Monday, January 13, 2014

Realtrac ERP Software Development Team - Beta Phase Blog

Greetings again from Realtrac Headquarters,

Since the last Realtrac ERP Software development blog, we've transitioned from Alpha testing to Beta testing.  Testing a new product at a customer’s site is always a fun, hectic time. 

We've had some great feedback from all of our testing sites. We haven't had any issues that we'd call showstoppers (big issues where we all drop what we're doing to focus on an issue, and update all customers). That's not to say we haven't gotten great feedback; we have, and we've made changes based upon it. But, we're happy to say the majority of our feedback has been in the form of "We love it, and we want it to do X, Y and Z too!". This is great feedback to get, and we've got a great list of future features and modules. We've got years of new features and modules to work on and bring out to market.

Transitioning from active development to testing doesn't mean the development team has been sitting on our laurels. We've been tackling a whole bunch of new tasks, and even managed to add some new features to the product based on the feedback from our amazing alpha and beta testers.

On the task front, we've been busy doing writing and editing our manual and quick start guides.  Our approach to both documents is guided by the main principles of our ERP software. We say Realtrac is “The Easy Resource Planning” (ERP) software, and that needs to be reflected in our documentation as well as the product itself. I doubt we'll be able to make something that someone curls up next to a warm fire and reads by the flicker of candlelight. But if our documentation can actually help users solve their business problems, feel empowered to use our ERP software and learn all its features, we're going to be pretty happy campers.

We're also working on a series of videos to help our users get started, and eventually, feel comfortable to use all the powerful features of the product. Having videos available at a user’s finger tips is required today. One of the most common things we've heard in the past 18 months of working with Realtrac users is "I didn't know it could do that!". For any complex ERP software product (and, as easy as Realtrac 10 is, it's still a product designed to run your business, and it is an in depth product) this is natural. It's impossible for someone to know everything about a product; Learning is a function of practice and exploration. But still, we want to close that window as quickly as possible. Instead of having a customer take 6 months to master the product, we're hoping our video series takes a Realtrac user from neophyte to expert much, much quicker. If that fails, we're working on our backup plan of cloning all of the development team and shrink wrapping them in boxes to send to customers. So far we've had minimal success, but we'll keep working on it.

I did tease that we have added some new features, so I would like to take a moment and highlight some of the great new features that are going to be present in Realtrac 10 at launch.

The process of ordering material for upcoming jobs can be incredibly difficult and time consuming. We've been working with customers to try to develop some tools to help Realtrac users solve this problem. We're launching Realtrac 10 with a Material Resource Planning (MRP) feature that will make material ordering much easier. Using the powerful search and browse capabilities built in to Realtrac 10, users are able to easily see a list of the materials required for all upcoming, or a specific set of upcoming jobs. Want to see the materials required for jobs of 'Customer XYZ' set to start in April? No problem. Wonder how much 4140 3" Round you need for jobs in the next 3 months? No problem.

Once we had the foundation of the Realtrac ERP system in place, we decided to address some additional needs for our existing and future customer base. All manufacturing shops need a quality process; it’s just a matter of when they implement it and how vast the ERP system needs to be. Even if a customer doesn't need a strict quality program in place today, as part of the growth of their business, eventually they will need one. We wanted to ship Realtrac 10 with tools in place to let a business grow in to using our simple yet powerful tools.

Realtrac 10 will allow a user to create and save both non-conformance (NC) and corrective action (CA) reports. These reports are easy to produce, meaning they are easy to understand and integrate with existing workflows. A difficult tool is one less likely to be used, understood and adopted. And an unused quality system is worthless.

Using our built in messaging system, we can automatically warn users when they are building a part that has had non-conformance of corrective actions filed against them. Our quality tools, built in to the base product, can help satisfy many demands on your business:

  • Satisfy the needs of specific customers and/or specific industries that require a quality system in place.
  • Combined with policies, the Realtrac quality system can be an important part of the quality systems and certification.
  • The built in messaging system allows Realtrac users to actually use the NC and CA reports to ensure they are profitably building parts.

Well, back to work. We'll write another entry here shortly about the Realtrac 10 Mobile App.  Coming soon to an iOS device near you!

The Realtrac ERP Software Development Team


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