EMS Software Tips and Best Practices

Get the most out of your EMS software with specific tips on using the system and general "best practice" pointers.

Tips and Tricks

Tips and Tricks is a popular feature of our EMS Quarterly newsletter. Check out past entries below.

October 2012

In order to provide our customers with the best possible support, Dean Evans and Associates provides a variety of resources including on-site training with highly skilled consultants, a talented phone support staff, and a newly expanded and improved Knowledge Base.

The DEA Knowledge Base is a resource for customers to find answers to common questions, obtain troubleshooting instruction, and review important product information. Articles are organized by topic and by product in the Knowledge base, and are searchable by keyword. You don’t have to wait for an issue to arise to visit the Knowledge Base, take some time to explore the wide variety of topics and information - you may be surprised by what you learn.

In the meantime, here’s a sample article covering a common issue involving confirmations:

Attendees were not sent a confirmation after the administrator changed the status of a booking.

When the status of a booking is changed it is optional, but highly recommended, that a notification be sent to the affected group to inform the members of the change. There are two different ways to change the status of a booking, and they do not both automatically generate or send a notification.

The Change Status function, available on the Reservation Summary tab in the Navigator, has an option available to automatically generate and send a confirmation to the group for whom the reservation was made.

The Change Booking Status Wizard is available for changing the status of multiple bookings in a reservation, but does not have an option to automatically generate and send a confirmation to the affected group.

*To access the new Knowledge Base, log in to the Support Center at dea.com and follow the link.

July & August 2012

As an EMS User you have access to robust SMTP email features for communicating with Groups and Contacts. Here are a few highlights:

View Email Sent from EMS: Users can view a list of all email that has been sent from EMS via SMTP (not via Microsoft Outlook). This includes confirmations, invoices, reminders, queries, web requests, Group and Contact information, and generic emails. Users can also view and print the contents of these email messages:

Navigate to Reservations > Other > Email History
(Note: This will only display SMTP emails sent. For Outlook email view your Outlook Sent items.)

Email Address Search Methods: In addition to email addresses for Groups and Contact, EMS desktop client users can also access their Global Address List including their Outlook Address Books even when using the SMTP email features in EMS:

From the EMS toolbar* select:
Email > To: > Select Names > Search Method
Select Outlook Address Book and click Display
(*Note: If the Email icon is not displayed on the EMS toolbar, right-click the toolbar to add it.)

October 2011

Reservations: The things maybe you didn't know you could do...until now!

  • Open the most recently entered Reservation: Click the Navigator button on the toolbar. Double-click in the Reservation No. box, and the highest reservation number will appear.
  • Show Old/Cancelled Bookings: You can choose whether you want to see Old and Canceled Bookings in the Navigator. Simply open a reservation in the Navigator. In the top-right corner, select Settings > Options and use the checkboxes at the top to customize your Navigator experience.
  • *See a booking in the Reservation Book: With a reservation open in the Navigator, you may want to see one of the bookings in the Reservation Book. Simply right-click the Booking and select “Go To Book”.

*For Enterprise, Campus, Workplace, Legal and District customers.

June 2011

User defined fields (UDFs) allow EMS users to capture and report on information unique to their organization. If EMS isn’t already asking for the information, the customer can build custom questions to request it (see the Setup Guide).

  • Publishing Approval: UDFs can be used in Master Calendar as an additional filter. If you’d like verification from users that an EMS event is approved for publishing on Master Calendar, use a UDF on EMS/Virtual EMS to ask permission and then add the answer as a conditional response to your Master Calendar connector.
  • Find a Reservation: UDFs are available fields in the Query Builder for reporting. Reservation and service level (EMS Enterprise only) user defined fields can be used in Query Builder reports as both display and filter fields. Want to track approved caterers on reservations? Use a list UDF with available caterers, make the answer mandatory on reservations, and create a query builder report to track Caterers on all your reservations.
  • Helpful UDFs: UDFs in EMS Enterprise can also be applied to individual categories, groups, rooms, and buildings. If you are looking to record additional information about your groups and facilities, UDFs can help.

April 2011

  • Unclutter Your Desktop: Check out the option under Settings > Preferences. The "Close report setup form after running reports" setting automatically closes the report formatting window when you hit print preview. This is great for anyone frequently running memorized reports.
  • Organic Organization: Do you have too many resources in a single category? Add another level of filtering with groupings. Groupings provide an additional filter option when adding and booking resources. Break items up by meal, department, technician, etc. to make your resources more organized and useable. These can be added in your categories. Once you’ve created your groupings, attach them to your resources.
  • Refresh Your View: Would you prefer that browse events on Virtual EMS show one reservation level listing instead of all individual booking times and locations on the calendar? Set the Virtual parameter “Collapse bookings into reservations in browse events” to “Yes” and keep your event calendar nice and tidy.

