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Frequently Asked Questions

What is System Needs Analysis?
What is Software Installation?
What are Software Programs?
What is System Conversion?
What is Training?
What is Implementation?
What is System Planning and Design?
What are Programming Services?
What is System Control and Post Audit Review?
What is Asset Management?
What is CRM?
What is MRP?
What is MRP II?
What is ERP?
What does an information system cost?



What is System Needs Analysis?
A System Needs Analysis is a review of your present systems and your future needs. The goal is to obtain defined specifications that help you fairly evaluate all vendor offerings and analyze the return on investment they will generate. The following resources are used during a System Needs Analysis:

  A project team made up of management, operations, and Automation Plus technical staff that is committed to uncovering the organization's competitive advantages.
  Defined methodology provided by Automation Plus to identify key questions that must be asked and answered.
  Resource analysis used by Automation Plus to compile, organize, and prioritize the results of the work performed by the project team.
  A project leader from your company that keeps the team focused on the critical objectives of the project. A project leader also evaluates the tangible and intangible benefits that could be derived from the project.

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What is Software Installation?
Software installation is the transfer of application software onto your computer hardware. If the software is Saas (Software as a service) then software installation is not required because the programs reside on the hosted server of the software provider. The users then access the system through their internet browser software.

If software is to be installed on your system we preplan the install by confirming your hardware specifications match the authorís system requirements.

Why do we plan? Planning minimizes delays and frustrations.

  To insure that the changes that take place during the transfer procedure will not cause existing software programs to malfunction.
  To create standard directory structure so future services can be performed fast and accurately, thereby minimizing future expense.
  To insure maximum performance of the system, so you get information on demand.
  Check security settings to make sure people have access to the system and functions as desired by the organization.
  After installation is complete, we go the extra mile to test to insure that the software functions as expected.

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What are Software Programs?
Automation Plus, Incorporated represents award winning accounting, manufacturing and distribution software for the small to medium business. Whether you are in need of a basic accounting package for your small business or a complete Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) program for the entire operation, A+ can meet your needs:

(click on the software names below to learn more from the author's website)

ERP Systems (Enterprise Resource Planning):
ALERE Accounting
ALERE Manufacturing
• Fishbowl Inventory Management Software
Sage Pro Series
Alere Business Systems

Other Software Applications:
Customer Resource Management (CRM)
F9 - Data Interchange Program
Riata Shop Floor Data Coolection System
Riata Physical Inventory
Clickbase
Stonefield Query
• ALERE Data Aquisition
APlus Popup Notes
APlus Bill of Lading System

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What is System Conversion?
System Conversion is the updating of an existing software application to a new version of the software. The conversion options include (1) manually keying data into the updated system or (2) electronically taking the data files from the old version and migrating it into the new data files. System Conversion includes several steps:

  Conversion planning - Planning prior to conversion by Automation Plus' technician to identify any modifications that may need to be reapplied. In this stage, specifications of the existing computer hardware are checked to insure it can handle the updated software requirements.
  Preparing the old system - Preparing for conversion by performing all housekeeping functions (such as running reports from the old system so they can be compared to the updated system) to insure accurate conversion of all data files.
  Electronic conversion and programming - Using technical skills to perform the actual conversion of the programs and files.
  Balancing after conversion - Running reports in the new system to compare old and new system totals.
  System problem solving - Debugging and resolving problems where figures do not agree. This is performed using an Automation Plus programmer and operations person.

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What is Training?
(As defined by the computer industry)
Training is the process of instructing your staff the features and operating procedures of the selected software application using a sample company.
(As defined by Automation Plus, Inc.)
Training is the process of instructing your staff in front of a computer with hands-on computer interaction so people can practice the software functions. Functions are taught from an operations point of view, and your staff is allowed to practice the software procedures they are taught. Training services are scheduled at your site or in our classroom. Automation Plus' training covers:

  A review of each application software function from an operational stand point.
  Interface considerations through the logical flow of the system.
  Instructions for set-up procedures to make the software function.
  Methods of retrieving information from the system such as inquiry, printing and displaying of reports.
  A review of period-end closing and archiving procedures, when applicable.

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What is Implementation?
Implementation is the process of preparing your team to use the software programs in the running of your business. Implementation is where the rubber meets the road and makes for success or failure.

Implementation Services include:

• Project Management
• Project Timeline development
• Process Review
• Tailored Training
• Data Conversion & System Loading
• Pilot Run
• Go Live Assistance

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What is System Planning and Design?
System Planning and Design is the process Automation Plus uses to define the scope of a custom software project and establish a written vision of what the software must look like when the project is complete. The vision must match your specific requirements and functions. A custom designed project is broken into two major sections - Programming Services and Planning and Design.

