The Software Setup Model – The School of Dan

The School of Dan – Software Systems

Software Setup is like a Pyramid…
Remember how the ancients built the pyramids? They built from the bottom up with the base being the strongest level. Software setup is done the same way. You build the system from the ground up. You setup a software system using tiers and the entire pyramid becomes your foundation for success.

In any software implementation—whether that be just one module or an entire platform install—stay true to the foundation. Just as the walls in a home will fail if the foundation is weak, so will the day-to-day business activities if the software infrastructure lacks integrity.

I’ve developed and implemented many software systems and our 5-TIER process never fails.

The following outline considers a pyramid model where the base (the largest portion) is Tier 1 and the apex is Tier 5. This works you from the bottom up. The same model can be illustrated in a reverse pyramid with Tier 1 being the top of the pyramid, working you from the top down. In fact, you can remove the pyramid model altogether and use an Org chart as your model. Regardless of the model, these 5 Tiers are the foundation for successful implementations.

TIER 1 – the RULES. This becomes the major part of your foundation. Here you’ll develop the system rules. This information usually remains STATIC in that once you set the values, rarely are they updated. For example, flags are set that identify which modules you’ll be using such as A/P, inventory management, and CRM (Customer Relationship Management). You’ll set up the company record and other related rules such as default terms for your company.

Tier 2 – the TABLES, which also remain STATIC most of the time. These values would be sales staff names, credit codes, terms codes, user logins, and many other like values.

Tier 3 – the MASTER FILES, which will act primarily in a STATIC mode, but will have some DYNAMIC information such as YTD sales. There are also times when updates will be made such as a company will change the customer terms codes with the intention of overriding the company-wide terms codes set in the tables in Tier 2.

Tier 4 – the TRANSACTION FILES. For new system installs, this information is usually imported from some database such as Excel. These would usually be large files of current information and be related to information such as open purchase orders, quotes, and open sales orders. These values are DYNAMIC in that they will change every day.

Tier 5 – the ARCHIVES. Ah…you’ve arrived at the top of the pyramid. Like Tier 4, for new system installs, this information is usually imported from some database such as Excel. These would usually be large files of information such as sales history, receiving history, and receivables history. They are DYNAMIC TRANSACTION FILES, as new information can be recorded in the files daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly. However, unlike the Tier 4 files, the values in these archive records do not change, as this is historical data.

Rest assured that the majority of failed system installs are related to the lack of attention in the 5 Tiers.


Along those lines…

Gordon B. Hincley said…

“You can’t build a great building on a weak foundation. You must have a solid foundation if you’re going to have a strong superstructure.”

I rest my case.
The “School of Dan.”


Children are often our Greatest Teachers.

Yesterday my five-year-old granddaughter Jessalyn said: “Papa, come sit by me and talk.” Got me thinking it did.

My four grandchildren (3, 4, 5, and 6 years old) all have iPads and they know how to use them. The thing is that Jessalyn understands what she needs. The girl is a whole lot smarter than me.

Clearly the social boom has impacted all of us in one way or another and even though I have a substantial technology background, I’ve always enjoyed face-to-face problem solving and human conversation. That will never change. It’s part of my makeup.

However, just like the information highway has enabled everyone to connect in ways we never imagined possible, the social network does allow certain opportunities.

I think that in many ways technology has enabled us, but in other ways it has caused us to go against our very being.

While technology changes daily, our DNA as humans has never really changed. We’ve just masked those very social needs we all really want and must have—human interaction. We just can’t change our makeup. 

I’m smart enough to know what works best for me and I apply balance in all of this. I still enjoy dinner with friends and the conversation—and not staring into my iPhone. 

How about you? Are you in control or does the technology control you?

As it was once said: “To everything there is a season.”




Things can get so mixed up!

                                INVENTORY MANAGEMENT AND THE CREDIT LINE

A friend of mine—we’ll call him Walter—owns a fairly large business. We were talking the other day and he said, “Dan, my business is growing so I went to the bank to increase my line of credit. I need the additional credit line as our sales volume is increasing. The bank turned me down. Go figure.” We talk a bit more as we walk around the warehouse when I spot a number of heating units back in the corner.

I said, “Walter, you know that large batch of heating units you bought in December of last year?” (He was so proud of the end-of-the-year deal he made with his heating unit supplier that he had to call me and fill me in.) “I don’t think you’ve paid for them so they are still consuming your line of credit.”

Walter answered, “Sure I did. We pay on our line of credit every month.”

“Sure you do, but you’re paying only the top half of your line,” I responded. “These units are in the bottom half of the line. Your line of credit is relative to the product that consumed it.” I continue, “Let’s split your $500K line of credit in half; the bottom $250K and the top $250K. Now let’s value and age your inventory.”

On doing so, we found the inventory that has been in the warehouse for over 12 months—for example the heating units—consumes close to the full bottom half of his line of credit. Walter had been working only the top half of his line of credit, which is far shy of what he needs to run the business successfully.

The same holds true for all of us. When we spend a dollar, we need to offset that dollar with a relative income dollar. Better yet, we really want to offset the expense dollar with a relative income dollar and fifty cents or better.

After our little discovery, Walter said to me, “Man, I need to get those heaters and that other non-essential product out of here, all the product that’s in that bottom half.”

I nodded in agreement. “You sure do.” Then I added, “By the way, Walter, that will also cure your need for additional warehouse space.”

He replied, “How so?”

I smiled at him and said, “I’m hungry, let’s go get lunch.”


Dan Belanger is president of the Belanger Technology and Consulting Group. His background includes thirty years of solution-based action in multiple business models including distribution, manufacturing, warehousing, facilities management, service, retail, and information systems. He is well-versed in all aspects of business ownership, operations, and management.

