Accessories add efficiency, functionality, versatility and accuracy to proposals and system specifications.  Proper usage of the accessory function in D-Tools can help a company convert years of knowledge, expertise and experience into a repeatable process within their D-Tools database.

Accessory Basics

There are a few basics one should know about accessories and the way they are used within D-Tools.

  • An accessory is an item in the Master Table that is being associated with another item.  In other words the product must be in the master table before it can be used as an accessory.
  • An accessory is not limited to items in the accessory category.  An accessory can come from any category in the master table.
  • There are three types of accessories: prompt, recommend and default.
    • Prompt accessories will leave the “include” check box unchecked and require one to check it off in order to include the accessory in the project.
    • Recommend accessory will prompt you to add the accessory with the box pre-checked, while still requiring you to click “OK” before adding the accessory to the project.
    • A Defaultaccessory is automatically added to the project along with its parent product.  Choosing neither the prompt or recommend options sets the accessory as a default accessory.

Prompt Accessories

  • One application of prompt accessories is to create a good, better, best scenario.  This can be accomplished by setting the three accessories to prompt, the salesperson or designer can choose the accessory that best fits each project’s budget.
  • Another good use of a prompt accessory is where numerous possible choices could be correct depending on the application.  A good example of this would be mounting brackets for plasma display devices.  A fixed mount, articulating mount or a tilt mount would all be associated as prompt accessories giving the sales designer the choice of the appropriate mount.

A “Prompt” accessory
Notice the include check box has not been selected.

Recommend Accessories

  • Recommend accessories are useful when an item is usually included but there may be exceptions.  An example of this could be a custom rack shelf or rack ears.

A “Recommend” accessory.
Notice the include check box is pre-selected

Default Accessories

  • Default accessories are the best choice for items which will be added to a proposal nearly every time.  By having an accessory added by default, you are not interrupted with the accessory prompt box and can continue specifying.  Default accessories are automatically added to the project along with the parent item.

Accessorized products within packages

In our business, we consider packages to be engineered systems rather than a mere collection of parts.  By carefully combining components, packages and accessories represent value engineering.  We are often asked if packages can be added into packages.  Strictly speaking the answer is no.  However, by using accessories we can build complex packages.  An example of such an application would be a surround component package including a surround receiver, video and audio sources.  Each component would include its respective interconnects, control devices, rack shelves, etc….as accessories.  These accessorized products, combined together in a package represent an engineered system.

Very useful packages we have worked with are structured wire packages with wall plates.  Using these types of packages accomplishes several things:

  1. Effectively hides all of the assembly parts from the client and delivers them in one line item price.  Who wants their client to see every Mud ring in their estimate?
  2. Allows for very efficient specification of many miscellaneous items that most of us do not wish to remember each time we specify a wire drop.
  3. Ensures that these necessary parts are not left out of the budget.
  4. Allows for a marketing savvy name to be used for the wall plate assembly.

This is done through the following procedure –

1.  Add a new product to the database.
2.      Set its Mfr. to “Your Company” and its name to “Multimedia  Wall Plate”.
3.      Set the cost and list =0 and check the “ignore cost, margin and list” box.
4.      Set the Labor Hrs to 0 Hour and the phase to Trim.
5.      Check the ignore dimensions box on the specifications tab.
6.   Add the sub-assembly parts to the product as accessories.

The final product would look something like this –

Multimedia Wall Plate (Shell Product)
-Single Gang Decora Plate                        (Accessory to Multimedia Wall Plate)
-4 Port Decora Insert                                    (Accessory to Multimedia Wall Plate)
-RJ45 Insert                                                   (Accessory to Multimedia Wall Plate)
-RJ45 Insert                                                   (Accessory to Multimedia Wall Plate)
-F Insert                                                          (Accessory to Multimedia Wall Plate)
-F Insert                                                          (Accessory to Multimedia Wall Plate)
-Compression fittings                                   (Accessory to Multimedia Wall Plate)
-Mud Ring                                                      (Accessory to Multimedia Wall Plate)

Note: The Shell wall plate is not something that is ordered.  It simply acts as a “storage area” for the miscellaneous products that make up that particular assembly.

As you can see from the two examples below, the accessorized wall plate is much more aesthetically pleasing to the customer’s eye, while shortening the length of the proposal as well.

Example of accessorized shell wall plate

Example of components added Individually

Using Labor Accessories

Using Labor line items as accessories is another great way to add efficiency into your D-Tools process.  The most common labor item used as an accessory is the Programming Labor line item.  This can be very helpful to add programming labor to a project based upon the actual components and the level of programming they require.  This is the solution we have found to allow for labor from multiple phases to be specified to a single product.

D-Tools has a special type of database item for this scenario.

1.      Add a new product to the database from the “Labor” category.  You should see something like this:

Notice the Price tab has changed to say “Labor Price”

2.      Set its Mfr. to “Your Company” and its name to “Programming 1” or “Programming Labor 1”.
3.      Check the “Variable” option on the left.
4.      Set the Labor Hrs to 1 Hour and the phase to Programming.
5.      There is a check box option that allows you to use the labor cost & selling price based on phase.  This is recommended unless you are using a different rate for a special circumstance.
6.      Now you can add additional programming items with different labor amounts (2 hours, 3 hours, etc…).
7.      We typically add varying amounts of programming to products based on the level of complexity they add to the program.  EX: a touch screen would get more programming than a DVD player.

Now that the programming labor items are built in your database, add them as accessories to products!  Now you are able to specify multiple phases/ types of labor to a single product.  Other ideas for labor skus are: ISF video calibration, client training and anything else you can think to use them for!

Experiment with different applications of accessories and packages.  As we have stated in the past, to be successful we must provide solutions rather than just a list of products.  By using accessories and packages we can leverage the solutions we create for one client into an inventory of “Performance Engineered Systems” increasing our value to our clientele and ultimately our efficiency and profits!

Media Environment Design, Inc. (MED), founded in 1999 and based in San Diego, CA, provides a wide range of services to dealers in the systems integration industry.  MED is the founding D-Tools Certified Partner, having trained and implemented hundreds of integration companies with D-Tools software.  MED exclusively provides D-Tools regional and onsite trainings for D-Tools, Inc.  Our services are designed to help integrators elevate their businesses and to help them become more efficient, effective and profitable. It is our mission to make your business better.  MED has developed the MED Professional Services Network; a select group of independent companies authorized by MED to provide the implementation and training services developed by MED.  Our partnerships with these companies allow us to bring a wide range of experience and expertise to our customers.