My Favorite Features of 2014

It's the new year and time to reflect on the previous. This week, several of us at Escape will highlight some of the major events of 2014. I will point out some of my favorite features. Terri will look back at webinars. Jennifer (JenE) will review the changes in our release process. And others will chime in with achievements from their prospective areas. Plus, there will be a surprise author. Stay tuned!

Every Friday, I get to tell you about my favorite features. There are so many that even after 5 years, I still have a list as long as my arm. I love writing that blog every week. It reminds me of the good work we do. How important school business is. How the big things matter. How the little things matter.

Today, I get to reflect on my favorite features released in 2014. Some of them are for Finance. Some are for HR/Payroll. And, one is for System Managers. Some of them are very little. Some of them are very big. They all matter.

Top 5 Finance Features of 2014

Recurring Invoices

InvoicesThis was so cool (14.03)! This feature allows you to create invoices for an entire year with the click of a button. For example, say you have a list of 134 retirees that are billed for health and welfare every month. Click the Create Recurring Invoices task and Escape Online automatically creates an invoice for each retiree for each month for the rest of the fiscal year. Amazing!

But, say the price changes in February. The Change Status to Cancelled tasks can be used to cancel March through June. Then, all you have to do is fix February and select the Create Recurring Invoices task again. Amazing!

Searching Blank Components

SearchingI am always searching for accounts (14.03). I need to have a good selection for screen captures, report samples and such. I know customers search a lot, too. So this isn't just for me! Now, you can enter a dash (-) in a component on a search and you will get back blank components.

For example, say I only want a list of accounts where the project year is blank. All I have to do is enter the fund, resource and object and a dash for the project year, and I will get a list of accounts that match those funds, resources and objects but have a blank project year. I love searching for accounts now.

Stop JEs from Posting Against Cash

CashTimeHey, when you don't have cash, you don't have cash (14.01). Yes, you could say that we always had this feature, but now it is more powerful. Escape Online has the capability to look at the effect on cash and stop only those journal entries that are really problematic for your accounting workflow. The choices are any cash, fund cash, overall cash, resource cash and SACS cash. What a great way to keep a hand on your district's wallet!

Merging Components

MergingHere's a favorite from year end (14.02), making the summer oh so sunny. SACS keeps changing its mind, kind of like my kids with their birthday wish lists. Here you are, already purchased something, and now it is all different.

Talking about my kids? Nope. Talking about SACS. Escape Online now merges components, keeps account links, making all that changing of the mind a small nuisance, not a big headache. All you have to do is go into the component and enter the old and the new and roll forward to the new year. Boom. Change made. Boom. History saved.

User Report (System02)

CatsReally (14.03)? Yes, really. This is for all those system managers out there that are wrangling hundreds of users. Yes, it's like herding cats. There are so many variations on a theme. This completely revamped report lets you search by those variations. As soon as I got my hands on it, I starting using it and loving it.

HR/Payroll

Securing Access and Editability of SSNs

SSNThis is near and dear to my heart (14.03). I love the precise control we now have for access to SSNs. With all of the scary news of 2014, restricting access to social security numbers to only those that absolutely need to know is smart. I like smart!

Employee Alerts and Notifications

StopSignIf you are a regular reader of the Friday Feature, you know how much I love efficiency and how much I love relying on technology to keep me on track (14.03). This feature is exactly that and more.

Now if you have an employee with a short term garnishment, you can set up an alert. Every time you attempt to adjust their pay, you will be reminded. When the garnishment is complete, the alert stops. It's a work of art.

Show Tabs Task for Employees

lightningFor me, this is really the "hide tabs" feature (14.02). I think it is fantastic that all of an employee's information is available from one record, but the majority of the time, I am not looking at all of an employee's information, just an assignment or maybe only contributions and deductions. Using the Show Tabs task, I can move through a list of employees faster than greased lightning!

ACA Updates

pic_news_ACAlogoSo, this isn't really a feature, per se (all year!). It is a lot of changes to forms, lists and reports. The reason this make my list is because I feel like Escape Online has been ahead of the game in helping our customers comply with this complex new law. I like how we are all working together: support, developers, customers, and consultants.

I like how we are using current practices to inform new practices, minimizing setup and creating user-friendly reports. We even added fields when they were optional (2013) because we're like that, thinking ahead.

Improved Pay Retros

RetrosI was so glad to hear school funding was restored (14.01). I cheered when I heard that those who lost pay or had pay frozen were going to be compensated through retros. I love it when people who stick it out when times are tough get rewarded. So, this is the final favorite of my list of favorites.

The improvements we made to the Retro Payroll activity. We added the ability to include addons, exclude addons, include assignments and exclude assignments. We updated the list to be a direct editor, letting you work that list like a pro, getting those hard working employees the reward they so deserve!

And that's it for 2014. Now, I can look ahead to 2015 with emailing purchasing orders and more ACA changes on the horizon. It is going to be a bright year.