Efficient Data Entry in Accpac
Many people are happy to use the mouse extensively while doing data entry, are happy looking up everything in Finders and are happy to consider many fields when entering an accounting document; but, Sage ERP Accpac 5.6A has many productivity features to help you enter data very quickly and efficiently like keyboard shortcuts, good default field values and hiding unused fields. This blog post covers a number of Accpac features that can effectively make you more productive. We will look at the Accpac Order Entry screen and what features are available to make you more productive. Below is the Accpac Order Entry screen:
This is a fairly large screen with many options and potentially many fields to enter. You certainly don’t want to think of and type something into every single field.
The Accpac documentation lists all the Accpac keyboard shortcuts in the on-line help, but beyond these Windows has many keyboard shortcuts as well and often these are not well documented. Below is part of the keyboard shortcuts section from the online help:
Accpac has some powerful methods of defaulting fields. Many fields are defaulted to what you want when you choose a customer or an order template. It is well worth your time setting up all your customer records correctly or setup a series of order templates, so that you don’t have to override very many fields when entering orders. It is assumed that you set up the customer or template once, and then enter many orders for that customer or with that template. Saving time at order entry is what you want to do.
Use the Alt Key
First notice any notebook tabs or buttons that have letter underlined in them such as the “Customer” notebook tab. The underlined letter means that you can press this by holding down the Alt key and pressing the underlined letter, in this case Alt-u. This is a handy shortcut to choose notebook tabs, press buttons or access menu items right from the keyboard without reaching for the mouse, or having to move the mouse over the button or tab and clicking it. On some versions of Windows these underlines are hidden until you press the Alt key. Sometime there are shortcuts on groups of fields that you can use the Alt key to quickly move to (but not in Order Entry).
Each data entry grid (or table) on the Accpac main data entry screen has a “zoom” form. Generally Accpac has so many features that by default each table is very long with many columns and you have to do a lot of horizontal scrolling to see them all. This can be annoying. You have two options. One is to use the grid controls ability to hide columns to eliminate ones you don’t use, the other is to use the Zoom form. If focus in on the grid hitting F9 will bring up the Zoom form, many forms (like Order Entry) have a button to access it (which doesn’t require focus be on the grid). In Order Entry this the Item/Tax button that you can shortcut with Alt-a. This then gives you a form that contains all the columns from the grid in its own form where you can see all the fields at once. From this form you can create new detail lines and navigate around the existing ones.
The keyboard way to get from field to field is via the Tab key (sorry DOS users not the Enter key). One way to move from field to field quicker is to hide any fields that you don’t use. To do this, use the File – Customize menu to hide the un-used fields. In the grid control, hide a column by sizing it down to nothing. Using a macro you can re-arrange the tab sequence or remove fields from the tab sequence without hiding them.
The key to using the grid effectively is to customize it to be optimum for your data entry. Hide any fields you don’t use and move any rarely used fields to the end of the line. Have the most frequently used fields at the front. You hide fields by sizing them down to zero width. Once hidden you can get a field back by right clicking on the Grid’s column headings and selecting the hidden field (or choose restore defaults to get everything back).
Reducing the number of columns is nice because you tab through less fields, don’t need to scroll horizontally so much and when you are entering lines when you tab off the end of one line, the grid automatically creates a new line so you can continue entering data un-interrupted (which you reach quicker with less columns).
Edit controls aren’t all that interesting. You can right click on them to get a context menu to do things like cut and paste. All the normal shortcuts for cut and paste work fine here. More interesting are edit controls with finders or new buttons. You can activate the new button by hitting the Insert key. Page Up/Page Down will navigate to next and previous records. Ctrl-pageup/ctrl-pagedown will go to the first and last records. F5 will activate the finder.
The concept of entering data here is to use short quick to type codes for things. This is very much how super-markets do their produce checkout. Rather than using a lookup function for every produce item being weighed, the clerks have most of them memorized and just quickly enter produce codes and only need to lookup obscure pieces of produce being bought. Accpac is the same way. Once you’ve been entering data for a while you remember the main customer numbers and item numbers and can type them in very quickly without using the Finder. It works best if frequently used items have short numbers and you can process them quickly, and then just glance at the description field to ensure you are correct.
Fast Order Entry
Let’s see how to configure O/E Order Entry for maximum efficiency to enter simple orders. We will assume that the defaults brought in for the customer will set most header fields correctly and that we only need to enter the customer number, then the items and quantities. Below is the Order Entry screen where we’ve hidden most of the fields using the File – Customize menu and we’ve hidden most of the columns in the order line grid.
Below is the UI Profile listing all the fields we hid:
So let’s see what it now takes to enter an order. We will assume you start with a current order selected and focus in the Order No. field.
- Hit the “Insert” key to create a new order.
- Hit “Tab” to get to the customer number field.
- Type the customer number (say “1200” if you are using sample data).
- Hit “Tab” until you get to the order detail grid (in my case twice once to move to the customer information drilldown and then again to get to the grid, this depends on how many fields you have hidden).
- Hit “Tab” to move to the item entry field
- Type an item number (say “A11030” for sample data).
- Hit Tab twice to move to the Quantity ordered field
- Enter the quantity (say 2)
- Hit tab and a new row is created.
- At this point continue entering items and quantities until done.
- Now press Alt-S to post the order
- Hit Y or N depending on whether you want to print the order confirmation.
This was rather a long procedure to enter an order, but it is key by key. In total we hit Insert once, tab 7 times, Alt-S and the number of characters in the customer number, invoice number and quantity. Generally this is an extremely economical way to enter orders.
Hopefully this blog posting gave you some ideas on how to setup Accpac for efficient data entry and provided some information on some keyboard shortcuts that can speed up your data entry. Other screens have special productivity helping features like quick entry modes, be sure to check these out too. Happy typing.