|Flexible Dealmaking and Contact Management
Back and forth negotiations, formal contracts and redeployment orders
|Buyers of used or surplus equipment need more than a shopping cart and "click here" facility to conclude purchase transactions. Unlike new equipment, each item of used equipment is unique -- in condition, configuration, prior use, location, and price, if not in other characteristics. Buyers and sellers need to exchange a great deal of information before they can agree on price and other terms.
Dynaprice has developed a "contact management sytem" specially designed for the back-and-forth negotiations typical of trading in used equipment. It is designed to screen out time-wasting inquiries while tracking and managing the history of all simultaneous back-and-forth negotiations on each listing. It has incorporated into it features found nowhere else to facilitate the business of used equipment trading, including the automation of emails to competing respondents interested in the same item.
Conclusion of negotiated deals may be handled offline (with "finalized" transactions recording final terms) or handled via client-custom printed contracts, with multiple line-items individually followed through shipment and payment stages.
Non-negotiated pricing may be used for fixed-price external sales or book-value (or unstated value) internal redeployments. When used, internal requestors or external buyers may be offered order forms through which they initiate contract-related operations by the Investment Recovery staff.
|Dealmaking transactions consist of chains of back-and-forth communications between buyer and seller. Complete transaction histories are available to the client (who may search a complete pending transactions database by item, person, date, and other data elements) and to the remote buyer (through his My Info page).
Multi-line contracts can be used to document grouped line-item transactions, and manage each through shipment and payment in a large variety of ways, to suit clients' varied methods of operation. Contracts provide for additional accounting information and attachments at the line-item and full-contract levels.
Viewer-initiated multi-line orders can be offered to internal users or to external buyers to speed transactions. Certain types of credit card or PayPal authorizations and payments may be set up for fixed-price offerings, as can certain automated shipping cost and tax calculations. Shipping costs may be calculated based on preset weights, shippability, and US Zip Code, or may be added to a "Confirmed Item List" by the client after the buyer submits his multi-line item order.
Automated internal redeployment orders follow a different pattern. Non-negotiable transfer pricing is assumed. Multi-line "order forms" are used to select quantities of items. Standard surplus items may be associated with fixed descriptions drawn from an asset management table and may be aggregated, for ordering purposes, across multiple inventory locations. Order submission may be customized to implement special business rules. Order execution consists of emailed pick ticket/ship-to notices and order confirms.
Payment and shipping logistics may be set up with many degrees of freedom. All payments and shipments may be partial, by line item, or full, for one or more line items. All may be cancelled and reset. Automated notices may be sent to package carriers, who may be asked to enter pickup dates, ticket numbers, delivery dates, and shipping charges via a special, controlled-access DynaCarrier website set up for this purpose. Payments may be entered via a lockbox or Finance Department staff removed from the Investment Recovery staff. Flags notify Investment Recovery staff when remote actions occur, such as a buyer approving a web version of a contract, a shipper indicating delivery, or a finance staffmember entering a payment.
Initial Web Contact
Screening, speeding and
databasing responses to
listings made via the web
|Inquiries regarding specific listings are prompted by buttons on the "full information" page, the page depicting and describing the listing in maximum detail. The buttons are located there, instead of on the less-detailed tables of listings, so that full descriptive detail can be used to qualify valid inquiries and screen out time-wasters.|
Three buttons with venue-customizable text are provided to distinguish among inquiries that are basically Acceptances, where price is agreed (but units may vary from the total shown), Counter-offers, where a different price is offered, and Inquiries, where no price is stated by the respondent.
A user clicking any of these buttons receives a form to structure his communication and identify himself. This form starts with a venue-customizable note explaining the meaning of the button pressed (accept, counter-offer, or inquiry). The form provides specific places where price, quantity, and a message can be entered. If the viewer has logged in or sent a prior communication in his current session, his identity is provided without his need to fill out an identification form; if not, he provides his name, optional company name, email and phone on a short form to identify himself to the recipient.
When he submits this "dealmaking" form, he generates a tightly formatted, easy-to-read email to the venue or person that posted the listing; he also receives confirmation of delivery on a screen printable for his records that documents his submission. The email's structured data are databased for retrieval by both the initiator and the recipient of the email. The email itself is sent through the internet's email facilities.
