Any Request Documentation


Overview

Any Request is a Web based database system for tracking customer requests and the actions taken to address them. While often used for technology help desks, the application can be used by any business that must respond to customer requests. Access to the system is controlled by login IDs and passwords. Staff accounts may be designated as administrative users or regular users, with different capabilities within the system. New requests may be entered by your staff or by the customers themselves (with or without password protection).

The main page of the program, displayed after logging in, provides an overview of open requests, showing new requests that have not yet been assigned to a member of your staff and requests that are assigned to you (the staff member who logged in). Administrative staff will also see requests that have been assigned to other members of the staff. Clicking on links from this main page will access forms that allow you to record the details of requests and mark them as completed.

Any Request has integrated e-mail capabilities that allow e-mail messages to be generated when specific events occur within the system. When new requests are entered in the system, notification can be sent to staff members you designate and/or as a confirmation to the customer who placed the request. When a new request is assigned to a staff member, then e-mail notification may be sent to that staff member. Finally, when a request has been marked as completed, a message can be sent to the customer to notify them of the action taken. All e-mail messages are optional and the content of the messages that are sent can be completely controlled.

A variety of reports are available to retrieve the details of completed requests or provide overview summaries of all requests handled during the period of time you specify. Additional options available only to administrators will allow you to export data from the system and purge completed requests from the database when they are no longer needed.


Initial Setup

Before starting to use Any Request, some thought should be given to the setup of certain options in the program. All setup options can be changed at a later date, but certain changes are limited once information has been entered in the system. For example, once a request has been assigned to a specific category, that category description can be changed but cannot be deleted outright.

Staff records must be entered to create logins for each staff member who will need to access the system. The e-mail settings should be reviewed as you decide which messages should be sent by the system and the content of those messages. Requests may be assigned a category, a department, and a priority. You have complete control over the categories, departments and priorities that are displayed by the program.

Follow the links above for more specific information about all of the setup options.


Administrator vs. Regular Users

When you set up staff in Any Request, you must designate each staff member and as either an administrator or a regular user. Administrative staff have access to additional capabilities within the program (as summarized in the table below). You should have at least one administrator account to take full advantage of the capabilities of the program, but there is no other limitation. You may set up your entire staff as administrative users if you wish to give your whole staff unrestricted access to all parts of the program.

Program Feature Administrator Regular Staff
Enter new requests
View unassigned and self-assigned requests
View requests assigned to other staff
View Completed requests
Setup Customers
Setup Staff
Setup Categories, Departments and Priorities
Set email options
Change own password
Reports

How to Contact CyberNiche Software

You may contact CyberNiche Software by mail, by e-mail, by fax or by phone.

CyberNiche Software
4271 Carlisle Rd.
Gardners, PA 17324-8930
USA

e-mail: support@cniche.com

Phone/Fax: 717-486-8308

Our web site is at: http://www.cniche.com/


Requests

The open request maintenance page is the main page of the program that is opened after you first login and allows you to maintain open request records. Any unassigned requests are displayed first, followed by a list of those requests that are assigned to you (the staff member who is logged in). Administrative users will also see sections with requests assigned to other staff members. The request number, short description, customer name and due date are displayed for each request listed. The links following each request will allow you to edit that request, delete the request or generate a work order for that request. You may also click on the request number or short description to edit the request. In the unassigned requests section, the edit link is labeled "Accept" and will automatically assign the request to you when you open it. Click on the request number or the short description to edit an unassigned request without assigning it to you.

A search box appears at the top of this page. Enter a word or phrase and click the Submit button to have the program search all request records for the text you entered. The short description, request description and response are all searched for matching request records. If you know the request number of the record that you wish to access, you may enter it in the "Goto Req #" field and click the Submit button. The program will immediately take you directly to that request record.

A link immediately below the search box will take you to the form to add a new request record (see Entering New). Following that is a link to maintain completed requests. This will list all request records that have been marked as resolved, with 10 records displayed at a time.


