CCC’S Disappointing Pathways Update

August 22, 2003 by
Filed under: Uncategorized 

Pathways Upgrade to 4.0

As a high tech redneck I just love to get new software. I feel like a kid on Christmas Eve while waiting for an announced update to find its way to my desk. And as a software developer myself I tend to be more critical than the average user. I know exactly what goes into creating software that successfully does everything it?s intended to do.

CCC has been distributing its new version of Pathways for a few months now. They are releasing the update to 4.0 slowly because, well, body shop owners are not the most computer savvy group of Americans, and the tech support calls during an update become overwhelming. I, myself, had to call three times to get everything working properly. The tech support I received was excellent, as it always is.

CCC has been sending teasers with their monthly updates for several months now promising many new features, a new look and feel, and new architecture. Most of us could care less about the architecture or how the software was produced, but new features, a new look? Now there?s something to get excited about. After all, working with the same software day after day for years can get very boring. A new look for Pathways could be a life altering experience, much like coming home to a different house, or a different wife even. It?s going to get your attention.

So when I loaded the software and saw the brand new splash screen I couldn?t sit still. I fidgeted like a pregnant woman who hasn?t visited the john in two hours, while I waited two eternities for Pathways to install three CD?s full of exciting new software.

When I finally got through the unnecessarily convoluted network installation on both my computers I went right to my desktop and double-clicked the icon to open my exciting new version of Pathways. Up popped that new splash screen. Very pretty! I entered my password and held my breath, waiting for that first glimpse of Pathways 4.0, like a woman waiting for her first view of her blind date.

Well, her blind date was her ex-husband. Where?s the new look and format? Their instruction pamphlet states, ?New Look and Format > This version of CCC Pathways has a new look?? Maybe they sent me the wrong disks? I called CCC tech support to tell them I still had the old Pathways running on my computer. While I was on hold I checked the version number and, sure enough, it said 4.0 was running. When I finally connected to a tech support person she reluctantly admitted that the new look and format was indeed just the splash screen. So when you first start the software, the new pretty blue screen, that?s the new look and format. That?s what all the hoopla was all about.

To CCC?s credit, there have been a few important and useful improvements. My favorite is the change to the communications process. Finally, we can write an estimate while our files are uploading. In the past, if you had an estimate with a lot of photos that needed uploading, it could take a long time and leave you looking like an idiot if you had someone walk in looking for an estimate during the process.
Re-indexing is now more convenient and safer. And let me tell you, I got a chance to test this feature to death. I had just finished installing the new version and began the re-indexing process when we had that big blackout. We didn?t really lose power, but we kept getting brownouts and surges and my computer kept turning off. Three times, in the middle of re-indexing my computer shut off and had to be restarted. The re-indexing process restarted where it was when the power went off. No files were lost or damaged, and I didn?t have to start from the beginning. Bravo CCC!

The parts code table now accepts descriptions of 60 characters in length. That?s an improvement, but the description field in both the parts code table and the main estimate body should accept an unlimited number of characters. You should be able to write a long love letter to the appraiser, in your estimate, without having to keep hitting the enter key to get another line.

Pathways now has a new utility called Custom Profile Utility. Basically, it copies user and company profiles from one computer to another. I guess if you have several computers to setup in your office, and you have several DRP?s, you?ll find this feature useful.

Pathways is supposed to be developed with new architecture. I talked to two different people in their tech support department and no one could tell me what this new architecture was. And I can?t see any difference running the software. Maybe this new architecture is tied in somehow with the new look and format.

Their new Paintless Dent Repair Module is a good example of what is wrong with many of the automotive software companies. Those of you who run dealership shops and use Reynolds & Reynolds know exactly what I?m talking about. They charge extra for everything, and never seem to update anything. Pathways new PDR module is only available if you want to pay extra. How much? I made two calls to CCC to find out and couldn?t get an answer. I was finally told to call my local sales rep, but I haven?t seen or heard from him in so long I didn?t remember who it was, and by then I didn?t care any more because I wasn?t going to spend a penny more each month.

Because I didn?t have the PDR module on my computer I was forced to look at it through the resource disk included with the update. The resource disk was a good idea. It has every bit of information about using Pathways that you could need. There was a demo on the CD showing how to use the PDR module. I?m embarrassed for our industry if we are still billing repairs based on the coinage method. Pathways gives the estimator the option of sizing the ding to a dime, nickel, quarter and half dollar. Professional, isn?t it? While including a way of estimating paintless dent repair is great idea, there is much more to gauging the cost than pulling change from your pocket to measure the dent. Just as important as the size of the ding, is the accessibility. I?m sure many will find this a useful feature, but I?ll stick with the entry in my parts code table and enter the cost manually.

