|Managing People: Staff and Users
Managing personal information, authorizations, access, and user communications
|Because Dynaprice serves many different clients, both client staff and outside users are given unique, systemwide identities (unique email addresses, User IDs and passwords).
The multi-client, network character of Dynaprice data services makes possible several valuable services that cannot be provided by solo websites. These include providing users with a single log-in usable at all client websites and distributing once-updated address information to all clients. Such services, however, require tight security for user-private and company-private personal information.
Off-web business activities are actively supported. Authorized client staff can quickly register or assume the identity of off-web respondents to record their communications as though they were conducted on the web.
These and other administrative and marketing-oriented facilities are described below.
Personal information record
|People involved as staff or users of Dynaprice venues are each given their own private data record. This record is created by a registration form open to then-unidentified members of the public. That form includes about 25 pieces of data, some optional, including required User ID and password fields. User ID's and email addresses are kept unique to individuals throughout the multi-client, multi-venue Dynaprice network.|
Users' registration records are updated by a similar form accessible only to logged-in users with the proper permissions. The owner of a record can see and edit all fields, including his password. Administrators of venues where the person is identified cannot see, but can change, users' passwords, while they are given data entry and edit privileges for company confidential information about the person.
Staff of client venues may be registered by venue administrators or by themselves. Registration en masse may be accomplished from data tables or spreadsheets provided when a new client is set up.
Since users registered at one Dynaprice client venue may try to register at another client's venue later on, Dynaprice has implemented secure means to prevent duplicate, conflicting registrations.
The icon is displayed on the registration forms of all clients to remind a viewer registered elsewhere that he can log in at the current venue. If he continues and submits an email address associated with an already-registered person, he is prevented from (possibly falsely) re-registering; instead he is taken into an administrative process to clarify and complete his registration attempt.
QUIK Partial Registration
Abbreviated registration and
recognition for initiators of
transactions at public venues
|Public venues can be viewed without registration by anyone on the web. But any transactional action taken by a viewer, e.g., response to a listing or the sending of a "Contact Us" email, requires that the individual be identified and identifiable by the venue receiving that contact.|
To encourage responses from the public, the burden of complete registrations are not required when unidentified members of the public simply initiate these types of transactions. Instead, they must complete only a short-form identifying data sheet before their email inquiry or offer can be accepted.
The short form requires only name, email, phone and optional company identification. When it is submitted as part of an inquiry or offer, the email address is used to identify whether a person already registered, anywhere within the Dynaprice network, has the same email. If so, the person taking action is identified as the pre-registered person with the same email, but only for the purpose of submitting further inquiries; he is logged in at the lowest form of authentication and so cannot access the pre-registered person's full registration information.
If the short-form email is not recognized, a User ID and an initial, changeable password are generated and an abbreviated new registration is processed; this includes the emailing of a welcome letter from the operator of the venue involved. The standard, but venue customizable, welcome letter includes the user id and password, points out their usability wherever the DynaPass icon is seen, and encourages use of the My Info page to complete a full registration.
As a result of this process (as well as of QUIK registrations used by venue staff for handling off-web contacts), Dynaprice holds a mix of full and partial registrations.
Log-in and Authentication
Validation of identity and
application of permissions
throughout each venue
|To access sections of venue websites off limits to the public, users must provide a valid User ID and password that is recognized within the Dynaprice system -- not necessarily at the venue where they are submitted. Log-in pages at each client venue offer viewers three counted attempts to log in; if they fail, they are then are advised to phone the venue administrator for assistance.|
Upon log-in, server-side parameters are set up to govern what the user can and cannot see and do at the venue. These are based on company confidential information that includes his "relationship" to the venue, his general and specific permissions at that venue, and his validation level. Every web page or screen that is not open to public viewing is given a minimum validation level which must be met before its display. These user session variables are checked each and every time a user moves between such pages, so hackers cannot "break into" the middle of a venue's private area.
The first validation level is reached by a person who has just been given a partial registration when making an inquiry or offer but has not yet logged in with the User ID and password mailed to his submitted email address. This level is associated with display of his name on the personalization line of his screen, but does not permit access to the full registration record associated with the supplied email.
A full log-in, with assigned User ID and password, is required for access to a user's complete registration information. And venue-administered "Company/Venue Relationship" levels are used to give selected venue staffmembers access to venue operations facilities and to such data as the inside prices of items listed.