Entering New Requests

Click on the Add New Request Record link near the top of the main page to display the form for entering new requests. An alternate version of this form is available that does not require the user to be logged in or even have a staff record in the program. You may make this form available if you wish to allow your customers to enter request records in the system themselves. See By Customer.

The Add Request form contains fields to enter all information related to the request. You are required to enter a short description or full request description. The request date is also a required field, but the current date is displayed automatically in this field when the form is displayed. All other data fields are optional. Use the tab key to advance from field to field in the form as you enter information. Click on the Save Record button at the end of the form when you're finished to save the new record to the program's database.

Note that the lists of options displayed for the category, department and priority fields may all be customized by administrative users. Refer to the separate sections on each of these fields for information on adding to or changing the available options.

For the customer associated with the new request record, you may either select an existing customer from the list on the form or enter a new customer by entering their first and last names and e-mail address. This is intended to be an either-or option. If you both select a customer from the list and enter names and an e-mail address, the customer selected from the list will be used and the other information will be ignored. If you enter names and an e-mail address without selecting an existing customer, the program will search for a customer with that e-mail address in the database. If the e-mail address you enter is found in the database for an existing customer, the program will assume that this is the customer you intended and will select an existing customer record.

The date fields are followed by a calendar icon. You may click on this icon to display a pop-up calendar for the current month. Simply click on the appropriate date on the pop-up calendar and the selected date will be entered in the appropriate field.

As well as automatically entering the current date and time for a new request record, when you mark a request record as resolved the current date and time will be placed in the resolved date and time fields. You may replace the date and time provided with different information if necessary.


New Requests Entered by the Customer

An alternate version of the new request form is provided for sites that wish to allow customers to add new request records to the database. Provide a link to the page "reqaddbycust.cfm" in the main application folder if you wish to take advantage of this. This form is not password protected, so there's no need to create staff records for customers or to give customers access to any other part of the application.

The form for use by customers is not the full form that is available to staff. The customer form has fields for request date and time, customer, short description, category, department, request description, priority and due date. The customer form does not allow the customer to assign the request to a specific staff member, mark the request as resolved, enter the resolved date and time or enter a response. It is up to a member of your staff to assign the request and mark it as resolved when appropriate. It is recommended that if you do allow customers to enter requests with this form you configure the system so that a member of your staff is notified automatically when customers enter new requests.

The customer is not able to select their name from a list, but will need to enter their last and first names and their e-mail address. This prevents your customers from viewing other customer names. To prevent duplicate customers from being created, the program will search the database for a customer with the specified e-mail address. If a match is found, that existing customer is associated with the new request. If no matching e-mail address is found, a new customer record is created with the name and e-mail address that the customer entered on the form.


Completed Requests

Click on the Maintain Completed Requests link near the top of the main page to access request records that have already been marked as resolved. All completed requests will be displayed, with 10 request records appearing on the page at once. Links labeled First, Previous, Next and Last will be displayed as appropriate to page through the completed request records ten at a time. If any significant number of requests have been entered it is generally much more efficient to use the search box provided to locate the specific request record of interest.

This page is similar to the Maintain Open Requests page. Request number, short description, customer and due date are displayed for each completed request record listed. Links allow you to view/edit the completed request, delete it or generate a work order for it. When you are finished, click on the New Requests menu option to return to the program's main page.


Setup Categories

Each request may be assigned a category. The category field appears as a drop-down list when adding or updating a request record. The option to maintain categories is available to the administrative users only. Click on the "Setup" option in the navigation bar on the left to display the Setup Menu. From the setup menu, click on "maintain categories" to access the page that will allow you to add, modify or delete categories.

In the Maintain Categories page, any categories that have already been defined will be displayed on the screen. If more than 10 categories have been defined, the first 10 will be listed along with links to page through the categories ten at a time. A search box appears at the top of the page -- enter a word and click the Submit button to display any categories that contain that word. This is useful for quickly locating a specific category if a large number of categories have been entered.

