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TMC Labs
May 2002

HEAT 6.4

Solutions Inc.
Colorado Springs, CO
Ph: 800-776-7889; Fx: 719-536-0620
Web: www.frontrange.com

An example of pricing: $47,590.57 includes: 10 concurrent licenses of HEAT 6.4 for Windows, Web-based self-service module, five-day administrator's class (one person), five days on-site implementation, unlimited telephone support and software upgrades for one year. An additional $19,450.75 will add KnowlixFrontline, KnowlixAuthor, KnowlixWeb, annual maintenance and two additional days of on-site implementation.

Installation: N/A
Documentation: 4.5
Features: 4.5
GUI: 4.5
Overall: A-

Handled by a certified vender reseller, the implementation of a Heat solution can be accomplished in a variety of ways, dependent upon the customer's needs. FrontRange offers implementation packages ranging from Rapid to Advanced or a custom solution.

The Rapid Implementation is one of many implementation packages designed for customers who'll require FrontRange Solutions to deploy a production system for them in a short period of time (around five business days). The Rapid Implementation includes the full HEAT installation and configuration including a server and up to 10 workstations, system design and customization and configuration of Alert Monitor. The following training and consultation is also included: attendance of one person to the HEAT System Administrator Training course and a design meeting with a certified HEAT consultant. The customer will have the ability to use the HEAT system in a production environment upon the conclusion of the implementation process.

Installation Requirements
Client Workstations: Windows 95, 98, NT 4.0 (Service Pack 4, 5, 6 or 6a) or Windows 2000. Database management software: MS Access 97 or 2000; MS SQL Server 6.5 or 7.0 (Service Pack 2); Oracle 8.05, 8.06, 8.16 (using 8.05 drivers); Sybase Adaptive Server Anywhere 6.03 and Sybase Adaptive Server Studio 7. Storage space and processor requirements vary based on database size and number of records.

The following features are included with a standard Heat purchase. Business Process Automation Module (BPAM) allows the creation of automation and escalation rules. BPAMs are used to automate business processes and monitor the system for problem issues. Call Logging allows technicians to log and track calls. The Auto Ticket Generator automatically creates new call tickets and updates existing call tickets via a variety of sources, including MAPI (i.e., Outlook, GroupWise, etc.), VIM (i.e., Lotus Notes) and POP3. Additionally, Auto Ticket Generator can automatically respond to requests for call ticket information and status. The HEAT Answer Wizard provides selection from over 200 predefined reports; Crystal Reports also provide answers to key business questions. The HEAT Manager's Console monitors key metrics and graphically illustrates service and support center status. First Level Support is a simple, yet powerful tool used for building knowledge bases. iHEAT grants technicians remote access to HEAT over either network connections or dial-up access with no additional plug-ins required. iHeat enables remote access to core HEAT functionality from anywhere.

Add-on modules designed to enhance and provide specialized product functionality are also available. Knowlix, FrontRange's knowledge base application, allows users to perform an auto-search in Call Logging, find the solution using KnowlixFrontline, and then post the solution back to the Call Record. The enhanced relevancy ranking within KnowlixFrontline is continually refreshed with daily use of the system. As you search for resolutions, KnowlixFrontline tracks search criteria and results. The Self Service module allows customers to access their own issue history to check resolution status or start a new trouble ticket. Asset Tracker manages hardware, software and non-scannable assets throughout their lifecycles. Further, FrontRange offers compatibility with other products, adding additional functionality to HEAT through partnerships with: Broadfax, Control-F1, VineyardSoft and many others.

Operational Testing
Key to understanding this product and hopefully benefiting from this review is to keep in mind that HEAT is a fully customizable solution. The system we tested was a demo unit configured to let us push all of the buttons without having to spend the time setting up a database, defining rules and creating mock personnel to populate the system. The HEAT product is a modular front-office solution, which works in conjunction with provisioned-for backend databases. Heat does provide out-of-box functionality, but its true power is only realized in its provisioning for system definition and refinement without the need for a programmer. Creating rules, alerts, Auto Tasks and Business Process Automation can be done quite simply. This allows HEAT administrators to engineer the system to respond in their own self-prescribed manner to what's most important to their business ' without the necessity of a deep programming background.

Call Logging
Call logging provides the foundation of the HEAT application. This is where support personnel log, assign, detail and track calls. Call Logging has a very robust interface allowing support personnel to gain access to other modules and supplemental functions of the HEAT suite of programs. Call Logging provides many ways to parse its information display, most notably though is the pane-like design of the GUI. The column-shaped left side of the GUI provides at-a-glance information, letting support personnel know how many assignments have been delegated, journal information on the customer and HeatBoard details. The Call Logging main window seems suited to quick and easy viewing, providing a toolbar for many Call Logging shortcuts such as creating new call records or groups, validating fields, creating a Hot List and spell checking. A Call Status Banner flies near the top of the GUI displaying the Call ID for the open call record and includes the Stopwatch, Call Counter and other metrics. The Call Log form is displayed initially when a call record is opened, and tabs can be selected to view Detail, Assignment and Journal information about that call record. With so many bells and whistles, the Call Logging GUI seems a bit daunting at first, but after a short period of acclimation, proved to be a gateway for fast access to critical call and customer information.

