In my last post I referenced our new Data Request form on the D-Tools website. This form is an important part of our re-tooled process for collecting, managing, and ultimately delivering product data to our users. Before I outline the steps for using this new form I want to form the pretense for all of the work we’ve been doing for the better part of a year now.

Our software helps facilitate a data-driven process for the estimation, design, integration, and installation of low voltage systems. Data is the foundation and key to this process. We have tried to make data entry less painful for over 10 years now, and while we have made improvements, it is still the single most time consuming part of any system integration process. We have been focused – with some of our team members almost obsessed – with improving the throughput and quality of our data. And the work is beginning to pay off. Over the past 6 months we’ve added over 40,000 Skus from over 260 manufacturers to the database, while improving the quality and accuracy of our existing data.

We want to get this part bulletproof. We want 100% accurate and up-to-date data. We’re not there yet, but we are getting there. But in order to really get this part of the process right we need your help. Our users need to help us prioritize the manufacturers, products, and level of inputs/outputs required. Your input is critical for us to get it right.

So how do we start? Our new Data Request form makes it easy for our users to request data – most of these requests will come from our Data Subscription customers (information about our Data Subscription program can be found here), but anyone can make a general data request. As mentioned in a previous post, we publish two levels of manufacturer data: Proposal Ready and Complete. Proposal Ready means just that – the basic data needed  to be able to specify a piece of equipment and create a quote. Complete data, which we sometimes call engineering ready, contains both the proposal ready data and more detailed I/O information and images needed to create drawings.

It’s very easy to get started and make your request. From the Data tab on the D-Tools website, you would select “DS Request Form.

This will take you to the form where you can select the type of data request.

From there we just need some basic information in order to process the request. Each individual request is limited to 10 products. Depending on whether it is a Proposal Ready, Complete, or just a general request – say there’s a manufacturer that we don’t have in our database and you think we should – the time to fulfill your request will range from 2 days for Proposal Ready, to 10 days for Complete (with inputs/outputs), and for general requests, they will be handled in the order received.

The more information that you have about the products and can share with us, the better we can in turn share that with the industry, helping to make it easier for dealers, distributors, manufacturers, and installers to focus on delivering quality systems to their customers. We will be discussing our data mapping methodology and how it has evolved in upcoming posts. In the meantime, please let us know how we’re doing. Utilize the Data Request form and help us continue to improve data for you and the rest of the low voltage industry.