System Management and Adminstration

Enterprise Features

The features that allow multiple system users to share data and collaborate are called the Enterprise features. The prime mechanism for data sharing between users is a set of shared data files. These data files are stored in the Enterprise Data File Folder. The users that are authorized to share the data files are called a P3Enterprise User Group, and these people can be found on the Enterprise User List.

Enterprise Data File Folder - This is where all the shared data files and group settings are stored. It can be located on a server on a local area network or on a data server hosted by P3Software. The latter option is called the NetPlus service. Either way the Enterprise features work the same way.

Shared Data Files:

  • Jobs
  • Projects
  • Templates
  • Customers
  • Suppliers
  • Items
  • Enterprise Settings
  • Job Numbering
  • User Settings Back Up Files
  • Enterprise Report Logo Files

Enterprise User List - This list both authorizes the users that may access the shared data files through the P3 system and it stores information on the rights those users have within the Enterprise User Group.

File Locking - In an uncontrolled network where several users have access to shared information, it is possible for one user to inadvertently corrupt the work of another user. The P3 system uses file locks to coordinate access to the jobs in the Enterprise Data folder and prevent un-synchronized file updating. The File Locks area discusses this in greater detail.

Multi-Platform Enterprises - P3Software products are completely cross-platform compatible for Windows and Mac OSX (Linux too). Multiple PCs and/or Macs running P3Expeditor can utilize the same shared Enterprise Data File Folder. Regardless of their operating system, users can view other users jobs and to cooperate with each other in the job flow process.

Job Ownership - Under the P3Software Enterprise system, every production job has a unique "Job Owner" assigned to it. This starts out as the person that started the job. This ownership can, however, be transferred to other users in the Enterprise User Group. When a user opens the Job List, the list starts out showing only Active jobs owned by the user.

Creating and Accessing Shared Folders

Enterprise Data File Folder

P3Expeditor NetPlus - Under the P3Expeditor NetPlus System, the shared data files are stored on a P3Software NetPlus Server. In this case the data folder is set up on the server by P3Software support personnel. The information for the NetPlus folder is stored separately from the user's Enterprise Data File Folder, which is generally ignored under the NetPlus system.

Since most customers are now on the NetPlus Cloud Storage System, the following information on the Enterprise Folder is only for legacy customers. However, for users that are not using NetPlus Cloud Storage but are instead using the Enterprise multi-user mode P3Expeditor, most data files are stored in the Enterprise Data File Folder. This folder is simply a file storage location accessible to all users in the Enterprise User Group. All users that need access to the data must have "read and write" access to the Enterprise Data File Folder.

Creating a Shared Folder

There are several possibilities for creating a shared network folder for use by a computer running P3Expeditor. A file server on a corporate network may be used or a shared folder on one of the end user computers on the network. The P3Expeditor data takes up relatively little space. Allocating 10-100 Mb of hard disk space is usually more than enough space.

Requirements

  • All Users MUST be able to read write and delete files in the Enterprise Data File Folder.
  • 10-100 Mb of disk space should be allocated for P3Expeditor's data files.
  • The folder should be backed up daily or be part of a RAID storage system.
  • Certain low cost network storage devices with poor file access speed can create very poor performance issues.

Network File Servers On many corporate networks users have access to common storage areas on file servers. In the simple case you just need to create a new folder in the common storage area and everyone can access it. However, in many cases the shared folder may need to be set up by a network administrator. Your network administrator may also be able to set up an automatic drive mapping that will connect you to the folder more conveniently.

Sharing a Windows Folder

  1. A shared folder can be created on a Windows PC by creating a new file folder.
  2. After the folder is created open the properties dialog for the folder.
  3. Go to the "sharing" tab.
  4. Check the "Share this folder on the network" box.
  5. Also check the "Allow network users to change my files".
  6. Click the "OK" button to save the changes and close the properties dialog.

Sharing a Mac Folder

  1. Use finder to navigate to the folder you want to share with others.
  2. Highlight the folder.
  3. Select the "File" menu, "Get Info" selection, "Sharing" option.
  4. This will display the sharing information for the folder.
  5. Click the "Share this item and its contents" box and select the appropriate group or "everyone" depending on your local needs.
  6. Close the screen and the "Shared Folder" should be available over your network to the people you designated to share it with.