Alert Monitor
Alert Monitor notifies a support person that they've had a call assigned to them. Alert Monitor works in conjunction with Call Logging to notify support personnel when certain conditions are deemed important by company and team standards. The features of Alert Monitor allow individuals to: set database polling intervals; set away time; launch Call Logging from within Alert Monitor; acknowledge assignments from the Alert Monitor module; set messaging alert preferences; and set viewing options. We found Alert Monitor to be especially useful in work environments where calls are logged by one employee and assigned to another for resolution. This is often the case with businesses that have a call center fielding all incoming calls, thereby disseminating certain calls to support for resolution. Additionally, the employee responsible for the problem resolution may not be at their desk at the time of the assignment; perhaps they're in the field or on the road. The Alert Monitor can be set to notify personnel of events that occur within Call Logging whether or not that person is logged into the Call Logging module. HEAT's Alert Monitor doesn't require concurrent license agreements.

The Business Process Automation Module (BPAM) helps to automate business processes by identifying processes and alerting technicians when an issue occurs outside certain identified criteria. The Business Rules Editor (BRE) is part of the BPAM feature; it defines rules or formulas that BPAM applies to determine process criteria. Although many Business Rules were included with our demo system, the Business Rules Editor makes it easy to create your own. For example, you might want to be notified about open call records that have not been updated within a certain timeframe or you may want to be notified should any new assignments be added. Accessing the BRE, we were able to create some simple business rules. The Editor provides many templates to make rule generation much more simple than starting from scratch. We chose to fashion a rule to alert a supervisor if an assignment wasn't resolved in a certain period of time after it was assigned. By choosing the appropriate template and having administrative privileges, the Business Rules Editor Wizard walked us through the rest. We then chose the time frame to act upon this occurrence (four hours), followed by the Calendar to use (24/7, Help Desk hours, customer hours, etc.) and which calls to act upon (all non-closed calls or all calls within a Call Group). Last, an action must be appended to the rule to notify the correct party of the occurrence, or lack there of. Notification can be achieved by choosing an e-mail or AutoTask-type of alert. (An AutoTask is a macro program in HEAT that lets you link a series of actions to create one task that can be executed automatically.) Here's what we achieved by creating a Business Rule: Any assignment that went beyond four hours without a resolution triggered an e-mail, which was sent to the technician's supervisor to make him or her aware of the condition.

Self Service
Any business utilizing FrontRange's HEAT solution may want to enable customers to pose help or status queries using media other than just the phone. Self Service provides customers with a Web interface to check up on an existing trouble ticket or to start a new one. Because FrontRange claims 25 to 35 percent of help desk calls come from new service requests or status checks, they've provided Self Service as an avenue to circumvent queued phone calls for the customer, reduce phone traffic and free support resources from data entry. The administrator can design the look and feel of the Web pages as well as what's displayed to the customer. Logging into a Self Service session with a user name and password allows a customer to view their issue history. The spreadsheet-like interface provisions the user with several different types of searches for parsing existing information into digestible chunks. The customer can also provide an e-mail address for delivery of a confirmation notice that the issue has been received. After logging in and opening an existing call record, we were able to determine whether or not an issue had been resolved, who it was assigned to, what solution information was provided and additional notes left by the technician. If choosing to start a new issue, the Auto Ticket Generator creates and updates new call records directly from an external source.

Room For Improvement
Your definition of support will directly affect what you think should be included within a support package. As one strong possibility for a support solution provider is provisioning for help desks, it seemed likely that some form of remote control functionality should have been included within this product, though FrontRange does offer remote control through a partnership with a company called Control-F1 for an additional charge; Control-F1's ASP product was reviewed by TMC Labs in the July/August issue of Communications ASP' magazine (http://www.tmcnet.com/casp/0701/0701labs2.htm).

We missed not having any ANI (automatic number identification) functionality. CTI integration is a time-saving and worthy foray in support and service environments. After discussing this functionality with some degree of detail, our contact at FrontRange revealed that they are planning for screen pops in the near future. In fact, by the time this review goes to press, the functionality may already be built into the product. At the time of testing, however, we saw this as a definite product need.

Overall, HEAT seemed to be a very complete support solution that's easy to use, easy to set up and easy to maintain. Its deep degree of customization and automation make it powerful; its wizard-like interfaces provide a simple approach to the mastery of some very mature capabilities. Well-thought-out GUI design provides the maximum amount of functionality in the limited space of a desktop, and while it takes a little time to learn where everything is, that time is consumed learning its feature set rather than due to a lack of intuitiveness. The modular approach FrontRange has employed in designing HEAT allows companies to purchase what they want, as opposed to having to by add-ons they don't need or can't use. Self Service and Knowlix provide additional functionality while alleviating beleaguered support staff by affording customers the ability to search for answers to questions themselves without waiting in a queue, start their own trouble ticket or check up on the status of an existing ticket. It is for these and additional merits that TMC Labs applauds FrontRange's HEAT, decorating it with an Editors' Choice award.

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