The Database Wore a Pink
After a couple of false starts to convert their ten-year-old DOS database to a modern Windows-based system, we were asked to take on the project.
We took it seriously. The sole purpose of this database system is to generate the sole product of the company. If the system goes down, their 25 employees have nothing to do, subscribers dont get their updates and the business dries up.
The architecture of the old system proved to be sound, although the process of deciphering it was a major challenge. There were 25 tables and hundreds of fields to identify, map and relate.
We made major improvements to graphics and usability. Green-on-black all-text screens evolved into a color-coded interface with buttons and scripts to automate repetitive processes.
A flexible Report Generator replaced the sketchy pre-formatted output of the old system.
One day a few weeks into the project on a visit to DSI, I noticed a pile of pink handwritten 6 x 9 forms labeled Message.
What are these? I inquired.
Pink Slips, came the answer.
When a client called in with an update, these forms were filled out and carried upstairs to the appropriate employee and clipped to their door. On a busy day, over 100 Pink Slips are written. Someone was making pretty good wages (and getting a good workout) running up and down stairs all day.
We decided to
make Pink Slips electronic, starting with the initial
call from clients. Now there are pink Chk Msg
buttons throughout the system so users can easily check
for unresolved Messages.
After four months of development and testing, the system went live 6 weeks ago, Dental Plans, Pink Slips and all.
We were onsite a few times the first couple of weeks refining, tweaking and correcting issues that hadnt emerged during testing.
Then the support calls tapered off. Were making a few enhancements here and there, retraining those that need it, and teaching Filemaker basics to an ad hoc administrator so simple revisions to the system can be made internally.
And thats one of the ways we measure success. Clients invest their time, faith and money. We deliver a system that meets objectives and exceeds expectations without weekly (or daily) maintenance and troubleshooting.
Which means its time for them to get to work and for us to go find another client.
Then there are smaller
Resolved network conflicts for a pediatrics practice. The office manager opted to put our Press Kit in the safe. Flattered? You bet.
And the personal assistant to Ben of Ben & Jerrys fame made a $25 Tech Support Call to yours truly. Could be a small beginning to a beautiful friendship
The Wisdom of Children
(Age 6) For centuries, people thought the moon was made of green cheese. Then the astronauts found that the moon is really a big hard rock. Thats what happens to cheese when you leave it out.
(Age 14) I believe you should live each day as if it is your last, which is why I dont have any clean laundry, because, come on, who wants to wash clothes on the last day of their life?
put Tom Green to shame
Our dubious sense of humor aside Call us if you need us.
Be well, do good work and keep in touch.