx Ship Manager Server (FSMS) will no longer be supported.
  • StarShip v11 has exclusive support for USPS Endicia, giving you commercial discount pricing, expanded flat rate boxes, and more. We have discontinued USPS Manifest and Metered Mail in v11 and higher.

Also see the StarShip 11 FAQ document

Some key points pertaining to the upgrade are as follows:

  1. There are Hardware and Software requirements.
  2. If you ship from remote locations, Terminal Server deployment is required.


System Requirements for Version 11:

StarShip Server Minimum System Requirements:

  • Windows XP SP2, Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows Server 2003 SP1, or Windows Server 2008*
  • Pentium 4 compatible or higher (Recommended 2GHz or higher)
  • 1 GB of free hard disk space
  • 10 GB of free hard drive space on the computer where the StarShip database is installed
  • 1 GB of RAM or higher

StarShip Client Minimum System Requirements:

  • Windows XP SP2, Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows Server 2003 SP1, or Windows Server 2008*
  • Pentium 4 compatible or higher (Recommended 2GHz or higher)
  • 500 MB of free hard disk space
  • 1 GB of RAM or higher
  • Display capable of 1024x768 or higher resolution
  • Adobe Reader is required for printing the bills of lading and labels that are returned from carriers in PDF format (such as YRC and UPS Freight LTL).



This upgrade can be performed by you, or you can contract Epicor to do so as a consulting engagement. This will be a four-hour engagement for servers shipped by Epicor, or eight hours if using your own hardware. Don't delay -- please contact your Epicor Inside Sales Rep ASAP for scheduling.



Eclipse User Tip

 By Gerald Hancock, CFO, Womack Electric Supply


Here is a way to stay in touch with a ticket that you want to follow through the various processes of the Eclipse system. You can create a job queue (Shift F4) to yourself inside a sales order or purchase order when it is first created. Make sure that you are on the forward list and whenever a process (each generation, receiving, etc) is performed you will receive a message from the job queue letting you know.


In the example below, I created a job queue on a prepaid item to remind myself to clear the purchase order with a dummy ($0 dollar) payable when the merchandise was received. I created the queue on 8/11/11 when we paid the credit card bill and put a note on it what I needed to do when it was received. I received notification through the job queue on 8/19/11 that it had been received so I could complete the process. If this would have been multiple receivers, it would have notified me with each receiver.


This is a simple way to keep track with an order that you need to make sure that a process is completed. Another example is for a salesman to be notified on a purchase order received that is tied to a rush order for a customer. This will let the salesman know it is there and allow him to pick it up and deliver it to the customer if needed.

UserTip Screen Shot


How are your UFO dues invested?

 By Tim Walker, UFO Treasurer

The Board of Directors and Executive Director of the UFO work very hard to maximize the value members receive from their annual dues. Your dues fund training, product enhancement, monthly board meetings and annual board meetings at Epicor Eclipse headquarters where your suggestions and concerns are communicated to key Epicor personnel and executives.


The following chart provides a breakdown of how your dues were invested in 2010. Please note this chart does not reflect the time invested by board members, committee members and volunteer instructors who donate many hours on all of our behalf.



UFO 2010 Chart





The information contained in this newsletter is for general information purposes only. The information is provided by UFO and while we endeavor to keep the information up-to-date and correct, we make no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, about the completeness, accuracy, reliability, suitability or availability with respect to this newsletter or the information, products, services, or related graphics contained in the newsletter for any purpose. Any reliance you place on such information is therefore strictly at your own risk. In no event will we be liable for any loss or damage including without limitation, indirect or consequential loss or damage, or any loss or damage whatsoever arising from loss of data arising out of, or in connection with, the use of the information in this newsletter.