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Posts Tagged ‘software’

 

Author, Donna Moulds www.mantratraining.edu.au

When we are children we dream about becoming a superhero, or travelling the world, or in my case a hairdresser, untill I had no dolls with hair. As adults…do you think we forget to dream? Dreams are what give us hope and passion, they can drive us to do something that logic would tell us can not be done!

If you have a teenager who is yet to decide what they want to try before they grow up, here is an inspirational story they may want to read………

Chris Warren came to Mantra Training & Development in September 2009 for work experience, which is something that Mantra Training & Development have been part of with various schools and industry bodies for about 3 years now. Taking young adults from a school environment and putting them in a real work environment, that is not only supportive it is also empowering and teaches self motivation. This has also been a wonderful opportunity for the team at Mantra Training & Development.

We have a number of businesses that provide support and mentoring for our team including those involved our work experience program.
One of the Mentors that Chris has had an opportunity to work with and learn from has been john Phillips. He has played a very supportive role with both of Chris’s qualifications.

As the CEO and also a Trainer/Assessor, Chris instantly caught my eye with his “go get it” type attitude to technology and websites. At the time I thought I had a good website and was pretty proud of the fact that I could update it. Now……. don’t get me wrong we had to rein him in on a number of occasions as he wants to do things today without looking at the security or other access and usability implications. In fact I remember him launching our new website way to early and he didn’t take a back up. But we had a plan B and more importantly Chris was able to learn the importance of planning and being patient.

Once we launched the new website early in 2010 I realised how primitive my old site was. Not even 12 months later Chris has created yet a better website allowing for growth and advances in technology and has learned a greater degree of skills in many areas allowing for a much better product. He has also learned how to work better with people not just technology and has grown into a wonderful young man with some great skills that have now seen him accepted into a Bachelor of Software Engineering.

Chris has completed a Certificate III in Information Technology and will have completed his Certificate IV in Information Technology (Web design) by December 2010 and this will then take him into the University by February 2011.

In August this year Chris was also invited to the Google office in Sydney where he was able to contribute some of his skills and learn what it would be like to work with such an elite group of IT experts. He was blown away by the experience and I also think it ignited his motivation and drive to really go for what he wanted in a career path as well as was he is truly passionate about.

Here is what Chris had to say:

From College to University

At the end of college I always knew what I wanted to do, but I didn’t know how I would go about doing it this involved having a Gap Year and then going to University to complete my Bachelors of Software Engineering then I discovered Mantra Training & Development, after initially completing work experience I was offered a
job by the CEO Donna, to Continue working on the Mantra Training & Development website and be part of the team.

An entire year later, the experiences I have had, the people I’ve met, the skills I’ve gained, and the qualifications I have achieved are amazing to say the least. To put this into perspective I never anticipated what I have achieved in such a short time. It truly has been a incredible year and a great start to both my personal and professional life. I now look forward to an exciting future as I know anything is possible.

And now through gaining my Qualifications under an Australian Apprenticeship with Mantra Training & Development as my RTO and Employer, I created the pathway and had the
support to enter University, my new Journey will begin in February 2011.

I will continue working with Mantra Training & Development and assist them in growing their organisation into one of the best RTO’s in the ACT, and help Mantra generate more pathways and opportunities for it’s students, staff, and trainees.

I would like to give special thanks to two people, Donna & John. You have parted with some tremendous skills that I will use for through out University and the rest of my life. Thank you….

Now this is a great message about keeping dreams alive.

Donna Moulds

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Andrew Newnham

Andrew Newnham

By Andrew Newnham (Fruition Data)

When a piece of software insists that it must be used in a certain way, which contradicts your business practises, a workaround is often used as a quick fix to trick the software into thinking that it is still being used properly.

For example a piece of software may insist postal or zip codes must be 5 numbers long, yet here in Australia we only use 4 number post codes. So a workaround in this situation may involve entering an extra zero at the start or end of the post code. For example Sydney NSW (post code 2000) may become 02000 or 20000.

So considering a workaround is very quick and easy to implement, why shouldn’t they be used? Furthermore as workaround are most often required when doing business administration work, this is not necessarily time you can bill to a customer.

Time Factor
Assuming you charge $100 an hour, and let’s say you need to use a workaround on average once per hour and it takes 1 minute to use the workaround. Well over the course of 3 years (the average amount of time between system upgrades), that comes to $10,400 in wasted time. That’s simply time spent working around a small problem, for example entering appointments into your calendar and your appointments database.

Training
You need to ensure that everyone in your organisation is using the same workarounds otherwise each employee may be using a different workaround for the same problem. For example, one person may be entering in “N/A” into a field, whilst someone else is entering in “Other”, whilst someone else may be entering in the code “0”. Whilst you may understand what they mean, your reporting systems probably don’t.

