Author Archives: dmjames94

Apple Release Shortcuts App with iOS 12

Category : Mobility

With the official release of Apple iOS 12, Apple introduced an intriguing new technology call Shortcuts. Shortcuts was first released as part of iOS 12 beta. The application required to create the actual Shortcuts was only available to developer.

With the official release of iOS12,  you can download the shortcuts application to develop custom scripts that automate common tasks.

Imagine dialling into your daily conference call, automatically logging into your favorite conferencing tools and putting your phone on Do Not Disturb, all with a simple voice command. You could plot a road trip by having your iPhone. Use a short cut to grab the itinerary from your calendar, automatically plot your route, play your favorite iTunes playlist and log your kilometers. The potentials are endless and can be achieved using simple Siri commands.

Shortcuts can execute a series of simple sequences that a user prescribes or can evolve into more sophisticated routines that take various factors into consideration.

Now that I’ve downloaded the Shortcuts application (which is available on the Apple Store), I’m looking forward to exploring the possibilities. I created my first Shortcuts in less 5 mins. A basic understanding of programming concept is helpful for anyone creating sophisticated Shortcuts. Otherwise it’s a simple drag and click interface.

Down the road I’d like to see if Shortcuts can help purge unwanted emails. Time to start thinking about all the repetitive tasks I perform on a daily basis.

From what I can determine, Shortcuts works with all the pre-installed iOS applications, though with some limitation (Will discuss in next blog). You can also automate basic tasks using most iOS applications. I’m interested in seeing how easily I can manipulate an array of information and streamline actions such as sending out holiday greetings. I anticipate software developers will expand support for Shortcuts over time opening up the ability to further automate workflows

Stay posted as we will provide regular updates on iOS 12 Shortcuts and discuss further ways we believe this technology can add value to customers..

Affordable Care Act Filing

Category : ACA

What is Affordable Care Act (ACA)?

ACA is an US healthcare reform law that expands and improves access to health care for more Americans. It also helps curb excess spending through regulations and taxes. The main focus of ACA is:

Ensure that more Americans have access to affordable health insurance.
Improve the quality of health care and health insurance.
Regulating the health insurance industry, and reduce health care spending in the US.

Employer Shared Responsibility

Applicable Large Employers (ALE) with respect to a calendar year, are businesses employing a minimum of 50 full-time  employees (employees that work at least 30 hours per week). These businesses are required to comply with section 6056 of the ACA provision. A calculation is applied to the part-time employees compliment to determine a full-time equivalent. That number is added to the number of full-time employees to determine the full-time employees equivalent (FTE).  ALE’s will need to file a 1094c form along with a completed 1095c form for every full-time employee and provide the employee by January 31 with a completed copy of the 1095c statement. Businesses must file to the IRS by March 31 as the information filed will be used by the IRS to administer the employer shared responsibility provisions and the premium tax credit. Businesses that do not employ 50 full-time employees including FTE do not fulfill the threshold definition of an ALE as the IRS has outlined, however, businesses need to ensure that they are not part of a control group.

Organizations need to know if they fall under Control Groups.

Control Groups are businesses owned by a common owner usually having 80% or more common ownership. Code Section 4980H also includes a provision under which, the employees that are in a control group are combined together and treated as one business to determine if together 50 full-time employees (including full-time equivalents) were employed in a calendar year , if so, then all companies within the control group with one or more full-time employee including FTE have to file.

Why is it important?

ACA has changed the rules for workforce management. Businesses face new penalties, compliance risks, increased complexity with increased pressure for accurate record keeping boards on potential confusion about which department from Legal to HR to IT needs to do what and when. ALE businesses under the ACA provision are required to offer affordable health coverage that provides a minimum level of coverage to their full-time employees (and their dependents). The US government has worked diligently with the private sector to develop a sophisticated model of measuring, tracking and administrating the process of providing health insurance to full-time employees.

