Case Study - Revenue Improvement
We have created new revenue opportunities (short term) and revenue streams (long term) for numerous clients.
MCDirect – Their main line of business was managing direct mail and various other types of advertising media. We had spent a lot of time for previous clients developing “real time” solutions and recognized the advantages to MCDirect of using some of the same techniques. We proposed the integration of their Oracle server with a top tier system, web services, and a portal for some of their premium clients. Blending these hardware/software components into a seamless environment allowed MCDirect to offer some high end services to clients at that price point. We built a zero cost mock up and were awarded the project, resulting in a new long-term revenue stream for MCDirect.
Network Resources Inc (NRI) – They are providers of PC/Network services for small to medium size organizations. We’ve worked with NRI on numerous occasions and are very familiar with their product set and specialties. Since we have worked with banks and other larger companies we occasionally encountered large hardware/software opportunities that are outside the realm of NRI’s normal product line. Because our knowledge encompasses those devices and software we were able to bring to them all the specifications necessary to bid on these procurement opportunities. They were successful at landing a number of these projects.
Case Study - Customer Satisfaction
At IQ Software their product was a very sophisticated software
application. It was designed to run on over 20 different operating
system variants (Unix, Windows, Vax and many others). This was before
the internet was much more than an email and data exchange platform,
which meant that the software had to actually run on many different
hardware platforms. This level of cross platform portability required
that it be a highly sophisticated product. This also meant the product
had a fairly high level of “bugs” reported after product release. Our
immediate task was to increase customer satisfaction by lowering the
number of bugs that reached the final customer. The problem IQ Software
had encountered was the complexity in creating a testing application
(software) for every possible environment. Basically this meant they
would have to create many different pieces of software. The software
they sold plus a “tester” for every possible operating system/hardware
variation. Our approach was to create a testing regime that went well
beyond current levels without having to create new software for every
new release of product.
Simplicity. We try to keep all of our solutions as simple as possible. Creating a complex solution can become a whole new problem in itself. We created a solution that was almost completely hardware and operating system independent by staying with an interpreted language. So the single set of code, with very minor and easily understood tweaks could be used on all systems.
Maintainable. Since their company was in the business of manufacturing software it made a lot of sense to build a product that could be easily maintained by their current staff. So, we chose tools that their personnel were already using. This dramatically lowered their long term costs.
Quality Training. Delivering a single quality testing product is a very minor part of building an over quality (QA/QC) program. We assisted with development of a QA/QC department. We trained them to use the tools we developed. We also trained them on how to extend the use of those tools in new development.
Case Study - Increased Sales
Sales Monitoring – Providing sales trend information using real
time methods allows department managers and business owners to know
exactly where they stand at any given moment. We have built several
systems with this purpose. They are usually inserted at the purchase
point or immediately before the actual accounting function. This “raw
sales data” (not balanced by expenses) allows a decision maker to
observe trends as quickly as possible. This can make a significant
difference in the direction of a marketing campaign. Tweaking the
message while in mid-campaign becomes much more possible.
Client Management – In some organizations sales staff are given a large amount of room to perform in ways that fit their own personalities. Many organizations need their staff to perform up to a specific standard defined by business rules (strategic plans, mission statements, policies, etc.). These organizations prefer to have more control over management of their clients. They want them to receive specific types of communications within specific time frames. We have built systems that incorporate these business rules into web based applications that allow the sales staff and sales management to know exactly what types of client communications are occurring and when.
Case Study - Rapid Response
A combination of factors allow us to rapidly locate and define problems and then rapidly develop quality solutions.
Business & Technology Background - As the business analyst I have over 30 years of experience. For over 20 years we have been providing technology to solve business problems. In the 10 years prior we developed, managed and operated small businesses. This gives us the ability to view problems using a business perspective (ROI, bottom line, quality, etc.) but with an approach of high tech ingenuity. You therefore receive the best of both worlds. We are not merely IT professionals looking only for an opportunity to apply the latest technology; but rather business persons looking for the best possible solutions - solutions which may often happen to involve high end technology.
Problem Solving Method - Our partners include someone originally trained as an electrical engineer. We use problem-solving techniques following scientific methodology similar to the Six Sigma approach: DMAIC – Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control. This means we are well organized and focused. If your problem is complex or large, the solutions will follow more closely to Six Sigma techniques. If your problem is less complex, requiring an immediate solution, we respond quickly but with an appropriate attention to detail and quality.
