AlertV5r6 Released

The latest version of Alert, being AlertV5r6 (Multi-Company and Multi-Currency), has now been released.

Is your organizations growth being hamstrung by incapable systems?

Is doing business in other countries difficult due to inadequate systems?

Do you need a system that will help you to grow your business globally and still retain control?

If so then read on…..

1 Business Problems

Following are typical problems being experienced by organizations attempting to do business in more than one country.

1.1 Business Growth

The organisation is growing quickly through acquisitions and, or, organic growth. This growth may be domestic or may also include businesses and companies in other countries.

Companies that have been acquired may have their own piecemeal systems in place. Continuing with these systems would place constraints on growth. It is important to be able to quickly and easily assimilate the new business, into the existing enterprise business system, regardless of which country or currencies that business may operate and trade in.

Alternatively your organization wants to start conducting business in a particular country but needs a system that will allow it to conduct business in multiple countries and even manage this in multiple currencies.

1.2 Single Company / Business Unit Constraint

The organization may have multiple Companies, or Business Units, but the current business system only allows one Company, or Business Unit, to operate from this system.

For example:-
  • The organization has offices in Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and Indonesia.

  • Each of these locations operate as separate Companies that need to report autonomously however consolidated reporting is also required at an Enterprise level.

  • A central resource pool is used and Employees are shared between all Companies or Business Units.

  • The Companies, or Business Units, are required do business in the following currencies:-

Australia – Local Currency: AUD Customer Invoice Currencies: AUD
New Zealand – Local Currency: NZD Customer Invoice Currencies: NZD
Singapore – Local Currency: SGD Customer Invoice Currencies: SGD, MYR, USD, THB
Indonesia – Local Currency: IDR Customer Invoice Currencies: IDR, MYR, USD, PHP

1.3 Single Currency Constraint

Perhaps the reason that separate business systems are being used for each Company, or Business Unit, is due to Currency constraint. The business system being used may operate in a single currency only and not allow transactions, such as Customer Invoices, to be entered in multiple foreign currencies. This currency constraint would then apply throughout the system including reporting.

1.4 Resource Sharing

The organization has employees that work across multiple Companies, or Business Units, however these employees are not able to record time in a single timesheet system. Consequences of this are:-
  • Additional effort by employees to enter timesheet details in multiple systems

  • No single timesheet view available for an employee and day, week etc

  • Unable to or very difficult to calculate employee utilization due to timesheets being in multiple systems

  • Multiple billing systems to bill these employees timesheets, in particular if the employee has worked on a range of projects that are billed in different currencies.

1.5 Lack of Standardized Business Processes, Administration Policies and Terminology

There are no common or standardized business processes, procedures and policies across all companies in the organization.

This causes a range of problems including, staff not being able to fill in for someone on leave, inability to job share, inability to centralize business functions, inefficient business processes, errors and inaccuracies due to poor systems or manual processes and more.

1.6 Consolidated Corporate Reporting

Production of consolidated reports is manual and difficult. It is also prone to error, not available in a timely manner and very difficult or impossible to drill down for further analysis or to underlying transactions.

1.7 System Administration Overhead

There is an overhead for administration of each additional system or manual tasks such as entering, collating and manipulating data in spreadsheets.

1.8 Enterprise Data Management and Security

The organization has business information and databases spread throughout the organization in different locations and formats.

Problems with this are:-
  • Difficult to access

  • Inconsistent presentation and terminology

  • No consolidated enterprise level view of this information

  • Difficult to secure the information from unauthorized access

  • Data security may be compromised with data backup policies not being adhered to

2 Business Solution

Alert Version 5, Release 6 is major enhancement release. It has been designed to solve the above problems and more.

AlertV5r6 has been enhanced to allow multiple companies within a multi-national organization or enterprise to use Alert simultaneously. Previously individual companies from a multi-national enterprise would have needed to use multiple Alert systems, due primarily to each company having to operate in a particular currency.
AlertV5r6 now enables multiple companies to operate within the one Alert system with each company operating in a particular ‘local’ currency. In addition each company may also now transact with customers in multiple foreign currencies. Consolidated enterprise reporting is possible due to enterprise wide standards being implemented such as enterprise wide financial periods and employees.

2.1 Multi Company

Alert has been changed to introduce the concept of ‘Company’. This has been done to allow multiple Companies to use Alert simultaneously. A Company is defined as a separate legal entity. Attributes that define a Company and that may be different between one Company and another include:-
  • Company Registration Details
  • Good and Services tax (VAT) that may or may not apply including tax rates
  • 'Local’ Currency
  • General Ledger coding
  • Biller Details on invoices
  • Standard Invoice Text
  • Management Reporting Requirements
  • And more
2.1.1 Key Points
  • A single Alert system and single Alert SQL Server database is used to manage multiple companies.
  • Alert users logon to the Alert system from anywhere in the world.
  • Alert users nominate the Company that ‘Defaults’ when they log into Alert.
  • Alert users may be restricted as to the Companies they are able to access.
  • Alert users may switch between one Company and another.
  • Enterprise wide data or information is accessible regardless of which Company the user is logged onto.
  • Users are able to enter and reference transactions that are across multiple Companies. i.e. each transaction references a single Company however there may be multiple transactions on the form.
  •  Each Company has a ‘Local’ Currency and all Financial reports are in this currency.
  • Enterprise wide reports allow the user to nominate the ‘Reporting Currency’ at the time the report is run.
  • Employees have a single weekly timesheet view even though they may be working on different projects for different companies in the same week.
  • Comprehensive Employee utilization and performance reporting is available.

