Monthly eBulletin

The eBulletin is BCC Software's monthly e-mail newsletter, discussing the most up-to-date product release information, industry events and tradeshows, and other postal industry topics.

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How is your TrayMate Holding Up?

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With the new year here and in full swing, it may be time to check your old TrayMate to see if it’s time for an upgrade. Ethernet and Windows 10 compatible, the TrayMate 4 is ideal for any space-conscious mailroom by allowing multiple connections.

With the ability to efficiently print tags using thermal technology, the days of buying ribbon and ink cartridges are gone, and with fan-folded stock* from BCC Software, you can also say goodbye to shuffling multiple pages of tags around the mailroom, saving you money in the long run.

TrayMate 4 is a convenient option designed to the same exacting standards as all of BCC Software’s solutions, and delivers the optimal performance and dependability that professional mailers need.

The print head is accessible for easy maintenance to use with the free cleaning kit, and our Customer Support team is available to help you along the way. If you need a tag printer, or are looking to upgrade from a previous TrayMate, call your sales representative at 800.337.0442 or order your TrayMate 4 through the BCC Software Customer Portal.

*Fan-folded stock available for an additional fee

 

 

 

Automating Your Workflow Part 2: TaskMaster Configuration Files

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In continuation of the discussion of TaskMaster™, the comprehensive automation tool for BCC Mail Manager™, this article will focus on configuration files. Configuration files allow more complex set ups than are readily available only within the script. There are three mail files – the Destination Settings file, the Batch file, and the Manifest file. All three have a basic version that works with BCC Mail Manager, and an advanced version for use with BCC Mail Manager Full Service™. Most of these files are formatted similar to TaskMaster scripts with a value in square brackets used to identify each setting or batch, and then a serial of commands, or setup instructions, to customize that group or record.

Destination Files

There are two different destination files. A basic one, just called DESTS, resides in the presort tables folder. This is the odd man out in terms of format as this file has one line for each facility for the program to consider when sorting. Each line has a single letter for Facility Type followed by 3-5 digits for the facility zip which it must be enabled by the presort task. The other version is the Destination Settings file is an .INI file that must be placed in \Settings\Presort\Destination.

  • This is a fairly simple file that lists out all the destinations you are considering for this sort.
  • The DESTINATIONSETTINGS command should be set equal to the name of the .INI file for destination settings.
  • To keep everything in order, this file has the entry number in brackets. The available commands are then used to specify details of the destination, like FACILITY, which is set equal to an alphanumeric code for each facility. Usually, three letters and three numbers for the facility type and 3-5-digit zip.
  • There is also the ability to set individual thresholds or create headings to remove a facility from consideration for a particular job.
  • This powerful file allows the user to customize and modify destinations for a job from outside the GUI, and to set customer configurations for specific jobs or batches.
  • The .INI file is only available in BCC Mail Manager Full Service and allows more customization between and within jobs.
  • With the Destination file, the list of destinations must be updated manually between jobs or runs.

Batch Files

The Batch file allows users to utilize batching more dynamically with the ability to set up batches with more variable information.

  • The default version of this file is Batch.ini in the presort tables folder. Instead of tasks between the square brackets here, use the batch code followed by presort commands.
  • One code or section for each batch allows us to modify settings like entry zip, permit, and other settings that might need to change between batches.
  • This saves quite a bit of time over manually modifying saved presorts or doing multiple sorts.
  • However, it does not allow you to set up customer batching for each job. There is only one Batch.ini file within BCC Mail Manager, so if a new batch is added or an old one is modified, it must be manually adjusted.
  • Almost every presort-specific command is available in the Batch.ini to be modified on a batch-by -batch basis.
  • When a batch sort is performed, this file will be checked against the batch codes for each part of the job. If a match is found, the default settings are modified to include any changes presented in Batch.ini.
  • In BCC Mail Manager Full Service, there is the additional option of creating individual .INI files named for individual jobs. This means you could have multiple batches with the same name across multiple files without causing any issues. As long as you reference the correct batch file to use in your script, the correct settings will be used.

Manifest Files

Now for Manifest files. Manifest.ini is for controlling your manifesting settings. It also resides in the presort tables folder and is formatted much like the Batch.ini.

  • Between the square brackets, there must be a code that matches to the variable piece expression being used in the presort.
  • Under each heading, the user can plug in presort commands to set things like the piece weight and thickness. This, again, must be changed for each job lest we encounter overlap and accidentally apply the wrong settings to the wrong group of records.
  • The BCC Mail Manager Full Service equivalent resides in \Settings\Presort\Manifest\ and, just like the batch files, offers a higher level of customization. The files in these folders should each have a unique name and must be directly referenced in the presort task to make sure the correct settings are applied.
  • After a search for matching codes, any matches are then modified before the sort is final, allowing the user to group them together and then apply the needed settings and changes.