Software Development Method – Our original software development training came during a time of rigid methodology (flow charts, pseudo coding, very lengthy specifications gathering). That was an appropriate method during it’s time. Over time we have worked with a lot of fast growing organizations in markets that were changing rapidly (within months rather than years). This has required us to continually evolve; first towards RAD (Rapid Application Development) techniques and then Agile techniques. So our approach is iterative and extremely fast.
Bottom line: Due to our combined business and technology background, our problem solving methods, and our software development methods, we deliver quality targeted solutions fast.
Case 1: Major Governmental Agency* – The agency had an extremely large project. By the time we came into the picture the project had already been awarded to a very large provider of technical solutions. This was a multi-million dollar, multi-year project. The problem was that there was going to be 1-2 years before this vendor began providing the first levels of their solution. This time delay was a significant problem for the governmental agency. Their current system was failing and creating substantial issues. We then became involved and proposed an interim solution and the agency approved. Within 4 months we provided a solution that addressed 100% of their most significant problems and 70% of all of their problems and for less than $200k.
Case 2: Major National Bank* – Being one of the largest banks in the US they have their own very large internal Information Systems (IS) teams and build most of their own product solutions. Because of some prior unrelated business with this bank they were exposed to our rapid development techniques. They were being exposed to the same rapidly changing market conditions as all other businesses. Because they were so large they were having difficulty responding to these market needs in time - like trying to change the course of a large ship. As an experiment they issued a request for a proposal to both their own internal IS group and to us. Because we were up against their own internal staff their IS group promised a lower cost, but we won the opportunity because we could develop the solution within time to meet the current market demand.
*Exact information and much more detail can be given for both of these cases upon request.
Case Study - Office Automation
Guidance from Medical Benevolence Foundation (MBF) indicated that
their number one priority was their relationship with their donors. Key
to this relationship is correctly handling donations. Our number one
goal at MBF was to improve the quality in which donations and resulting
donor communications were managed.
At first glance the donation processing task appeared to be fairly simple and straightforward. After spending time with staff it was quickly revealed to be a much more complex task with numerous variations on types of donor input and multiple different “correct” ways for the MBF staff to respond. In the simplest case (if no problems were encountered) the process required 53 separate steps.
We identified multiple problem areas:
Heavy reliance on a very small number of employees holding key knowledge about the 53 steps. If someone is out sick, vacation or quits then remaining staff is only able to fulfill a portion of the process.
Incorrect responses. If someone holding key knowledge is unavailable or if the staff is feeling rushed they may not input the most correct response. These would have the fastest negative impact upon MBF’s donors.
Complexity of the steps themselves. By the nature of a non-profit (and many for profits) you generally have fewer staff than you really need. Complexity and time constraints cause variation in the employee’s proper implementation of all 53 steps.
We delivered multiple parts for an overall solution:
Documentation of the donation handling process. This documentation was representative of the most senior level answers to questions. This greatly reduced the “wait” time associated with donation management. In addition it served as a training manual for a new donor clerk.
Error Trapping and Correction. Using guidance from senior staff we were able to determine many of the possible right responses as well as the most common incorrect responses. We created software that greatly reduced the level of incorrect responses.
Process Simplification. In analyzing the 53 step process we were able to determine a number of steps that could be replaced with automation (software). These were steps whose “answer” was always the same, or easily calculated, but required a person to manually perform.
Conclusion: Employees were given greater power in that they could perform their job with less effort and greater accuracy. This resulted in happier donors and a lowered attrition rate (loss of customers).
Case Study - Strategic Decision Improvement
While platforms (hardware/software) can be critical to performance the need for the right answers being delivered in an understandable format and timely manner is the real answer. We have managed or worked with many different database engines: Oracle – Most expensive and largest (multi-million record tables for a large insurance carrier), MySQL – Least expensive and most common, MS SqlServer, Progress, Informix, Sybase, DB2, Access, etc. We’ve worked on many hardware platforms from $500k dollar Solaris platforms with 12 processors to $2,000 dollar MS servers and everything in between.
Case: Using a combination of Oracle and high-end hardware we provided a solution to 3Com. Input was 100’s of separate data sets coming from around the world in different formats. We wrote software that interpreted all of these disparate data sets into one universal database. We then created a web based front-end that allowed both 3Com corporate and their remote employee’s access to this data. The data was presented in different ways to each employee type so that they each were able to receive the most valuable (accounting data for accountants, sales data for sales, decision data for management, etc.).