Initial Off-Web Contact
Quickly recording and
databasing responses to
listings made in person or
via phone, mail or fax
|Inquiries received by phone or fax can be handled offline, with simple unit adjustments to inventory when needed, or easily managed for full tracking of negotiating history through use of Dynaprice dealmaking facilities.|
To use those facilities, shortcuts help venue administrators quickly register respondents with whom they are speaking on the phone, while they are still speaking. Once either a short-form or full registration is on file, administrators may easily temporarily assume the identity of an off-web respondent and act on his behalf. Specifically, he can enter into transaction records the same acceptance, counter-offer, and inquiry information that the respondent might have entered had he been on the web instead of on the phone. With less time pressure, administrators can handle fax, mail or notes from personal dealings in the same way.
Once the administrator has entered the respondent's action information, he can return to his own identity (and privileges) and record his own counter-offer, message, etc. into the system, just as he would have had the original inquiry been on the web (see below). By handling follow-up as well as initial contacts from off-web respondents in this manner, the same full history of negotiations can be recorded in the contact management (dealmaking) system whether or not the respondent is on the web.
Viewing and taking next
steps in a back and forth
negotiation with respondents
|Each series of structured message exchanges between respondents and venue administrators with regard to a particular item can be called up for viewing at any time on a "Transaction History" page. This presents each structured communication in date/time sequence, including such data as the quantity stated in a communication vs. the quantity originally shown, the price stated vs. the price shown, free-form statements of added terms and general messages, deadlines stated, and a number of other data fields.|
The Transaction History page serves as the administrator's console for taking next-step action with regard to each series of exchanges. It provides facilities for choosing a message type (e.g., counter-offer, general message, or agreement to terms) and composing a structured message, then either sending it via email or recording it as documentation for off-web communications. It also provides facilities for archiving individual "chains of correspondence" (and associated items, with their images) when final actions are taken and for over-riding automatic messaging to other interested respondents regarding changes in item availability.
The Transaction History page can be used by members of the public to view their chains of correspondence with a particular venue (or through a marketplace venue to sources of publicly posted listings). Members of the public who log in will find a list of their pending negotiations on their "My Info" pages, and can choose which one to expand into a full transaction history.
Creating and managing
with flexibility and control
|Once a chain of correspondence is opened between a respondent and a venue administrator, new messages can be added (or recorded) as needed by either party. Public respondents can counter-offer, send general messages, accept terms, suspend or break off negotiations; administrators can do the same, but can also reach agreement and either finalize terms or convert an agreement into a contract line item.|
Administrators get to a particular chain of correspondence through their "Venue Operations" page and a search for the particular negotiation they want. External respondents get to their chains of correspondence with the venue through their personal "My Info" page at the venue. That page lists pending negotiations with the venue (or made through the venue if between members of the public at a marketplace venue) and offers links to each negotiation's "transaction history."
In addition to correspondence between respondents and administrators with regard to single listings, facilities are provided for correspondence that is not specific to a single item or respondent.
Both respondents and venue administrators can send "general" messages to each other within the dealmaking system that are not item-specific. These are recorded within each item-specific chain of correspondence between the two, so that each transaction history records the general messages as well as the item-specific ones.
Additionally, venue administrators can compose and send messages to all respondents with pending negotiations (open chains of correspondence) with regard to a particular item; these, too, are added to each individual chain of correspondence affected and are viewable by both parties.
Both parties, of course, are free to send messages (or telephone or visit) each other outside the mechanics of the dealmaking system as well. Venue administrators can record notes from such contacts within the system, and optionally send them as confirming email to external respondents. If external respondents record such notes, they are automatically sent to venue administrators or other (public posting) respondents.
Classifying negotiating steps
into a transaction life cycle
for better management
|Each message added to the chain of correspondence with regard to a particular item is classified as to type. The classifications used portray the expected life cycle of a negotiation between a respondent and a venue administrator are shown below, along with the negotiation status resulting from that transaction:|
The contract-related transactions are used only by those clients wishing to use the full contracting facilities of their venues, as described below; where contracting is used, a negotiating sequence is terminated with an "agree to terms" transaction, which makes the result avaiilable as a line item in a contract. Those wishing only to do their contracting or dealmaking off line end their transaction histories with "finalize" transactions.
Venue Administrators can search through their lists of pending negotiations and select only those at a certain "status" for further review. Changes in the status of contracts and contract line items are handled withing the contracting subsystem described below.
