For many years computer colleagues of mine have suggested we should change Printcost to a web based system. Their arguments have always revolved around the fact that this would be a great business, for me, as it would lock in the users. We would have complete control over the programming and even virtual ownership of the data. My response has always been “where is the plus for the client?” This has generally left them pretty blank looking except for minor items like “they wouldn’t have to maintain the programs”, “you could maintain their rates etc. for them” and perhaps “they wouldn’t need a server”. None of these “benefits” come close to matching the down sides (for the client). The loss of productivity alone on the times when the internet is down would outweigh all of these supposed pluses, not to mention the increased risk from hackers: remember there are some very clever and malicious people out there in cyberspace.
The reality is that it is no easier for a web based system to offer access to the database from anywhere than it is for a conventionally structured system. Printcost offers several methods for users to remotely access the database. These include:-
- Remote quoting, which allows (for example) a sales rep or owner to create new quotes, check old quotes and revise if necessary and print these out for a customer without any need to connect over the net.
- Remote access, well technically speaking Microsoft and others provide this, but many of our clients use remote access either by direct dial or over the internet to run their business.
- For your customers we offer the option of access to a restricted (the restrictions being decided by you) database via the internet.
- We also offer the option for your system to automatically email customers interactive status reports (with a mouse click or two they can place an order for stock, request a print job or request a quote for either new work or requote on historical jobs or quotes).
- For those that don’t want to invest capital in software we offer Printcost software on a rental / lease basis.
All this works without a web based system.
At the risk of mixing a few metaphors you need to remember it’s the sizzle that sells, not the sausage, but the proof (of the pudding) is in the eating. You can achieve total interactivity with your customers using a conventional computer structure that leaves you in control – you know exactly what backups you have and how well protected you are. The need for access via the net should not control your system’s architecture – you spend a lot more time directly accessing your data from your office and this is far more important.
If you want to comment or suggest a topic for ‘tip of the month’, contact Chris on email firstname.lastname@example.org