How BS&A Processes Program Requests/Features

We are always happy to hear ideas from our users on ways in which our programs can be improved. Since you are the ones using the programs every day, your input and thoughts are crucial in building a great product.

Ideas that are submitted to our support team from customers become “cases” that get reviewed in our bi-weekly New Feature Meetings. In these meetings, support and developer staff discuss the cases to see if they would work on a larger scale. If it is determined that the case is considered a benefit to a large group of customers, it will be set to be implemented in an upcoming release of the software. This does not ensure immediate results, however, as other cases could have a higher priority.

Occasionally, it may be decided that a feature would only benefit a particular user. In that case, it is possible to customize the program for that customer, for a nominal fee.

Adam Bengal

BS&A Applied .NET Security Theory

The basics of computer security are more or less understood. A username is given a password and some permissions. If a user knows the username and password, they are given permission to print, run reports, or open files. The irony is that security frequently doesn’t become misunderstood until organization, with the intent of convenience, is applied.

Groups
Groups assign permissions to several usernames at a time. This is especially useful when permission to a feature needs to be given or taken away. Without groups, administrators would have to grant permissions one user at a time, whether there be 2 or 50.

The confusion introduced by groups is one of precedence. Should a user’s permissions conflict with its group’s, which permissions take precedence? In the case of BS&A, the least restrictive permissions do. So, should a user have permission to print and its group not, the user would be able to print. Conversely, if the user should not have permission, but the group does, then the user would still be able to print.

Active Directory Comparison
Active Directory controls permissions for Window’s networks. Comparing BS&A’s users to Active Directory’s removes the need to sign into BS&A’s software or memorize another username and password.
However, this sword has another edge. BS&A and Active Directory must agree on the credentials. Should a disagreement ever occur, the user would be locked out of BS&A’s software until it was resolved.

The Enterprise Admin
Presiding over all of this is the Enterprise Admin. The Enterprise Admin is a username and password that has permission to create users, assign permissions to users, and view everything. This access is given sparingly for obvious reasons.

Enterprise Admin access is usually granted at training. From that point on, BS&A will require the Enterprise Admin to log into the software before they can change, add, or remove any BS&A user. Furthermore, BS&A requires a written request, on letterhead, from the municipality’s supervisor or board member to make changes to the Enterprise Admin.

Nathan Batterbee

Why .NET?

A Brief Explanation of .NET
.NET is a library of pre-programmed functions. It provides our developers a quick, efficient way to add the features you’ve all come to expect from our programs: calculators, clocks, search fields, and windows, just to name a few. So in the same way a contractor might order a window from a lumber yard instead of building it himself, a developer can order a window from .NET.So, Why .NET?
Time is probably a company’s most valuable asset. Unfortunately, there is no way to create more, which is why investing time into improving its use is so worthwhile. By removing the need to build calculators, clocks, search fields, and windows from scratch, .NET saves valuable time. Because of .NET, BS&A is able to reinvest this time into developing feature-rich software at an affordable price.

Is the Upgrade Worth the Trouble?
The benefits .NET offers to BS&A are obvious; to our customers, less so. Features are nice, but why upgrade, especially when the older software works? The answer is .NET’s database engine, SQL. SQL has two advantages over the old database engine, Pervasive. The first is an intelligent database manager that has sole control over the data. The database manager keeps data and users separate, thus increasing data integrity as well as security. The second advantage is a tad ironic: SQL has become so “pervasive” that it is now the industry-standard. Because of its wide-spread use, there is a plethora of third-party software to perform backups, routine maintenance, data exports, and so on.

Do You Have Questions About the Upgrade?
Please don’t ever hesitate to contact us with any question or concern. We are here to help. You may call us toll-free at (855) 272-7638, or email us at tech@bsasoftware.com.

Nathan Batterbee

Submitting an Effective Support Request

About a year ago, BS&A added a great feature to all of its applications, allowing users to easily submit requests for support without having to pick up the phone. Instead, requests could be submitted directly through the Help menu of each of our applications:
Submitting An Effective Support Request

This feature has proven to be very successful; we now receive roughly 30% of support requests through our Help menus.

