Monthly Archives: May 2016

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What is joined-up data?

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What is joined-up data?

You’ve probably heard of the phrase joined-up thinking. Well, joined-up data is really the same thing: different departments having a free exchange of data.

An example of a system with joined-up data would be the following:

Imagine a railway company. One computer system holds the track information – lengths, junctions, stations – in a GIS database. tramway_lumen_design_stu_01.svg.med Another system handles the scheduling. The two systems talk to each other. For example, the scheduling system can query the GIS system to find out how long a train will take to get from station A to station B and then it presents the timetable to the user.

A third system is a ticketing solution. This system uses information from the GIS systems to find out length of track and station zones, and calculate prices for journeys. All systems are joined-up.

Another example

Now consider a cleaning company. They get requests over the phone for jobs and open up a calendar to see when they’re free. They book the appointment with the client, then look up the customer in an address book application to get their address, and copy that information to the calendar so they know where to go to do the job.

When the job is done, the cleaner fills out a hand-written note, which is dropped on the completed pile when they return to the office. A secretary goes through the completed pile, and types the information into excel to create an invoice, which is printed and mailed to the client. At the end of the month, all the excel spreadsheets are totaled to do the accounts.

secchio_e_spugna_archite_01.svg.med This is an example of a computer system with data that is not joined-up. This sounds like a bad example, but is very typical of medium sized or growing businesses. All of these systems are on a computer somewhere – the calendar, the address book, the excel invoices – so they could all be joined up: they could all be one system.

The advantages of joined-up data are manifold. Employee’s would save time copying data and so would have more time to spend creating new business. Mistakes wouldn’t be made – cleaners going to the wrong address or even worse, invoices being lost in the system. Invoicing would be quicker and so cash-flow would be better, and so on.

Then there are the fringe benefits. With everything in one joined-up system, unpaid invoices could be tracked and the user alerted on a regular basis. Customers who’s address hasn’t been visited in several months could be sent a reminder email, asking if they require a spring-clean, thus generating more business.

The fix

When explained in this way, the arguments for a joined-up system are overwhelming, yet many businesses put-off software upgrades, because they are afraid of the unknown.

software guru can help. We have lots of experience in upgrading and connecting multiple systems in this way. We can create a seamless data ecosystem and we can make the transition from an old antiquated process as smooth as possible. Clients of ours have no regrets, and can’t believe they’ve lived with an inadequate system for so long.

If you’re interested in learning how we can help make your life easier, call us today for a pain-free assessment.

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Case Study – Bristol Cleaning

A client that software guru helped a few years back was Bristol Cleaning, a window cleaning company established in Calgary, Alberta.

When software guru first assessed their workflow, Bristol Cleaning was a growing concern. They were using excel spreadsheets for almost everything – quote sheets, job sheets billing and accounting – a combination of one-off, weekly round-up and monthly round up spreads.

Whilst this worked reasonably effectively for a few jobs, it’s not difficult to see that this didn’t scale well. When BC got more clients, further work, and more staff, organizing the amount of files, alone, was a real headache. All these separate files to be cross-checked and managed. Work was lost, unpaid invoices weren’t always chased, and occasionally teams would be late for the jobs. Things had to change.

software guru was able to see that during a workflow, the same basic set of data – work-required (amount and size of windows), and site address – was carried along the process, from quote to job sheet, to bill, with extra info being added – team, scheduled time, cost, etc.

workflow

An access database was developed. This improved scheduling immensely. At the click of a mouse, free slots on a weekly schedule could be found, and assigned jobs. Unpaid bills could be automatically flagged. Previous customer’s details could be found quickly, so re-quoting could be done remotely, and more visits scheduled.

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A set of unwieldy manual processes was turned into an efficient all-in-one solution for scheduling, billing, and staff payroll. And the workflow of the company didn’t change!– the application reflected the successful workflow– but time was saved and fewer mistakes were made; thus enabling Bristol Cleaning to grow even bigger as a company, becoming the largest single window cleaning company in Calgary.


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