Reporting
Using the post code example above, in Australia there are legitimate post codes which start with 0 and end with 0. Thus if one person is entering in the code 02000 with a fake zero in it are they talking about the post code for the ANU ACT which is 0200 or are they talking about Sydney NSW which is 2000? So using this example if you need to run a report based on sales by post code, and you’ve being using an extra zero to make 5 digit zip codes, unless you are positive that everyone has been using the same workaround for converting 4 digit post codes to 5 digit zip codes, you may find your getting some sales in some very strange or non-existent places.

How to solve the problem?

Contact a software solutions company. We can find out of there are options which can fix the problems with your current software, or we can recommend a new software solution which doesn’t require use of any workarounds to be used.

So if you would like to know more about databases, data storage, and software in general, feel free to give Fruition Data a call on (02) 6100 3780.

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Andrew Newnham

Andrew Newnham

By Andrew Newnham (Fruition Data)

A very important question should be asked before installing any new piece of software. “Can I undo what I am about to do?”
Now before you say to me “Well yes, I simply click the uninstall button”, I realise that you can press the uninstall software button and the software will uninstall. But what about the changes which that software has done to your computer? These are changes such as modify your existing data files to suit its new format, uninstall other pieces of old or conflicting software, or worst of all, the software which never quite uninstalls properly, which leave bits of itself around to haunt you for months to come.

If you ever read a project plan written by a reputable IT company it’ll usually include a plan on how they can “roll back” any software change. The process for undoing what you have just done may be more complex than simply clicking uninstall.
So how does a company come up with these plans? Well it’s usually based on their consultants experience and knowledge of what the software does when it is working, and more importantly what the software does when it is not working. Often these plans have been generated after many hours of extensive testing and even then the choice to install it on a customer’s computer is not often taken lightly.

So before you next download that “free” piece of software from the web or purchase that “excellent” deal down at your local computer store, ask yourself “Can I undo what I am about to do?”

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Andrew Newnham

Andrew Newnham

By Andrew Newnham (Fruition Data)
In 1987 the Gartner Group popularized a purchasing methodology called Total Cost of Ownership, or TCO for short.

TCO is fairly simple in theory, it gets people responsible for purchases to look beyond what the initial purchase price is, commonly referred to the sticker price, and calculate all costs associated with making a purchasing decision.

An easy to understand example of TCO would be the purchase of a car. Beyond the initial purchase price you also need to factor in running costs, and if you’re purchasing as part of a lease, you’ll also need to consider the resale value at the end.

The same rules apply when purchasing an IT system. You need to look at the initial purchase price as only one component of owning that system. Some of the other costs which you need to consider include:

  • Installation costs, including other hardware and software prerequisites.
  • Support costs, including factoring in the cost of lost productivity.
  • Training costs and options.
  • Upgrading costs.
  • Decommissioning costs, and if decommissioning is even possible.

It’s rare that you purchase a system, and it has no pre-requisites. Pre-requisites can include minimum OS levels, internet availability requirements, minimum hardware requirements, and other supporting software requirements. If you don’t already meet the minimum requirements you will need to make other purchases prior to installing your new software system. These can easily add thousands of dollars onto the purchase price, especially when the minimum requirement calls for enterprise level hardware and software.

Support options for the software are as important as the software itself. What are your costs if the software fails? You need to include what your costs are likely to be in lost productivity as well as the actual support costs themselves.

Training can easily cost many times more than the software itself. Training can be simply the time it takes to become familiar with the new software, through to courses costing tens of thousands of dollars, per staff member. Don’t assume that just because you understood how the software works with a 5 minute demo your staff will need no further training.

From time to time all software is updated. These updates may fix problems, add new features, or make existing features easier to use. In any case you will find that as time goes on support for older versions of the software will cease. This effectively puts you into the position where you are forced to upgrade potentially at a great and \ or unknown expense or you may even be forced to decommission the software system.

Decommissioning costs are something which is rarely considered, however it’s important that you have your exit strategy worked out prior to committing to the product in the first place. Certain pieces of software can not be decommissioned. They store the data in proprietary formats which can’t be exported. There are many reasons why you may need to decommission a software system. Your company may expand beyond what the system can handle, support and updates for the system may cease, or you just find the software doesn’t work in the required manner anymore.

When choosing one software solution over another, the price written on the sticker is only one small part of what you should be looking at, as the ongoing costs are where the true price of a product is shown. Make sure that before you embark on your next purchasing decision make sure you look beyond the good deal being offered to you in the store.

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