There have been a few occasions, however, where an email comes through, but does not contain enough information for our support team to effectively and efficiently provide an answer. Here are some tips to help you get the quick customer service you deserve and are accustomed to:

Request Support Phone Call Option
Please include a detailed description of your problem or question. If there are any attachments that will help the support tech diagnose or visualize the issue, please be sure to include them.

Email Support Option

  • When sending an email through the Help menu, please make sure to include your name, your municipality’s name, and a thorough description of your problem or question.
  • If you would prefer a phone call to an email response, please indicate that in your email. Please be sure to include a contact name and phone number, and a good time to call.
  • If possible, please make sure any screenshots you include are clear enough for our techs to see, so that they can adequately address the issue.
  • When speaking with one or more of our support techs, please continue to use the same email thread with which you initiated contact. This will ensure that support techs have a complete history of the issue, something that can get lost in a flood of separate emails.
Sheri Trotter

ACH Process

The ACH (Automated Clearing House) process has been around for a number of years. It is an electronic network for financial transactions in the United States, generally used for direct deposit or direct debit from checking and savings accounts.

The ACH process is available in BS&A’s Accounts Payable and Payroll applications to direct deposit funds into customer or employee accounts. In our Tax, Utility Billing, and Miscellaneous Receivables applications, the ACH process is set up to directly debit from a customer’s bank account to pay tax bills, utility bills, or miscellaneous invoices on a specified date.

Rules and regulations that govern the ACH network are established by NACHA (the National Automated Clearing House Association) and the Federal Reserve. In 2012, it is estimated that 21 billion ACH transactions, totaling $36.9 trillion in credit card payments, were handled by various networks. BS&A follows these rules and regulations in all of the aforementioned applications, with regards to setup and function.

Performing ACH functions reduces paper processing and mailing fees, as well as moves money quickly from one account to another, providing a convenient method of electronic funds transfer.

Whether you are depositing funds or deducting funds from a customer account, it is recommended that you document authorization specifying what will be deposited/deducted, and when the transaction will take place. In the Tax application, with regards to payment of property taxes, it is recommended that you renew the authorization each year. This is done to ensure that the tax bill is being paid by the correct taxpayer from year to year.

Customers’ account information is entered in a secure area of the BS&A applications, only viewable by an administrative user. When exporting data to other users/vendors, the ACH account information for individuals is not included, in an effort to further security.

ACH setup in the BS&A .NET applications is simple, and includes the customer account information and the municipality bank information. A pre-note is then processed to verify that all account numbers and information is correct. When processing an ACH export transaction for payments within the various applications, a payment is applied to the account at the time of the export. The file that is created is then uploaded to the municipality’s bank, and the transactions are processed from the various customer bank accounts.

To set up ACH within any of the BS&A applications, please contact customer support by clicking on the Help menu and selecting “Contact Customer Support,” or by calling us at (855) 272-7638.

Barb Bryan

BS&A Implementation Services

Our Implementation Team brings the BS&A customer service approach to the task of implementing new software purchases. We know the challenges you face when making a software change, and pay attention to the comfort and confidence of your team. Our process emphasizes a collaborative approach to understanding your processes and configuring a solution to fit.

Every project is unique, and our team has the expertise in accounting, government finance, software development, information technology, and training to help your project succeed. We have different backgrounds, but we share a focus on customer service and a commitment to make each project a success. Whether you are purchasing BS&A applications for the first time, or adding new applications to your BS&A environment, each project is carefully considered and planned.

We will:

• Assign a Project Manager and one or more Database Architects to develop and deliver your solution.

• Engage subject matter experts from within BS&A to make sure your unique project gets the expertise it deserves.

• Provide recommendations of the best way to achieve your organizational goals using BS&A Software.

• Coordinate with other vendors or institutions to facilitate any desired interfaces.

• Install the software and provide IT consultation for network, server, and workstation configuration and requirements.

• Extract, convert, and verify data being converted from your legacy system.