Connecting to the Enterprise Data File Folder

Each P3Expeditor user must configure their P3Expeditor settings to connect to the Enterprise Data File Folder. This is done through the "Enterprise" tabpane on the My Settings Window. On the Enterprise tab there is a field labeled "Data File Folder", which displays the the file path to the user's current Enterprise Data File Folder. To modify thie selected folder there is a "Select Data Folder" button. This button will launch a file/folder selector dialog through which a user can find and select an appropriate folder path.

When a new folder is selected P3Expeditor checks to see if the new folder already contains P3Expeditor Enterprise User Group information. If it does not, the user will be asked if they wish to start a new Enterprise Group. Otherwise, the user will be informed of the group's existance and name and asked if they want to join the group. Typically the answer is "yes". After that the user will be advised to restart P3Expeditor for the new settings to take effect.

Windows Tips Under the Windows operating system, it is convenient to create a mapped network drive pointing to the Enterprise Data File Folder or near it. How To Map a Shared Folder on Windows to a Drive Letter:

  1. Open your "Network Neighborhood" or "My Network Places".
  2. Navigate through the items there to find the shared folder.
  3. Select the folder.
  4. Right click on the folder and select "Map Network Drive".
  5. Select the drive letter you want associated with the shared folder. You may also want to check the Reconnect on Login.

Alternative method, If the "Map Network Drive" was not available when you right clicked

  1. Select the "Tools" menu and select "Map Network Drive".
  2. Select the drive letter you want associated with the shared folder. You may also want to check the Reconnect on Login.
  3. Click on the Browse button and navigate to and select the shared folder.
  4. Click on the Finish button.

Mac OSX Tips

  1. Under OSX, local area network servers are listed under "Volumes" not "network".
  2. A connection to the file server must be established before starting P3Expeditor. In most cases this is done automatically, but it may need to be done on certain networks.

Enterprise User List

Enterprise User List shown on the My Settings window

The Enterprise User List defines who can view and use the data files in an Enterprise Data File Folder. Further, it defines the types of functions each user may use and contains a set of shared settings and resources for all the users in the Enterprise.

The Enterprise User List is managed through the Enterprise Settings window, Enterprise tab. Users can be added, modified and deleted through this window. Once a user is on the list, their specific rights and information can be edited using the Enterprise User Details window.

Enterprise User Group

Enterprise User Group, is simply a term used to refer to the users listed on the Enterprise User List.

Enterprise User Records

In order to operate in a network environment, a user must be entered into the network user database. This can only be done by an Administrator user in My Settings. The Enterprise User List table on the Enterprise tab pane of the My Settings window shows the user records. It lists the user's Email Address, Name, Enterprise Role and software release version.

Enterprise Role

There are two Enterprise Roles a user may have: Administrators or User. Administrators have a couple special rights that are not available to regular Users. These functions deal with the overall settings and management of the Enterprise aspects of the P3 system. An Administrator user can:

  • Add/edit/delete Enterprise User records on the Enterprise User List.
  • Save Enterprise Messages for use by other users.
  • Save Enterprise Logo Files for use by other users.
  • Modify the Job Status List.
  • Modify the Project Status List.
  • Re-index the Job List.

Otherwise, the individual rights, restrictions and properties are the same between Administrators and regular Users.

Software Release Version

The software release version is checked and updated each time a user starts up P3Expeditor. This is a useful tool for Enterprise administrators to ensure all users are running the latest release.

Printing the Enterprise User List

The Print User List button (located at the top of the Enterprise User List) provides a convenient way to view the Enterprise records for all users in the Enterprise User Group. The report can be run as an HTML report or a spreadsheet .xls file.

Enterprise User Details Window

The Enterprise User Details window

Introduction

The Enterprise User Details window is divided into two sections. On the left side the "User Identification" and "Enterprise Data Access Rights" controls and on the right side 4 tab panes with "User Rights Details" for specific functions.

