The new version 4 software release of entrée takes the most popular software for food distributors, and takes it to the next level of power, speed and ease of use. The new dashboards, enhanced search screens, ribbon menus and more help you do your job faster while providing new visual insights of your complex data.
Save time and human resources with the new Report Scheduling features in entrée. Reports can be sent to specific printers or emailed as PDF, Excel, RTF or text documents. Soon to be included features include email alerts for items which reach a low or out-of-stock condition or customers that exceed their credit limit. Process scheduling features will allow you to automate tasks such as cost/price updating.
Built with the Sybase Advantage SQL database server to deliver amazing speed and rock solid database integrity. This client/server architecture reduces network traffic while boosting the speed of entrée and almost eliminating the chance of database corruption. All processes from generating reports to creating invoices are dramatically faster. You can trust Sybase, an SAP company, for your company's precious data
First introduced by Microsoft in Microsoft Office 2007, the V4 SQL release of entrée includes new "ribbon menus" to help you find what you are looking for more quickly and intuitively. All the menu options have a graphical icon which visually represents what that menu choice accomplishes. Once the user is used to the visual icon, they can identify the menu option much faster than reading a menu title.
Menu options related to each ribbon category are grouped together. This makes it easier for the user to find what he is looking for. For example, on the "Inventory" ribbon, all options related to inventory, including file maintenance, transactions, reports and utilities are grouped together. The same is true for the other ribbon elements of "Customer", "Vendor", "Salesperson", etc.
Frequently used menu options can be set by the user and added to the "Quick Access Toolbar", which can appear directly above the ribbon menus or below them. Previous versions of entrée had a similar concept called "My Menu".
Clicking on the "V4 SQL" in the circle at the top left of the ribbon menu, as well as the small down arrow button to the right of it, will bring up additional options, such as "Show Login Screen" and other commands.
As a default for new V4 SQL installations, below the ribbon menu will appear the older "legacy" menu structure. This was included so that users familiar with the old style menu of entrée could feel comfortable while they adapted to the newer ribbon style. The legacy menu format can be turned off via System Options. Previous hot keys used by entrée for menu selections are fully supported.
Reliability: With past versions of entrée (based on the dBase/Foxpro database standard), each client workstation reads and writes directly to the raw database files. If a client machine crashes while writing data, this will usually cause a database or index to become corrupt. The same thing will occur if the network fails, has a glitch or temporarily becomes overloaded. This problem becomes more apparent as the amount of data or the number of users increases.
With Sybase Advantage SQL, the client workstations do not talk directly with the database files but with an intelligent data manager on the server. This in turn reads and writes data from and to the tables. If a client workstation crashes, or the network fails in any way, this will not affect your databases or indexes. Instead the Sybase Advantage Server realizes that the transaction has not been completed and does not commit the partially transmitted data to the database. Your data continues to run without issue. You also no longer need to "Reindex" files on a regular basis.
Speed: With past versions of entrée, all databases involved with a process such as creating an invoice, or generating a report are copied across the network from the server to the client's workstation. The databases are then processed and filtered to generate the required records. For example if looking up details for one particular invoice from the invoice database containing, say, 50,000 records then the whole table (all 50,000 records) is dragged over the network and then 49,999 of these records are ignored. Contrast this with the Sybase Advantage SQL Server where the filtering takes place on the server and only 1 record is transmitted over the network.
This can affect performance in two ways: First, Sybase Advantage SQL is highly optimized and can perform the required filtering much more quickly than the client workstation. Second, the amount of data sent across the network link is vastly reduced. For most databases the main performance bottleneck is data transmission over the network, so reducing this network traffic provides a dramatic improvement in performance. Predicting a general speed improvement is difficult, but most entrée users will see an overall speed improvement of at least twice as fast.
With the Sybase Advantage SQL Database Server, many hundreds, or even thousands (with appropriate network infrastructure) of workstations can be supported without significant performance degradation. It also opens the door for NECS to offer a cloud based version of entrée in the near future.
Note that with the initial 4.0.0 release of entrée, the SQL database tables will not be fully optimized. For example, SQL offers programmers such advantages as "stored procedures" and other techniques which can greatly enhance the speed of the software. This means that while this initial new version will be faster than older versions of entrée, it will not represent the full potential of speed gains from moving to SQL. As we continue to put out new updates of entrée, we will be including these speed optimizations. When version 4.1.0 is available, it will include all the SQL features to provide the fastest experience possible.