John Schopmeyer

What the Core Values Mean to Us

1) Provide Unparalleled Customer Service
Make an effort to connect with the customer to develop a trusted relationship. Try and remember little things like their child’s birthday if they mention it for example. This shows them that we care more about them than just making sure their program runs without errors.
-Brian Powell

2) Be easy to do business with
Sometimes it’s hard to see through the customer’s eyes. We are very familiar with our processes and they are very familiar with theirs. One of the toughest things to achieve is the same level of familiarity with each other’s. The more we can accomplish this will only help our relationship with the customer and provide a more seamless, efficient partnership with them, making it easier for them to do business with us.
-Kevin Keyes

3) Pursue Excellence. Have Passion. Never Be Satisfied
Continue learning, always trying to get better.
-Bob Gross

4) Be Humble.  Act with Integrity.
To always remember that we are here to serve the customer. This is one of the key aspects that makes BS&A different and separates us from other companies. We must always strive to stay service centered and focused on our customers and never lose sight that the customer is what matters most. Integrity also plays a key part in this; by standing by our values and beliefs we are showing the customer who we are and what we strive to be.
-Adam Bengal

Adam Bengal

BS&A Internship Program- Proving to be a Success

In the spring of 2011, BS&A began the company’s first internship program. We started the program in hopes of acquiring qualified college students to come in, learn about the company, and take on the same training and responsibilities as our full-time Support Technicians.

The program quickly took off, and we had some very qualified students working with us and splitting their time between school and working in the Support Department. We didn’t want to bring in interns to do busy work; instead, we wanted them to learn the applications and support methods, and have real-life interactions with our customers.

Over time, our internship program continues to prove to be a success. Through the program, we have been able to find qualified candidates for hire upon graduation, and individuals who have been easy to transition to full-time status because of the knowledge and experience they gained during their internship.

Our interns have become extremely important to the company overall—helping our Support Department grow and allowing for continued prompt response times for our customers. As of 2013, we have four student interns and three advanced interns working between the Financial Management Support Department and our Quality Assurance Department. Four of our interns at various stages of the cycle have shared their stories and experiences during their time as a BS&A Intern:

Ryan Klein
Began his internship: September, 2011
Hired in as a full-time employee: May, 2012

I was hired as a student intern during my senior year of college. The experience allowed me to witness a growing and evolving company first-hand. BS&A was open about its direction, about any changes being made, and about how I fit with those changes, each step of the way. From the start, I was told that the internship was meant to be a reciprocal process, where they would get to see how I worked and contributed to the company, and I would get to experience the company’s environment and processes.

I accepted a full-time job following graduation and have been a full-time employee for a little over a year. When considering the full-time offer, it was easy to pull back from the internship experience—and the highlights from the internship made it an easy decision. A couple of the largest factors I considered when making my decision, were the people and the potential opportunities. The employees at BS&A truly wanted me to succeed and that was evident in their actions each day of my internship. BS&A still continues to grow rapidly, and because of that, the opportunities are endless. Many internships, in my experience, involve menial, ‘busy’ work; however, at BS&A, to an extent, you’re guiding your own path. No one will try to pigeonhole you in a role; your hard work will determine what your ceiling is here. If you’re looking for a different, challenging experience out of an internship, I would highly recommend considering what BS&A has to offer.

Zach Earegood
Began his internship: November, 2012
Hired in as a full-time employee: February, 2013

While my time spent as an intern at BS&A was my first “internship”, it was not my first job. I had other jobs all through college, but none have given me the type of well-rounded experience that I gained from the Financial Management internship at BS&A. It was a perfect culmination of what I learned throughout my college career. I often found myself looking back at many key things I learned, and was able to apply them daily.

There were three things that helped me learn the most during my internship: projects, user group meetings, and on-site training. The first project I worked on was researching state withholding rate changes. This project helped me gain perspective on how widespread our customer base is and how different each state’s tax is calculated. The second project I worked on was creating a new W-2 format to help our customers when figuring out what envelopes match with the formats we have in the system. Overall, these projects allowed me to really dig into the programs and understand how important foresight is within this industry.

The next thing that really helped me gain experience was the onsite training. One was with Mary Beutell at Spaulding Township, and the other was with Preston Weber at Huron County. They both aided in my understanding of the structure and processes of municipalities—knowledge that has allowed me to better support our customers.

Finally, the user group meetings were a great way to hear how our customers interact with the software. They also showed me how important the customer’s feedback is to the growth of any company.

Overall, my internship was an amazing learning experience and a great way to apply everything I learned in college. The combination of projects that I got to see from start to finish, and working directly with customers really made the internship worthwhile.