2.2 Multi Currency

In conjunction with the Multi Company enhancements AlertV5r6 has also been enhanced to cater for the requirement to invoice in multiple currencies. A company that is using Alert will have a ‘local’ currency however they may have a requirement to invoice in any number of other currencies including their own ‘local’ currency.

A number of enhancements have been made to Alert to implement this capability including:-
  •  Nominate a ‘Local’ Currency for each Company
  • Ability to enter Currencies and nominate Currency Relationships
  • Ability to automatically and manually update Exchange Rates between currencies (Currency Relationships)
  • Display the applicable Currency in all forms and reports
    Enter or generate Customer Orders and Customer Invoices in either the Local Currency or a Foreign Currency
  •  Produce management reports in the ‘Local Currency’ of a Company
  •  Produce enterprise reports in a ‘Reporting Currency’ that is selected at the time the report is run. These are reports that include financial information across multiple companies that each has a different local currency.
  • Display currency amounts in the format that users are used to seeing these based on the users regional settings.
  • Print currency amounts in documents using the currency symbol and the format required for the particular currency of the transaction.

3 Business Benefits

3.1 Multi Company

3.1.1 Resource Sharing
The organization has employees that work across multiple Companies, or Business Units. These employees are now able to enter time in a single business system. Benefits of this are:
  • Single system for employees to enter timesheets
  • Single timesheet view available for an employee and day, week etc
  • Employee utilization reporting immediately available from single system
  • Single billing system to bill all the employees timesheets even if the employee has worked on projects for different companies and regardless of the currency they are to be billed in.
3.1.2 Standardized Business Processes, Administration Policies and Terminology
Standardized business processes and policies may be imposed through the use of an enterprise wide and multi company business system. Significant benefits of this are:-
  • Removing overreliance on certain individuals
  • Staff being able to fill in for someone on leave
  • Job sharing
  • Ability to centralize business functions resulting in reduced costs
  • More efficient business processes
  • Reduced errors and inaccuracies due to well-designed automated systems
Standardized Terminology is imposed through the use of an enterprise system. This assists with conversations and dialog to remove ambiguity and reduce misunderstanding. For example the definition and rules for calculating Employee Utilization may be fixed and applied across all companies in the organisation.
3.1.3 Consolidated Corporate Reporting
Consolidated enterprise level reports may be produced quickly and easily from a single system and database. Further drill down analysis is possible. A Reporting Currency may be selected at the time the report is run for the report to be produced in. Currency exchange rates will be applied automatically at the time the report is run.
3.1.4 System Administration Overhead
Reduced administration costs through a single installed system and database.
3.1.5 Enterprise Data Management and Security
The organization will have all business information within a single database that is securely located and managed.

Benefits of this are:-
  • Easy to access
  • Consistent presentation and terminology
  •  Consolidated enterprise level view of this information
  • Easy to secure the information from unauthorized access
  • Greater data security with centralized single data backup

3.2 Multi Currency

The ability to easily transact with customers in any currency is a tremendous benefit to companies that operate in regions where dealing in multiple currencies is the norm. In addition some multi- nationals may have a requirement that business be conducted with them in a particular currency that may be different to the local currency of the organization providing the product or service.

AlertV5r6 provides facilities to easily manage raising customer quotes, orders and invoices in any currency. The benefit of this is that the organization providing the product or service is not prevented from tendering or taking on work that involves invoicing in a foreign currency.

In addition Alerts simple and streamlined Multi Currency facilities ensure that there is no additional cost to the organisation from having to deal in multiple currencies. An example of this is the automated daily update of exchange rates for Active Currency Relationships. These are required to convert the foreign currency transaction amounts back into the ‘local’ currency of the company providing the product or service.

For more information on how Alerts Multi-Company and Multi-Currency solution may benefit your business please contact:-

AlertV5r5 Released

This release of Alert is primarily a specific enhancement release. Alert has been enhanced to include a new ‘Import Customer Orders’ facility. There have also been some minor enhancements and changes included in this release.

