Why Custom Software?
Most companies depend on software to run both critical and non-critical
components of their business. Despite the numerous and diverse commercial
applications available on the market today, many have found that these
applications do not fully address their needs: The package may
only partially solve the business need, while concentrating on requirements
that do not exist; Reporting may be inflexible or unnecessarily complex; Cost
may be prohibitive due to excessive features, or it may be within budget but
not contain the features desired; Finally, there simply may not be an
application available that can even remotely fill the void.
The Common Thread
Let’s assume you have fruitlessly searched for a commercial application.
The next step, of course, is to create one in house if you have the resources
and expertise. The alternative is to hire an experienced software
developer to do it for you. You may fret over finding someone who is familiar
with your industry, and who has enough experience to understand what it is you
do and where you want to go without wasting a lot of time.
Sounds tedious? It doesn’t have to be. No matter what business you are
in, identification and expression of your "problem" is the first
step toward solving that problem. Vibrance has been able to create
solutions for clients that vary dramatically in size and industry because
business needs have fundamental commonalities. This common thread is the
foundation of most business problems: How to most efficiently and cost
effectively meet customer demand.
Real Life Problem/Solution Scenario’s
Listed below are some of the real-life problem scenarios that Vibrance has been asked to help with. Many of these concerns may be
similar to yours.
You will see the "common thread" throughout each scenario. Each
client needed to control costs, increase accuracy and productivity, and reduce
the time it takes to accomplish a particular task. You will also note that
most solutions contain common elements that can easily be transferred across
multiple industries. For instance, tracking systems are most often associated
with discrete environments, yet can be used to manage processes common in
telemarketing or financial industries.
Industry independent solutions
- Order Entry / Inventory Tracking / Inventory Control
- Flexible & Non-traditional Quotation Systems / Job Costing Systems
- Tracking systems & reporting for management of non-discrete processes
- Administration automation - reduction of manual calculations and data entry
1. Order/Inventory/Price List Program
2. Telemarketing System
3. Construction Industry – EZ-MURK Construction Management System
4. Time Management - Time Sheets
5. Time Management - Time Keeper
6. Document Extraction
7. Order Entry System
the customer with little to no hassle, with
"hot" - or frequently purchased - items, highlighted in some manner.
Finally, Company X wanted customer history reporting to be flexible and reflect
Company X was a start-up in search of a highly flexible order entry system
that could also track inventory as received from suppliers and ordered by
customers. Despite the numerous commercial order entry and inventory control
applications available, company X could not find one that offered flexible
discount structures based on customer discount levels and product categories.
Company X wanted price lists be generated based on those same discount
structures, so that each price list differed from customer to customer. These
price lists, which could vary from day to day, needed to be delivered to
- Manage order entry.
- Track inventory.
- Print unique price lists for each customer, based on his or her pricing
- Ability to automatically fax price lists on a weekly or nightly basis.
Vibrance developed an Order Entry/Inventory control application that allowed
for flexible discounting on both product and customer levels. The application
can generate and print unique price lists for each customer, marking the
"hot" items in red. Lastly, the application can fax price lists
individually or en-masse, at any time throughout the day. Customer histories’
reporting includes order histories, discount structures, monthly sales, and
discount levels for product categories.
Company X, (the start-up listed above), needed a simple, straightforward
telemarketing tool that would allow reps to view their clients current product
pricing and order histories on screen. Company X also wanted reps to keep
tickler files that were viewable by management for QC purposes. The
telemarketing package, Gold Mine, was considered, but they found that it to be
too complex and feature heavy for their needs.
- Simple/Easy to use
- Display customer information and order history
- Electronic tickler file for daily reminders
- Allow management to review tickler items
Vibrance expanded the Order/Inventory/Price List program to incorporate the
desired telemarketing features. The user interface for the new system was
completely overhauled so that the tickler and customer information screens were
always in focus. The new telemarketing functions facilitate quick information
gathering of customer information. Management can print a daily activity report,
viewing the tickler items for all sales reps on a given day.