User Identification Data Fields

Email Address - Enterprise Users are primarily identified by their email address. When a user tries using the system to access the data in the Enterprise Data File Folder, their name will be checked against the Enterprise User List, to determine what access and rights they have. If a user is not on the list, they will be added to the list, with the most limited access rights possible. An administrator can later upgrade their rights at their discretion.

User Name - The User Name is another important piece of information. It is used in various places to idenntify the user in a clearer manner than using the just the email address.

Enterprise Role - This control can be set to either "Admin" or "User". It determines which users are Enterprise Administrators who can configure user rights and other enterprise settings.

Enterprise Data Access Controls

These four controls determine the level of access a user has to certain shared data resources:

There are three levels of access for the for these shared data files: Shared Administrator, Shared User and Local.

  • Shared Administrators have complete access and modify the shared data resources.
  • Shared Users Can refer to the data files and use them but may not modify the records. This is useful, for example, if you wish to limit the number of people that can add vendors to your supplier list, but want all users to have access to that list.
  • **Local Users **do not access the shared resource at all. Instead they use their own personal data files on their "Local" computer in the P3Expeditor Installation Folder.

User Rights Details

The rest of the user rights settings are listed on the four tab panes on the left side of the dialog. The tab panes are labeled: General, Sourcing/RFQs, Ordering/POs, Proposals/Invoices. The last three contain rights specific to those functions, while the General tabpane contains rights that pertain to the entire application. If you have questions or problems with the following options, please contact the P3 Support at support@p3software.com.

General Rights

  • Can Access the Aggregate Reporting System
  • Can DELETE Jobs, Projects, and RateCards
  • Job/Project Viewing: No Limits (Check box to add limits.)
  • Can See other non-admin users
  • Can Edit other User's Jobs & Projects
  • PREVENT online Login
  • Enable Rate Card Features

Sourcing/RFQs Rights

  • Can View Bids & Order Information
  • Can Select Suppliers
  • Can Send RFQs & Reminders
  • Can Enter/Edit Supplier Bids Manually

New Job Default Settings

  • Always request estimate number with response
  • Always request etimate valid until date with response
  • Always request production turnaround time with response
  • Turn Sealed Bidding on, off, or must use.

Ordering/POs Rights

  • Can Award Jobs
  • Can Send Purchase Orders / Work Orders
  • Can Access Job Cost Panel and Enter Data
  • Must Have A Purchase Order Number
  • Has A Limit On Spending
  • Maximum Order Value

Proposals/Invoices Rights

  • Show Project List
  • Can View Proposals and Invoices
  • Can Edit Proposals and Invoices
  • Can Send Proposals and Invoices
  • Use MarkUp Calculation Method
  • Use Margin Calculation Method
  • Can Change MarkUp/Margin Method on Jobs
  • Default MarkUp/Margin Percentage
  • Minimum MarkUp/Margin Percentage

Job Ownership

Purpose & Function

When operating the P3 system in Enterprise mode every print job record is assigned an owner. This concept of ownership is very important. It affects several areas of the the system:

  • Job List - When first opened the Job List displays only the jobs owned by the user, as these are the jobs that the user is most likely to be concerned with.
  • Reporting - Report results may be filtered for a specific owner or grouped by owner.
  • Editing Job Data - Only the job owner or users with special rights may modify job data through the Job Master window. Other users may view the job data but not modify it.
  • Sending Email Messages - Only the job owner may send email messages related to the job. This is an important restriction to prevent confusion concerning the origin of email messages.

Transferring Job Ownership

New Owner Selector window from the Job Master window / Job menu / "Change Owner" menu item

Job ownership can be reassigned or transferred from one user to another. The owner of a job or a person with access to all jobs can re-assign ownership to another Enterprise user. This is done on the Job Master window through the Job menu / "Change Owner" menu item. This function triggers a pop-up window for selecting the new owner from the list of users on the Enterprise User List. The pop-up window also displays the current owner of the job.

After the new owner is selected, the ownership transfer is made. At that time, the job ownership transfer is logged in the Job History record. And, the user is also prompted to send an email to the recipient of the transfer.

