Ready, Set …

If you’ve received our monthly newsletter, this update will seem oddly familiar to you.

Given the number of topics that needed to be addressed before bidding starts, we thought it might be most helpful to you if we did our best to get you the most important details as soon and as often as possible. In this particular case, that means reprinting this month’s newsletter. You might want to make yourselves comfortable, there are quite a few things to talk about. What’s below represents many of the questions we’ve already received, as well as those we think we’re likely to receive in the future. No single item is long or complicated, but life will definitely be easier if you take a moment to familiarize yourself with these bits of news.

September Newsletter

Well….after much designing, programming, tinkering, testing, negotiating, (did we say programming?), the JCBA version of BidPlus is finally ready for some test driving. We wish we could give you a peek at the madness that goes on behind the scenes. The office looks like it’s been decorated by hand grenade, and there is a big hole in our office wall where our heads fit very nicely. But hey, if it were easy everybody would be doing it, right?

We’d like to extend a warm welcome to the many of you that have recently found your way to our door. As we’ve said to those that have come before you, we want this to be your BidPlus. Much of what you see is the result of many years of insight and suggestions from your flying partners. We encourage you to continue this tradition of thoughtful contribution as inspiration strikes you.

Just so we’re all on the same page, let’s go over a few things. To begin with, all BidPlus accounts are now based on your employee number, including the ‘U’. This is a change for our pmUA members, so be mindful to enter your full employee number when logging on.

Another change for pmUA members is that your account time has been converted to credits. If the time you had remaining on your account was enough to bid (i.e. it expired on the 11th of the month or later), then you were credited for that month. All of the remaining full months were converted to one credit each. Now, it will take one credit to open one bid package. Once the bid package has been opened and you’ve started working on it, your work is automatically saved when you close it and you do not need to spend an additional credit to open it again and resume your work.

One thing new to our pmCO members, is that there is now a separate Vacation Relief bid period. So, regarding your credits, if you’ve opened a primary bid package for the month, then you will not be charged an additional credit for your Relief bid package. However, if your Relief bid package is the first bid package that you open for the month, then one credit will be charged in order to access it. Credits never expire, so for our pmUA members, this means no more pausing and unpausing your account. We’ve been using this method on the pmCO side for about 5 years now, and it works great.

We haven’t strayed from the BidPlus you’ve come to know and love. The look and operation of the program should be comfortably familiar to everyone, so there’s virtually no learning curve. However, behind the scenes, there have been significant architecture and processing changes. Because the changes are so extensive, your previous bid packages will no longer work and they are therefore no longer available to you. This also means that there are no previous bid packages for this first JCBA bid period. Accordingly, the criteria import feature will not be available until the second month you use the program.

Also, since some very basic changes in pay, etc., have occurred, everyone will be required to go through a very brief configuration process before moving on to your first bid package. This should take no more than a few seconds.

Testing, Testing 1, 2, 3…

Who’s up for earning an additional credit or two? (That would be you!) The test drive period will serve a dual purpose. First, we want to be sure that you all have the opportunity to see and test drive the new program. So, have a seat, strap in, and go for it! Click things, do searches, edit lines, check the order of the lines, look at calculations, apply positions….feel free to run it through its paces. Keep in mind, as we mentioned, we have made significant changes to the underlying architecture. And as is normal with changes in the tech world, there are issues commonly known as “bugs.” It’s reasonable to expect you may encounter an issue or two. In fact, that’s a big part of why we’re all doing this a little early. This is known as beta testing. And here’s where you come in.

We’ve worked hard to get things as ready as possible. Still, with the short time we’ve had to essentially re-write 30 years of code, it’s simply impossible for us to cover everything. So, your help is a key factor in making things silky smooth when the bid period arrives.

When you run into one of these bugs, you can become everyone’s hero by carefully noting where, what & how you encountered the problem. We need to know VERY SPECIFICALLY where you were in the program (i.e. Bidding Program screen, Bank 2, etc.), what you were doing (i.e. editing lines, position bidding, etc.) and how you encountered the problem (i.e. I clicked here, then went over there, then deleted this….and it froze up on me!). In other words, the only way we can address a bug is if we can duplicate the exact steps you took to find it. So you may need to repeat the test a few times to be sure. We need very specific step-by-step instructions. The more precise and detailed you can be when you report it, the better the chance we have of duplicating it and eradicating the little critter. The more bugs you guys can find now, the smoother the program will run when it’s time for the bid period to open.

Also, please be aware that we may and probably will be taking the site down on occasion as we post updates and address issues. This isn’t a sign that something is wrong, it just means that we don’t want to try and change the tire while we’re going 60 mph!