One of the most frequently used features of entrée is the Search Screens. When your system holds volumes of important data, finding what you need quickly and easily becomes a top priority to effectively use our software. Search Screens are available for all the key databases in entrée including inventory, brands, customers, contacts, vendors, salespeople, invoices, purchase orders, etc.
Over the years customers have provided us with key insights in how to improve this process, and we feel that our re-designed Search Screens will meet even our most demanding user's needs. A few of the new features include:
A technology designed initially for conducting one-on-one personal chats has permeated the workplace. Many business people are choosing text-based IM (Instant Messaging) over phone calls and e-mail—preferring its immediacy and streamlined efficiency in getting real-time information from colleagues working remotely or in the next cubicle.
Version 4 includes a new feature called entrée.CHAT, which is an excellent communications tool as an alternative to email or picking up the phone to place a call. In fact, after testing here at the NECS offices, we all loved it so much, it's now our preferred way of communicating. Because we spend so much time on the phone, it's an ideal way to communicate with a co-worker when they are tied up on a call, and also for those times that email isn't appropriate.
Your users can be automatically logged into the chat system when they sign into entrée. Permission settings per user for chatting are contained in the Security Management area of entrée. A Server Administrators panel lets you see your users and their chat activity.
entree.CHAT is very flexible: you can hold simultaneous chat conversations with different people or you can participate in a group conference session. You can send file attachments instantly, as well as screen captures.
Chat communication within your office is handled by your network. However if you have remote workers, you can enable your chat service to be Internet based. We recommend that you use our chat client for Windows based computers. However, because the entrée.CHAT server is based on the popular XMPP format, many third party chat clients can communicate with it. So if you're outside users have an iPhone, iPad or Android phone, it's very easy to download a chat client that is linked to your office server. If Android, go to the Google Play Store or if Apple go to iTunes. Most chat clients are free to download and use.
Version 4 of entrée introduces dashboards which we have built from the ground-up, and has been made possible by our move to the SQL database platform. They are the ultimate tool for organizing and analyzing your business data.
The actual term for our dashboards is called a "Pivot Grid" or "Pivot Table", which is commonly used in business intelligence software.
The "pivot" design was created by Pito Salas, known as the "father of pivot tables". While working on a concept for a new program which would eventually become Lotus Improv, Salas realized that spreadsheets have patterns of data. A tool that could help the user recognize these patterns would help to build advanced data models quickly. With pivot tables, users could define and store sets of categories, then change views by dragging category names with the mouse. This core functionality would provide the model for pivot tables which we have embraced in entrée in our dashboards. It provides a highly flexible means for a food distributor to analyze and grasp trends from the mountains of complex data which is normally lost by simply printing reports.
You will find the dashboards integrated into the Inventory, Customer, Vendor, Salesperson, Brand and Class File Maintenance options. Their main functionality is the ability to summarize large amounts of information and represent it in a cross-tabulated form.
For instance, you can analyze sales during specific periods (years, quarterly intervals, months, weeks) for each customer, item, vendor, salesperson, brand or class. Also, many of the dashboards include "drill down" features which allow you to see specific information, such as all the line items of a selected invoice.
The dashboards allow you to visualize your data by summarizing into different charting styles including: pie charts, line charts, bar charts and area charts.
Dashboards are an interactive control, permitting you to easily reorganize the layout using drag-and-drop. As a result, your business data will be re-summarized according to the new layout of the column and row fields, so an end-user can easily alter a report to display the information they need in the way they need it. Custom dashboard configurations can be saved and loaded for sharing with other users in your company.
The dashboards include full reporting capabilities, so you can easily print to paper or export to Excel or HTML. Advanced data filtering is also provided for more sophisticated users.
The new Cycle Count feature of entrée version 4 is an important new tool for your inventory management. It offers the ability to count a small subset of inventory in contrast with a traditional physical inventory which involves the counting of all items at one time.
Cycle counts are less disruptive to daily operations, provide an ongoing measure of inventory accuracy and procedure execution, and can be tailored to focus on items with higher value or higher sales volume.
You can specify which items should be counted with any or all of the following parameters: warehouse location range, item number range, specific class or all classes, specific brand or all brands, specific temperature zone or all zones, specific UOM or all UOM.
You can also specify which items should be counted by "ABC Analysis", which breaks your items into three groups:
"A" items = Top 20%
"B" items = Middle 30%
"C" items = Bottom 50%
You can next specify what "ABC Method" to use, which includes either Sales Volume or Item Value. Finally you can also specify how many items to return for counting including the Top 10, Top 25, Top 50 or All items.
