November 10, 2009

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

Filed under: Success Stories — Marcus Tettmar @ 3:52 pm

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 [email protected], 813-413-5599

August 23, 2007

Macro Scheduler Success Story – Convergent Solutions

Filed under: Success Stories — Marcus Tettmar @ 8:36 pm

By Ed Authier.

I used to consider Macro Scheduler just another tool to manage the technology that surrounded me everyday in my career. But at a certain point I realized that it was the best tool I had.

Many years ago a colleague introduced Macro Scheduler to me and in those days we used to supplement the Business System job streams that could not be automated inherently; nightly reports and routines, etc.

From there it evolved into complete elimination of printed reports; then through that automation we eliminated a nightly staff position from the IT team.

I then took Macro Scheduler into network engineering with me. Macro Scheduler would monitor router interfaces and call the on-staff person in the event of an outage. I also utilized it for VPN tunnel monitoring. In recent years, I’ve tied it into the clinical systems I have been working with.

There are so many possibilities with Macro Scheduler. I have read (in the forum) recently that Macro Scheduler is for the “layman” developer, but even with VBScripting you just cannot manage all your code and compile tight executables as you can with Macro Scheduler.

The other items that many people may overlook are the updates, enhancements, and fixes. Marcus and company are very commendable in this area. MJT Net also has an excellent response to support issues.

I am now a partner in my own business and I honestly believe that Macro Scheduler has had a hand in my success thus far.

Edward Authier, Chief Information Officer
Convergent Solutions, Inc.
http://www.convergentsolutions.com

November 13, 2006

Success Story – Advent Capital Management

Filed under: Success Stories — Marcus Tettmar @ 10:21 pm

By Ashley Henry.

My name is Ashley Henry; I’m a Network Admin at Advent Capital Management, which is a hedge fund managing billions of dollars. We deal nationally as well as internationally. There are several reports and processes that need to run several times per day; most of which require several redundant manual inputs. There’s never enough time in the day to complete most of the tasks the various departments need to get done. The challenge was to quickly and accurately transfer and print the data from various reports and processes to our trade system and with little or no manual intervention.

I’ve been using Macro Scheduler for about four months, Prior to using Macro Scheduler we attempted to print and enter these orders manually. This was very time consuming and error prone. It also cost more man hours than necessary. Since the Traders and Operations group are often interrupted by other phone calls and tasks, they would sometimes forget which report to run or when to run them.

Before coming to Macro Scheduler my programming / macro skills were minimal. I’ve primarily worked on the networking side of things. Since I had minimal experience in programming I thought that Macro Scheduler would be difficult to use, but I was pleasantly surprised. Marcus has been extremely helpful with some of the scripts that I couldn’t figure out. I’ve made hundreds of support calls to other companies and NONE has come close to the support that I’ve received from MJT. Thus far, I’ve saved the company at least 10 man hours per week and there’s so much more automating that needs to be done… Good job to Marcus for the wonderful product that he has produced.

May 19, 2006

Macro Scheduler Success Story – eDocFile, Inc.

Filed under: Success Stories — Marcus Tettmar @ 7:05 am

By Keith Passaur.

eDocFileThree years ago I started eDocFile, a company that specializes in image enabling applications. Before then I was a salesman working for a document imaging company and the products I sold were too complex and expensive for most users. During my training I learned about how years ago people wrote programs that pulled information from a user’s screen (screen scraping) and passed it onto other applications. I realized that if I could find an easy way to do this I could pull a unique piece of information from a users screen and use it to relate an image to the screen. This would allow the user to have an image enabled application.

Image Enabling an application is allowing images of documents to be retrieved from an application that contains data that relates to the documents. For instance, a user is in their accounting software application, they click on an icon or press hot keys and an image of the document appears on their screen that relates to the record in their accounting application. This is accomplished by screen scraping the application (capturing the data on the screen) and passing it on to a method of retrieving the document related to the screen data.

With Macro Scheduler I have been able to capture the screen and do all this. I cannot think of another product that would allow me to do this as easily. One product I developed for this determines what application the user is in, what screen they are on and what information needs to be gathered to scan an image or retrieve an image. Another program I developed works specifically with Loan Origination Software. It is called Scrape LOS.

