Automating Data Processes Can Save Time and Money

Portrait Of Manager And Staff In Engineering Factory

Today I want to share a case study from a client of mine.

Side Note: Because I sign non-disclosure agreements with my clients and I respect their privacy and trade secrets, I can’t name names or get into details.

A few years back, a client in the manufacturing business contacted me about automating their order, production, and shipping data processes. This was a relatively small (under 50 employees at the time) and growing company. They were doing all of their data management either on paper or in spreadsheets. Surprisingly, many growing businesses that I’ve encountered work this way. They’re trying to keep up with their business and don’t have the time or resources to automate their data processing.

When I first met with the client, we reviewed their current processes and their project specifications. We chose Microsoft Access as the database development tool because they already had the software and knew it would be an inexpensive way to get started. They had someone internally begin a Microsoft Access database for them but this person was inexperienced so they weren’t happy with the results. No matter the tool, it’s important to find a database development expert to do the job right.

I started with some prototype screens for order entry. The system had to accept orders in a unique way as there were several steps involved in the production process that had to be recorded on the order. The ordering system then generated a work order that could be opened by the production plant for order processing.

Their production process followed a similar track. With a custom built database, they could get exactly what they needed in automating their production data. Finally, we moved on to shipping and integrated that into the database. When we were done, they had a fully automated order, production, and shipping data management tool to their exact specifications. This database helped them become much more efficient. Tasks that once took hours to complete now took minutes. The client could not find another software product for the same investment that managed their data the way the Access database solution did.

Over time, we added a new report or field as the need arose. The company grew and expanded to the point where Access could no longer handle the amount of data processing required of the current database. So, we upsized the backend to SQL Server and optimized the Access front end. This significantly improved database performance, allowed for more simultaneous users, and stronger security. Now, when they’re ready, they can build a customer portal on their web site. The portal will contain order, shipping, and production reports for their customers built with SQL Server Reporting Services using the SQL Server data.

This solution should keep them going for years to come. When the time comes and their resources warrant it, they can move to a more expensive industry enterprise solution.

©Ken Cook
Cook Software Solutions, LLC 

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