February 2011

  • Benchmark Breakthrough: Checkout the new Benchmark Metrics report in the recently released version of EMS. This powerful tool tracks reservation, group and category details to create a single report that can be used to compile statistics from month to month and year to year. It will also make completing the second annual Facilities and Services Benchmark Survey a snap!
  • See the Peak: Our room statistics report allows organizations to track room usage, booking and attendance totals, and peak usage of space.
  • Quick Queries: Pro and Enterprise customers can use the query builder to report on most of the data stored in EMS. If you need information that isn’t already available in a pre-existing report, you can create a query for the specific fields and filters you want. Results can be exported to Excel or XML for additional manipulation. Enterprise customers can also create charts directly from the program.

September 2010

  • Easy ID: To create year-specific and department-specific invoices, use the invoice prefix and suffix fields in the department configuration.
  • Customer Query: Use the Print > Statements/Transactions option on a group’s record to provide that customer with a current balance or a list of all their transactions with your organization.
  • Financial Finagling: Remember, deposits and prepayments are applied to reservations before the invoice is created. Payments, refunds and adjustments are applied to invoices.

July 2010

  • Flexible Labels: Many fields in EMS can be relabeled. For example, do you call your groups "customers," "clients" or something else? EMS offers you the flexibility to maintain your organization’s vocabulary within your software.
  • A Rainbow of Recognition: If you want certain occasions to immediately stand out, you can make them a different color in EMS. EMS Professional and EMS Enterprise-level systems offer you the ability to use distinctive colors for holidays, weekends and dates a building will be closed.
  • Booking Lockdown: To preserve a record of past appointments and avoid future confusion, you can “lock” or prevent edits to bookings older than your preselected number of days. Setting this value to zero prevents users from booking events in the past and changing bookings that happened as recently as yesterday.

May 2010

  • Breaking News: Administrators can use the announcement feature of Master Calendar to create short news articles on the front page of their calendar, choosing when to start or stop the announcement.
  • Categorize by Color: Choose specific colors to associate with each event type. Administrators add a color to event types, which is displayed in a box next to the event on the calendar. This allows people to easily identify events. Remember, you were able to identify colors before you started reading.
  • Reliable Reminders: In addition to calendar subscriptions, sent once a day, users can sign up for reminders on specific events. A reminder email – including changed event details or cancellation notifications – will arrive at the user’s selected time prior to the event. (This requires the Master Calendar notification service to be installed and configured.)

January 2010

  • In the Know in Pro: Not yet using Email Notifications in EMS Professional? Enhanced event awareness is just a few clicks away! New bookings or service orders – or changes to existing ones – can now automatically trigger emails to your staff. Consult your product documentation for details.
  • Picture Perfect!: Images added to a Room record (in Configuration > Facilities > Rooms) are displayed in Virtual EMS when a user clicks on the event's location. This is an easy way to get room photos or floor plans online.
  • Simple Subject Customization: The Subject line that is displayed when you email a Confirmation can be easily customized. Under System Administration > Settings > Confirmation Email Subject Line, use the key to edit the subject line to meet your needs.

September 2009

  • SSL in EMS: You can now use SSL for email in EMS. Simply set the "SMTP – Use SSL" parameter to Yes and EMS will relay email successfully to an SSL enabled SMTP server.
  • Who To?: Previous versions of EMS populated the To address field, by default, with the primary contact’s email address. In newer versions of the system, you can send to the 1st Contact, 2nd Contact, Group, and Web User email addresses. These new selections are on the Email Options tab of the Confirmation window.
  • Furthering Formats: In the past when emailing a Confirmation, you had two options for the body text of the email: Summary or Detail. Now there are two new options in the Email Format field: None, which allows you to send the email with nothing in the body (or just your header and footer messages), and Mobile Friendly, which makes the confirmation easier to read on cell phones through left justification of text, limited formatting and no service information.

December 2008

  • Rapid Reporting: Need a quick events report filtered by group, room, event coordinator, resource or some other item? The Browser is a fast way to get that information. Choose what you’d like to browse for (bookings, reservations, etc.), the item you want to filter by, the date range (or leave it blank for all events) and click Get Data. The resulting list can be printed and/or emailed like any report.
  • The Scoop on a Group: When you add or edit group information (you may have renamed "group" to be customer, organization, department or some other term in your system), you’ll see a group URL field. If you add a URL (a web address), the group name becomes a hyperlink in Virtual EMS and clicking it takes your end user to the website specified, often the group’s home page, where information on the organization and their event can be found.
  • Anybody Access: If you have Virtual EMS with request/reserve options, you can now allow unauthenticated users (i.e. those without a Virtual EMS login) to request space. Controlled by a parameter, this option will let end users without a Virtual login make space requests. Check out your Virtual EMS documentation for more information.

