Accelo Product Updates: Nov 6-12

14-Nov 2016
Product
hugh2
Hugh Cowling PRODUCT MANAGER
geoff professional
Geoff McQueen FOUNDER & CEO

Another week, another round of improvements for all of our Accelo users. This week we've got a mixture of new features, enhancements and bugfixes for the Accelo platform!

Creating Contracts/Retainers through the Forms API

Accelo’s Forms API is ideal for users wanting to get data into Accelo from “forms” submitted via their website, intranet or other web-based environments. For a long time our Forms API has supported the creation of companies, contacts, sales and tickets, and we’ve just added a new endpoint for creating retainers.

As an example, you could put a form on your website for enquiring about support packages - or on an intranet where known users can book/create them without needing to log into Accelo - and based on what the user selects, you can set up information like the type of package, duration of each period (if recurring), cost, allowance, etc. When the user hits submit on the form, these details can be used to automatically set-up an appropriate contract against the client record in Accelo - and can support file uploads and even sending activities to users.

This time saver means if the client goes ahead with the package, or if they're coming from an intranet where they're already authenticated, you’ve saved time by having the relevant contract ready to go.

Extending the Zapier Beta

Last week we also extended the Zapier integration to support the creation of new clients inside Accelo as an action. This joins the creation of timers and requests, the pausing of timers, as well as the ability to trigger a "Zap" whenever a task is assigned or a request is created to round out the beta program.

If you're interested in learning more, check out our Beta Documentation (it is being updated regularly) at https://docs.google.com/document/d/1TiQSh1zEm4SSYuqJJhpAl8GbDLLz1yqIa0WyFGoK0M4/edit and if you'd like to join the beta, please fill in the Zapier Beta Request form at https://www.accelo.com/resources/blog/join-our-zapier-beta/.

Staff “Skills” field for template “Create Task” actions

“Create Task” is one of several different actions that can be configured to happen when the status of something (such as a sale, ticket or project) changes. These actions have a template so you can define as much of the detail beforehand as possible - meaning when the user is prompted by the action, such as “Create Task”, they don’t have to think about it too much and can likely just hit “Save”, or “Skip”.

When setting up the template for a “Create Task” action, we’ve included the Skills field so you can further define the detail of the task to be created - in this case you’re noting the staff skills typically required to complete this task.

create task action

More accurate Work Detail for Post-Paid Retainer Invoices

This fix relates to post-paid periods that have 2 or more invoices created for them. The Work Detail (activities) included on the initial invoice will always be accurate, but we found that for subsequent invoices, the customer PDF invoice was showing the detail of new work, plus previously invoiced work. We’ve agreed that this behaviour isn’t the most accurate approach - since (for a post-paid period) you are billing for a precise amount of work done with each invoice - and so we’ve adjusted the Work Detail to only include the activities specific to each period invoice.

Allowing negative sale values for Sales

While a little unconventional, we’ve heard that setting a negative value on a sale/opportunity in Accelo would come in handy from time to time. Say a client signs off on a proposal/sale in one month, and then it becomes clear you and the team can't deliver for them as planned or they got sideways in a big way. While you could go in and edit the original sale, this will reduce the closed sale values for a previous month/quarter which isn't ideal - so now we allow you to create a negative of "credit" sale in Accelo.

With this change, you’ll now find that the minus operator can be included when editing the value of a sale, and this in turn will flow through to your sales dashboard and reports.

sale negative

Improved page breaks within long text areas for PDF Invoices

Accelo’s PDF invoice templates provide several text areas for customizing invoices with a header section, an introduction/notes section and a footer section. These text areas also support merge fields, and if there happened to be a lot of text content being merged in (e.g. from the Invoice Notes field) this made that text area rather lengthy.

In the event this text area didn’t wholly fit on the page where it was meant to appear (usually the first page) the PDF would push it onto the next page - causing a large blank space on the first page of your invoice!

Our team have applied a change to ensure these text areas are broken up nicely now, and we’re keeping an eye on your feedback for further improvements to the PDF invoice layout and styling ;-)

Better handling of failing trigger actions

One of the good things with Accelo is that you can configure it to have lots of custom fields and custom rules, including in the way you set up your Triggers.

