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Case Study: Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB)

Friday, October 6th, 2017 by Marcus Tettmar

Customer Profile

The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) in London is a leading source of information on sight loss and the issues affecting blind and partially sighted people. Practical and emotional support from RNIB helps those who are losing their sight, blind, or partially sighted face the future with confidence.

Business Challenge

One of the programs offered by RNIB is the Talking Book Service. Talking Books are mastered in a format called DAISY, which allows someone with visual impairment to navigate through an audio book in much the same way as a sighted person would browse through a print book, such as by parts, chapters, page, and phrase.
Adding this amount of navigation, however, can require a lot of mouse clicks and keyboard commands. For example, adding the navigation controls for just one page requires up to ten actions to be performed. When you multiply that by the number of pages in a book, it quickly adds up to thousands of actions. Not only is this time-consuming, but it is also prone to user error, not to mention a potential cause of repetitive strain injury (RSI).

Oliver Johnson, Senior Audio Engineer at RNIB Talking Book Studios, knew there must be a more efficient system and started to research the possibility of automating the process. Mr. Johnson was looking for something that was powerful enough to solve the problem but not so complex that only an expert could use it.

Solution

Upon downloading MJT Net’s Macro Scheduler, Mr. Johnson was immediately struck by how easy it was to use. What surprised him was discovering all the other functions built into Macro Scheduler that he hadn’t thought of previously. Having access to image recognition, looping, database functions, and DDE commands suddenly opened up new possibilities and gave him ideas for other projects.

Mr. Johnson’s first task using Macro Scheduler was the script he wrote to add Page Navigation in DAISY to a Talking Book. In his words, “the result was quite astounding. Whereas before a member of staff would have to manually add the pages one at a time over the course of a couple of hours, now they could just say how many pages they wanted to add, click OK, and walk away. [Macro Scheduler] would do everything else.” This has saved RNIB hundreds of staff hours every month on just one task, thereby reducing costs and increasing productivity at the same time.

Another area where Macro Scheduler has proved invaluable is in facilitating the use of screen readers and screen magnifiers, which make applications and websites accessible to people with sight loss. Screen readers are not always able to detect navigational buttons on websites. While most screen readers allow you to create scripts to help make such programs a bit more accessible, they are unable to simplify or automate the process.

With the wide range of commands available within Macro Scheduler, Mr. Johnson has been able to “control programs that screen readers can’t easily work with; speed up the process so that staff with a visual impairment can work quickly, accurately and confidently; and automate processes so that staff can be freed up to work on other tasks while more mundane, repetitive, and time-consuming tasks are handled by macros.”

Results

RNIB Talking Book Studios has seen tangible benefits since beginning to use Macro Scheduler:

Increase in Productivity

Macro Scheduler has given Talking Book Studios the ability to automate several processes that previously used hundreds of staff hours. As a result, staff members have been freed up to work on other projects. In addition, Macro Scheduler has improved the usability of programs so that staff members with a visual impairment can work more efficiently and accurately.

The office produces tens of thousands of audio files every month, which are impossible to proof by hand. Macro Scheduler performs these checks every night to ensure that the files have the correct format, sample rate, and bit rate.

Reduction in Errors

Automation of navigation controls has eliminated user error when mastering Talking Books in DAISY. This keeps production on track and on time. Not only does Macro Scheduler enable Talking Books to perform quality checks on audio files, it also generates daily reports that flag any files that may require further investigation. This alone has reduced the number of errors by 50%.

Ease of Use

When asked what he likes best about Macro Scheduler, Mr. Johnson reports: “Macro Scheduler is so simple to use. The fact that someone like me, whose only experience of writing any form of code was rudimentary HTML, can use it straight out of the box, without reading through a manual first, speaks volumes.”

Customer Support

Mr. Johnson says that “the level of support from Marcus and the team has been some of the best I’ve ever come across. The forum is a wealth of information, and it is very active, so if you do require some assistance, help is never far away. On more than one occasion several members have gone out of their way to help me solve problems or suggest alternative and better ways of achieving things.”

About MJT Net

MJT Net Ltd develops and markets automation utilities and productivity software for business and home Windows users. Its flagship product, Macro Scheduler, was first released in 1997. With more than 30,000 companies and individuals utilizing Macro Scheduler technologies, MJT Net has become synonymous with software automation and automated testing.

