The Doyle club hosted yet another well attended seminar on issues that affect the property and construction industry. Over twenty people attended the training held in the “Foster Project”, just around the corner from St Pauls on Thursday the 4th of September. These seminars are a held monthly prior to their afternoon networking event.
The seminar began with an overview of what defines a project and the types that can be undertaken. Examples where shared regarding construction builds, IT projects even organising the seminars, all require a separate group of activities. Projects should be seen as a series of ventures carried out within the structure of the organisation as a whole. Each one would include tasks to be accomplished, timeline of events, income and expenses to be tracked, and milestones achieved.
Projects had always been undertaken, well before the use of computers. Hospitals were built and roads laid prior to binary codes controlling our lives. This was done by producing an organised workflow, audited by paper trail, and everything checked manually. With the advent of computers information could be retrieved quickly, efficiently and with accurate calculations.
Discussion then went on to the types of software that could be used. Standalone packages, such as Microsoft project, have the advantage of being built for that particular purpose. They have a single function with field names coded in a way that can be understood by that sector. The disadvantage is that information cannot be seen within the context of the overall organisation or of other concurrent projects. It is difficult to get an overview of all the information at once.
Examples where used of companies who would use endless versions of excel spreadsheets to track information. Although this is a flexible tool for providing quick calculations, it is just a giant calculator suffering from formulas being written over, is just a single user environment and is unable to hold historical data. (Spreadsheet Help and tips) When more detailed information has to be held for a prolonged period of time, and accessed simultaneously by mufti users, then a more complicated database structures is required.
Of these you could build one yourself and customise it for your own particular needs. That could prove a very expensive exercise leading to time blow outs with testing and bug fixing problems. If reliant on a small team of developers, it would limit future development and run the risk of data corruption issues if they were no longer in business.
This leaves larger generic solutions that could ensure continuity and would be able to incorporate any technological advances into their product. This provides an open canvas and the user can customise this to suit their own business needs. Generally this will cover most of what is required. Enterprise level software allows for functions that were previously held in different software solutions, to now be stored in one multi relational database. This means where before firms would run a separate accounts package, crm and stock system, are now combined into one. (Difference between Accounting Package and Enterprise System). Users are limited from seeing sensitive information, but now are able to access those parts of the system relevant to their workflow. For example, a sales representative could now data mine the customer ledger to see items that the client has previously bought to look for opportunities of upselling, but not be able to run a profit and loss report for the whole organisation. It is this last section of software that was demonstrated during the rest of the seminar.
In the next in the series each of the vendors will provide a brief overview of their software options on show at the seminar.