Now, about earning those credits. The first one to provide a detailed report on a specific bug will have a credit added to their account. To submit your report, from welcome.welcome.bidplus.com, click Help and then choose Contact Us. You must be the first one to report that particular bug, and your report must be detailed enough for us to work with.You are not limited to the number of credits that you can earn. So if you are proficient at bug hunting, then you may find yourself collecting a few credits. Our hope is that there aren’t that many to find! To save yourself some time, before you submit your report, you can see if someone has already reported that particular bug you found by going to the Support Center (click Help and then choose Support), and then search by typing in ‘Bug Report’. We’ll do our best to update this list, but it may not be up up-to-the-second accurate (after all, we’ll be busy stomping out whatever bugs get sent our way). We don’t want anything to come between you and that perfect line. So let’s see what we can do to make the program run as smooth and headache-free as possible! Happy hunting!

What About the Webinars?

We have put together a tentative webinar schedule. Keep in mind that we’re still programming and updating. So there might be a last minute change or cancellation. We apologize in advance if this happens, and we’ll do our best to keep the inconveniences to a minimum.

To attend a scheduled webinar:
1) Go to www.uberconference.com/bidplus.
2) Enter your first and last name AND your employee number in the 1st line – ensures you earn your free credit!
3) Click ‘Join’
4) At the top left, choose either ‘My phone’ or ‘My computer’ as the device you will be talking and listening through.
5) If you choose to call in on your phone, the number is 866-296-9899

You’ll be viewing our screen through your device’s screen. Trying to view, talk and listen on your phone may be a bit of a challenge. The larger the screen and the better the connection you use, the better your experience will be. Headphones or earbuds are better than speakers and help to prevent annoying feedback. All sessions are first-come-first-served, and we start on time.  So be sure to be there early enough to have everything set up on your end ahead of time! Doors open :15 min prior to class start.

September Webinar Schedule (ALL TIMES ARE PACIFIC!!)

Wednesday 9/5 –         1400 PDT, 1900 PDT
Thursday 9/6 –             0700 Cancelled, 1500 PDT, 1900 PDT
Friday 9/7 –                  All Cancelled – Sorry, lots to do before the bid period!
Saturday 9/8 –              All Cancelled – Sorry, lots to do before the bid period!

Additional sessions will be planned during the bid period as well.

For those of you that are not quite sure what a webinar is, it’s basically an online interactive classroom. Our software allows you to log in on your device and view our screen and converse with us in real time while we teach you the basics of the program. The sessions are very relaxed, and dare we say, even fun! Once we quickly get through the basics, we then move on to more advanced strategies, as well as all of the tips and tricks designed to make you much more comfortable and productive. You are also joined by several others, so you are able to hear their questions and answers just as if we were all sitting in class together. The teaching part of the session usually goes for about an hour, with approximately :30 min of Q & A afterward. These webinars are free by the way.

We’ll start off scheduling a couple of sessions a day, and then we’ll adjust as attendance dictates. We’ll send out an email with the schedule so that you can plan accordingly. And we will also post it on our website. We no longer offer advanced reservations because we’ve had too many no-shows, and that prevents someone else from joining. Attendance will be first come, first served. And please note: WE START ON TIME! You know, like a plane pushing off the gate….oh wait…. Anyway, latecomers will have to catch another session because trying to get folks caught up is too disruptive and is not fair to everyone that did manage to show up on time.

Finally, as is our tradition, all first-time attendees who complete the class will have a 1-month credit added to their account. Yes….it is all about you!

A New Support Center! Get Answer To Your Questions Quickly!

We have a new Support Center in place. It contains continually updated articles and videos, and we strongly urge you to go there first in order to get your questions answered. From any screen inside of the program at the bottom left-hand side of the menu shade, you will see a feature that says “How do I…?” with a little camera icon. Click that link and you will be presented a list of the most common topics. There is also a link at the bottom of the list for direct access to the Support Center.

Each article contains a brief answer/explanation to your question/issue, as well as a brief video that demonstrates the point. The older videos on YouTube are being removed because they are outdated. You are able to type in your question or search word, and your article will be displayed to you instantly. And if you still have a question after going through the article, you are then able to send us an email directly from inside the Support Center. We’d ask that you use this utility to contact us because it allows us to act on your help requests quickly and efficiently. If you’d like to access the Support Center directly, then from the welcome.welcome.bidplus.com home page, you can click the Help menu at the top of the screen and then choose Support.

We’ll be chatting with you again very soon. In the meantime, fly safe!

skipandjohn