What problems could your business face? Information Management

The information required to administer the process of providing health insurance to full-time employees is typically captured by four core systems: Payroll, Health Benefits, Administration of Leave, plus, Time and Attendance. These systems may reside in disparate systems across various departments. This information will need to be processed, analyzed and maintained within a secure environment.  The data needs to be orchestrated into reports that will be filed to the government for review to ascertain that compliance to ACA provisions was met. Failure to prove that eligible full-time employee(s) was offered minimum affordable health coverage and the IRS imposed penalties heightens the importance of having a well-defined information management system. Having solutions in place to identify and address compliance issues before they arise and become a problem makes integration of all the various systems vital.

Some key Information Management considerations in preparation of meeting ACA compliance and filings include:

De-centralization adds to the complexity of filing

Businesses that are decentralized or have autonomous groups will find filing of returns presents a greater challenge and may look for strategies to unify information across desperate systems. An integrated solution will be key as employees are measured across the control group, not just the individual ALE’s and there may be significant differences in the way various systems store and administer payroll and health benefit information.

Reporting responsibilities for ALE’s

ALE’s within a control group is required to file a 1095 an information return. This requires maintaining multiple viewpoints into the data capturing methodology. Throw in the complexities of multiple categories an employee can fall into, along with employees working across various companies within the control group, the precision of the IRS requirements. The IRS describes a very precise schema and process for submitting the 1094c and 1095c. Control Groups with over 250 filings (individual 1095c(s)) will need to file electronically. Errors and corrections may need to be tracked back to an individual record or a subset of information within the records. Another IRS requirement is that companies maintain adequate records on filed 1095c(s) for at least 3 years in the event of an audit or appeal. Companies may need to develop a means of decomposition of the 1094c/1095c submissions.

Engagin Solutions has played a critical role in developing and managing several ACA projects. Our intimate understanding of the subtleties and nuances of the new IRS stringent filing and the IRA AIR (Affordable Care Act Information Return) program requirements is available to assist companies struggling to meet the new requirements for ACA provisions.

XML Schema Validation Failed Error

Category : ACA

One of the transmittal errors that may occur when sending a submission to the IRS AIR ISS-A2A Channel is XML Schema Validation Failed. This error usually occurs when the XML that is sent to the IRS is not well formed and can be corrected by parsing the XML against the IRS schema. There are scenarios however, where the XML may be well formed and an XML Schema Validation Failed error is still produced.

We’ve discovered when sending a submission with Foreign Entities there are elements that must follow a precise order (This is not clearly expressed in the documentation and it took quite a bit of back and forth with the IRS to resolve). The IRS AIR Submission Composition and Reference Guide (version 4.4) is also somewhat ambiguous on this topic stating conflicting information around the required use for TransmitterForeignEntityInd.

If your organization has foreign entity and you get the above error,  ensure your development team structures the Foreign entity section of your submission in the following order:



<AddressLine1Txt >

<AddressLine2Txt >

<CityNm >

<CountryCd – OR

CountryName />




Hope this is helpful!


Category : Mobility

April 21st 2015

By Mark James:

Mobileggedon is here, what does that mean for you? Do you know or care?

There are a couple of questions you should ask; such as, What is Mobileggedon anyway? How will Mobileggedon effect my business, me?

Google announced on April 21st that it has changed its algorithm. This change is driven by Google’s desire to embrace the rapidly growing mobile market. Mobile friendly sites will be given a higher ranking on the search results than non-mobile friendly sites. In other words, the effectiveness of your website will be severely impacted by having a lower ranking

Research has shown people rarely venture beyond the top ten sites that are returned from a search. This means by your not complying to making your website a Responsive Website the investment you made in your website and SEO optimization will take a significant hit.

How does this affect your bottom line? A large percentage of Internet searches will bypass your website causing a measurable reduction in your internet traffic and revenue (earning potential).

Let’s face it websites have become a critical medium for interacting with customers. Your website represents your brand, expresses your value proposition and helps to promote/sell your goods and services. The fact is customers are increasingly accessing websites via mobile devices.

This brings us to why Google made the adjustment to their algorithm. Google made this change primarily due to the exponential explosion of mobile devices now using the Internet. Mobile devices now accounts for X of all Internet traffic. Mobile users are becoming very accustomed to accessing information anywhere and anytime. Research shows that 50% of all web searches will be done via mobile devices by 2018. That is less than three years from now.

