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When I joined the company there was no Enterprise Resource Planning System (ERP).  The order processing and production of school class orders were managed on Excel Spreadsheets and an SharePoint site.

Obviously this would not scale to handle the current 40% growth rate and beyond.

Because of limited budgets and the unique requirements of the business we decided to build an ERP.
Most of the company software was based on Open Source tools and we decided a Web based system built on PHP and MySQL would work well.

The initial step was to create a company process map for order processing and course production.  This was done on a huge piece of brown paper tacked to a long wall.  People were interviewed and their input was noted on the process map and a basic design was conceived.

We also decided that we would use the Agile Software Development model for creating the system.
Wikipedia Link

Agile allows quick design and deployment of incremental gains.  Simplicity and extreme quickness are hallmarks of this process.

We even implemented “Office Hours” development where a stakeholder can get simple changes and new reports done “On the spot” while they wait.
It took only about 3 months to develop the first module to handle order processing and replace Excel and the SharePoint site.

After this initial success we continued to add functionality using the Agile Software Development philosophy of small incremental successes.

Further development over the next 9 months included a Data Warehouse that collected data from our Moodle LMS, a work ticket system to track projects and production orders, and lots of small features that helped gain process efficiency throughout the company.

Most recently an Extranet was created to allow clients an external facing system to take the place of emailing information on course ordering.

Without this system the company would have struggled to maintain the compound 40% growth rate.

SECURITY - Non-Business Web Surfing (Click Here)

SECURITY - Non-Business Web Surfing

The company had a problem of too much Web surfing by employees and it had an impact on productivity.  They also had potential issues with surfing questionable "adult" sites that created a company liability.  No method to monitor or control Internet activity existed.  A survey of Web activity prior to the implementation of this solution showed about 75 people had used the Internet for very excessive personal use and many had surfed to "adult" sites.

The Human Resources Department wanted to purchase Web surfing control software but there was no budget. The focus was not to terminate "misbehaving" employees but to create a way to control behavior.
We created custom software to monitor Web surfing using existing Firewall logs.  The system sent a private email each day to each employee summarizing only his or her activity for the prior day.  The HR group created awareness of the problem and informed everybody that they would get a private email each day.

We did all of the Database design, programming, and MS-SQL Server administrative tasks for creating and managing this Database.
One week after implementation the "inappropriate" use dropped to zero and no employee had to be disciplined for his or her activity.

Cost of the solution: $0.00 since all of the software was developed in house.

SOFTWARE DEVELOPMENT - Wireless Barcodes on a Budget (Click Here)


We needed a wireless bar code system to control rapid inventory movement (one water heater built every 17 seconds) but the current system did not have any built-in capability or interface for an off the shelf add on radio frequency bar code inventory control module.

Software options were limited but the rapid inventory movement was a serious problem if data collection got very far behind the production line output
We built a customized system using a programmable terminal emulator to essentially simulate keying data into the system from the bar code terminals.

A custom program collected data from the hand held and fork lift mounted wireless terminals and then sent it to the terminal emulator simulating a user keyed transaction.

Error and information messages were extracted from the screen and sent back to the hand held terminal all in real time.
More timely and accurate inventory transactions that ultimately saved money by reducing inventory handling and counting labor.

The system also improved customer service and production planning by knowing what was in stock in real time.

CREATIVE LEADERSHIP and Some Software (Click Here)

Shop Floor Feedback System

Inconsistent production on one high velocity product assembly line resulted in frequent lost production.  This line was partially automated and used a Kanban one pull manufacturing technique that did not allow any batch work at any station.  It had the potential to manufacture credit card imprinters at a rate of one every 14 seconds but frequently was under that standard.

The crew frequently said they were informed too late in the shift to make up the lost production but if they knew sooner they might be more successful meeting the potential output for this assembly line.
We worked with two manufacturing engineers to add a scrolling LED sign to the end of the assembly line that showed the count of each imprinter as it was finished at the end of the line.  It also calculated the pace of the line and estimated that if the crew kept up the current pace they would complete a certain number of units by the end of the shift.

When they reached a certain higher level of pace the sign displayed some creative graphics to "reward" the crew.

Production management offered pizza lunches if a certain pace was maintained.

We did all of the PLC programming and the interface to the electronic sign.
The production crew got continuous, timely, and accurate feedback of their progress on each shift long before they needed to "play catch up" to make up lost production.  They also enjoyed the graphic "rewards" and the pizza lunches.

The line was fully capable of the 14 second cycle time pace but if only 1 second per unit was lost all day the line would be 7% below their goal.

For the cost of the sign ($250), some free in-house software development, and a few pizza lunches a month the crew managed to stay on pace almost every day.

This was truly an exercise in "out of the box" thinking by the team that created the solution.