These three files are invaluable tools when it comes to taking full advantage of automation with TaskMaster. All three are available within BCC Mail Manager to some degree, and are greatly expanded upon in BCC Mail Manager Full Service. In both cases, you can further customize settings to make sure they match to the appropriately for processing.

As always please reach out to BCC Software’s Customer Support with any questions at 800.624.5234.

 

Top Social Posts for December

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If you’re not following us on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn, you’re missing out on news and information about BCC Software and important, real-time industry news. Here are the three most popular posts from December:

  • “Learn how to leverage industry changes into growing your business and improving the value of your direct communications.” Top Three Industry Prophecies for 2018. https://buff.ly/2ByQHSZ
  • “Direct mail customer response rates increased year-over-year by 43 percent and prospect response rates increased year-over-year by 190 percent.” Creative Direct Mail for 2018 https://buff.ly/2C0SPm6

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If you or your company has interesting news or educational content you think we should consider sharing with our audience, we’d love to hear from you at marketing@bccsoftware.com.

Understanding Document Accessibility

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This is a guest article from Crawford Technologies, a valued BCC Software partner. 

When you think of accessibility, it’s often in the context of physical access, like providing ramps, elevators, and other accommodations to ensure that people with physical disabilities don’t face discrimination.

But what about accessibility when it comes to documents? All consumers receive invoices, statements, explanations of benefits, and other documents either via mail or electronically that are important to financial and physical well-being. For the population of individuals who are blind, partially sighted or have cognitive disabilities, it can be difficult or even impossible to read and understand these documents. That’s why disability legislation encompasses accessible documents, and requires that companies offer formats such as braille, large print, audio, e-Text, Accessible PDF, and Accessible HTML.

Document accessibility and regulatory compliance

Laws in the United States and in other jurisdictions supporting individuals with visual disabilities have been around for some time, but are now being increasingly enforced. Regulations such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Sections 504 and 508 in the United States, including the recent Section 508 refresh, and other global guidelines mandate that companies offer documents in accessible format. And it’s risky to not be in compliance, since businesses can potentially face financial ramifications.  

Different approaches for different documents

When considering how to implement an accessible documents strategy, a good first step is to consider the type of business communication documents your organization deals with. They can typically be categorized as:

  • Transactional documents, such as monthly bills, invoices, account statements and trade confirmations that are cyclical in nature and made available to clients on an event-driven or periodic basis (i.e., monthly, quarterly, or annually). Content is unique to each client, is highly structured in its format, and is confidential in nature.
  • Static documents containing content that is the same for all recipients. One identical copy can be made available to all and contains no personalized data related to the consumer. These notices, general information circulars, service or product explanations and brochures, are intended for mass distribution and wide availability.

Not only do different document types often require different approaches, but unlike traditional print, consumers have varying preferences for accessible documents. One individual may require braille, while someone else needs large print, with yet another person requesting an electronic format like Accessible HTML. So, when you offer accessible documents, it’s unlikely that a single format will work for all your customers.

The mix of documents your organization regularly sends, and understanding who your customers are will impact what you’ll need to do in terms of resources, planning, and cost. For example, personalized transactional documents can present a much greater challenge than static documents when it comes to making them accessible.

Developing a strategy

Until recently, the only way to create accessible documents was by converting standard documents into an accessible format using a manual process that involved adding tags and other accessibility features to a document to make it readable by assistive technologies. This, of course, is time consuming and expensive, and since many organizations only provide accessible documents upon request, the customer often does not receive their communication in a timely fashion.

More companies are now taking a proactive approach, either delivering documents in accessible format to all their customers, or taking advantage of newer software solutions that automate the process, thus delivering an accessible document upon request almost immediately.

Deploying accessible documents represents entirely new territory for many organizations. Developing the right strategy will require a detailed analysis of applicable regulations, an examination of your organization's unique document environment and a careful assessment of the tools and processes you will need to ensure success.

Crawford Technologies solutions for print stream transformations, reengineering, workflow and document accessibility have enabled the largest enterprises in the world — banks, insurers, healthcare providers, utilities, and print and mailing service providers — to use their existing documents and data in new ways and to leverage legacy applications in the platforms of the future. Crawford Technologies helps to deliver some of the largest complex print solutions in the market. When integrated with BCC Software solutions, customers benefit from powerful end-to-end workflows that automate production, maximize equipment, deliver operational efficiencies, and increase profitability.