Significant Application Changes

Import Customer Orders
A new facility has been provided in Alert to enable Customer Orders to be generated from an electronic import file.
A simplified version of the import and generate process is as follows:-

1. An electronic file of Customer Orders (ultimately ‘Billings’) is created.
2. Alert users locate the file and import the data from the file into Alert.
3. Alert checks and validates the data contained in the file.
4. Errors are identified and corrected.
5. Alert generates ‘new’ Customer Orders.
6. Alert users generate Customer Invoices.
7. Alert automatically but optionally ‘Completes’ the Customer Order if there are no outstanding billing items.

Minor Enhancements

Please refer to AlertV5r5 Release Notes for more information on all enhancements and fixes provided in this release.

1.Generate Manual Prepayment Adjustments on Rollback
A new facility has been provided to save in a ‘new’ table in Alert the manual adjustments to revenue prepayments (Unearned Revenue) before the ‘Rollback Financial Period’ removes them. This new table may then be reported on using an ‘Ad-Hoc’ query so that the manual entries may be re-entered following the Financial Period being ‘re-posted’.

2. Customer Order Maintenance form Performance
The performance, reliability and stability of the ‘Customer Quote/Order Entry’ form has been improved.

3. Test Alert
The ‘TestAlert’ module has been discontinued and removed from Alert as at release V5.5.

4. New Rule for Project % Complete Projects
A new rule has been applied to the Alert Project Maintenance form and Timesheet Entry to prevent Timesheets of ‘Service Charge Basis’ = T&M from being entered against Projects that are set to Earned Revenue Method of ‘Project % Complete’. Refer Release Notes for Project Maintenance form for more details.

AlertV5r4 Released

AlertV5r4 incorporates a number of enhancements with the bulk of these being primarily concentrated on the User Interface. The enhancements are:-

Ribbon Strip

Microsoft introduced the concept of a ‘Ribbon Strip’ in Office 2007. This has replaced the Menubar and Toolbars previously found in Microsoft systems. Microsoft has continued with this in Office 2010. Alert has followed this approach and introduced the Ribbon Strip in AlertV5r4. This replaces the Alert menubars and toolbars.

VBS were aware that a change in menu navigation is potentially very disruptive to productivity. As a result VBS intentionally retained the path to, and location of, menu items in Alert even though the Ribbon Strip has been implemented. This ensures that current users may immediately commence us of Alert V5r4 without additional training.

Following is a screen shot of Alert V5r4 with the new Ribbon Strip.

Web Application Look and Feel

AlertV5r4 forms, reports and other objects have been enhanced to be consistent with the look and feel of current business applications including web based applications. For example function buttons, text and other controls have been changed to be flat on the form instead of raised to look like buttons.

The following screen shots show the ‘new’ look of AlertV5r4.

Functions moved to Ribbon Strip

Function buttons have been moved to the Ribbon Strip where possible. For example function buttons on Alert search forms have been moved to the Ribbon Strip.

Report Output Options

AlertV5r4 provides options to output reports to PDF, XPS, or Rich Text files. It also has a facility to send a report as an attachment.

Office Color Scheme

Alert has been enhanced so that Microsoft Office Color Scheme Management is applied in Alert. This means that the background color of Alert forms and other style aspects may be changed by the user.

The Microsoft Office color scheme may be set in any of the Microsoft Office applications, such as Excel or Word by opening the application and selecting File > Options > General > Color Scheme. Any change made to the Microsoft Office color scheme will also be applied in Alert.

Microsoft Office Version Compatibility

This release of Alert has been developed to be compatible with Microsoft Office 2007 and Microsoft Office 2010. Alert no longer supports Microsoft Office 2003. The preference for deploying AlertV5r4 is for the Alert user to have Microsoft Office 2010 installed.

Microsoft Project Integration Changes

A major change was made by Microsoft in Project 2007. This change was to remove the ability to save projects to ODBC-compliant Microsoft SQL Server databases or to MS Access .MDB. In AlertV5r3 and prior Alert saved Microsoft Project information in ‘MSP’ tables that were included in the Alert SQL Server database. This is no longer possible when using Microsoft Project 2007 or 2010.


The alternatives to saving Microsoft Project data in SQL Server tables using ODBC are very limited and consist of .MPP files stored on disc or .XML files stored on disc. The other alternative, which is Microsoft’s preferred, is to purchase Microsoft Project Server. Microsoft Project Server does in fact use SQL Server to store Project Server information.


Alert continues to support integration with Microsoft Project and has developed a solution that uses individual Microsoft Project 2007 or 2010 files along with Microsoft Project data stored in Alert.

Microsoft Project Compatibility

AlertV5r4 is only compatible with Microsoft Project 2007 and Microsoft Project 2010.

Microsoft Project is installed separately to Microsoft Office and Microsoft Access. It is possible for example to user Microsoft Project 2007 with Microsoft Office 2010.

VBS recommend that users of Alerts integration with Microsoft Project use Microsoft Project 2010. There have been significant improvements to Microsoft Project 2010 that make the upgrade worthwhile. For example:-

1) User Controlled Scheduling

2) Timeline View

3) Team Planner View