To add a new category, click on the "Add a Category" link that appears immediately below the search box. This will take you to the "Add a Category" page. Enter the new category description in the empty field labeled "Category Name:" and click on the Insert Record button. A confirmation message will be displayed along with links that will allow you to add another category, return to the maintain categories page or return to the application's main page.

Click on the Edit button next to a specific category to modify that category description. Note that if you make a change in this way, any request that has already been assigned that category will inherit the new category description. Click on the "Delete" link next to a category to delete that category. The program will not allow you to delete any category that is currently in use. In other words, if you have already assigned a request record to that category you will not be able to delete the category.


Setup Departments

Each request may be assigned a Department. The department field appears as a drop-down list when adding or updating a request record. The option to maintain departments is available to administrative users only. Click on the "Setup" option in the navigation bar on the left to display the Setup Menu. From the Setup Menu, click on "maintain departments" to access the page that will allow you to add, modify or delete departments.

In the Maintain Departments page, any departments that have already been defined will be displayed on the screen. If more than 10 departments have been defined, the first 10 will be listed along with links to page through the departments ten at a time. A search box appears at the top of the page -- enter a word and click the submit button to display any departments that contain that word. This is useful for quickly locating a specific department if a large number of departments have been entered.

To add a new department, click on the Add a Department" link that appears immediately below the search box. This will take you to the Add Department page. Enter the new department description in the empty field labeled "Department Name:" and click on the Insert Record button. A confirmation message will be displayed along with links that will allow you to add another department, return to the maintain departments page or return to the application's main page.

Click on the "Edit" button next to a specific department to modify that department description. Note that if you make a change in this way, any request that has already been assigned that department will inherit the new department description. Click on the Delete link next to a department to delete that department. The program will not allow you to delete any department that is currently in use. In other words, if you have already assigned a request record to that department you will not be able to delete the department.


Setup Priorities

Each request may be assigned a priority. The priority field appears as a drop-down list when adding or updating a request record. Basic priorities of "low," "medium," "high" and "emergency" are predefined in the program, but may be easily changed. The option to maintain priorities is available to administrative users only. Click on the Setup option in the navigation bar on the left to display the Setup Menu. From the setup menu, click on "Maintain Priorities" to access the page that will allow you to add, modify or delete priorities.

In the Maintain priorities page, any priorities that have already been defined will be displayed on the screen. If more than 10 priorities have been defined, the first 10 will be listed along with links to page through the priorities ten at a time. A search box appears at the top of the page -- enter a word and click the Submit button to display any priorities that contain that word. This is useful for quickly locating a specific priority if a large number of priorities have been entered.

To add a new priority, click on the Add a Priority link that appears immediately below the search box. This will take you to the Add Priority page. Enter the new priority description in the empty field labeled "Priority Name:" and click on the Insert Record button. A confirmation message will be displayed along with links that will allow you to add another priority, return to the maintain priorities page or return to the application's main page.

Click on the Edit button next to a specific priority to modify that priority description. Note that if you make a change in this way, any request that has already been assigned that priority will inherit the new priority description. Click on the Delete link next to a priority to delete that priority. The program will not allow you to delete any priority that is currently in use. In other words, if you have already assigned a request record to that priority you will not be able to delete the priority.


Maintain Staff

For each request in the system, Any Request will record the staff members who entered the request (for requests that are entered by a staff member) and will record the staff member who has been assigned to resolve a request. Both fields appear as drop-down lists when adding or updating a request record. The option to maintain staff is available to administrative users only. Click on the Staff option in the navigation bar on the left to display the page that will allow you to add, modify or delete staff members.

In the Maintain Staff page, any staff that have already been defined will be displayed on the screen. If more than 10 staff have been entered, the first 10 will be listed along with links to page through the remaining in staff ten at a time. A search box appears at the top of the page -- enter the staff member's last name (or any part of their last name) and click the Submit button to display any staff member entered with that last name.