The User's My Info Page
On-screen recognition of the
viewer and valuable services
to attract his business
|Once a user has logged in to a venue, the "personalization" line at the top of each page changes from "Serving Our Guest" to "Serving" his name. Additionally, the "Log In" and "Register" links are replaced by a "Log Out" link, and a new link appears, pointing to his private "My Info" page.|
That page is his command center for all activities relating to the venue he has logged into. It makes it easy for him to update his registration information, change his subscriptions to optional services offered by the venue, review and follow-up his exchanges of inquiries, offers, responses and other emails with the venue, view and update any oustanding auction bids, and (where permitted) view and update his posted listings.
Users can click on each series of message exchanges with the venue to view the complete transaction history of their dealings with regard to a particular listing. They can then add follow-up counter-offers or other messages to that chain of correspondence and be assured of their ability to review the addition, together with any response from the venue, on their My Info page in the future.
The My Info page even displays the full list of public postings the viewer has made at all other venues of all Dynaprice clients (a valuable service to him), but links are provided to edit only the postings at the current venue. This unique facility is designed to build preferences among the most active buyers and sellers for Dynaprice client venues over other competing websites. It is a strong competitive advantage for Dynaprice clients.
DynaPass: Portable Identity
A single log-in for all
Dynaprice client venues:
collective advantage for all
|Once a public user has registered at any venue of any client of Dynaprice, he can use his "DynaPass" User ID and Password to log in to any other venue of any other client.|
This means he need remember only one log-in sequence to speed submission of inquiries and offers, and access his My Info page, at all Dynaprice client websites -- a major convenience for the active trader, and one designed to build his preference for Dynaprice client websites.
If a user logs in at a venue where he is not registered, he is considered "known" to that venue and is set up with the basic permissions of someone doing business there. The user's log-in action displaces his need to fill out and submit another form to gain access to the new venue, establishes his relationship with that venue, and thereby gives that venue's administrators access to his registration record. (If the user logs in or does business with a public venue that displays only one client's inventory, the user becomes equally "known" to that client's inventory venue as well as to its public venue.)
This typifies the way a user's registration information is handled -- as a user-centered asset. Access to it is provided ONLY to clients and venues where he is "known," that is, where he has registered, fully or partially (by submitting an inquiry or offer), or where he has actively logged in or conducted business.
No Dynaprice client knows whether a particular user "known" to it is -- or is not -- known by any other client. Each Dynaprice client's relationship with a public user of its websites is fully secret and independent from any relationship that user may have with other clients.
There is one exception: the sharing across all Dynaprice clients of updates to user name and contact information. If a user changes his address at any one client site, that change is automatically available to all clients where he is "known." This is a major cost reduction and benefit to all Dynaprice clients in keeping their customer and marketing lists up to date.
Company Confidential Data
Company information about
staff and users
|In addition to person-specific and shared identification information, each venue of each client can keep secure, private information on each person "known" to it (as described above). The following classification systems and data fields are provided for unshared, venue-private information on individuals:|
Venue Employees and Administrators can access the company records of those at or below their "Company Status." Only the Top Venue Administrator can replace himself. There are other, related privileges for information access that depend on a staffmember's company status. These can be managed to suit the administrative needs of each client. Similarly, there is a great deal of flexibility in setting up group- or individual-level permissions for various actions within a venue.
Fine tuning access by
staff and users to data
and venue facilities
|The term "permissions" refers to elements of website functionality or information access that are either made available or denied specific users. Permissions differentiate between identified and unidentified users, with the identified ones able to do things that unidentified users cannot.|
Dynaprice venues have several different types of permissions. The first type is venue-based. Clients set DynaSpecs parameters to control whether and which type of public postings will be accepted along with venue staff-posted listings. They set a DynaSpecs parameter to choose the visibility level of the venue; only listings specified as being visible at or above the level chosen can be seen at the venue. And no venue with a visibility level above "Company 1" is able to show private inventory information.
The second type of permission is standard. Standardized across all venues, no unidentified person can: a) enter a non-public venue; b) submit an inquiry, offer, or auction bid; c) access his own registration record. Unidentified users can, however, browse all public information at public venues.
Similarly, identified individuals who have no "relationship" to a particular venue cannot enter that venue if it is private to the client; affiliated persons (unidentified users coming from a pre-authorized comopany network) cannot post or respond to listings there unless they are fully logged in; employees cannot get to Venue Operations functions or see the registration information of those senior to them; and administrators below the level of Top Administrator cannot see the registration information of the Top Administrator or change the person so assigned.
The third type of permission is general permission level. These are described under Company Confidential Information and apply to all users assigned a particular level by venue administrators. The fourth type is individual action. Eight individual action permissions are provided for, and these may be individually opened or closed to individual users, overriding the functional and informational access otherwise associated with those users' general permissions levels. These type three permissions are generally used within customized sections of client venues (e.g., custom reports or contracts).