Pathways new features are welcome. But there are many small improvements that could be made, some taking their programmers only minutes, that would make Pathways easier to use and more productive.

1. Simplify the network setup process. Install the program files on each client, put the data files somewhere on the network and tell the clients where to find them. The current setup is unnecessarily convoluted.

2. Kill the EZnet system. We should not be uploading and downloading information through proprietary means when we have universal electronic data management known as EMS. We should be emailing estimates and assignments or moving them through Virtual Private Networks instead of using the current clunky and expensive 20th century method.

3. Get rid of the monthly updates. CCC should put the updates on the web and make Pathways check for new data daily. This would save them a fortune in CD?s and postage every month.

4. Improve the graphic selection feature so that it actually adds the part to the estimate instead of just highlighting the parts in the list. And while they?re at it, it would be nice if they added a zoom feature to the graphics. The ?Database Only? view doesn?t enlarge the graphics enough.

5. Improve the ?Create w/Prior? feature when starting a new estimate. When the page with the customer list opens, the cursor should be flashing in the search box so you can start typing without having to click on it with the mouse first. And after you?ve chosen an existing customer and vehicle you shouldn?t have to click the ?Decode Vin? button. The software should take care of that automatically.

6. Lengthen the image description. I shouldn?t have to be a headline writer for the New York Times to accurately describe the damage shown in the photo.

7. When setting up the ?Collision Estimating Software Module? you have the option to print either hours and dollars, or just dollars. If you chose to print just dollars Pathways doesn?t print the dollar cost of labor on each estimate line like it should. The entire body of the estimate is void of hours and dollars, except parts dollars, and all you get are the total labor dollars.

8. When choosing a bumper cover, the software asks if you are painting the bumper off the vehicle or using a flex additive. The default answer is NO, so if you?re cruising through an estimate and just keep hitting the ENTER key you?ll screw yourself out of some paint time because Pathways will take an overlap on the next panel. Are there any Neanderthals out there still painting bumper covers on the vehicle? If so, get out of your cave. CCC should either eliminate this option or, at the very least, make the default answer YES.

Though I have some legitimate criticisms of Pathways and their new update, I still consider it the best estimating software available from the big three. They have the smoothest interface and produce the easiest to read estimate. Pathways keeps everything grouped together nicely and makes it easy to write a logical, accurate estimate. But like the entire automotive repair industry, it?s behind the times. And like other automotive software companies, Reynolds & Reynolds for example, you have to wonder if they have any programmers working full time, or if they have someone come in once a week for an hour to write code.

As a programmer myself, I know it?s not brain surgery. It doesn?t take much to continue to improve on software with a good foundation. If the big three estimating companies don?t get off their Lazy Boys and move their products into the 21st century, someone with more ambition and brains is going convince the insurance companies to cut their monopolistic relationships with CCC, Mitchell and ADP and blow the market wide open. Once the insurance companies understand that EMS will save them millions every year the big three will find themselves in their twilight years. And body shops will enjoy paying half what they are paying now every month for their estimating software.

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Comments

13 Comments on CCC’S Disappointing Pathways Update

  1. Lew Korn on Mon, 16th Feb 2004 5:33 am
  2. I could not agree more with your comments. CCC has the body shops right where they want us. Just another way the Insurance industry controls the shops.I have tried to contact ccc in referance to labor times and included operations on estimates, you might think I was talking Greek after several phone calls to my ccc rep. (who I have seen only once in 3 years)He tells me I need to contact Motors – Great another 20 phone calls and e-mails to them , finally I talk to someone name "Buddy" – this he is not . I gave him the info I was tring to get updated and I am still waiting (3 months later). This week I am looking into ADP to see what they offer.

  3. CCC the enemy on Fri, 23rd Apr 2004 6:06 am
  4. Had CCC. Threw them out. Horrible company. Had to quit them mid-contract. Involved writing to Ramumurthy (CCC President) and dealing with Dun&brad. Worth it though, very substandard company. Only surpassed in low value by the Mitchell bunch. Both overcharge,and are mostly arrogant, know-nothings. ADP seems friendlier, have them only 3 months. We’ll see

  5. george insana on Thu, 29th Apr 2004 8:29 am
  6. called ccc requested default paint
    bumper off car be changed to yes.
    bumper is painted off car. if u click paint on car there is overlap taken on hood and u lose 1.0 clearcoat plus material. nmo one paints a bumper on the car when your doing a front end. they gave me a case # i will post any results.