To add a new staff member, click on the "Add a Staff Member" link that appears immediately below the search box. This will take you to the Add Staff page. This page presents a form with a number of different fields. First name, last name, phone and e-mail address fields are self-explanatory. The "Alternate ID" Field is an optional field that can be used to store the staff member's ID from some other system, such as a HR system. The Username field stores the login ID that the staff member must enter when first logging into the application. The Administrator check off box indicates whether or not to staff member has administrator privileges in Any Request. The password field displays only asterisks and can be used to enter or reset the passwords of other staff members by administrators. Finally, the Comments field is a free text field that can be used to store any other information. The comments field is displayed only when adding or maintaining staff, therefore it is only accessible by other administrators.

A first and/or last name and username are required fields in this form. All other fields are optional. Enter as much information as desired and click on the Insert Record button. A confirmation message will be displayed along with links that will allow you to add another staff member, return to the maintain staff page or return to the application's main page.

Click on the Edit button next to a specific staff member to modify that staff member's information. The form that is displayed is the same as that outlined above for adding a staff member. Click on the Delete link next to a staff member to delete that staff member. The program will not allow you to delete any staff member that is currently in use. In other words, if you have already assigned a request record to that staff member you will not be able to delete them.


Maintain Customers

Each request record in the system may be associated with a customer. When entering a new request, you may either select an existing customer from the list or create a new customer record along with the request. The Maintain Customers page will allow you to enter additional customers that may be associated with requests, along with additional information about those customers. Click on the Customer option in the navigation bar on the left to display the page that will allow you to add, modify or delete customers.

In the Maintain Customers page, any customers that have already been entered will be displayed on the screen. If more than 10 customers have been entered, the first 10 will be listed along with links to page through the remaining customers ten at a time. Use the First, Previous, Next and Last links below the list of customers to page through all of a customer records. A search box appears at the top of the page -- enter the customer's last name (or any part of their last name) and click the submit button to display any customer entered with that last name.

To add a new customer, click on the "Add a Customer" link that appears immediately below the search box. This will take you to the Add Customer page. This page presents a form with a number of different fields. Fields here allow you to enter the customer's first and last names, company name, e-mail address, phone number, fax number, title and address. The Alternate ID Field is an optional field that can be used to store the customer's ID from some other IT system.

A first and/or last name are the required fields in this form. An e-mail address will be needed for the system to send e-mail confirmations to the customer. All other fields are optional. Enter as much information as desired and click on the Insert Record button. A confirmation message will be displayed along with links that will allow you to add another customer, return to the maintain customers page or return to the application's main page.

Click on the Edit button next to a specific customer to modify that customer's information. The form that is displayed is the same as that outlined above for adding a customer. Click on the Delete link next to a customer to delete that customer record. The program will not allow you to delete any customer that is currently in use. In other words, if you have already assigned a request record to that customer you will not be able to delete them.


Email Options

Any Request has the ability to send e-mail messages automatically, triggered by the entry of a new request, the assignment of a request to a staff member or the marking of a request as resolved. These messages can be used to notify staff of a request, notify staff members when requests have been assigned to them and to notify customers when their requests have been entered and resolved.

To access the E-mail Options page, click on the Setup option of the menu bar on the left and then click on the "Configure E-mail Options" link in the Setup Menu that appears. This page is accessible only to the administrative users.

The first thing displayed on this page is a list of the symbols that can be entered in the setup fields for message addresses, subject lines and message contents. This will allow you to have information from the request record included in the e-mail messages that are sent. For example, enter the symbol "<<short_desc>>" to include the request's short description in an e-mail message.

There are four e-mail messages that may be generated as follows:

All of these messages are optional. A check box is displayed next to the titles of the messages in the bulleted list above. Place a check mark in the box to have that message sent. Remove the check mark to suppress that message.

The addresses that each of the messages is sent to are also fields on this form. Specific addresses can be entered or you may use the symbols to send the messages to the current customer or the staff member who is assigned to the request. Note that these symbols depend on e-mail addresses being entered for customers and for staff members.

