User Resource Center

by Marjo Martinez, in Tech Talk, posted 9/21/07

The AutoMate User Resource Center "A Different Kind of Product Support Web Site"
Support All Day............... Seriously All Day

We at Network Automation pride ourselves in our ability to build an open and honest relationship with you, our customers, and make every effort to provide the highest level of product support and customer service possible. We believe that all facets of communication with our customers should be performed freely and publicly whenever and wherever possible. The AutoMate User Resource Center (URC) was designed to strongly reflect such beliefs. The URC is Network Automation's unique "all in one" product support web portal where users can easily find technical assistance and helpful resources regarding all aspects of AutoMate. What makes our support web site unique is that it supplies a multitude of areas in which a customer can enter questions or comments, provide their own feedback and express their opinions (whether they are positive or negative) for all others to observe and discuss.

An essential feature of the URC is the Search Box located adjacent to the "Welcome to the User Resource Center!" title bar. The search box provides full text searching of the knowledgebase articles, sample tasks, tutorials, AutoMate Advisor newsletters and version history. All matching search results are displayed categorically. Customers can now search the entire URC in one, easy to access location, thus, eliminating the tedious process of searching certain topics manually. For a more refined search, an advanced search option is located under the 'Resources' section.

The URC's main menu is grouped into three main departments, Resources, Development and Community.User Resource Center

The Resources department is a place where users can discover a wealth of product information to increase their AutoMate knowledge, such as tutorials, knowledgebase articles, sample tasks and various technical documentations.

The tutorials segment is comprised of Flash presentations that illustrate step by step walkthroughs in regards to an assortment of commonly used tasks. The objective of these tutorials is to introduce new or evaluating AutoMate users to the basic elements, tools, functions, and capabilities available in AutoMate so that they can quickly create realistic working tasks for their business processes.

The Sample Tasks repository offers nearly one hundred pre-built, downloadable sample tasks (ranging from common to complex) created by both Network Automation employees and AutoMate users. Each sample includes a description of what it accomplishes along with special instructions or notes (if needed). These sample tasks can introduce users to potential modeling and construction methods so that they can see examples of how they might go about modeling their own tasks. Most importantly, users can publish their own sample tasks by simply selecting the option "Click Here to Upload Your Task." Please note that all uploaded tasks need to be tested and approved before being published.

The Knowledgebase is a collection of up to date technical documentation including articles pertaining quick fixesKnowledgebase to common errors, essays covering details about frequently used product features and modules, solutions to known issues, Hints, Tips and How To's. The primary benefit of the knowledgebase is to aid users to optimize product information collection, organization, and retrieval as well as to provide a means for users to discover resolutions to various AutoMate problems that have known solutions.

The Online Help section features AutoMate's help documentation in web-based format with full text search. To find a specific topic, simply type the word(s) to search for in the 'Search' field (top left-hand corner). For those customers who wish to have a hard-copy of the Help Document, a Microsoft Word representation of the complete Help Doc can be downloaded and printed.

The Development department supplies important information regarding the design and maintenance of AutoMate. The Version History section offers a timeline of all improvements for each product update. A full list of categorizedDevelopment fixes and enhancements can be viewed by clicking on each version. The purpose for product updates is to address typical issues that originated in an earlier version; therefore, it is recommended that users always keep up to date with the latest AutoMate version. In order to download the current version, select the option "Click Here to Download!" Furthermore, always be sure to apply all "critical updates" and Service Packs from Microsoft to ensure proper operating system and AutoMate functionality.
The Migration Tool section accomodates a utility that former AutoMate 4 users can download and execute in order to properly migrate their tasks from AutoMate 4 to AutoMate 6. The Migration Utility properly converts AutoMate 4 tasks to AutoMate 5 or AutoMate 6 .AML (Automation Markup Language) format.

The Community department is a place where customers can stay informed about AutoMate products, keep up to date with Network Automation news and activities and collaborate with other Network Automation staff as well as members of the broad community of AutoMate users.

The AutoMate Advisor is Network Automation's monthly newsletter that covers subjects such as company highlights, technical commentaries, previews of new releases, announcements, tips and tricks, and more. Some featured articles include "Meet Our Team" which is an informal interview with a different Network Automation staff member each month. "Tech Talk" is a monthly article contributed by members of our Technical Support staff pertaining to system design and implementation. Our goal is to enlighten AutoMate users of its key features in a clear, simple and effective manner so that they have a better understanding of the product, which makes them more productive, stress-free and happy, thus, lowering our tech support call volume. Of course, less stressed customers are more likely to stay customers for longer.

The Discussion Forums are considered a key component of the Network Automation business model. It is a popular area to post questions, share tips, talk about solutions to problems and discuss other issues pertaining to AutoMate. The forums provide an approach to interact online with Network Automation support, development and senior staff members as well as AutoMate professionals and independent experts. It provides a commonplace where customers can easily share honest feedback and input and where we can respond to their needs by working together and creating solutions for any problem from start to finish. Although navigating within the forums is fairly easy, at times, it is faster to locate a message or a thread by using built-in search function, so your question may even have already been answered.

Discussion ForumsIn addition to the Discussion Forums, the Suggestion Box is another place to state your opinions, leave comments and requests in regards to your overall experience with AutoMate, the website, the AutoMate community and Network Automation, Inc. as a whole.

As part of our commitment to enhance communication between Network Automation and AutoMate users, we have added a Star Rating system on all published materials throughout the URC, including articles, tutorials, sample tasks, and training notes. Users now have the ability to rate various sections of the URC with a single click of the mouse. A "Comment" option has been supplemented as well, so customers are now able to express their comments regarding a variety of subjects and materials, including other user comments.