    RESPONSE FROM AUTHOR:
    I’ve been begging them to fix that problem for years. They ignore me. It sure makes you wonder who is pulling their strings.

  7. Brian Reich on Wed, 9th Jan 2008 6:45 am
  8. I work at a vocational tech school and have been installing and supporting CCC Pathways in our Collision Repair class for several years now. I’ve put together a tutorial which walks Pathways administrators through what you accurately described as a convoluted installation process.

    It describes the order in which the discs should be installed and suggests some solutions to common problems I’ve run into during installation of both the client and server.

    Installing CCC Pathways Estimating Software

  9. William Belshe on Wed, 12th Mar 2008 4:37 pm
  10. I was writting to see where do you think the best way to see some of the CCC pathways disc would be. I picked up several in a box from a body shop going out of business. I’m trying to see what they are worth. I have the 4.4 with lots of monthly up dates. Trying to figure out the Shoplink from Audatex also.
    Thanks Bill

  11. Daren Benson on Thu, 20th Mar 2008 6:48 pm
  12. As a body shop owner, It appears to me, Farmers has interest in ccc, Farmers requires their COD/DRP shops to have ccc pathways for writing estimates and make no secret of it. No other insurance companies, That I know of requirers this! Enterprise Rent a car is no better, Next time your shop meets for a farmers cod shop meeting, Take notice of what the Bigs for farmers are driving, thats right Enterprise rental cars, Probably at no charge….Corporate america back scratchers!

  13. Daren Benson on Mon, 16th Mar 2009 8:57 pm
  14. Just received a phone call from CCC, They informed me that my monthly subscription would be going up $50.00, After reviewing my contract, they noticed that i had not been paying the same amount as others had been paying, Like thats my fault!! I figured the A-Holes would do something like this after merging with Mitchell, Thats what happens when theres no competition for your business. SOB’s.

  15. Annie on Wed, 8th Apr 2009 8:05 am
  16. @Daren Benson
    CCC sent me a letter saying that they were raising our already outrageous fee by $50.00 per month. I called them with my 3 year automatically renewing contract in hand and asked them how they thought they could raise the price mid contract. The fellow seemed surprised that I had my contract because he said most people can’t even find them. Long story short, they removed the increase. I suggest you find your contract and refuse the increase. Also if you don’t want your contract to “automatically renew”, you need to follow the requirements in the contract about sending a certified letter within a certain time frame before it renews.

  17. I. Usedtocare on Tue, 14th Apr 2009 4:25 am
  18. Hey Daren

    CCC and Mitchell aren’t merging. The government put the kibosh on that and they decided it wasn’t worth the effort to fight.

  19. Marie on Tue, 23rd Feb 2010 11:28 pm
  20. Just wondering what an appraisal company pays for the CCC Pathways software and what additional charges there are for adding users (appraisers that work for the appraisal company as independent contractors). Just want to get an idea of the cost of this software.

  21. Ben on Sun, 28th Feb 2010 5:37 pm
  22. I read these posts because I am three weeks into working for a company that builds/maintiains/markets a paint and materials management system that I won’t name unless asked. I also wonder what the prices are for the big 3 software suites, since the product I represent extracts estimates from these systems and uses them as a base for detailed work and tracking of the p&m section of the business. I am a trifle surprised at what I have read about the customer service and quality of the software, and a little sad… I have run across a smaller shop management system called Summit by an outfit in California, I believe- it looks like a decent shot.

  23. Kelly Martin on Thu, 28th Oct 2010 3:02 pm
  24. In the computer savy world that we live, you would think that Pathways would have a field in the administrative section to input the customers email address. And better yet, use this info in an ap to update customers via email directly from Pathways. I’m just saying…………………………

  25. dave on Thu, 27th Sep 2012 5:11 pm
  26. the new version sucks i also have another audatex its not bad as ccc1 you guys need to rember when you signed the contracts you signed up for ccc pathways not ccc1 you are not tied in to the contract when you call ccc its either you get one of the dummist support people or a good one the wait time for the money we pay is horrriable i think ccc only has two people at tec support dum and dummer we should all boy cot them ive been in business for 32 years these people that went to school have no knolege of the car repair industry the insurance compaines are even less smarter they argue over pennies while paying the dealers ships what they want i think ccc should of stayed the way there are and charge a lot less for a plastic disc that cost 5 cents to make all ccc user should switch to another program

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