The ABC Cycle Counting method uses the Pareto principle as the basis for this technique. The Pareto principle states that, for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. This method uses this principle to assume that 20% of the inventory in a food distributor's warehouse relates to 80% of the sales and also 80% of possible issues with on hand inventory. These are the “A” items. The principle is then extended to two other categories where “B” items account for 30% of the items and 15% of sales/on hand issues and “C” items represent 50% of the items in the warehouse, but only 5% of sales/on hand issues.
When performing a Cycle Count, your warehouse manager will define the above criteria, and then provide counting assignments to each of your warehouse crew who will be performing the counts. Either a paper Cycle Count Sheet can be produced for each crew member, or the task can be automated with our ELECTRONIC WAREHOUSE MANAGER Android application.
When the ELECTRONIC WAREHOUSE MANAGER app is in use, each warehouse worker will see their counting assignments on their Android tablet. They can either use the barcode scanner or manually enter their counting results on the tablet. The counting results can be viewed on the warehouse manager's desktop computer, and they can force a "recount" of any items that do not look correct. The warehouse worker will then be directed to recount those items.
When used regularly and properly, not only will your inventory be much more accurate, once you're in the habit of continuously cycle counting, you'll probably never have to do a full "close the doors and stop everything" physical inventory again!
The entrée.DOT software module is designed for NECS entrée users who purchase from Dot Foods.
It allows entrée users to automate procedures related to costs, pricing, purchasing and receiving, along with the ability to make your entire order guide from Dot Foods available to your customers.
Items purchased from Dot Foods can be integrated into the NECS entrée system providing you the ability to drastically increase the number of products you can supply to your customers – without having to increase the size of your warehouse.
New in Version 4 are the following enhancements:
As version 4 of entrée becomes more graphically based, to appreciate these features you will need to incorporate such things as item images and brand logos. This is especially true if you use entrée.NET for your customers online ordering or the Electronic Order Pad app for your DSRs. Your customers are used to seeing important graphics such as the brand logo, and it influences their buying decision. It also makes it easier to identify brands, rather than just a textual description.
In order to save you the time it takes to locate a properly sized brand logo, along with a link to that brand's website, we've incorporated over 600 brand's information as an available resource in version 4.
We started off by analyzing the market to determine the top brands used by foodservice distributors, and came up with a list of just over 600 of them. While this isn't all inclusive, it should save you hours of time and resources from locating this information on your own.
When you first install version 4 and run the Update Utility, you will have an option to incorporate these brand logos and website links into your database tables. If you choose to utilize this option, the system will look at your Brand file database and first determine if you have already defined a logo image and website address/URL. If you have, the Update Utility will skip that brand. If the brand has this information missing, and there is a match in our 600+ brand database, the system will automatically insert the logo and website address/URL.
Later if you include a new brand in your entrée software, the system will automatically present you with the brand logo and website address/URL if it finds a match.
Note that we are planning a future release of entrée which will provide similar functionality related to item images, nutritional information, and allergens. This will be tied to an inventory items GTIN (Global Trade Item Number). We are investigating different options to accomplish this related to gaining access to the GS1 data pool, which many foodservice manufacturers are submitting this information to.
LEGAL DISCLAIMER: All brand names, logos and trademarks are the property of their respective owners. NECS entrée software users will only be able to utilize a brand's logo if they are an authorized distributor of that brand.
Report Scheduling: The report scheduling feature provides you with an automated means to generate any entrée report with any existing defined report configuration.
The scheduler allows you to specify these run time options:
The scheduler allows you to define the destination of the report, including:
The scheduler allows you to define the server or workstation on the network which will generate the report, including:
Other report scheduling features include:
Email Alerts: The scheduler allows you to define email alerts for the following situations:
Process Scheduling: You can now automate the processing of automatic cost/price updates. Other processes to be added in the future.
The new Scheduling feature of entrée version 4 is important because of the savings it provides in both time and human resources. Overall it greatly improves the efficiency with which you can automate repetitive and time consuming activities.
The following are the minimum hardware requirements for entrée version 4.
Note to improve system performance for larger installations, a faster processor as well as a going to Quad Core technology on the server is recommended. Workstation performance can be increased by a faster processor and more RAM memory.
Download any of the PDF documents listed below for a complete overview of each of the new features in our V4 SQL software
entrée V4 SQL Update Process
entrée V4 SQL New Features
entrée V4 SQL entrée.CHAT
entrée V4 SQL Dashboards
entrée V4 SQL Ribbon Menus
entrée V4 SQL Search Features
entrée V4 SQL Update Utility
Note: Adobe PDF Reader required to view documents