Bulk Ownership Transfers

It is easy to do a bulk ownership transfer for either projects or jobs. Simply highlight the jobs or projects that you wish to transfer within the Project List or Job List. Once the desired jobs are highlighted, simply go to the Jobs or Projects Menu and then click on Reassign Selected Projects or Reassign Selected Jobs. This will open a New Owner Selector window and you can select a new owner for the highlighted projects or jobs.

File Locks

Purpose & Function

In Enterprise mode, P3 uses a file locking mechanism to preserve the integrity of shared data files used by the system. The purpose of the system is protect your data from being modified by two users at the same time which will inevitably result in loss of one user's data.

Lock Types

The P3System employs locks on several types of files. These are all created in the Enterprise Data File Folder. The lock types are:

  • User Locks are created whenever a user starts up the system. The lock is removed when the user turns off the system.
  • Enterprise Settings Locks are created temporarily when a user starts the system to make sure they have access to the Enterprise Data File Folder. They are also created whenever the Enterprise settings are being modified. When the MySettings dialog is closed the lock is removed.
  • Supplier List Locks are created whenever records in the Supplier List are being modified. When the Supplier List is closed the lock is removed.
  • Customer List Locks are created whenever records in the Customer List are being modified. When the Customer List is closed the lock is removed.
  • Item List Locks are created whenever records in the Items List are being modified. When the Items List is closed the lock is removed.
  • Job Locks are created whenever a job is opened or edited from the Job List. It locks just that one Job record for as long as it is being edited. That is while the Job Master Dialog is open. The lock is removed when the job is saved and closed.
  • Project Locks are created whenever a the Project Manager Dialog is opened. It locks just that one project for as long as the Project is being edited. The lock is removed when the Project Manager Dialog is closed.

##File In-Use Information:

File In-Use Locks are an important data projection feature. They signal that a file is in use by someone. This prevents other users from modifying the data while the lock owner is editing the data.

The most common type of lock is the "User Lock" which is created when a user starts up the P3Expeditor system. This prevents other users modifying the user's settings information while they are using the P3Expeditor system. It also prevents a user from running two concurrent P3Expeditor sessions.

From time to time (for a variety of reasons) a file may be left in a locked state. The Current Locks list and Unlock button within the Enterprise Settings Window provide a way to release the files so they can be used once again.

You can click on the list to find out who has the file locked and you can see how long the file has been locked. If you can verify the file is no longer in use, you can safely remove the lock.

The Current "File-In-Use" Locks list can be refreshed at anytime using the Refresh button.

Unlocking Files Manually

From time to time a lock may be left in place mistakenly. Usually this is the result of a computer crash, forced Quit or application termination. To unlock a file that has been left in place in error, simply highlight it on the Current Locks list and then click the "Unlock" button just below the list. After confirming the removal, the lock will be gone and the Current Locks list will be refreshed. If you inadvertently delete a lock by mistake, do not worry. It is rare that users will try to open the same data object at the same time, so the risk of data loss is small. Just don't access the thing you unlocked until you are sure the other user has finished using the file.

Safe Mode Errors

Purpose & Function

From time to time the system will encounter a condition where it will go into "Safe Mode" (formerly "Restricted Mode"). There are a variety of circumstances where this occurs. Safe Mode allows you to remedy the cause of the problem, but prevents you from damaging valuable data.

Some of the common reasons for going into Safe Mode:

  1. Your user settings file is already locked when you start the system.
  2. Your user settings file cannot be locked when you start the system.
  3. You have changed your designated Enterprise Data File Folder.
  4. The system cannot access your designated Enterprise Data File Folder.

User Settings File Is Already Locked

This is the most common Safe Mode issue. The cause is that another user logged in with your credentials or that P3 was shut down improperly the last time you used it and your user lock was left in place (very likely). Improper shutdowns are caused by computer operating system crashes, power loss and use of the Task Manager to terminate ("Force Quit" on the Mac). When you receive the error message advising you about this condition you can select to "Override" the existing lock and proceed (problem solved!). Otherwise the system will go into Safe Mode until you remove the existing lock and restart.