One of the bad things with Accelo is that you can configure lots of custom fields and custom rules, and that they live on in the way you set up your Triggers.

With this fix, we've made sure things like removing a custom field doesn't result in a Trigger config screen that used that custom field doesn't cause that Trigger field to get confused and upset.

Financial details on Expense List only for users with Financial permission 

This permission problem was detected by some clients who have users with the “Hours only” financial visibility setting. This setting means all manner of billable rates, $ amounts, costs and prices should be hidden to those users when navigating Accelo. We’ve reviewed the Expense List and adjusted the columns to ensure that the Price Per Unit and Amount values are no longer visible to those users. Importantly, if such a user was the submitter of an expense, they need to be able to see and update these values, which is still possible via the Edit Expense pop-up.

Better handling of emails forwarded request queues

When you get an email from a client/lead/unknown-email-address and you want to turn it into a Request for follow up, you're able to forward it straight across to the request email address, such as support@yourdomain.accelo.com.

When you do this, one of the challenges is that the nicely formatted email addresses that we normally depend on - such as the "From" and "To" fields - is now just buried in plain text in the body of the email you're forwarding, so finding the client the request should be against requires a bit of detective work.

While we've done our best to handle this detective work over time, we had a shortcoming where requests from known clients/contacts weren't being picked up properly - while, ironically, emails from brand new unknown contacts were.

Late last week we pushed a fix that means we handle both situations much more consistently and gracefully - although we really should say that the best way to do this is to have email forwarding turned on for all of your emails, and then when you forward to the request address, rather than trying to hack our way through a mess of plain text (which could also include email addresses in signatures and further down in a forwarded message too), we'll be able to neatly pick up the original email the client sent (that we already captured) and turn it into a request.

Handling Contractor users properly in Scheduling, Utilization & Profitability screens

Contractors are a special type of limited user that has special pricing and much more limited access. Designed specifically for folks who you want to bring into the business occasionally (ie, contractors), these users can log work, be assigned tasks and get things done "at arms length". This includes not being able to email clients directly (contractors have to use alias addresses, so clients can't go around you and hire the contractor directly), and not being able to see information in Accelo unless they've been assigned to work on it.

One of the other situations with contractor users is that they aren't working on a regular or full time basis - if they did, they'd be regular users. This transient nature means that they shouldn't appear in screens that have a focus on utilization and scheduling, and including them throws off numbers since things like utilization and profitability reports since assuming a contractor is 40 hours a week available is wrong and inflates both costs and the denominator of profitability/utilization calculations.

Until last week we had a bug where contractor users were included in reports like utilization, profitability and even the team scheduling screens. We've now fixed this up so your profitability and other key reports only include folks that are Professional (or Admin) users and don't have your data skewed by contractors.

Maintaining confidentiality of activities/emails in Accelo’s Inbox tool

As an admin, or manager of another user, you may have noticed that you can toggle the Inbox screen filters to list activities & emails for another user’s inbox. While any private activities for those users are completely hidden from you, confidential activities are still visible listed in a way that you can see some activity has occurred - but you can’t see the detail.

The issue we’ve addressed in the last few days is regarding the preview text, which shows the first few words from the body of each email/activity, on the left-hand side of the Inbox screen. A recent bug had caused this text to show the real activity content rather than being replaced with the “Confidential activity sent to..” information - which is now showing correctly.

View Invoice - Improved Quickbooks toolbar menu

The updated toolbar menu has 3 handy functions:

  • View the invoice in QuickBooks with a single click

  • Trigger a “pull” of the invoice from QuickBooks - only supports pulling payments at this time. We recommend that other changes - like editing line items - are made from Accelo side.

  • Push the Accelo invoice to QuickBooks without having to edit and save the invoice. This can be helpful if the invoice was created in Accelo while your QuickBooks integration was disabled/offline.

Please note this updated menu only applies to QuickBooks Online users.

qbo menu

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