In the next article from Crawford Technologies, we’ll take a deeper look at the various accessible document formats and their attributes. In the meantime, click here for more information.

Introduction to Automating Your BCC Mail Manager-equipped Workflow

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Did you know that 79 percent of mailrooms are going to be automated by 2019? This statistic may seem scary to some – but it shouldn’t be. Automating your workflow saves time and money, allowing you to take on more jobs. Getting started with automation can seem daunting. So, how do you get started automating your workflow? Continue reading to learn about the very basics of getting started with TaskMaster™, the comprehensive automation tool available for use with BCC Mail Manager™.

A Task vs. a Job

TaskMaster is an optional add on for BCC Mail Manager and is included with BCC Mail Manager Full Service™. It allows our customers to set up jobs in a way that automates their workflow. A job is a series of tasks, each of which outline one step in the process. In turn, each task is made up of commands that lay out the specifications and settings to be used for that task. Tasks range from a small modification to a field in your list, to a complete batch presort, breaking out one list into multiple drop shipments. Each task contains certain required commands as well as optional commands – all of which contribute to create the desired results.

For example, in a presort task, a user could be specific in choosing commands and specifying things such as piece weight and thickness directly in the script. A full list of all the tasks and commands available is provided in the BCC Mail Manager Manual, in the section titled “Tasks and Commands,” which comes at the end of the chapter on TaskMaster.

Creating Scripts

There are three ways to create a script, which is saved as a text file with the .MJB extension.

  • Usually, BCC Software's professionals recommend starting by recording several basic tasks – this process allows you to manually run through parts of your process and have TaskMaster translate those actions into tasks and commands.
  • Making the initial transition easier, users can work their way through the process just as they would when running a job manually.
  • Once each task is completed, it will show you the selected task and command based on your actions. This will work for the vast majority of the steps in your process and will give you a good template to work with that can be used immediately.
  • The Job Editor can be used to manually create each task and set the relevant commands, which creates cleaner tasks as the recording function adds every imaginable setting, even if it is just to leave it at default.
  • It is important to note that to use this effectively, you will need to know what commands translate into what settings or specifications.

Notifications and Errors

The TaskMaster Tasks and Commands section of the manual will be extremely beneficial in showing you all the possible commands for each task to help narrow down what is needed. You can also create and edit jobs in any text editor. As long as the files are saved as .MJB and placed in the Jobs folder in your BCC Mail Manager directory, it should be able to pick them up and use them for automation.

  • For this operation, users need to be very exact, and just like with the job editor, need to know what commands are available for which tasks. Some customers prefer this method as it gives them more control than recording or using the job editor.
  • When a job is run, a log file with the same name is created in the jobs folder. This allows you to see how long each task takes and if any errors occurred.
  • Most errors will generate a pop up to let you know in which task there was an issue, and what the issue was. This can be disabled so as to not interrupt your workflow. In both cases, the log will keep a record of the errors encountered so even if you do not receive the pop up, when the job fails you can check the log to get an idea as to what happened.
  • Often running a job and checking the logs and errors will be the easiest way to troubleshoot a large job. Once a problem is found, the job will fail and generate an error message in the log that clearly outlines what might be missing or misplaced.

Batching

Using TaskMaster, you can set up a single list that uses one presort task to define the settings for multiple smaller sub-sorts using records from that list.

  • This can be as simple as a “sort by state,” where all of the mail from certain states is grouped into two separate sorts to make it easier to ship and package.
  • Batching can also be as complicated as multiple-part distinction involving many fields of customer data. TaskMaster takes this a step further allowing you to condense the various post-presort tasks for all these batches in to a single task for each report or function.
  • By adding the Command ALLBATCHES=Y, a single Postage Statement task will produce a separate statement for each batch, with the ability to customize the filenames and paths to include the batch name.

Additional Resources

There are many additional resources available to help you on your way to setting up automation within BCC Mail Manager. Besides the TaskMaster section of the Manual which was previously mentioned, BCC Software also offers an Enhanced Learning session on TaskMaster. Offered once a month by the Customer Support Technicians, you’ll get deep dive into how automation can transform your company.

If you’re interested in incorporating the power of automation into your operations, please contact BCC Software at 800.337.0442 or email marketing@bccsoftware.com.

Mail.dat vs. Mail.xml: Which Do You Choose?

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As the USPS® furthers its commitment to state of the art technologies, it becomes increasingly more relevant to submit postal documentation using Mail.dat or Mail.xml. In addition to incentives you’re accustomed to, such as the Full-Service discount, the USPS is starting to tie new promotions into its newer technologies, like Informed Delivery.