All public construction projects are managed by a state or local DOT
The industry has been "under-computerized’, thus projects are
typically documented and tracked on paper, calculations are performed on
adding machines, and results are manually transferred via pen and pencil to a
notebook-ledger. Furthermore, forms have to be filled in manually - either
hand written or typed. Some companies were tracking information using
technology, but were ultimately manually transferring data to forms for
submission. No matter the size of the job, the amount of detail required to
maintain, track and manage is enormous, and the chance of error increases
significantly without automation.
- Reduce the manual labor required in this process
- Reduce the amount of time to prepare cost reports
- Eliminate the need to calculate costs by hand
- Increase accuracy of reporting
- Expedite the process of "getting paid"
- Manage each construction job in an electronic format that can be easily
distributed within the company and to the DOT auditors and consultants
- Produce reports and forms that are acceptable to the DOT and that are
standard throughout the industry
- Provide tools to summarize total contractor costs over many jobs
In conjunction with another consulting organization, Vibrance created a
commercially available program called EZ-MURK.
EZ-MURK reduces the arduous task of costing a job to mere data entry. Labor
and equipment rate information is entered on a yearly basis and daily work is
entered by office or field staff. The program verifies that rates exist for a
particular labor class or piece of equipment and that it is valid for the date
of work (the rate hasn’t expired). EZ-MURK handles all calculations and
prints completed DOT forms on demand, saving hours of manual data entry and
decreasing risk of error.
A Worcester area manufacturer pays its workers mainly by piecework.
The owners of the company have done some extensive searching and have not
found a commercial package that will fulfill their needs.
- Track employees by piecework.
- Track employee time when machines are being repaired - downtime.
- Track time-off: sick days, vacation, etc.
- Print payroll summary reports each week.
- Simple. Easy to use.
Vibrance develops a program that tracks each employee by the number of
pieces produced and by the amount of downtime (in minutes). It also tracks
time-off, such as sick time or vacation. One key to the Time Sheets program
was to make data entry very easy, as the manager would be entering 20-30
employees per day.
Many professionals work on a project basis, sometimes shuffling between
projects during the day. Projects can take different forms for different
professions. Lawyer or accountants, for example, may consider a
"project" to be a "client", whereas an architect may
consider a "project" a "job." In each of these cases,
similar activities, or tasks, tend to occur for each project, for example,
meetings, phone calls, research, etc. A way to track the amount of time spent
in each task within a project would be desirable.
Another beneficial feature would be the ability to define project and
billing milestones. For example, when an architect submits their first round
of drawing to the client, a milestone could be entered to denote the hours
worked on that project. Billing milestones, similar to project milestones,
would denote when invoices were sent and for how many hours.
- Track time by project and activity.
- Report time by project and activity, or for a particular activity in all
- Track project and billing milestones.
- Print project milestone summaries, showing the amount of time logged
during a milestone period.
- Print billing milestone summaries, showing unbilled hours or profit/loss
The milestone capabilities allow the bracketing of project hours so that
major events in the life of a project can be recorded.
Time Keeper was developed by Vibrance as a commercial package to meet these
requirements. Users can define projects and activities and then log time
against them. Summary reports show the amount of time spend in each activity,
under a given project. There is also a report that summarizes activities for
all projects, for example, how much time did I spend in meetings for projects
X, Y and Z.
This consulting company uses a standard document template to facilitate the
interviewing of survey participants. Typical rounds of interviews can involve
50 or so participants. At the end of the survey, various sections from the
interviews are compiled (manual cut-and-paste) into separate documents to
summarize responses to a particular survey question.
Eliminate the labor-intensive and error-prone cut-and-paste operation.
Vibrance created VerbatimSorter™, a program that analyzes a formatted survey
document (in Microsoft Word) and extracts specific sections, creating a new
document with only those sections. Ease of use was a key feature, as well as
the formatting of the extracted sections.
This retail company had, in place, a custom order entry system. The system
did not perform as expected and their current vendor was not able to resolve
- Order entry system that allowed for quick order taking over the phone.
- Print labels, work orders and invoices.
- Maintain customer information, including credit card numbers and last
- Interface with Quick Books.
Vibrance developed an order entry system that met their unique needs. The
interface with Quick Books would allow orders to be exported from the order
system into Quick Books for billing and accounting purposes.