Missing Data Link Prompts Professional Services to Uncover Access Control Problem

An integrator was seeking assistance with the conversion of an existing access control system, consisting of 12 different locations, 19 controllers, 170 doors and over 800 personnel records. The Professional Services team from Open Options was tasked with assisting in gathering as  much data as possible to build the system in-house before going on-site to install DNA Fusion and test the system. But they quickly identified a problem that was unknown to the customer. 

While looking over the data, the Open Options Professional Services team uncovered that there wasn't a direct link between the access levels and the personnel records. Without this information, users who had a card would not have access to any doors, as there would not be any access levels assigned to their cards.   

Michael Digby, Professional Services & Sales Engineer, Open Options, explained what needed to be done: “Import files had to be made for each door and time schedule along with adding that access level within DNA Fusion. Once that was done using OpenDX, the import files were processed, and any errors were corrected. These steps made sure the data being import was consistent and accurate. Once all the files were imported, another database was spun up and the import process repeated to ensure everything worked correctly.” 

The final step was to use a back-up tool to extract the data from specific tables, so they could be used manually to create the access levels and associate them to the correct door and time schedule. When all of the files were ready, they were zipped up and sent off to the Professional Services team member that was on site working with the integrator replacing the existing access control with Mercury panels. As each facility was brought online, they were able to import the data for that specific facility and test the system on the spot. 

“The Demo must go on!”

One of Open Options’ customers called in the midst of installing a demo for an end-user because they were having issues with getting the license to install correctly at the site. After working with the client for a few minutes online, it was determined that the license file was corrupt on the server they were trying to install it on. For this pre-sales situation, a top engineer from the Professional Services department of Open Options went immediately to work on the problem, as the clock was ticking on this on-site demo.

At this point, the Open Options engineer exited the install, removed the old license file and downloaded a new one. Then the customer was able to proceed with the install. As the customer experience comes first, the engineer remained on the line to make sure that DNA Fusion would start on the server.

However, there was another issue that kept DNA Fusion software from opening. The service account was not added in the services correctly. Quickly, Professional Services corrected it. As a result, the customer was relieved that it was resolved in a timely manner. The demo could go on.

“Our Professional Services team was able to connect with the technician and help ease his frustrations, and get his problem resolved,” said John Hubbard, National Sales Engineer, Professional Services at Open Options. “Because we were available to help him in a timely manner, he was able to show the potential end-user customer that the Open Options team was willing and able to help resolve any problems they ran into.”

This example demonstrates that Open Options Professional Services is a team of professionals ready to help with any issues that a dealer or an end-user may encounter.

Helpful Tips to Share from our One-on-One Training Sessions

Dealers and end-user customers attend separate classes to focus on their specific needs. Dealers need to know how to program and configure the system, while a system user is focused on the day-to-day operations of the software. It also allows each group to collaborate with other students that face the same challenges and issues. This allows them to learn from each other, hear each other’s questions and feedback, and spark some creative ideas. But when the Covid pandemic start, training sessions went to one-on-one sessions (hello, WebEx), the sharing of challenges, learnings, and insights have not been so easy to come by but the Open Options trainers provided some scenarios to get the students strategizing. With that, we thought we’d share with you a few things both dealers and end-users have been dealing with and learning in recent weeks.

Partial Lockdown - Tip #1

A dealer needed to know more about how to configure a partial lockdown with an email host based macro specifically for one of his upcoming projects with complex details. The training team at Open Options was able to sit down and talk about concepts including what they wanted to happen and when they wanted it to happen. Once that information had been identified, the scenario was setup and tested multiple times. The dealer left the session confident that he could accomplish the task.

Time Schedules and Holidays – Tip #2

Another dealer did not fully understand the concept of time schedules and holidays or how they were being affected at the controller level. A deeper understanding of how to use the holiday types in DNA Fusion in correlation with the time schedules was needed to help one of his customers who had businesses in multiple parts of the world. Open Options training was there for him with a solution to his issue.

Using Extra Options – Tip #3

The participant had been using DNA Fusion for about a year but never had formal training, which resulted in missing or incorrect concepts. The main disconnect was knowing what the extra options meant in the access levels and pulling information manually. Because the customer was self-taught, he was unaware of how to assign priorities to access levels or how to use various reports such as trace history or event history. Open Options was able to train him in a way that worked for him As a result, it allowed him to be more productive with the DNA Fusion system.

“Participants mentioned that they were shocked and impressed that they were receiving one-on-one sessions since they don't typically receive that kind of treatment with other companies,” said Brittany Tate, Technical Trainer at Open Options. “When one of the one-on-one dealer classes ended, the participant mentioned that he was in the process of being assigned to a project overseas and needed to make sure that he had a firm foundation on DNA Fusion before he left the training. He marveled at how the training was customized to his needs and gave him knowledge he would be able to use as soon as he touched down for his next project.”