Searching and Reports
Finding personal records
and listing selected sets
of personal information
|The subset of all system-wide identified users who are "known" to a particular venue are accessible to that venue's administrators. Other system-wide users are not.|
Accessibility means that user registration information and company confidential information on those users can be found and revealed (subject to the standard permission restraints noted above) to authorized venue administrators. Dynaprice venues offer both short-cut and advanced search facilities to find the record of a known user.
From the Venue Operations console "users" line, a user's identification number or initial letters of his last name and/or email address can be used to zero in on an individual; if the short-cut criteria return more than one known user, a simple list of those found provides links to the registration and company information on each.
Additionally, a full search form is provided, in which information in each of about 25 data fields can be entered as criteria to find a desired, known, individual. These data fields bridge the user data and the company confidential information (such as private notes, selectors, permission level, etc.).
Many personnel or user-related reports can be obtained simply by entering search criteria and printing off the resulting screens. The data presented includes:
Company ID (if none, Dynaprice-assigned Person ID number);
Company Status (Company Relationship or, if none, General Permission Level);
Email (clickable to get a quick browser-based email input form);
Company Name (where submitted); and,
City (where provided).
The Company ID is clickable to obtain the registration/company information. The last name is clickable to assume the identity of the person (to enter an off-web action into the dealmaking system). The listing is sortable to two levels, up or down, by each column head.
Other standard reports are provided. These are accessible from any user list page. Their descriptive names are: "Current Population" (of known users); "Last Logins"; selected "Period Registrations" and "Period Logins."
Additionally, custom reports may be prepared, unique to a particular client or venue. These can present a selected set of data fields and be based upon a flexible set of criteria, including those linked to special coding used in the company confidential fields (such as "selectors").
Recording off-web transactions
as though they occurred
on the web
|Dynaprice venues are designed to make it almost as easy to track transactions that occur over the phone, via mail or fax, or in person as it is to track on-web dealmaking that is automatically databased.|
A key issue in recording off-web activities is recording the identity of the respondent, who has not completed either a full or partial (inquiry-related) registration form. Facilities to do rapid QUIK registrations are described above; they make it easy to set up a new respondent even while he is still on the phone.
Once a respondent is registered, the any venue administrator can record off-web actions by that respondent as though they were done on the web. The administrator simply "assumes" the identity of the registered respondent temporarily and, acting as the respondent, enters inquiries, offers, counter-offers, acceptances, and other messages using the same web pages the respondent would have used had he acted on the venue's public website. The administrator can then cancel his assumed identity, return to his own, and enter the venue's response to the respondent's submitted actions.
Assuming a known user's identity is simple. The administrator simply searches for the respondent in the venue's list of known users, perhaps from the shortcut search on the Venue Operations page, and clicks on an "assume identity" link covering his last name. When he does so, the name shown on the pagetop "personalization line" changes from the administrator's (first name first) to the respondent's (last name first) and a "Cancel" link is presented after the name.
When operating under an assumed identity, the administrator can initiate and record transactions on behalf of the respondent, but he cannot view that respondent's My Info page, because that page contains information private to the respondent.
Creating and maintaining
lists of people for reports
|Dynaprice venues have powerful tools to compose and use lists of people for postal or electronic mailings or for simple selection for printable lists on the computer screen.|
Lists can be compiled by specifying search criteria on user registration and company confidential data for all the people "known" to the venue. The "Selectors" field noted above can be used to compose arbitrary gruopings of individuals. Each list prepared by search criteria can be further refined by excluding selected individuals who would have otherwise been included (individual blackballs). The exclusion process is a matter of checking off checkboxes in a sortable "edit list" resulting from the inttial search criteria.
A list management screen permits the creation of an unlimited number of named lists, each with a short description. From this screen, new lists can be created, old lists deleted, and lists selected for broadcast communications.
Using lists to send
broadcast emails and
print mailing labels
|Each list may be used to print Avery mailing labels, send emails, or both. Labels are automatically omitted for people without street addresses, while emails are automatically skipped for people without apparently valid email addresses.|
A "Broadcast to List" page facilitates setup of a broadcast email, printing of mailing labels, or both. It displays a rough count (prior to recognition of invalid addresses) of the number of users in the list and permits entry (possibly by pasting from another program) of the email content for the emails or a brief description of the mailing, for mailing labels.
Distribution of emails yields a confirmation page with a printable 3-up list of the email addressees and addresses. The choice to print mailing labels is followed by a screen confirming the actual count; when approved, the printing is actually performed off a browser screen set up with offsets to match Avery brand mailing labels (2 columns of 7 deep). These offsets can be changed to match company or other label formats.