After spending years testing other products, the National Association of Mortgage Brokers Strategic Alliance Committee approved Scrape LOS. The reasons were because of ease of use and price. Without Macro Scheduler this product could not have been developed and sold in the price range they were looking for. One client spent over eight thousand dollars on an application to scan and file loan documents. They dropped that product within six months and went with Scrape LOS. In a nutshell it is the old 80/20 rule. This application has eighty percent of the features at twenty percent of the price and twenty percent of the complexity.

Other products have also been developed with Macro Scheduler. The latest being one that productively routes faxes to email accounts, printers and folders based upon a set of rules. In its first week of release three copies of it were sold. I cannot say enough good things about Macro Scheduler as I am not a programmer, yet I can write these scripts that get the job done, quickly and economically.

Keith Passaur
President eDocFile, Inc.
www.edocfile.com

If you have a Macro Scheduler Success Story I’d love to hear from you. Drop me a line.

April 4, 2006

Macro Scheduler Success Story – Eastman Kodak

Filed under: Success Stories — Marcus Tettmar @ 7:21 am

By Bruce Davis.

KodakMy name is Bruce Davis. I am a Customer Relationship Manager at Eastman Kodak supporting our Electronics and Warehouse Club channels. My organization is responsible for managing a wide variety of styles of customer orders. Some of the orders come in through electronic methods and require little manual intervention. However, our high value equipment business orders cannot be sent electronically because they require so many manual overrides. The Kodak sales teams have much of the basic order data captured in spreadsheets. Other override information is a constant value across all orders for a sales deal. The lead time between our receiving the spreadsheets and when orders must be entered is usually short. The challenge was to quickly and accurately transfer the data from spreadsheet to our sales order system and to add the constant data to the orders.

We receive Excel spreadsheets from our sales team with hundreds of rows representing sales orders. The orders have similar patterns of the same catalog number, quantities, expected delivery dates, etc. for many different ship to addresses. We use Macro Scheduler to copy and paste the data from Excel into our order management system. There are many other overrides and text messages that have to be done on each order. We built a control macro that loops through several modular macros with a counter set to stop after the last row is entered.

Prior to using Macro Scheduler, we attempted to enter these orders manually. This was very time consuming and error prone. Since our order managers are often interrupted by other phone calls and tasks, they would sometimes forget which row of data they were working on or which overrides were done on a given order.

We have entered thousands of orders using Macro Scheduler. The tool can enter orders faster than a person, particularly when we have two computers running the macros. This frees up our order managers’ time so they can attend meetings, take calls and work on other tasks. More importantly, the orders are entered much more accurately than when done by a person. In many cases, we could not have met our shipping deadlines if we didn’t have the tool entering orders.

Over time we have learned to use the tool more wisely. Common steps done across different roll outs are built into re-usable modules. We only need to create or modify a few macros for each roll out. The rest of the steps are performed by having the control program run the common macros.

March 23, 2006

Macro Scheduler Success Story – Pacejet

Filed under: Success Stories — Marcus Tettmar @ 10:58 am

By Ron Lee.

Pacejet makes a Transportation Management (TMS) software suite that helps manufactures/distributors ship product via LTL, Truckload, Parcel, etc, and executes their warehouse pick-pack-ship as part of the process. Our software integrates with ERP systems so the customer has one end-to-end process flow in their business from customer to invoice.

One of the challenges we had with one customer was to benchmark our shipment planning performance for large blanket orders with their specific ERP. They would enter orders with 600-800 lines into the ERP system all at one particular time during the day – where most of the lines went to different ship-tos on different dates, etc. Our software would look at the orders and schedule all the shipments and then handle all the execution when the orders were ready to ship (wireless/RF, etc).

The technical issue was how to be able to “pound” multiple 800 line orders into the ERP system repeatedly to push a continuous wave of transactions at our software. That’s where Macro Scheduler came into play. I put together a relatively small set of macros to simulate the user’s data entry into the ERP’s order entry screen so we could validate our planning performance.