Training is always here for you.

Saving Lives with Access Control during the COVID-19 Pandemic

The managers of a residential facility for people who are 55 years of age and up were concerned about the older population at risk to contract COVID-19, so they came up with a creative idea to use the access control system to help them identify who might be sick and immobilized by the virus. After a call to the Sales team at Open Options, help was on the way.

Open Options helped this DNA Fusion user set up the capability to generate a “non-use report” to flag in the system those residents who have not presented their credential at their apartment entrance within a pre-determined period of time. Seeking to be proactive, the managers of the residential community wanted to use this as an indicator possibly highlighting ill residents who would require assistance.

“The residential facility managers wanted to provide a value-added service for the mature resident population, while not being perceived as overly intrusive,” said Daniel Cosgrove, Sales Manager at Open Options. “We worked closely with our customer to develop the custom report, and we delivered it in short order.”

The Sales team at Open Options served as the quarterback to huddle up and activate the team. They connected Open Options Professional Services with the residential facility directly for input and feedback, and then organized the efforts of the Open Options development team to generate the custom report designed to highlight non-use of the card reader, which is installed at every door of every apartment to provide secure entry.

When the access control system detects that there has been no card reads by a resident during a pre-defined period of time, such as one day, then this is highlighted in an auto-generated report, followed soon afterward by a phone call to the resident to check on them and ensure their health and safety.

“This project to use access control to proactively, yet unobtrusively, identify and check on at-risk residents was a success, resulting in a satisfied customer,” added Cosgrove. “This was also a welcome relief for the dealer who had felt stuck until Open Options got involved.”

Summer Heats Up with Tech Support’s Hot Fixes

A city government customer was having problems while trying to utilize custom fields for personnel entries and badge printing. This information was important to have associated in DNA Fusion and included on their printed badges. The Technical Support team at Open Options wasted no time developing the hot fixes – and going above and beyond.

Tech Support tackled two obstacles:

  1. Associating the custom fields to a badge template so that the information could be printed on the badge
  2. Straightening out the ability to update information in those custom fields

After getting the call, Open Options tech support representative Jose Charco verified the issue of not being able to associate the custom fields with a database field selection while in badge designer. He immediately escalated it to the Open Options development team, which worked quickly to develop a hot fix. Then Jose walked the customer through executing the SQL script that would address the issue so they could create the badge template that they needed to meet their requirements.

“Everything seemed to be resolved, but, unfortunately, they ran into another issue when they were attempting to update the custom fields,” said Nicholas Robran, Tech Support Manager at Open Options. “Once again, Jose got the details and escalated the issue to our development team who quickly provided another hot fix for the customer. This was all possible to resolve so fast because of the amazing cooperation between the different departments within Open Options.”

Going a step further, the development team rapidly incorporated the hot fixes into the next release of DNA Fusion. Subsequently, Tech Support reached out to the customer to assist with the upgrade and ensure that all of the updated functionality was available at the customer site.

“This functionality was a key requirement that the customer needed that could uniquely be accomplished with DNA Fusion,” added Robran. “Once upgraded with the solutions in place, the dealer and end-user customer were both very happy with the functionality.”

Overcoming the Disruption of Employee Departures on Access Control

A property management company that had a workforce reduction was having trouble logging into DNA Fusion because one of the operators was no longer with the company. Without a password that was required, this existing Open Options customer was in dire need to solve the problem. Their main contact at their dealer, unfortunately, had also left his position. With nowhere else to turn amid all the personnel changes, the end-user turned to the Sales team at Open Option as the ultimate problem-solvers to quarterback a last-minute drive to a resolution.

When the end-user customer attempted to log into DNA Fusion, they received an error message that the SQL database was not connecting. It was a Microsoft issue, not a DNA Fusion issue. The customer initially called into the Tech Support team at Open Options, but a resolution was going to require a coordinated effort across different functions.

The regional sales team at Open Options reached out to the customer and scheduled a WebEx session with the customer and their IT department. The Sales leader also brought in his colleagues from the Tech Support side of Open Options for additional troubleshooting. After they worked on the problem in a collaborative fashion, Open Options was able to access their computer and successfully run the reports that they required. This is comforting during challenging times when changes, including personnel changes, can cause disruptions and create new issues that need a coordinated effort to resolve. Open Options provides access that connects customers to resolutions. This is part of the promise of ConnectCare, which is the next level of customer care, especially useful in times of uncertainty and disruption.

Professional Services Aids School with Conversion Amid Data Inconveniently Spread Out

Conversion of an existing access control system across 12 different locations, 19 controllers, 170 doors, and more than 800 personnel records was going to be challenging for a school district in the Mid-west. The Open Options Professional Services was tasked with assisting in gathering as much data as possible to build the system in-house before going on-site to install DNA Fusion and test the system. But then this happened…

Professional Services was not able to get a backup of their existing system. They had to use 26 different PDF reports. Data was spread across these reports, and they had to be organized and combined. To further complicate the process, the reports did not import cleanly into a useable format, which meant quite a bit of data had to be copied and pasted by hand. As a point of reference, one of the reports was over 600 pages.

