Archive for the ‘Interesting Stuff’ Category

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.”




Beltech Website URL QR CodeThe textbook definition of a QR Code is “A two-dimensional bar code created by Japanese corporation Denso-Wave in 1994.

The “QR” is derived from “Quick Response.” A type of Matrix or Two Dimensional bar-code. Rather than use a linear or laser type reader you use an imager – like the camera of an iPhone or a bar-code scanner that will scan linear and also has an imager.

My definition? Another existing technology that will solve many business problems. There are several QR code versions all of which allow varying amounts of information. The size of the QR code has little impact. In fact, if you have a QR code displayed on a screen during a presentation, it’s likely that someone in the audience could use their iPhone or AnDroid to take a photo of the code and if they have the app on their phone then action could be taken concerning the contents of the code. It’s very common to imbed a url in the QR code which directs you to a website.

Now I really don’t care who developed the code or the specifics of how it’s constructed, but I do care about what it can do for us in both our personal and business lives. Being able to look past the technology, and imagine the use, is the key to using it to the fullest.

Hey linear bar-codes .. you’d better look out! QR codes could ultimatley replace you!


Beltech Website URL QR Code
The Case: A company servicing the Oil and Gas industry has a substantial vehicle fleet worth tens of thousands of dollars.

They use a robust web hosted software solution to manage the maintenance and other information regarding each of the fleet assets.

The fleet being mobile, they struggle to keep timely and accurate maintenance schedules and physical locations of each asset. They also find it difficult to gain a mobile-in the field view of any given asset.

When vehicles are not in the field they are not generating new business or income.

The Solution: QR codes were placed on each vehicle. Fleet managers capture the code on an iPhone, iPad, or other imaging device and they are taken directly to that asset in their software solution.

This can be done not only at their facility but anywhere they have phone coverage – like in a corn field. Information can then be viewed or updated regarding that asset. In fact we also placed the QR code on a key chain so if you have the keys to any vehicle you can also access that assets information.

The Benefits: Vehicles no longer sit unused. Timely updates of where the vehicles are, the maintenance history, and what the vehicles are doing is now updated visible in the system.

Asset number entry is now accurate resulting in credible historical data. Management and staff are now able to focus on income generating and customer care events.

The result? You guessed it … PROFIT!


Dan Belanger


Is Barnes & Noble the next Blockbuster?

This eye-opening information came to me via an email from The lesson should be that continual improvement, creativity, and keeping an eye on the market and the horizon are so VERY important for any company. Never think that you are immune to ever changing business climates. Dan

Could Barnes Noble (NYSE: BKS) be the next Blockbuster? The once-dominant Blockbuster business model disintegrated into bankruptcy this year and seems unlikely to ever rebound. A close look at the Barnes Noble business model yields many of the same issues as Blockbuster:

1. Blockbuster faced intense competition from disruptive business models such as Netflix and Redbox. BN’s business model is under attack from online competition, half-price bookstores, and Amazon.

2. Blockbuster insisted on sticking with a retail store model despite signs that the growth was elsewhere. Barnes and Noble continue to focus on palatial retail bookstores despite retail rents of $250/square foot. In fact, BN had to close a high-profile Lincoln Center location due to its $1.25 million monthly rent.

3. Blockbuster was slow to embrace digital technology. The first Kindle was released in 2007. B N released the Nook in November 2009. It is estimated that Amazon sold 3 million Kindles in 2009 alone, many of them prior to the release of the Nook.

 4. Barnes and Noble margins continue to decrease while competitors increase margins through lower cost operating models.

From the outside it appears Barnes Noble is working from the Blockbuster Business Model Playbook. They insist on hanging onto a dying business model at all costs. They ignore disruptive technology as an annoyance rather than an opportunity. They come late to the technology party with “better” products like the Nook Book reader.

“From CEOFocus at”


Dan Belanger

Did you hear? The recession is over. And it has been for well over a year, according to the National Bureau for Economic Research. The NBER (National Bureau of Economic Research) released a recent statement  indicating the recession officially ended in June 2009. Hmm …

Apparently this means that economic indicators reveal the economy is on a slow but determined upswing and that things will not get worse. Well I’ll certainly go for that.

Clearly, across the country there are visible signs that unemployment numbers are down (yes I know that some numbers are up) and that businesses are actively moving forward. I have talked with a number of distributors and manufacturers that are seeking additional warehouse space and are engaging in new contracts for services and hard goods.

However let’s understand that the economy is not back to where it was. This will take some time and some states and industries will lag behind during this recovery process.

It has always been my school of thought that attitude has a lot to do with success. Now is the time to position your business and attitude for the gradual and certain expansion that arrives during the post-recession phase.

We are a nation of winners. Since our conception we have overcome unbelievable odds and have rose above any challenge!


Dan Belanger

Well I’m all for the Glass being Half Full!

Q2 Sales Jump for Distributors, Manufacturers

Second-quarter sales have improved from last year for many public distributors and manufacturers. For distributors, MSC Industrial reported a 28.5% surge in sales for the quarter, while Fastenal posted a 20% increase in sales. Meanwhile, manufacturers are doing well, too. For example, Zep and Illinois Tool Works posted sales increases of more than 20% for the second quarter.

From the NAW-National Association of Wholesale Distributors.


Dan Belanger

Everything we do in business results in some type of internal or external customer service event. The key is to make your customer care a memorable experience. The following sure supports that school of thought.

A little boy went into a drug store, reached for a soda carton and pulled it over to the telephone. He climbed onto the carton so that he could reach the buttons on the phone and proceeded to punch in ten-digits (phone numbers).

The store-owner observed and listened to the conversation:

Boy: ‘Lady, Can you give me the job of cutting your lawn?

Woman: (at the other end of the phone line): ‘I already have someone to cut my lawn.’

Boy: ‘Lady, I will cut your lawn for half the price of the person who cuts your lawn now.’

Woman: I’m very satisfied with the person who is presently cutting my lawn.

Boy: (with more perseverance): ‘I’ll even sweep your curb and your sidewalk, so on Sunday you will have the prettiest lawn in all of Palm beach, Florida.’

Woman: No, thank you.

With a smile on his face, the little boy replaced the receiver.

The store-owner, who was listening to all this, walked over to the boy.

Store Owner: ‘Son… I like your attitude; I like that positive spirit and would like to offer you a job.’

Boy: ‘No thanks’.

Store Owner: But you were really pleading for one.

Boy: No Sir, I was just checking my performance at the job I already have. I am the one who is working for that lady, I was talking to!’

This is what we call ‘Self Appraisal’ …

(by a reader of Kirsty’s e-zine.)