Agreement to Terms
Recording done deals
and taking needed action
|When a deal is done, the venue administrator enters final terms and any related notes into the contact management system. If he is planning to use the optional contracting facilities, he chooses an "Agree to Terms" transaction to do this; if not, he chooses a "Finalize" transaction.|
Upon agreement or finalization, the number of units of the item in the affected listing that are shown publicly are reduced, possibly to zero, by the number specified and shifted to an account called "agreed," where they are reported only to the venue administrator. If no units remain visible to the public, the listing is withdrawn from public view entirely in all client and associated group and public portal venues. Automatic notification messages are sent (if not manually overridden by the administrator) to all others interested in the item affected that the units remaining available for them are either reduced or eliminated.
If an "Agreed" transaction is used in anticipation of construction of a contract, the venue administrator can add the agreed terms as a line item in a contract. He may agree to terms for several items and then compose a multi-line contract from the set of agreements, in the manner described below.
If a "Finalization" transaction is used, the venue administrator may archive the associated chain of correspondence, and, optionally, the item affected (if no units remain outside the "agreed" account), within that transaction step itself.
The Dynaprice system does not conduct actual financial transactions. It concludes its tracking of dealmaking activities either with the "Finalize" transaction or with advancing the status of a contract through "Contract Paid."
Accounting for Quantities
Maintaining and viewing
the status of items
in multi-unit listings
|Each listing holds one or more units of the offer or wanted item described. While most listings of used equipment and like items cover single units, some cover a number of nearly identical and commercially interchangeable items.|
When multiple units of an item are initially posted, they are divided into two accounts: shown to others as available for transactions (above the Company 1 level of visibility) and hidden (above that level). The hidden account covers individual units whose inventory status must be tracked but which are withheld from display and dealmaking for any number of reasons.
Initiation of a live auction reserves the units involved, taking them from the "shown" account into a "reserved" account. Completion of the auction with successful sale will move the reserved quantity to an "agreed" account.
Conclusion of an "Agreed" or "Finalize" transaction moves unit counts from "shown" to "agreed". Furthermore, the breaking of a transaction or revoking of a contract take counts from the "agreed" subaccount and move them back to the "hidden" account, where entries in the listing may be edited before they are moved by venue staff, if desired, back into the "shown" subaccount.
A multi-unit listing, therefore, can simultaneously have its total count of units distributed over shown, hidden, reserved, and agreed accounts. The total and subtotals are revealed on the edit and full information screens only when they are viewed by employees or administrators of the venue where they are inventoried. Members of the public see only "shown" quantities and those associated with individual auctions.
Preparing formal contracts
and accounting for other
costs and distributions
|Dynaprice inventory venues can convert one or more "agreed" transactions with a single respondent into a multi-line contract. This is an optional feature which requires the prior setup of client-specific forms of agreement, attachments, accounts, and the like.|
Constructing a contract takes several steps. It first requires establishing final price and quantity terms for each transaction involved in an "agree to terms" transaction. Venue administrators can then go to their Venue Operations page, enter identification for the respondent in one of several ways, and get a "shopping cart" list of "agreed" transactions with that respondent. By checking off which of the one or more pending agreed transactions they wish to enter into a contract, they formulate the basis for a contract to be prepared. The set of agreed transactions can be divided into more than one contract, if desired.
Contract forms are pre-designed as client-customized documents, flexibly laying out structured information from the Dynaprice contract skeleton on company letterhead, if desired. The Dynaprice contract skeleton has several document and accounting elements:
Contracts pass through a transaction cycle of being offered, signed, shipped, part-paid (if needed) and paid; then they can be archived. The status of a contract as a whole is the least of the comparable statuses of each of its line items; through a "contract action" page, each line item can be shipped, receive part or full payments individually, or be revoked.
Contracts provide for identification of a contract officer, separate shipping address, form of payment expected, and so on. Payment receipts can be recorded with specific check numbers or other memo items.
Contracts can be searched and retrieved from among all those pending using a variety of search terms.
Internal transfers are
speeded with pick tickets
and order confirms
|Dynaprice internal redeployment systems support easy ordering and specification of internal transfer shipments of categorized surplus of any kind, from MRO supplies to used capital equipment.
Transfers among multiple usage or stocking locations and multiple destination locations are supported by a Company Location table that can include delivery information for thousands of company locations. Maintenance of company location data may be performed within the Dynaprice Corporate Investment Recovery Suite using the same easy web interface as is used for all other functions.