Austin Pline
Began his internship: November, 2012
When I was offered an internship at BS&A, I was really excited. The research and comments that I heard about this place were all positive, and that is exactly how I felt on my first day and each day, for that matter. There is a welcoming feeling when you first walk in. Even the partners take time out of their day to come and talk with you. What I like most about working here is the co-workers and family atmosphere. Everyone is here to help and answer questions in any way that they can. No one is too busy to lend a helping hand, even for the smallest of problems. The managers do a great job of keeping us on track for goals and milestones, as well as giving out a lot of praise to make sure you feel like you are making a difference each and every day…which is the reason why I come in. Every day offers a new challenge and no two days are alike. Customers vary, as well as their problems, and making them happy makes going to work a lot of fun!

Dominic Schneider
Began his internship: May, 2013

I have been an intern at BS&A since May of 2013, and so far I love everything about it. I love coming into a work atmosphere that has such positive and hardworking people. While I have only been here a short time, everyone embraces me like I am just as important as anyone else. It is also nice to know that you are appreciated for your hard work. The programs are a lot to learn right away, but if you have any questions at all, you know you can ask anyone and they will try their hardest to help you get the right answer as soon as possible. What I like most about being an intern at BS&A is that they let you decide which way you want to go, what you want to learn, and someone is always there to help when needed. My thoughts on the internship program are that it is a great way for the employer and the employee to feel each other out. It allows both parties to see what is right for them, and essentially both can decide if it’s a good fit.

Sheri Trotter

Why I Love Working for BS&A

It is with great honor that I tell people I work for BS&A Software. I feel both extremely blessed and privileged to be employed by such an astounding company where the customers and employees take first chair. Since my first day, I am continually greeted by the sweet “Good mornings!” of the receptionists as I walk through the door, and always treated with kindness and respect by my fellow employees.

I have never worked for a place where the people have had bigger hearts and cared more for their customers and one another. Character and integrity are both highly encouraged, and so is a down-to-earth feel.

The people of BS&A carry themselves professionally, yet still demonstrate personality and compassion. It isn’t every day that you find a company where the people make you feel like you are truly part of their family.

Aside from the wonderful people at BS&A, I have been very fortunate to be able to use and execute my college education and personal skill set. I am constantly challenged to learn, expand my knowledge base, and implement various techniques I gathered from my Advertising program. The opportunities to grow personally and professionally are endless, and management is always willing to listen to and apply new ideas to make the company better.

Since working with people has always been a passion of mine, my position in Marketing/Sales Support has proved to be a perfect fit. Not only am I able to work with other employees on a regular basis, I am very grateful for the ability to interact with our customers as well. Communicating with our customers is undoubtedly my favorite part of this position and an element of the job I hope to do more of in the future. Our phenomenal customer base is what makes my job and every position at BS&A so rewarding, and ultimately what has made BS&A a success.

Stefanie Turner

Community Development: Frequently Asked Support Questions

How do I void an invoice or payment?

If an invoice or payment was posted by mistake, you have the ability to void or adjust it. In order to do this, you need to start by simply opening the transaction item/invoice you wish to change and going to “Tools” at the top of the window. From here, you can choose to void or adjust the item, and go back to make the correct entries.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Any record that has had an invoice added to it cannot be deleted or removed from the program. If the record was added in error, the invoice must be voided, and then the item can be marked as canceled or inactive (depending on the record type).

How do I export data to Microsoft Excel?

If you are looking for specific information that cannot be found in a report, try exporting table information to Microsoft Excel. This feature allows customers to export data from the BS&A Building (BD) program into a spreadsheet, pulling in particular fields to organize as you see fit. Once in Microsoft Excel, you can further manipulate your data as needed.

How do I use Report Writer?

The BD Report Writer is an incredibly in-depth tool that allows users to create custom reports to meet specific needs. Oftentimes, the reports that users need are already available to them within the program. Still, there are always cases where reports will need to be edited and changed.

To change/add a data field (automatically pulls in data from the program), use the “Field List”:

To insert information that will permanently appear on every report (such as jurisdiction name, address, phone number, etc. in the header/footer), use the “Text Label” option under the Toolbox:

Adam Bengal