MacroScript SDK Bridges Healthcare System Boundaries

Wednesday, November 12th, 2014 by Marcus Tettmar

With our MacroScript SDK you can add the ability to run Macro Scheduler code right inside your own applications.

The SDK lets you run Macro Scheduler scripts and code, as well as query Macro Scheduler script variables during code execution. The SDK gives you a more seamless way to run Macro Scheduler code and use Macro Scheduler capabilities within your own applications.

Back in 2012 Steen Jakobsen of DM Software integrated the SDK into their Dialog Manager software. He kindly agreed to a case study.

Macro Scheduler made it very easy to integrate the SDK. The input parameters for the scripts are completely integrated and direct, and secure and reliable data transfer is being accomplished – all thanks to the brilliant architecture of the MacroScript SDK. …. We’ve saved the doctors and nurses enormous amounts of time, and at the same time, added very valuable and sophisticated calculation and decision support across five systems that otherwise have no link to one another. This can only be done with the unique Windows automation capabilities of Macro Scheduler combined with the tight integration with Dialog Manager.

Steen Jakobsen, DM Software

Read the Case Study here.

Testimonial – Radio Station Automation

Tuesday, September 30th, 2014 by Marcus Tettmar

It’s always interesting to hear what our customers use Macro Scheduler for. So many use cases. Here’s one from Mark Croom:

For the convenience of listeners to the radio stations I work with, the program is doing some file handling tasks that put artist and title information onto our website and into radiotext on RBDS-capable radios, during programming that is supplied by satellite networks rather than through the local automation.

Works great and I can see the amazing flexibility of Macro Scheduler for other automation uses.

Mark Croom
Kinshipradio.org

Success Story: Automating Certificate Exports for a Bank

Thursday, July 24th, 2014 by Marcus Tettmar

My recent newsletter with the screen-cast of the old Windows 3.1 Macro Recorder prompted the following email from long time customer, Ian. In his email he reminisces about how he originally found and used Macro Scheduler to solve a thorny problem for his employer which had previously stumped Microsoft. It’s a good story so I thought I’d share:

Hi Marcus,

I wanted to take a moment to say thank you for the upgrade to Macro Scheduler you sent me this afternoon. I’ve installed it and had a look at the sample scripts – I think I’m going to have fun with the image stuff J

Since it’s been so long, I think I am now able (if you are not bored silly) to explain how I used Macro Scheduler to save the bank a bucket of money…

I joined [large well known international banking group - name removed] as a ‘technical discovery analyst’ in the XP roll out project. No one ever explained exactly what my job was, but it turned out to be ‘sh!t catcher’ – anything that couldn’t be sorted elsewhere ended up on my desk and I had to find a fix (often in less than a day!).

The bank used a well known credit checking agency to do credit checks. In those days [well known credit checking agency] used Security Certificates in Internet Explorer to track billing data – each cert was a unique valuable entity, and we had two options; export them from the machines prior to switching them out, or reissue 10,000 certs! This is the task that Microsoft came in to do (they left about a month before I joined). The problem was that the certs are designed not to be exportable automatically, so that they cannot be programmatically stolen. And so they arrived on my desk.

Since I knew that I had to get a lot of people to run through a complex export procedure (much clicking and saving in the right place), I thought back to the Macro Recorder in Win 3.1. I knew that it wasn’t in NT or 2000 (which was in use at the time) and a quick Google brought me to your site. I popped downstairs to ask my boss for a hundred pounds for a proof of concept (!) and she gave me her bank credit card :-) .

Once I had the software installed on my workstation I began to hack through the samples and the manual. By the end of the first day I had a pretty good idea of what I had to do, and at close of play on the next day I had successfully exported and reimported certificates. I was able to go back downstairs and say that I had a viable solution. Much Brownie Points for that conversation!

The export script had 19 versions by the end, and the import one had 11 (the users ran the export first, then the import on their new machine). I’ll attach the last version so you can wince at my cludgy code!

I also wrote a script to find out how much file data was on local machines since it was going to be dumped onto FP servers. That one’s an even bigger bowl of spaghetti code J

Anyway, I’m sure that’s enough for now! Thanks again and I’ll continue to spread the word about Macro Scheduler.

Take care, Ian

Use Case Testimonial: Automating Insurance Policy Cancellations

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014 by Marcus Tettmar

Forum user PaulSR just added this note to our long running thread Tell us how Macro Scheduler helps you, what you use it for in the forums.