Well now you are probably asking what does this mean to my business and me? If you are not asking that question you should be for Mobileggedon is really an opportunity for you to update your website by becoming responsive to meet the growth demands of mobile device users expectations and to get a top ranking when a conducted search is returned.

What is Responsiveness? First a little background on how websites are built. When information is laid out on paper most often use 8×11. Sometimes 8×5 will be used for handbook or 17×10 for a poster.

This size determines the real estate available to layout our information

When developing content for the web the web designer work in pixels (px) – Think of your computer screen resolution (1024 x 768), your phone camera, (your big screen tv).

Many websites were built at a time when most users would have accessed the Internet via a desktop PC or laptop. Web designers didn’t have to think about small screen sizes and the different devices that exist today such as tablets and smart phones.

This is also compounded by the fact that mobile devices today have introduced a plethora of different screen sizes.

While HTML allows us to view web content on a mobile device as is, you may quickly notice some user interface issues. Such as:

  • Links may be difficult to click on
  • Menu bars may be too long
  • Fonts may be difficult to read
  • Graphics may be slow to load or just too large

These are just some of the issues that need to be address so that your website meets the bare minimum requirements needed to become responsive.

A Call to Action

If you would like to better understand what is needed to meet Google’s responsiveness guideline or how to get your website mobile ready, contact us and we will provide a 50% discount for your initial consultation.



In Hectic Times, Simplicity is Key 

Category : Digital Signature

 August 27, 2014 

By: Mark James

You are about to board a flight and need to execute a contract. An urgent email appears requesting you prepare financials for tonight’s board meeting. The phone rings – It’s your spouse – your daughter needs your advice. As “Last call for all passengers on flight 109” echoes over the intercom, you frantically try to get the contract out. 

Sound familiar?

In today’s world we often find ourselves wearing multiple hats. Technology has allowed us to do more with less, at the same time blurring the lines between the time when our work life ends and home life begins.

Increasingly, we perform critical business tasks away from the office, and are using mobile phones or tablets as the platform of choice. Wearing multiple hats, we juggle between simultaneously events.

eSignatures can provide an effective way to streamline processes, while reducing costs and enhancing customer experience, freeing up time that can be allocated to critical business tasks or your son’s latest crisis.

As many of us do not consider ourselves technologist, providing a simple, nonintrusive user experience helps ensure a successful implementation.

Whether you are initiating a document sign-off or the recipient signing, excessive steps and cumbersome processes may push you to opt for more familiar manual paper-based methods, derail the opportunity to achieve the desired outcome.

Industry experts estimate that abandonment rates for online processes range from 50% – 90%. To avoid this pitfall, it’s essential your eSignature solutions delivers a seamless and intuitive user experience.

Adobe clearly gets this and demonstrates a deep understanding of human-centric design in their implementation of their e-Signature solution, EchoSign.

Adobe has put a lot of thought into the user experience and has sought to make e-signing as simple and transparent as possible. This commitment is evident in every aspect of the product.

On launching EchoSign, the first thing you notice is a clean, elegant interface. One can quickly distinguish the dashboard information and identify steps to start and complete a signing process.

Sign-in, simply drag-n-drop the document you want signed onto the interface, add the recipient’s email address, hit send and you’re done! Signing a document is just that simple!

Adobe has clearing analyzed the various signing workflows and optimized EchoSign to minimize the steps required to complete common task – reducing steps by 30%. That time back in your hand!

EchoSign’s interface never feels congested. Information is organization in a clear, easy to read manner, making it easy to find what you are looking for. The ability to work in the browser, Adobe Reader or your enterprise application allows you to focus on getting your document signed while using the process that’s right for you.

You want to email your client a contract? Go ahead! You can send it right from the free Reader. Is your agreement in your CRM tool? Not a problem, signing is a click away!

Whether you’re the originator or recipient of a document that needs to be signed, EchoSign simplifies the process so you can put your focus on more important things – like improving that golf stroke.

Learn more about how Adobe Echosign is helping companies transform their business.