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About AIMS DataCom
AIMS DataCom builds custom database applications to help small and medium sized companies run their business more efficiently.
This means building databases that allow them to get the work done quickly and accurately. Although we have built databases in the past using DBase, Paradox, Approach, and Access, we now use Alpha Five by Alpha Software almost exclusively because it is easier to use (which means initial costs savings for our customers), very powerful, and provides for more accurate data input since it has the best built-in field rule capabilities in the industry.
Basic Database Design Philosophy:
A good database application can be used with less than 10 minutes of training and should provide enough control over data intput to minimize errors while remaining flexible enough to meet the changing needs of the company.
One of the first databases we ever built was created to solve problems that were generated by a 'simple' ordering system that was based on a spreadsheet. The system worked very well for the person who designed it but we soon discovered that there were major problems whenever that person was out of town on business or off work for any reason. It sometimes took a full week just to correct the errors that had been made during a one week absence. It was very obvious, especially as sales were growing, that a better system was needed which would be easier for temporary help to use and would provide better control over the input to minimize errors. A database seemed to be the only solution. After installing the database, the full time worker found it easier to use and the few errors that were made by temporary help could be fixed in minutes instead of days.
In most cases, the only training that is required is training about the job or the company.
For example, in the sign post application that we offer, a user would have to understand the distinction between an 'up' order and an 'add' order so they would know to enter an 'up' order when an agent asks to "add a second sign at 123 Somestreet". However, if the user tried to enter an 'add' order they would soon discover that some of the information necessary to put up a second sign is not available. The only way to enter the applicable information is to make it an 'up' order.
Of course, there is more to a database application than ease of use and accuracy.
First, it must provide the functionality the customer desires. Since a database will normally be used to replace or enhance current processes, the key to providing the desired results is to fully understand the current processes. This can be much more difficult than it sounds because many business processes are not designed but have simply evolved on their own. Therefore, the specific rules of the process that need to be defined in order to build a database have never been analyzed and the necessary questions raised by the database developer often end up causing businesses to review and clarify their own processes. However, difficult as it may be, this effort to understand the process often has a significant added advantage. As we learn the current processes, we are often able to exceed the customer's original expectations because we are then able to suggest features to improve the ease of use or functionality of the application. In one case, we reduced the data input time for one process from 6-8 hours per week to approximately 1.5 hours.
We also build our applications with a neat, professional appearance.
This statement may seem a bit ridiculous at first but it's surprising how many applications have sloppy, difficult to read reports that don't reflect well on the company. A professional appearance can make data input forms easier to use but is particularly important for reports, especially those that will be seen by customers, because the appearance reflects on the character of the company and the person presenting them. However, unless requested, you will not see fancy backgrounds and extraneous graphics that provide no functionality but add extra cost just to look pretty. One customer aptly described our forms and reports as 'crisp' - easy to read without a lot of frills.
At AIMS DataCom we work closely with other developers and other computer specialists in the area.
We work very closely with CompUnique on database application issues. This close working relationship gives each of us access to ideas and knowledge that neither of us would have on our own and by sharing ideas on complex processes we often come up with better solutions. AIMS also provides some basic networking and computer maintenance in order to support the needs of our local customers but, since these are not our areas of expertise, we work with specialists in these areas when necessary. When we run into network issues that are beyond our scope of knowledge, we call on MicroTech Systems in Lapeer, Michigan. We have also located a couple of computer stores in the area that offer above average maintenance service.
AIMS DataCom, Inc. - Custom Database Applications
This site created and maintained by Cal Locklin, CALocklin@chartermi.net, using 1st Page 2000. Last update: 18-Jan-03
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