We have this week gone live with a Macro Scheduler macro which allows a streamlined, accurate and timeous cancellation process to run within an insurance company. The macro collates data from a Citrix receiver application, opens and polls relevant websites for financial data then populates an Excel spreadsheet and executes some VBA macros there which allow some processing and presentation of a breakdown of figures for customers wishing to cancel a policy. The data is then returned to Macro Scheduler and it performs all the operations necessary to cancel the policy should that be the customers wish.

This was previously performed by multiple personnel as the initial agent was not skilled enough to provide the customer with accurate data at first point of contact but now that is no longer the case. I have been blown away by how empowering Macro Scheduler has been in allowing me to create something which met and exceeded the business requirements.

The macro is now in use on approximately 200 PCs and so far (3 days in) we’ve had no problems with it whatsoever.

We love hearing success stories like that. If you’ve got a story to share please post it to the thread.

Case Study: Macro Scheduler Bridges Technologies for NHS Hospital

Monday, March 5th, 2012 by Marcus Tettmar

Update 10th May 2012: The final, branded, PDF version of this case study can be seen here.

Really pleased to share with you the following Macro Scheduler case study which was signed off last week. We’re currently polishing it up for publication on the website but in the mean time here it is:

Macro Scheduler Bridges Technologies for NHS Hospital

“We’re part of an NHS Trust and have a responsibility to be conscientious with our resources,” says Jonathan Goss, Senior IT Project Manager at the Royal Bournemouth Hospital. “A never-ending cycle of working with multiple vendors, purchasing additional modules, and burning through consulting hours to arrive at a solution is not an option.”

The Royal Bournemouth Hospital – one of two hospitals serving over half a million residents in Bournemouth and Christchurch – is a Foundation Trust in the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) . As part of an initiative that has been underway since 2007 to streamline administrative processes, the Trust has adopted an Enterprise Content Management (ECM) System to help facilitate their goals of reducing paper printing and storage, and improving management efficiency, among other things.

The ECM system is being implemented within multiple departments, from Human Resources and Finance to clinical departments and beyond, and is required to interface with a variety of systems already in place. To further complicate matters, it needed to route data to the Electronic Staff Record (ESR), a centralised system in use by all NHS organisations . Although the ECM system recently adopted by the Trust is flexible and has integrated well with many of the hospital’s legacy applications, interface gaps started presenting themselves.

Finding a new way to solve old technology problems

“We turned to our suppliers first and found that it was going to be too expensive and time-consuming just to get proof that they could create an interface for us,” says Jon. He has been a part of the IT department at Royal Bournemouth for 4 years and knew they had to find a different way.

Faced with what Jon and his team thought were only two options: continue using manual processes to bridge the gaps, which is precisely what they are working toward minimising; or work with multiple vendors in what was sure to be a lengthy and expensive process they had already determined wasn’t appropriate, a third option emerged when someone recommended they look to automation for a solution.

Software automation paves the way

Software Automation, quickly gaining popularity by solving integration problems in many industries including healthcare, is a technique that works by manipulating the user interface and simulating user input, to efficiently and cost-effectively automate various tasks that were once performed manually. This avoids expensive and time consuming software customization and solves problems where traditional interfaces don’t exist. After determining a well-known automation vendor in the healthcare industry was out of their budget, Jon turned to Google to see what else was out there.

“I found Macro Scheduler and, after reading the customer reviews on the website, became interested in hearing more. After a couple of screen sharing meetings and conference calls, I was comfortable that we had found our solution and MJT would deliver,” says Jon.

Macro Scheduler builds technology bridges for a fraction of the price

The first gap to be bridged was in the GU Medicine Department. Paper files were being digitised and stored in the new ECM system successfully, but they also needed a way to get patient data from those digital files into the department’s existing clinical management system.

“Each patient who attends the clinic is given a diagnosis code that then needs to be entered into the department’s clinical management system,” Jon explains. “The old way was for someone to look at each paper file and manually enter the code into the system. Now that the files would be digitised and stored in the ECM system, we needed a way to make the ECM system talk to our clinical management system and share that data.”

They had approached the clinical management systems’ vendor for help with the interface and determined it would be too expensive for them to do. That’s when they called in MJT Net’s President, Marcus Tettmar, to help them build a proof of concept that would automate the process with Macro Scheduler that could potentially build the first bridge.