Removing Stale User Account Locks:

  1. Go to the My Settings Dialog, Enterprise tabpane.
  2. Locate the lock for the user that is locked out on the "Current Locks" list (lower right of panel).
  3. Highlight the user's lock on the list and click the "Unlock" button.
  4. Click "OK" on the failsafe warning that pops up when you click "Unlock".
  5. Have the user restart.

User Settings File Cannot Be Locked

If your user settings file cannot be locked, P3Expeditor will go into Restricted Mode. The cause of this type of issue is almost always a file access rights issue on the local computer. Typically these problems can only be resolved by local IT Administrators within the user's organization. P3Software support can help identify the exact problem, but will need a local IT Administrator to resolve the issue.

Changed Enterprise Data File Folder

After you change your designated Enterprise Data File Folder the application must be restarted. A dialog will pop-up after the change is made advising the user that the P3 system is now in Safe Mode and that it needs to be restarted. To resolve this, simply exit out of the system and restart it. The new Enterprise Data File Folder will then take effect.

Cannot Access Enterprise Data File Folder

In rare circumstances, you may lose access to the Enterprise Data File Folder. In these cases, you will receive several "File Not Found" error messages, and the application will go into Safe Mode.

For lgacy Enterprise Users, this is usually due to a problem on the user's Local Area Network (LAN), and the problem needs to be addressed by the LAN Manager or IT Department. To verify that the issue is a LAN problem shut the application off and try to access the Enterprise Data File Folder using Windows Explorer or the Finder (on Mac OSX). If you can show the LAN Manager the issue outside the P3 system it is a big help. If you can access the correct folder, but the application cannot access it, contact P3Software Support for help diagnosing and resolving the issue.

If you are using the P3 cloud based version of NetPlus system, the problem could be anywhere on the Internet between your computer and our P3 system NetPlus Server. Possible causes include:

  • Your Proxy Server Settings in My Settings are no longer working.
  • The Local Area Network has lost its connection to the Internet.
  • Routing between your Internet Service Provider (ISP) and our data center has been disrupted.
  • The P3Software NetPlus Server is down. (This is highly unlikely as it is extremely rare)

You should contact P3Software support to help diagnose and resolve the problem.

New Enterprise Check List

These are some of the most common tasks in setting up P3Expeditor in a new organization. Very often setting up and customizing these features requires policy decisions in addition to the technical tasks. P3Support can help you identify what you need to customize to achieve your specific goals.

First, identify your system administrators. They should study the help pages related to the following Enterprise customization features.

  1. Setting up the Enterprise User List - Each user in the enterprise group will need to have certain rights and restrictions.
  2. Items List Configuration - The Items list can be configured to use terms specific to each customer organization.
  3. Cost Tracking Configuration - If you will be using P3Expeditor to track bills from your Suppliers, you will need to set up cost tracking categories.
  4. Standard Messages and Terms & Conditions - P3Expeditor has robust features that allow you to customize the standard email messages generated by the system as well as several places where Terms & Conditions can be customized.
  5. Logo Customization - You can customize the reports and emails generated by P3Expeditor with your company logo or other graphics.
  6. Customizing the Job Status list - Very often the Job Status list needs to be customized to reflect the specific work-flow of the customer organization.
  7. Customizing the Papers list - Many organizations have a proscribed set of paper brands they use this makes using them in specs easier.
  8. Customizing the Print and Inventory Type Fields - These fields appear on the Job Master window and can be used to classify your jobs. The fields can be relabeled and the selections on the selection lists can be customized.
  9. Customizing the Savings Type field - This options for the Savings type can be modified to suit your needs.
  10. Modify the labeling of Purchase Orders - Some organizations use terms other than "Purchase Order" so this label can be modified.

Job/Projects Viewing

Enterprise User Rights Editor with Jobs/Projects Vewing set as No limits

Within the Enterprise User Rights Editor window, an Enterprise Administrator can add limits on other users for job or project viewing. The default setting is that there are no limits as set by the checkbox being unchecked.

Enterprise User Rights Editor with Jobs/Projects Vewing set with limits

When the box is checked, the administrator can limit users to only viewing speciifc jobs of projects based on the jobs owners, customer, or account.