“After reviewing the reports and identifying which reports contained the critical data

required, a plan was starting to come together,” said Michael Digby, Professional Services & Sales Engineer at Open Options. “We were able to deliver the assistance that the integrator was looking for. We were essentially able to demonstrate how our Professional Services team at Open Options adds value.”

Professional Services began to take the data and use it to start programming the hardware within DNA Fusion. Once that was finished, the next task was to address getting the personnel data for 800 cardholders imported. This required importing and exporting data multiple times to match up personnel information with card numbers. Using OpenDX with two import routines, the files that were created were then imported into DNA Fusion quickly and efficiently.

“With some basic quality control checks for confirmation, everything was moving along,” added Digby. “After designing and programming the system, it is now ready to be installed and tested.

The goal to doing most of this work in-house will allow the on-site Professional Services team member to troubleshoot any issues or assist with any custom programming that may come up.”

The Creative Use of DNA Fusion – The New Challenge of Temperature Checks at Entry Points

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, an end-user customer was required to create security points where temperature checks would be conducted of each employee who is entering certain buildings. A high fever is a sign of possible coronavirus infection at which point the employee is denied access to the building in order to protect other employees. But how does one use an access control system to give or deny access to a building based on a person’s body temperature? Open Options’ Tech Support team had to get creative. 

Although DNA Fusion does a lot, controlling access to a building based on whether a person has a fever or not was a new challenge for Open Options, uniquely reflective of the COVID-19 era. The end user’s dealer contacted Luis Solorzano on the Technical Support team of Open Options for assistance after they were already utilizing anti-passback, which was unable to be further used to accomplish their goals.

The buildings that needed to have this special controlled access, based on monitoring people’s body temperature, did not have any physical barrier that would force personnel working in those buildings to a checkpoint every day. Luis engaged the entire support team at Open Options to find a solution to meet the customer’s needs.

The best solution that could be implemented rapidly, the team agreed, was to have DNA Fusion deactivate the credentials at a set time every day of those people who work in different shifts in those buildings. Then when they return to work, they would need to go through the checkpoint to get their temperature checked and, if cleared, badge in at the checkpoint, which would then re-activate their credentials, so they could proceed into the building.   

“After working out the details to address multiple shifts and only affect certain personnel, instead of de-activating everyone at the company daily, the solution was presented and tested on-site,” said Nic Robran, Technical Support Manager, Open Options.  “Once tested, the customer was very pleased with the solution, and they were able to get the desired function without needing to wait so that they could implement the safety measures for food prep due to the current global crisis.”

Reopening Training Class at Open Options: On the Road Again

Training is back in person! The Training team at Open Options hit the road running with an on-site training in Casper, Wyoming recently. It marked the restart of in-person training sessions offered by our company in the aftermath of the lifting of stay-at-home orders. Classes are also now being offered at our Open Options headquarters in Texas. As the economy opens, it’s back to business -- helping you drive your business or improve your operation through training. 

“After the COVID-19 stay-at-home orders, everyone was excited to come together to learn about DNA Fusion,” said Sherinda Barrow, Director of Education Services at Open Options “It was great to connect with our customers in person at this regional training class. We enjoyed seeing everyone’s face in class.”

This regional training class had seven dealer technicians and a system user from the area in attendance. The students came from various backgrounds; many of whom had little to no experience with access control. The first part of the class covered what they see in the field, including wiring of door status monitors, request-to-exit devices and readers, including OSDP and Wiegand technologies. The remainder of the class involved hands-on training on DNA Fusion. The class wrapped up with discussing project-specific topics such as an upcoming installation with an integration to the Allegion NDE lockset as well as troubleshooting scenarios.

One student said, “Thank you for your patience. I did not have a clue on Tuesday but I learned so much from this class. You are an amazing trainer.” 

Another student commented that the “class provided me wonderful solutions for my customers. Best training ever!”

The schedule of training classes is posted on the Open Options website and on the company’s social media channels, and the Training department is currently accepting requests to schedule new classes in different regions. “It’s exciting to be conducting in-person training again, and we’re looking forward to the upcoming classes in the coming weeks,” added Sherinda. 

However, if you live in a state where restrictions on in-person gatherings are still in place, please contact us at Open Options for alternative, online training to support you.

Please visit our website for more information.

COVID 19 Training Update:

Open Options class sizes are limited to 6 students maximum per class. We take every precaution to ensure the safety of our students by providing cleaning procedures that include sanitizing and UV sanitization of mouse and keyboard equipment. All of these measures have been implemented to protect our employees and students.