• Subject: Re: Performance solutions through helpful information
  • From: MacWheel99@xxxxxxx
  • Date: Fri, 30 Jul 1999 14:38:54 EDT

> Subj:  Re: [Re: Performance solutions through hardware - points to consider]
>  Ata510@aol.com wrote:
>  >> I don't think there was/is a good way for SSA Helpline to let every
>  customer in the world know about something like this existing, really, 
> except via their own web site on OGS.<<
>  From:    BillZBubb@netscape.net (Bill Robins)
>  Do you -really- mean this?  They have no problem finding me when the 
>  contract is due.  They have no problem finding me when they advertise their
>  education schedule.  SSA Southeast can find me.
>  In reality, they just don't think it is important enough.  
>  The very least they
>  could do is initiate a monthly technical services bulletin.  
>  Many software companies are doing this now.

SSA could make a little more money off of us by selling an optional enhanced 
tech support information service.  We would register / update what modules we 
are using & possibly a copy of our system parameters & some info that goes 
beyond pure BPCS & hardware platform versions.  This would create a data base 
by client of what all we are using broken down to sub-module features.  SSA 
might even provide the software to us that gathers up all the info that is 
needed into a file that we then send to them by a choice of methods.  Then 
whenever we do an upgrade of OS/400, or add another remote site, or perhaps 
just on a bimonthly basis in case we overlook anything, we send them a 
refreshed file.

When they discover a problem, needing a fix, or create a fix, they would 
categorize it by the sub-module version mix that it applies to, then on a 
regular basis, like daily, run the latest news of problems & fixes against 
the client data base of who has the relevant scenarios that this fix applies 
to & when there is a hit, the matching program would check - how does this 
client want to be notified of the problem that applies to them - fax, e-mail, 
snail mail, voice phone, or just send them the fix.  Some notifications would 
come with the URL for more info, an order blank for getting that fix.

IBM offers subscription services to relevant fixes.  I wonder what % of their 
customers take them up on them & what this adds to the IBM bottom line?  
Whatever it is might be a good indication or estimate of what kind of bucks 
SSA could stand to gain by offering such a service.

A good deal of a notification service can be automated, comparable to the IBM 
i Source system of using an e-mail questionnairre to automatically update an 
IBM data base of the types of IBM information you want to regularly receive.

You can VIEW or MODIFY your subscription and contact information or
UNSUBSCRIBE from this service via the iSource Web site at
http://www.ibm.com/iSource, or send a note to info@isource.ibm.com
with the word HELP for a list of e-mail instructions.

The same kind of system could be applied to keeping us informed on BPCS fixes 
& new products that apply to us.  Some consultants might even pay SSA to have 
their offerings included in the information system.  This could be a big 
money maker for SSA, low cost to implement, big bang for their bottom line, 
vast improvement in customer satisfaction, vast reduction in hassles for all 
of us.

Where am I ignorant in that this seems self-evident to me, but SSA has not 
yet discovered the concept?

It is possible that some consultants & 3rd party BPCS places are already 
doing something like this - you don't have to wait for SSA to wake up to this 
reality.  Check out what the other help services offer at what price compared 
to SSA reality.

In another thread - ORD500 - where I never got a round TUIT on providing our 
laundry list of problems - we shared a directory of URLs for places with 
improvements & enhancements for BPCS aside from Y2K fix, and vague ERP 
consulting services.  Many of them offer help support in competition with 
what SSA offers, such as


We all have the IBM dial-up line to connect to Electronic Tech Support from 
IBM & SOME consultants can remotely diagnose whatever the heck is causing our 
problems & in some cases participate in providing us with solutions on-line.  
I know of at least 2 BPCS support organizations that do this --- Crowe Chizek 
& Unbeaten Path.

When we have a problem, we are often ignorant of what is causing the problem. 
 It might be in vanilla SSA code, or some modification that we made or a 
consultant made for us, or it might be an artifact of conversion, or 
something our users in aggregate have been doing wrong.  I often feel when 
dealing with SSA, that we are supposed to play detective & figure out what 
the problem is before calling them & phrasing our call either we need a fix 
of X or education in Y.  Some of the other help desk places claim to be more 
proactive in tracking down our problem on the basis of the clues we share, 
such as Nex Gen & Unbeaten Path --- we got this aid from Crowe Chizek but it 
was expensive.

A problem has been found, we diagnosed it, with help from SSA & now it is 
clear that we did it to ourselves & we need help extricating ourselves from 
the mess.  Well that is a different division of SSA & it costs more money.  
They have to get the $$$ that we cheated them out of by not getting the 
education that we tried to run BPCS without going to BPCS University.  It 
seems to me that there is a need to be able to buy a level of tech support 
that recognizes that the client has many users that have not been to BPCS 
University & needs a higher level of hand-holding.  Help support from the 
other places claim to be like that.

On the basis of the help line's history of the kinds of habitual problems we 
have been calling in on, SSA has the ability to run an analysis & say "this 
client really really needs to send its personnel to BPCS University and take 
a particular curriculum" then generate a communication that explains how they 
came to those conclusions.

SSA help support is to help us with vanilla SSA code - if the problem is due 
to our modifications, that is outside their responsibilities.  If the problem 
is due to conversion problems, whether or not it was SSA code that caused 
them, they are not there to help us extricate ourselves from that mess, we 
have to go to extra $$$ professional services for that.  

We need a mixture of help support that is irrespective of whether the problem 
is in our version of SSA code, something modified, conversion artifact, we 
shot ourselves in the foot without any help from SSA, our company decided not 
to send everyone to BPCS University & now we are paying for that lack of BPCS 
Education in other ways, and several of the alternative help support outfits 
claim that their help support is that way.

When we call SSA tech support, we have to repeat some basic information about 
who we are, our platform, version of OS, version of BPCS, etc. that for us 
rarely changes, but if our end user neglects to mention any small piece of 
the total technical jargon, SSA is like a toy robot obeying instructions of 
flawed programming - they will send us a fix in format to site that is wrong 
for us, just because our end user neglected to mention some info, that has 
not changed for us in years.

ASAP Crowe IBM KellerSchroeder NexGen Scruggs UnBeatenPath

These outfits offer help support that does not operate this SSA way.

Their tech support personnel all have access to a data base of information 
about us from one call to the next so that our user calls do not have to 
repeat a humongous story of basic info in every call & if they make a 
mistake, they learn & do not make the same mistake again.

Am I being unreasonable thinking that SSA might learn from the services of 
some of their tech support competition?

Al Macintyre

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