September 2008

  • Dynamic Dialing: In the latest versions of EMS, the labels on phone number fields are dynamic. When making a reservation or defining a group, you’ll notice an arrow next to the fields that are initially labeled Phone and Fax. Click that arrow to see four common options for how the field can be labeled: Fax, Mobile, Other, Phone. Select the item that is appropriate for this field, or click in the label field and type anything you like. The new label is shown whenever the reservation/group/contact record is opened, on Confirmations, etc.
  • Reservation Wizard: Calendar Quick Picks – The buttons around the Reservation Wizard calendar allow you to select multiple days on the calendar in one or two quick clicks!
    Weeks - Clicking the buttons to the left of the calendar selects the week (One click = weekdays; Two clicks = whole week)
    Days of the Week - Clicking the buttons above the days of the week (for example Thursday) selects that day of the week. (One click = all Thursdays in the current month; Two clicks = all visible Thursdays (including visible Thursdays in the month before and after))
    Month - Clicking the button in the top left corner selects the month. (One click = weekdays; Two clicks = whole calendar month)
  • When Less is More: With the latest upgrade to Virtual EMS you can indicate whether each individual booking in a reservation should be displayed on the calendar or if there should be an entry for the first booking on a date only, with additional bookings accessible by clicking that item. To edit this setting, go to System Administration > Settings > Parameters, click the Virtual tab, and set the parameter labeled “Browse Events: Collapse Bookings into Reservations in Browse Events” as appropriate.

May 2008

  • Tidy Your Toolbar Each EMS user has the ability to customize their toolbar. Got buttons you don’t use? Get rid of ‘em! Don’t like the order the buttons are in? Rearrange ‘em. Right click the toolbar and choose Customize. Move buttons right or left to add/remove them. Click Move Up/Down to reorder the buttons, with the top entry in the list being the leftmost button on the toolbar.
  • Customer Reservation Review: There are many ways to find a reservation in EMS: through the Browser, the Calendar, or the Reservation Book, for example. Another, lesser-known method is from the Groups window (yours may be titled Customers, Visitors, or something else, depending on how you've set your system up). Simply click a group’s record to display its information in the lower half of the window, and then click the Reservations tab. Every event scheduled by the group is listed there, making it easy to find a specific reservation and also get an overall picture of how and when they utilize your facility.
  • Virtually Yours: In a few easy steps, your IT staff can "brand" your Virtual EMS website by adding your organization’s logo. First, they must rename your logo file to "customlogo.gif" (or .jpg) and resize it, if necessary, to a width of no more than 450 pixels. Then, on the web server, browse to the Images folder for EMS. By default this is C:\Inetpub\wwwroot\VirtualEMS(ProductName)\Images. Copy the renamed logo file to this folder and voila!

September 2007

  • Dynamic Date Entry: Type "t" or "d" in any date field in an EMS scheduling product (Lite, Pro, Enterprise, etc.) to automatically fill in today’s date. With the date displayed, use the up and down arrows to move forward and back through the days.
  • Clutter-Free Lists: Find list items (rooms, customers, contacts, resources) faster by inactivating items you no longer use. Edit the item in Configuration and check the Inactive checkbox. Inactive items remain in the database for historical purposes, but no longer appear in list boxes. And inactive items can always be re-activated if necessary. (Note: The items that can be "inactivated" vary by product.)
  • Bypass to Browsing: Prefer that Virtual EMS open to the Browse Events page rather than the default page? That can be arranged! In IIS (Internet Information Services) on your web server, open the properties for your Virtual EMS site, go to the documents tab, add a new document named "browseevents.aspx" and click OK. Then, in the document window, highlight the newly-created browseevents.aspx page and click the Move Up button until that page is at the top. Click OK to save this setting. Visitors to your Virtual EMS site will now bypass the default page and go directly to Browse Events

May 2007

  • Virtual No-Shows: For an event to display in Virtual EMS, three things must be true: The room, the event type and the status for the booking must all be set to "Display on Web" in Configuration. If any of these three requirements is not met for a particular booking, the booking will not be displayed in Virtual EMS.
  • Playing Detective: New in the latest versions of Lite, Pro and Enterprise (6/10/4 respectively) are two reports that help you find bookings that are in rooms you’ve made inactive or for groups that you’ve made inactive. The reports, not surprisingly titled Inactive Rooms with Bookings and Inactive Groups with Bookings, help you be proactive in moving or cancelling events as necessary.
  • Accelerated Access: The current client versions of Lite, Pro and Enterprise have a built-in function referred to as "integrated authentication", which is designed to streamline the login process. When integrated authentication is activated, EMS uses the User ID and password information you supplied in logging in to your network to confirm your identity and grant you access to EMS. In this way, you bypass the login screen and go straight into EMS simply by double-clicking the EMS icon or selecting the option from the Windows Start menu.

July 2006

  • Where’s that window?: You’ve clicked a button in EMS and get an hourglass, but then nothing happens. Don’t worry, the software isn’t broken! Most likely the window is just opening off-screen. This occurs sometimes when multiple functions are opened in EMS at the same time. To find the AWOL window, just use the scroll bars on the right and/or the bottom of your screen. Then drag the window back to the desired location, which EMS will remember in the future.
  • Drag... Drop... Done: Remember, when using the Reservation Book in newer versions of EMS you can move an event to a different room or time by simply dragging and dropping the colored bar. You can also shorten or extend the reserved time or event time by clicking and dragging the appropriate section of the bar.

Best Practices