BCC Software is the only vendor currently poised to support this new form of the Mobile Shopping Promotion with our Mail.dat option.  To learn more about Informed Delivery, read our FAQ.

The chart below serves as a reference guide that will help you review the key differences between Mail.dat and Mail.xml, and when you might want to opt for one over the other.

Still not sure which method to choose? Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you have mailing lists larger than 10k records? How frequently do they come about?
  • Do you have a need to split a larger mailing across multiple drop dates?
  • Do you find yourself needing to adjust piece weight/thickness after the presort has been completed?
  • Do you have a slow internet speed or notice losing access to the internet throughout the day?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, Mail.dat should be your top choice.

Regardless of the method you choose, Mail.dat or Mail.xml, by using an electronic documentation process, you save both time and money. As always, BCC Software’s expert Customer Support team is here to help guide you through the decision-making process.

Learn more about Mail.dat and Mail.xml through our Express Learning Sessions. Register for the course here. 

 

 

Track N Trace Now Utilizing Informed Visibility

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Track N Trace® is now consuming mailpiece scan data from Informed Visibility – the new tracking system for the USPS®. BCC Software made this change in response to the decision of the USPS to move to this new technology platform, and the end of life for the current system, IMB Tracing. IMB Tracing systems are scheduled to end on December 31, 2017.

As a Track N Trace user, you should not expect to see any differences in your workflow. This change has already taken place because BCC Software is dedicated to preserving all functionality and ensuring continuity through the transition period, and to preventing any disruptions to you or your customers who may be logging in through a Track N Trace Reseller site.

In the longer term, BCC Software is looking at the new capabilities in the Informed Visibility system and welcome any feedback on ideas, or questions you have related to Informed Visibility. Please contact Senior Product Manager, Mitch Carpenter, directly at mitchc@bccsoftware.com, or our Customer Support team at tech@bccsoftware.com.

 

Top Social Posts for November

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If you’re not following us on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn, you’re missing out on news and information about BCC Software and important, real-time industry news. Here are the three most popular posts from November:

  • “When used properly [direct mail] can help your business stand out.” Snail Mail Isn’t Dead: 12 Ways to Engage Customers with Physical Mail https://buff.ly/2AAVizi
  • “Your data can help enhance your direct mail or thwart it — depending on how good it is.” Trust BCC Software for the expert data quality solutions you need. For more, visit: https://buff.ly/2hXogCy
  • The U.S. Postal Service will deliver more than 15 billion pieces of mail this holiday season. Is your company ready to meet customer demands and holiday deadlines? https://buff.ly/2yIfcMl

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If you or your company has interesting news or educational content you think we should consider sharing with our audience, we’d love to hear from you at marketing@bccsoftware.com.

 

 

Revolutionize Your Data Quality: The Benefits of Using ARS and Suppression Processing

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With the USPS® moving towards a climate of lower tolerance and higher penalties for Undeliverable as Addressed (UAA) mail, the need for data cleansing is ever-increasing. BCC Software’s Address Resolution Service (ARS) and Suppression Services work to optimize your data by correcting incomplete addresses and targeting key recipients, creating a higher deliverability rate and saving you money.

ARS uses third-party databases to correct residential addresses considered undeliverable and/or missing secondary information during the CASS™ encoding process. The service uses proprietary databases to append complete address information, including secondary data such as apartment numbers. This service can also be used to improve NCOALink® results, by providing more DPV confirmed addresses, which increases the likelihood of Change of Address matches being found. On average, BCC Software customers experience a 51 percent correction rate when they utilize ARS for their lists.

So, what about addresses that may be correct but are registered to consumers who either will not receive your customers’ direct communications, or do not wish to. This results in both wasted costs and potential negative impact on a company’s brand image. BCC Software’s Suppression Suite processing can help eliminate this issue by identifying records in your list(s) that match to common suppression/pander files including Direct Marketing Association (DMA) Mail Preference Service, Deceased, Prison, and Business. This service appends easy-to-use codes, which makes the process of suppressing unwanted addresses simple.

For further details on incorporating these two services into your operations in order to reduce UAA mail, please contact Data Marketing Services at 800.337.0372 or email marketing@bccsoftware.com.

 

Top Social Posts for October

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If you’re not following us on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn, you’re missing out on news and information about BCC Software and important, real-time industry news. Here are the three most popular posts from October:

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If you or your company has interesting news or educational content you think we should consider sharing with our audience, we’d love to hear from you at marketing@bccsoftware.com.

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