The input parameters on the orders could be varied enough to stress test different planning scenarios. With Macro Scheduler we also were able to drive the ERP application screens directly to make this as real-world a test as possible. And lastly, we didn’t have to spend a lot of time coding this as a more complex application.

The result was great for our planning performance, since we can plan orders almost faster than they can be entered into the ERP. But the result was also great for Macro Scheduler since we were able to use it to test out the scenario(s), make our customer comfortable with the result, and ensure we’re in a good spot with our product for the future.

Macro Scheduler is a great product. I appreciate all the flexibility in it. And the option to compile macros is awesome!

March 9, 2006

Macro Scheduler Success Story – ISBVI

Filed under: Success Stories,Uncategorized — Marcus Tettmar @ 6:48 am

By Jeff Frownfelter.

Background

My name is Jeff Frownfelter, and I am the Technology Coordinator for Indiana School for the Blind and Visually Impaired. I was employed here in 2003 for the purpose of deploying and supporting new technology for use by the students and faculty. I have worked in the IT field since 1985, supporting and managing within various types of organizations, including primarily Health Care and technology-related publications. My experience is balanced between technology and software development, although I started out as a hard-core programmer like many during the technology rush of the mid 80’s.

Established in 1847, The Indiana School for the Blind and Visually Impaired is accredited by state and national certifying organizations. The school, which has an enrollment of approximately 179 students, offers pre-school through high school programs and related services, free of charge on a residential or day school basis, to the young people of Indiana who are blind and visually impaired.

The school provides students with instruction in the same coursework required of all school-aged children in Indiana. Specialized classes include orientation and mobility, adaptive physical education, independent living skills, vocational education, music instruction, Braille and specially adapted computer technology. Also available are experiences and opportunities to participate in recreational activities, on and off campus jobs, band, chorus, piano, scouting, creative dance, and ham radio, as well as involvement in competitive speech, track and field, wrestling, cheerleading and swimming.

After graduation, students enter the work force or continue their education at colleges or technical schools. Graduates of ISBVI are involved in such careers as law, education, computer technology, business sales, manufacturing, supportive employment and health services.

The Challenge – Life Before Macro Scheduler

Software, networked computers, and other devices here must be accessible, suited for students with varying levels of vision and other conditions. Computers here are initially installed from an image, but they must quickly be customized to suit the special needs of individuals or groups in terms of software. Re-imaging to perform installs and updates does not work well here for that reason, as that type of process AND the wide ratio of support personnel to devices is too unmanageable and creates more disruption than what is simply accomplished through updates.

The challenge is that much of the specialized software used here does not support unattended / quiet / over-the-network installations. It was originally necessary to manually install the software at each workstation. This was a huge time burner of course.

The Solution – Life After Macro Scheduler

Using Macro Scheduler and its compiler, I have been able to produce scripts and executables that I can include OVER needy software installations. These executables are applied to the standard startup scripts, and they are able to execute without logging into the workstation. Some of these OVER-installs use Macro Scheduler’s robust scripting to go as far as validate a proper installation, re-stage a retry after reboot (if needed), and even enter the application after install in order to modify the defaults directly.

We are also using Macro Scheduler to help facilitate the transition of our email systems from Groupware to Microsoft Exchange. Scripts manage the changes that need to be made to the email profiles. We even have Macro Scheduler scripts which collect POP3 email, parse the emails, make changes to the headers and insert them into the new email system. These scripts are very powerful and extremely reliable and run without problems continuously for days on end.

The Benefits of Macro Scheduler

A good example of how Macro Scheduler makes a positive impact on time here … So many bridges that otherwise would have been difficult (or impossible) to build during a major deployment this past summer, involving numerous software updates / additions AND user assistance upon first-time use –- Within a few weeks, a temporary tech was able to complete the deployment on all of our workstations. Prior to the automation courtesy of Macro Scheduler, 2 extra months or sets of hands would have been necessary. Likewise, this possibly would have been the case when staff returned from summer break. Difficulties were anticipated to be far greater without Macro Scheduler. Processes and wizards created with Macro Scheduler helped many users self-start with email and other applications that were affected.

