Introducing the chaser

We’ve been talking a lot about agileBase’s ‘chaser’ feature recently, giving examples of what it can do, but we’re aware not everyone may know precisely what it is!

It was developed for a particular purpose, but has turned into one of the most promising features generally that we’ve released over the past few of years. It has the potential to help people be more effective in a wide range of jobs, wherever they regularly need to ‘chase’ others for information.

Customers who’ve been trying it out say that it makes staff more effective at their jobs by ensuring documents and information required from third parties (such as suppliers) is obtained when needed, without requiring lots of manual checking, emailing and phoning.

In a nutshell, the system comprises three parts

1) checking when something’s due and emailing the person who needs to supply it

2) allowing the recipient to easily provide the data by following a link in the email to an online form. Documents can be uploaded and other information filled in

3) if no response is received, re-sending a number of times, finally escalating to someone else (usually someone internal)

chaser2

Examples

The first uses have been in our agile:SA Supplier Approval software. We have a few chasers, for example

  • non-conformances: whenever a non-conformance is raised against a supplier, whether as a result of an audit or ad hoc, the supplier will be chased if they don’t respond in a timely manner. Likewise, your staff can be chased if an internal non-conformance is not resolved
  • ingredient risk assessment: a member of staff must risk assess new ingredients
  • ingredient specification: a supplier will be chased for any missing specification documents
  • supplier audit questionnaires (SAQs): suppliers must respond to these and will be chased if they don’t

There are many more but hopefully you get the idea. The same principles can be applied whenever you need a third party to supply you with information or documents of a known type.

Technical setup

As an agileBase administrator, if you want to set up your own chaser, here’s how to do so. The process has been made as simple as possible so setup should be a breeze.

1) Create a view with a list of people (email addresses) to chase. In the view’s manage tab, under Send, choose ‘send email chasers’

2) The screen will show a list of fields you need, e.g. ‘to’ which is the email address of the recipient, ‘subject’ etc. Create all of these as calculations

3) The list will also include a couple of fields you’ll need to add to the table: count (a number) and last chased (a date). These will be used internally by the system

That will set up the system to send emails. Now make sure that only things you want to chase are chased, by adding any relevant filters to the view. e.g. to show anything out of date

That will be enough to get emails sending out. What about receiving the information back?

Simply add any fields you want the recipient to supply to the view, from the parent table. The system will automatically create a form containing these fields (excluding any of the chaser fields above such as ‘to’ and ‘subject’). When the recipient receives an email, it will have a link in it that takes them to this form.

If you want the content that the chaser sends out to be visible to users, add the chaser view into a form as a cross referenced field. It will show information such as the email to be sent, how many times the record’s been chased, when the last time was etc. If the record doesn’t need to be chased it will instead show the reasons why (the filters from the view).

Finally tick ‘enable this chaser’ at the bottom of the view’s Send section, in the manage tab. That’s it!

Please let us know what uses you find for the chaser, or of course if you come across any issues or can think of any further enhancements.

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