(and Custom Systems)

We have been designing software for asset tracking, inventory control and wireless warehouse management systems for many years. We have developed numerous custom systems that have worked in a variety of different applications.

Although this section talks about “custom software”, we should perhaps explain exactly what we mean by the term.

In an ideal world, we would be able to produce one standard application that would satisfy the needs of all clients. But in the real world that we live in today, that is not possible. For well-established applications, such as word processors, the designs from the various manufacturers tend to converge. But our applications are on the leading edge, some say the “bleeding edge”. For many, our application is the first step away from the traditional pencil and clipboard. Apart from the requirement that the replacement system does everything that the old (paper and pencil) system did, there is also the issue of acceptance by the user community. So there a very strong forces which lead our clients to look for a solution which closely matches their existing custom and practices, their standard operating procedures. Which necessarily means a high degree of customisation.

But we know that there is huge risk with custom applications. There is a long lead time. They frequently run late. The final product is often different from the expectations of the client. And there is inevitably a lengthy shakeout process where the various bugs are identified and resolved.

So we have a conflict. Our clients seek the “fitness for purpose” of a customized system combined with the fast delivery, low cost and reliability of an established system.

We have resolved this dilemma by practicing a “third way”. With 900 clients behind us we have developed an extremely robust and powerful system, the "chassis and engine", if you like, that provide functionality more than enough for the vast majority of our clients' needs.

We have developed a flexible "skin" to cover this, a user interface which we can readily adapt to our clients exact needs. As an example, one client with a very large asset management problem, wanted to capture and verify very basic information. There was six pieces of information which were important to them for each asset. They wanted assurance that we could provide them with the system that would effectively handle the six data items. When we delivered our standard system, we pointed out the six fields that would handle the information required. But the client found the screen “too fussy” for their taste. They were planning to recruit a number of individuals to complete the audit, and the was a concerned that with little training and less supervision the extra fields would lead to confusion and scope for error. Once we understood the nature of our clients' concerns it was a very simple (and quick) process for us to modify that user interface, and provide a very clean screen exactly to their requirements.

The key issue here is that the underlying system was totally unchanged. The modifications, although they appeared major and significant to the client, where in fact technically trivial. And because the underlying technology was unchanged we were able to ensure that the system remained robust and reliable.

So to bring this conversation back to the starting point, yes we do provide custom software, but custom software that is tailored to your exact needs, that can be delivered quickly, and which is materially free of bugs. And we can give you this custom solution at the price of standard software.

So if you have a requirement for a system built around barcode or RFID technology and handheld computing, we can give you the best of both worlds. The specialization of a custom system, the price, delivery and reliability of a standard system.

For further information contact Keith Jackson or Doreen Wallace, or send an e-mail to info@SageData.com. We look forward to hearing from you.

For more information about our systems please contact us at 613/225-4404 or email us at sage@sage.ca

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