February 7, 2006

Macro Scheduler Success Story – EPA

Filed under: Success Stories,Uncategorized — Marcus Tettmar @ 9:38 pm

By Guy Tanzer

Environment Protection AgencyMy name is Guy Tanzer, and I live in the Raleigh area in North Carolina, USA. Nearby is the Research Triangle Park, with the highest concentration of IT people and jobs in the eastern United States. I’ve been working with computers since 1977 and been in the business since 1984.

In early 1997, I started a job as a computer-support contractor to the United States Environmental Protection Agency in the RTP. One of the first tasks our team tackled after my hiring was migrating our lab of 350 users to Windows 95. To speed the process, my managers wanted to automate all the application software installs down to “one-touch” processes, which we could pick off a menu. The other team members got Lotus 1-2-3, Freelance, Word Perfect, etc., and Netscape 3.01 Gold was handed to me.

Now, Lotus and Word Perfect products came with documentation on how to write scripts to do automated installs. With Netscape, all we got was the .EXE file, with no docs on how to automate the install. A search of Netscape’s website turned nothing up. A call to them revealed that they did indeed have a solution, and we could buy it for only US$10,000…..

Well, that went a mite over the contracting company’s budget for solving this problem, if you get my drift. I needed a product of some sort that could wait for a window to open and be able to click on buttons, fill in fields, and so forth – just as if a “ghost in the machine” were watching and running the process for me.

I searched high and low for several weeks and tried perhaps eight different products, with poor results, before by chance I found and tried Marcus Tettmar’s MACRO SCHEDULER, which had only just been released. It did the job, and fit the bill, as elegantly and reliably as any product I’d ever used on a computer. Since we were one of his very first customers, Mr. Tettmar generously let the EPA lab use it on all their machines for the cost of a single license – only US$40 at the time. In return, I pushed the envelope on Macro Scheduler and kept in touch with Mr. Tettmar, giving him tips and ideas.

I used Macro Scheduler for at least a dozen more software installs, combining it with DOS batch files and compiled Quick BASIC programs to give it an incredible degree of flexibility. (I’ve since left behind Quick BASIC – it doesn’t handle advanced file handling systems – but Liberty BASIC is very similar to QB and another very worthy software investment. I find Visual BASIC to be clumsy and poorly designed for the types of scripts and programs I write in comparison to Macro Scheduler and Liberty BASIC.)

ANY software install or process which doesn’t give you “hooks” into the process, or a way to script an automatic run, can be attacked and solved with Macro Scheduler – quickly and easily. As I said, it’s “the ghost in the machine” in a positive way. It can watch for a window to open, and react to it – filling in fields, clicking buttons, whatever is needed. All the commands are simple, self-evident and in English, without the clumsy VBA scripting commands like:

GoAroundYourAssToGetToYourElbowJustToPushADamnButton
("Cincinatti",13,X,,"The Larch",,,,-.2E33,,42)

The one real problem I ever ran into was very specialized, yet Mr. Tettmar addressed it quickly and reliably. The problem was with Microsoft (surprise!) Powerpoint Viewer installation. Usually one keeps track of progress in a procedure by keeping track of the title bar in each open window; most software installs have unique title bars for each window as it opens. With the Powerpoint Viewer install, three or four consecutive windows had the same title bar and Microsoft, of course, offered no way to automate the install themselves. I asked Mr. Tettmar if there was a way to check to see what text appeared INSIDE a window, since each step in the Powerpoint Viewer install had unique text inside the uniformly-titled windows. Within a week, he came up with the FindWindowWithText command which worked perfectly in every application I used it on – Word Viewer, Excel Viewer, and I don’t even remember what else.

The benefits of all of this? I saved a fortune for the EPA and my contracting company. I saved boatloads of time working with a simple scripting language that is actually written in something extremely close to English, doesn’t have complex syntactical demands, and works like a charm. Mr. Tettmar has stayed with the product for nine years now; he isn’t a fly-by-night operator. He’s a good man, friendly, willing to help with obscure issues and find fixes for them. We’ve been email friends as long as I’ve been his customer. If I ever make it to “that side of the pond”, I’m buying the fish, chips and brew.
_________________
Thanks Guy. I’ll hold you to that offer!

If you have a Macro Scheduler Success Story I’d love to hear it. Drop us a line.

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