Available listings for company-standard items (SKUs) are aggregated from all the locations where they may be present; orders may be placed against inventory at multiple locations. Choice of alternative sources may be based upon either FIFO or shipment-minimization rules.
Instantaneous distribution of pick tickets (including sorted warehouse locations) to all sources involved in an order is accomplished by email, as is confirmation of the complete order. Order confirms identify the source (with emamil and phone numbers, where available) for each item in the order. All orders are databased for later analysis and reporting, and all emails may be copied into an audit trail email account.
Gain rapid access
to dealmaking records
for respondents or items
|The collection of pending negotiations can be searched in many convenient ways. Short-cut searches from the Venue Operations page permit rapid access to the transactions of an individual respondent or to those affecting a particular listing. Search results are presented as grouped by respondent (in a "shopping cart" sort of way) or by item; each grouping in either format offers a clickable button to send an email message to the one or more respondents involved.|
More fine-tuned searching can be performed through specification of date ranges, item descriptions, product classes, and the like. These parameters are entered in a more extensive transaction search form. Contracts may similarly be searched, as may archived transactions and contracts.
Facilities to automate
market stimulation and
availability change notices
|A very valuable marketing feature of the Dynaprice dealmaking system automates much of the routine correspondence between a venue operator and those with current, pending negotiations.|
Market Stimulation messages can be sent automatically to other interested parties when a new acceptance, counter-offer, or inquiry comes in for a particular listing. These messages simply notify their recipients of the new action on the listing concerned and request confirmation of the recipients' continued interest.
Availability Notices and Advisories can be sent automatically when a concluded "agree" or "finalize" transaction reduces the number of units remaining for other interested parties.
"Renewed Availability" notices can be sent when a pending agreement is broken or suspended or a contract is revoked or an item is taken "off hold" and the associated quantity is added back into the "shown" account.
The activation and control of these automatic messages is set by the Venue Administrator in his venue's DynaSpecs parameters. A "days old" parameter establishes an age boundary for last actions by other respondents within which they qualify for receipt of automatic messaging; a setting of zero days turns off this facility in favor of fully manual control over such communications by the venue staff. When activated, this feature can be selectively turned off by Venue Administrators on a case-by-case basid when they record off-web transactions under assumed identities or respond to specific incoming transactions.
Separating old or completed
dealmaking records from
live, pending transactions
|Transactions and listing records can be archived. When archived, the relevant records are taken out of the main, active database tables and moved to another set of tables. Archived transactions and items can be retrieved from these on-line archives using much the same Fast-Find, Advanced, and Transaction searching facilities available for live listings and transactions.|
Archiving serves to speed the operation of the website for users working with the live data.
Inserting transactions into the archives can be done in one of two ways. Individual chains of correspondence can be archived upon conclusion of a "finalize" transaction and contracts may be archived upon completion of full payment, at the time those transactions are entered. Individual transaction sets or contracts may also be archived by special action after those transactions have occurred.
Bulk archiving of transactions and contracts can be accomplished by specifying a date before which all older transactions will be archived. Venue operators can choose to include in this "sweep" either: 1) only complete chains of correspondence based on the most recent transaction in the chain falling before the criterion date; or 2) even individual transactions with chains whose most recent action falls after the criterion date. Contracts are never decomposed and are either fully archived or not.
Archiving of individual listings can occur only if no units remain outside the "agreed" subaccount. Bulk archiving of transactions will archive as well all associated items fully "agreed." Items with remaining units will not be archived. Items with no remaining interest to the venue operator may either be simply deleted (with no archived record) or placed into a "message" type transaction and archived with a note about the action taken.
Ultimate off-line archiving is performed as a special event on request by Dynaprice. Copies of the relevant information can be printed or converted to spreadsheets or similar formats on removable magnetic media.
Handle sales and
redeployments the way
|The diagram below depicts what we call "The Choreography of the Deal," the many different paths through dealmaking, contracting, ordering, payment, and shipment that can be selectively assembled to match the procedures desired by our clients.|
Most clients can find the basics of their current modes of operation -- and often some desired enhancements -- readily available within the options depicted below. In many cases, however, new features or functions are required to meet the precise needs and wants of new clients. Our Dynaspecs system for building out new forms of communication and new options for processing speeds our implemention of these, as does our experience in meeting the needs of an already-diverse group of clients
Glance at the diagram below to obtain a general appreciation for the flexibility we offer, but please contact us for a personal description of each step the the "choreography."