With time spent at the executive management level in field implementations and having worked closely with business owners, executives, and staff, he understands the complexities and expectations related to running a profitable business. Dan understands the human element, which makes managing comfortable and successful change one of his core competencies.


Dan Belanger – Training and Education Options

Authored and delivered Branch Manager Training schools for distributor associations and businesses.
Subject Matter Focal Points:
  • Time management
  • Financial
  • Inventory control
  • Sales and Marketing
  • Safety
  • Empowering your Human Resource
At their conference we conducted Branch Manager Training classes focused on the key elements impacting effective and profitable operations.
Subject Matter Focal Points:
  • Inventory
  • Financials
  • Human Resources
  • Technology
  • Time Management were focal points.

Show them the Way

I park my car at the local mega grocery chain. As I walk through the parking lot to the store, I notice all kinds of grocery carts. I walk in and the greeter says: “Welcome to Meijer.” I see at least seven people standing there wondering where the grocery carts are; myself included. The room where the grocery carts are usually held is empty.

I ask for the manager and receive instant response. The manager looks frazzled. I tell my story and suggest that if they’re going to run a grocery business that carts should always be there. I even offer to buy a few carts for them. The manager makes a phone call and within 5 minutes the cart room is full of carts.

I wonder how much time management spends with their cart staff. I wonder if the greeter is allowed to take action when they see no carts are available. I wonder if management does not appear to be fighting fires if they feel out of control and that they may lose their jobs.

That’s the problem. Those who tell others what to do are busy controlling rather than empowering. They are not educating staff on why they get paid; they are task focused. The managers should not be fighting fires they should be encouraging staff and on the floor ensuring all goes well.

While I suspect Meijer has many management meetings perhaps they have too few greeter and cart return staff meetings. Maybe staff should educate management?

That Elevator Pitch

That Elevator Pitch

The sales gurus have always said: “Hone that 60 second elevator pitch.”A few days ago a marketing expert asked me: “What do you sell?” I had to think a moment as I don’t really “sell” – I empower.

So I said: “For 30 years now – I’ve sold Freedom.”

The guy chuckles and says: “That will never work, it says nothing and besides you can’t sell Freedom, it’s available to us free from charge.”

My turn to smile. I say: “In reality nothing comes free but there are freedoms that are worth the price.” I further explained …

(1) Entrepreneurs become business managers within a month of starting the business. They’ll tell you they’ve not taken any vacation, work 60 hours a week, and really don’t make much money. Not what I call freedom.

(2) Employees become workers, paper pushers, unhappy within two weeks of starting work. Same thing happens to those who return from vacation. The entrepreneur; a.k.a business owner, is so stressed out that he or she begins to dump work on the employee. Employees with great ideas and purpose soon become fearful of and for their jobs. They become just plain workers; not thinkers. Not at all productive.

(3) Everyone becomes so task oriented that everything suffers. They take their eye off the ball. Business owner thinks technology will fix it all. Technology is not the savior, technology is the tool that enables and empowers those thinkers and dreamers to bring reality to what would never have been.

So I finished my conversation with this nice person by saying: “In essence, I listen, ask, advise and coach many to a freedom filled way of life – A new way of managing their business and personal lives.” I stop these three scenarios from continuing to occur. I give them that very freedom they set out to find.

Authored by Dan Belanger – Business Advisor | Technology Guru | Problem Solver
No reproduction in concept or print without the authorization of the Belanger Group.

RFID Asset Management – are you Passive or Active?

In the field of asset and consumable inventory management, there are two main types of RFID tags—passive and active. Just like the various roles shared by the employees of your company, passive and active tags play very different parts in ensuring the smooth operation of your business.

Passive tags sleep until woken with a sensor device. You know that nice $800 leather jacket you liked? Get it within a few feet of those white towers at the store exit and you’ll wake them up, letting everyone in the store know you were leaving with the jacket.

Active tags have a little power source like a battery that enables the tag to always stay awake—just like NoDoz during exam week. There are usually sensors in the ceilings of the building; the tag talks to the sensor and says something like, “I’m going on break now.” In effect, the software platform always knows where the tag is and how long it’s there. Active tags have an ongoing conversation with the software—like my daughter with me, while passive tags sleep until something or someone wakes them up—like my son.

In this case, let’s use the library as our business model and talk about how a thought through deployment of RFID could have made a positive impact on all aspects of the business being – warehousing, inventory control, technology application, and human resource frustration.

You’ve been to the library right? You know the drill: You take a book on culinary history from the history section. You may walk through the children’s section and see a book that your son or daughter really likes, so you pick up that book and decide to return the other book to…”Now what section was this culinary book in?”

Sure enough, the theory of the path of least resistance kicks in and you set the history book down in the children’s section. No harm done, right? Nope.

Someone comes looking for a book on culinary history. Library staff and software system says there’s one over in the history section. You go over there and can’t find it and walk back to the desk. Nice library person gets up and goes over there with you. Staff person says, “Well it’s here somewhere”—and grins. Says, “This happens all the time.”

The library quite often has RFID tags in the books and magazines, right? They sure do. The problem is that someone had blinders on when they installed these systems because they are using passive tags.

With a few in-ceiling sensors, active tags, and smart software, this problem is solved. All the libraries did was allow the customer to check out their own books. They really did not enable the library and improve upon the customer experience.

The message is that you always want to look past the technology and ensure you will truly receive the benefit you’re after.

Oh, by the way…the library ordered a replacement culinary book in from a partner library. It arrived at the library a week later just in time to be put on the shelf with the other book they finally found.

They now have two when they only needed one – not always a good thing when carrying inventory.