Using Macro Scheduler, Tettmar was able to automate the manual file and system updates, that could ultimately result in about a 20-hour weekly time savings, a massive amount for a busy reception team. This would allow for more time spent with patients and responding to clinical inquiries.

Extending automation to the National ESR System

Impressed with the power of Macro Scheduler and the speed with which it can be deployed, Jon and his team worked with MJT Net to run a series of test cases in other departments while the automation proof of concept was underway in the GU department.

Their first proof of concept was in the Human Resources Department, where previous evaluations of interfacing applications had resulted in bids outside their budget.

“We needed to send employee appraisal data to the NHS central system, ESR (Electronic Staff Record), and had been told that making those systems interface was going to be costly and time-consuming.” Sending data manually for 4,500 staff members could equate to about 5 work weeks annually.

“In about half a day with Macro Scheduler, we had the system taking employee appraisal dates from our in-house system and feeding them directly into the ESR to prove we could do it,” Jon explains.

Automating invoices frees up 2-3 days a month for accounting

Next, they moved to accounting, where today there is a live Macro Scheduler script being used to automate the production of invoicing to a particular sub set of suppliers.

“Accounts Receivable sends out about 200 supplier invoices each month to a particular sub set of suppliers, which has historically been a 2-3 day process of creating individual invoices by manually typing information into our financial system,” Jon explains. “We wrote a script in just over one day with Macro Scheduler that reads an Access database, pulls invoice data and creates a batch within our financial system.”

Doing so has freed up the staff member from the monotony of data entry 2-3 days each month, or 20+ days annually, to focus on more high value tasks.

Harnessing the power of automation to create more technology bridges

As they move forward, Jon and his team have plans to expand their use of Macro Scheduler across other parts of the hospital.

“We’re already using Macro Scheduler to populate day-to-day systems, and we will likely use it to build a bridge between our in-house systems and the ESR” he says.


There’s more on using Macro Scheduler in Healthcare settings right here.

Automated Truck Tracking

Tuesday, December 21st, 2010 by Marcus Tettmar

The following was just posted over in the “Tell us how Macro Scheduler helps you, what you use it for.” forum thread:

We currently use it for two primary applications. One is to pull returning truck information out of a fleet management dispatch application for a produce brokerage company and dumping that information into a webpage for remote salespeople to use to find out where available empty trucks are located.

Secondly we use it to track trucks by integrating our dispatch application with google latitude. This automates what is called the Check Call process where a trucker would normally have to be contacted by phone. Now the script simply queries their latitude information and plugs that information into our dispatching application.

How do you benefit from using Macro Scheduler?

Success Story: MacroScript SDK bridges healthcare system boundaries

Thursday, September 23rd, 2010 by Marcus Tettmar

Are you a developer? Did you know that with our MacroScript SDK you can add the ability to run Macro Scheduler code right from within your own applications? The SDK lets you run Macro Scheduler scripts and code, as well as query Macro Scheduler script variables during code execution. The SDK gives you a more seamless way to run Macro Scheduler code and use Macro Scheduler capabilities within your own applications.

Steen Jakobsen of DM Software recently integrated the SDK into their Dialog Manager software. He kindly agreed to a case study.

Macro Scheduler made it very easy to integrate the SDK. The input parameters for the scripts are completely integrated and direct, and secure and reliable data transfer is being accomplished – all thanks to the brilliant architecture of the MacroScript SDK. …. We’ve saved the doctors and nurses enormous amounts of time, and at the same time, added very valuable and sophisticated calculation and decision support across five systems that otherwise have no link to one another. This can only be done with the unique Windows automation capabilities of Macro Scheduler combined with the tight integration with Dialog Manager.

Steen Jakobsen, DM Software

Read the Case Study here.

Success Story: Automated Information Retrieval and Report Production

Monday, July 5th, 2010 by Marcus Tettmar

This was posted to the forum recently and I thought I would share:

I’m currently using [Macro Scheduler] to pull aviation electronic manufacturing information from a SAP database, compile into a MS Access database, then generate a report such that the data becomes useful information needed to identify and prioritize manufacturing tasks and processes across a diverse profile of complex systems being manufactured.

Had to spend hour+ (heavy on the +) every day spread out throughout an entire shift getting this information manually. Often, due to the length of time to acquire the info, the information would be derived too late in the shift to make good use of it. Lost opportunities and manufacturing delays galore.

The information can now be gleaned by anyone within minutes. The entire department is empowered to work smarter through making use of accurate real-time visual status information. Status is no longer hidden or obscure to visualize.