When you have finished, click the submit button at the very end of the form. This will save your e-mail configuration to the database. The settings that you have entered will be in effect from that time on.


Export and Purge

An Export and Purge option is provided for moving data from Any Request to a different software system and for deleting information from the database that is no longer needed online. This capability is available to administrative users only. Click on the Setup option in the menu bar on the left, then click on Export or Purge Old Records in the Setup Menu that is displayed.

The page that appears will allow you to enter a start date and an end date and to specify whether you wish to export/delete only resolved requests or both open and resolved requests. Enter this information and click on the Export button. A new page will be displayed that contains a large text field containing your exported data in tab delimited format. Select the data, then copy the data displayed and save it in a text file or paste it into a spreadsheet. The data is formatted in such a way that the individual columns will be preserved when it is pasteed into spreadsheet software.

Below the displayed data is a button to delete the data you have just exported. Click the Delete button to remove the displayed data from the database. Click on the Cancel button to return to the program's main page without deleting any data. Note that you may also click on a menu option on the left to leave the page without deleting data.


Change Password

Click on the Change Password menu option to change the password for the staff member who is currently logged in. This will bring up a page where you will be asked to enter your current password, enter your new password and re-enter your new password to confirm that it has been entered correctly. You will still be logged into the application and may continue to work as usual. The next time you need to log into the application, you will need to use the new password.


Logout

Click on the Logout menu option to log out of the Any Request program. A "Login" menu option will now appear to allow you to log back into the program. Attempting to access any other page within the program will also bring you to the login page.


Work Orders

Where request records are listed on the Maintain Open Requests or Maintain Completed Requests pages, there is a link labeled "WO" following each request that will generate a work order for that request. The work order is not a columnar report but rather a 1 page summary of all of the information about the request. It is useful for delegating work to staff who are not using the Any Request application or if it is necessary to have the details of the request available when you are away from a workstation.


Report Requests

Any Request includes a set of powerful and flexible reports for the request records in the database. Click on Reports in the menu bar to display the Reports Menu. The first four reports listed -- Requests by Assigned Staff, Requests by Customer, Requests by Category and Requests by Department -- all present a similar options page and work in a similar manner.

The report of Requests by Assigned Staff, for example, is typical of these reports. The report options page will first allow you to select a start date and an end date. You may either enter a date with the keyboard or click on the calendar icon to display a pop-up calendar for selecting the date. Next the form asks you to indicate whether you wish to include resolved requests only, open requests or both open and resolved requests. Next on the form, indicate whether you wish the report to be generated for all employees or if you wish to include only requests assigned to a specific employee. If you wish to include only one employee's requests, you must select their name from a drop-down list. Finally, the form lists all the available columns that may be included in the report. By default, all of the columns are selected. Uncheck any of the fields that you do not wish to appear on the report.

When you are finished selecting report options, click on the Generate Report button. The report will appear in a new browser window. View and/or print the report and close the window when you are finished.


Request Counts

Click on Request Counts on the Reports Menu to generate a report that summarizes over all request activity by providing counts of requests broken down a number of different ways. As with other reports, you start by entering a start date and an end date for the requests that you wish to include in the counts. Next, specify whether you wish to include resolved requests, open requests or both open and resolved requests. Finally, select Assigned Staff, Customer, Category, Department or Priority. A report will be displayed in a new window that provides counts for the request records you have selected.


Customer List

Select Customer List to generate a report of all customers entered in the database. There are no options available for this report -- it will immediately generate a report listing all customers sorted alphabetically by name. This report includes columns for customer name, company, e-mail address, postal address, fax number, title and alternate ID.


Staff List

Select Staff List to generate a report of all staff members entered in the database. There are no options available for this report -- it will immediately generate a report listing all staff, sorted alphabetically by name. This report includes columns for name, e-mail address, phone, alternate ID, username, the administrator status and comments.