During Planning and Design a trained Automation Plus system analysis expert reviews your vision of the end result and defines the scope of the project. After definition of the project scope, a detail design is planned. The data elements are identified and entry screens are created. Planning and Design steps include:

  Creating examples of entry screens to facilitate points of data entry.
  Defining through-put calculations and formulas.
  Defining output formats and identifying sorting requirements.
  Creating a project proposal booklet describing how the software will perform and what the software program will look like. This becomes the blueprint for program development.
  Creating an estimate based on the scope of the project.
  Gathering sample data from the client for the next phase of the project.
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What are Programming Services?
Programming Services is the development of software that matches the Planning and Design specifications. This phase of the project is broken into several stages:

  Programming - Writing software instructions that tell the computer what actions are to be performed. This includes creating entry screens, file layouts to hold data, report layouts, and programs that will perform calculations and sort the data as defined by the Planning and Design phase. Once the programming and initial testing is complete, the system analysis expert and the programmer work together to test the function of the system.
  Pilot testing - Using sample data that follows a "day in the life" review of the programs. If changes are needed to the system, they are noted during this phase of the project. All changes are tested, and a rerun of the pilot is performed. Pilot testing is conducted with the client's project staff.
  Installation - Loading software onto the client's system.
  Training/Implementing - Training to bring the staff up to speed on the operations of the system. The implementation tasks are defined and the project manager assigns resources and dates for completion of the task. User documentation is also provided during this phase of the project.

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What is System Control and Post Audit Review?
System Control and Post Audit Review takes place after a software application is installed. An experienced business manager from Automation Plus reviews the operating procedures of your staff to provide feedback to the management on how the system is being controlled (assuring accuracy of the data), and determining whether the staff is operating correctly (as trained) with the new software system. User instruction sheets are reviewed when applicable. The Post Audit includes the following activities:
  Daily procedure review
  Month end procedure review
  Quarter and year end procedure review
  Management meeting to report findings
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What is Asset Management?
Asset Management is a planned procedure for the protection of your information systems. Asset Management can take several forms depending on the degree of protection desired:

  Nightly system backup procedures - The daily backup of all programs and data files. This includes instruction on the rotation and frequency of tapes backups, how to check to be sure the backup is good, and how to selectively restore from a tape.
  Off-site storage and rotation of backup media - A plan is created to establish an off-site location to store selected backup media. Based on the critical nature of the assets being protected, the frequency and rotation of media is established.
  Cold-site system backup resource - For processes that are considered "mission critical", an off-site location is selected and prepared for use in the case of a disaster. The system off-site is an exact duplicate of the one used to operate each day. The programs and files are updated periodically - not on a real-time basis.
  Hot-site system backup resource - For processes that are considered "mission critical", an off-site location is selected and prepared for use in the case of a disaster. The system off-site is an exact duplicate of the one used to operate each day. The programs and files are updated on a real-time basis.

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What is CRM?
CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management. CRM is more than just software. A good CRM solution builds value for your business by opening up vital communications channels and creating a common client database focused to better serve your clients. A CRM system makes it easier for everyone inside your company to work together and share critical information.

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What is MRP?
MRP is defined as material requirements planning. APICS defines MRP to be a set of techniques that uses bill of material data, inventory data, and the master production schedule to calculate requirements for materials. It makes recommendations to release replenishment orders for material. Further, because it is time-phased, it makes recommendations to reschedule open orders when due dates and need dates are not in phase.

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What is MRP II?
MRP II is an abbreviation for Manufacturing Resource Planning. APICS defines MRPII as a method for the effective planning of all resources of a manufacturing company. Ideally it addresses operational planning in uints, financial planning in dollars, and has a simulation capability to answer "what-if" questions.

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What is ERP?
ERP stands for Enterprise Resource Planning. APICS defines ERP as an accounting-oriented information system for identifying and planning the enterprisewide resources needed to take, make, ship and account for customer orders.

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What does an information system cost?
Our focus is on the value you receive. Deliverables you should have is a minimum 1.5 to 3 times return on a 5 year project life cycle. The APlus method is V = B-C where :

  C is the actual estimated costs of software, hardware, services desired, and maintenance costs.
  B is the estimated benefits expected from the project.
  V is the value (or results) that one can expect from the project.

The information technology industry used a simple approach back in the 90ís by taking a percentage of annual sales Ė see method one below. Large resellers and VARs still employ these rough methods to determine a projects worth. Here are two methods that can be used . . .

  Method One: 1% to 3% of annual sales
Annual Sales $5,000,000 times 1% equals $50,000 - times 3% equals $150,000
       
  Method Two: A = Number of staff members (active) assigned to a new system
B = Number of Inquiry Users (List all who will use the system - note which ones are tranaction users - active vs. inquiry only. (Some vendors may charge a different amount for active vs. inquiry users)

Times
C = Per user software price for active users
D = Per user software price for inqury users

This equals estimated software cost

Using the estimated software cost compute estimate hardware, implementation and annual mainenance cost
E = Hardware equals 100% of software costs (estimate)
F = Implementation equals 150% of software costs (estimate)
G = Maintenance is a % of software cost or licenses issued

Formula (A*C) + (B*D) + E + F + G

COmpare the two methods they should be in the same ball park.



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