I was able to understand and adapt to the very easy to use Macro Scheduler structure with little frustration. I found that things I tried actually worked as anticipated and worked far more reliably than I dared hope for. When stuck, I found EXACTLY what information I needed in your forums. In fact, I ecstatically found differing superior methods in other areas of interest while searching for these solutions.

I haven’t had this much fun in decades. I want to thank the crew @ mjtnet and the users of Macro Scheduler for the efforts that brought enlightenment to me of a better way to do things.

Share YOUR story – what do you use Macro Scheduler for and how does it benefit you?

eDocfile: Automated Optical Technology Supports World’s Second-Largest Medical Vaccine Trial

Tuesday, November 10th, 2009 by Marcus Tettmar

By Keith Passaur, president and owner, eDocfile, Inc., Valrico, Florida

eDocfile is a consulting firm that specializes in creating image-capture programs to increase our clients’ productivity. Over the past seven years, we’ve used Macro Scheduler in virtually every project we take on, so we don’t have to “recreate the wheel” each time we need to provide the same automation steps.

In early 2009, we were contracted by a consulting firm in The Netherlands for a small programming project. A few weeks later, they contacted us again—this time with something much larger and much more challenging in mind. Their client, a Dutch hospital, needed automation assistance to support a very large, multi-site medical vaccine trial—it would, in fact, be the second-largest project of its kind ever, involving 85,000 patients. In all, 340,000 documents—or 4,000 documents each day—would have to be scanned with Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology for automated filing. File by OCR, one of the products we offer, had already been purchased. File by OCR works with searchable pdf or tiff files to automatically perform OCR and extract text. The extracted text is parsed and used to rename and relocate the file to build a file folder hierarchy.

The consultants asked us to modify File by OCR so the hospital’s vaccine-trial files could be named based on index information (patient number, center number, and document type).

Scanning Forms for Faxing, OCR Filing

To make sure the customized program would work as intended for the clinical staff, it was important that we completely understood how the data would be collected, transmitted, and entered into the program. Since OCR would read data from a pre-printed form that could not be altered (such as by adding a barcode), we requested original copies.

We received a six-page tri-fold form that each patient would complete. On the third page, a distinct vertical number, readable by OCR, contained the patient number and center number where the form was generated. We were told the completed forms would be scanned at each remote center in a duplex manner, creating a two-page tiff file for sending to the hospital. There, the scanned image would be separated into six individual pages and the vertical number extracted for filing. The file would then be re-assembled into a five-page pdf (page 6 of the form was blank) for automatic filing. All processing of documents would be done in a batch process after scanning, freeing the users to move on to other tasks while the OCR process was underway.

Seeing the forms and understanding the procedure, we were able to modify File by OCR so the incoming documents could be stored in a logical file folder hierarchy, separated by center. Because they would be kept in a completely non-proprietary format, the documents could be imported into any database and a hyperlink assigned for retrieval.

Macro Scheduler Speeds Filing, Data Verification

Because each document would be read with OCR and filed using the same steps, we used Macro Scheduler to automate initiating the file command lines. Macro Scheduler allows us to use regular expressions to parse text and automate the moving and renaming of files. Once the steps are put together in the script, they can easily be modified for use in other programs to automate similar actions.

Each center had been assigned a certain range of patient numbers, so to check for missing or misfiled documents we created a macro that compared the list of assigned numbers for that center to patient numbers to validate the OCR. Also, since all files must be accounted for, a macro was created to extract the patient number, center number, and the trial stage from an Excel spreadsheet for validation.

Catching OCR Errors

Because OCR is not 100% accurate, we wrote scripts that would test and retest the data captured for any errors. The net result is 1 error per 1,000 scanned images. Those with errors must be processed manually.

The Dutch consultants installed our Macro Scheduler-enhanced program in fall 2009, and the complete process was validated by an external auditing company.

The hospital is processing 1,300 documents and more than 2,600 faxes daily. Users manually process the three or four fails each day with the manual processing tools built into the software.

We think this is a great example of how Macro Scheduler can be used to automate several repetitive steps in an environment where everything must be executed flawlessly, with redundant cross-checking and seamless integration.

The Dutch consultants were pleased, and, in fact, they’ve said they’ll be calling us again very soon, perhaps with something even bigger in mind….

Keith Passaur can be reached at info@edocfile.com, 813-413-5599

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