Over the years, as technology has changed, so has my main focus of expertise. Here are some of the more notable areas. All technologies I am currently using, or have used, and that I particularly enjoy are listed here.
Activist & Educationalist
Co-Founder & Director
Co-Founder & Director
Founder & Director
Founder & Director
University of Aston in Birmingham
North Staffordshire Polytechnic
Here's a (very) terse overview of the modules within an ERP system with which I am intimately familiar.
Enquires, quotations, sales orders, proforma invoices, and sales invoices.
Stock control (including stock checks and stock adjustments); picking and packing processes; delivery notes, and goods received notes.
Stock storage and retrieval within a warehouse; and multiple warehouse support.
Purchase orders, local requisitions, and purchase invoices.
User Role Management
Categorisation of users (individually and in groups); access rights, and activity tracking.
Integration of inventory with online webstore; full consumer access to order history, tracking, and financial transactions.
Product catalogs should be comprehensive and fully integrated with back-end inventory and front-end webstore.
Export and import of database data allows use of tools (such as spreadsheets) to add flexibilty.
Often more complex than one would like it to be. But something of a specialty for me.
Statutory accounting (GL, balance sheet, profit & loss, sales tax tracking), and managament anlaytics (ideally in real-time).
Fully integrted use of mobile devices for warehouse personnel, slaes people, and customers; amongst others.
CRM is the basis for sales and provides the front-line between an organisation and its customers. Maintaining good customer relationships is vital.
In a just-in-time supply chain maintaining good relationships with suppliers is crucial for an organisat ion's profitability.
Real-time business anlaytics, for personnel at all levels, should drive the system's operation. Information is key.
Digital Asset Management
As an organisation shifts its focus from automating its back-end, to expanding its customer-facing operations, digital assets increase in importance.
Most organisations try to maintain a 'blog'; most are poor. Integration of real-life 'stories' greatly increases an organisation's value.
Pretty much the only kind of marketing that matters. But largely misunderstood to mean Google ads and social media posts. Digital marketing must be the driving force behind any organisation.
This is the big one! And, it's one with which I have been involved since the early 1980s. This, more than any other, will change the world.
There are many technologies that come into play when dealing with ERP. Here's a list of those that come up in my current day-to-day work.
APIs and Communications
Here are a few of the projects I have completed. These are notable for their scope.
I've written AI-based prototypes that leverage traditional business mainframe computing infrastructure to integrate business data with advanced business process analysis. The application requirements analysis involved knowledge engineering.
Applications were written for the financial institutions of Commercial Union, NatWest Bank, and Morgan Stanley.
The Surveyor's department of Oxford University is responsible for over 500 buildings across the collegiate university. They had an application based on a system known as Pick.
Working with the university people, I created a specification of how processes were currently handled; then analysed their operational needs (irrespective of how the system currently handled things). We then produced a new requirements specification, along with a feasibility study detailing how they could get from where they were, to where they wanted to be going forwards.
In the end, it was decided to replace the current hardware and software with a new networked-PC architecture. This involved migrating historical data and writing new software (and loads of documentation).
DeltaStar was a software conversion tool that grew from a project to migrate software applications from one language to another. At its outset, from RPG to COBOL. I was managing director of the company that developed the product.
We grew in three directions: firstly, what started off as application code conversion, soon encompassed systems software and database procedures. Secondly, we moved from just two programming languages to many, including C and PL/1. And thirdly, we went international; with enquiries (and many projects) from over thirty countries.
We were supplied with (no-cost) hardware and software from IBM, Fujitsu, ICL, Sequent, DEC, Hewlett Packard, Sun Microsystems, Unisys, Wang, Oracle, Informix, and Ingres.
I led the team that developed the DeltaStar conversion software that allowed the migration of RPG II, RPG III, and (to an extent) RPG IV, applications to COBOL.
When PCs became able to support the networked-Windows operating system, sizeable business applications had one major drawback: databases necessary to store business data performed very badly. The database software was written for much larger, more powerful, computers. The software licence fees required were also exorbitant for the SME market. It quickly became evident that our new CRM, inventory, and accounting package would need an alternative.
I took on the task of designing and building a fully functional, performant file system. The CFS file system was based on a reverse-engineered Btrieve architecture. It was written in C and was fast, and compact.
Here's a typical case: My client, a $50 million a year turnover industrial company, had a requirement to move from an ERP system that had been in place for the best part of twenty years, to a replacement that would see them set for the future.
I performed a year-long detailed analysis of business operations; from accounts and purchasing, to warehousing and sales. In order to identify problem areas, and therefore areas which must be improved, a detailed analysis of business processes (within the overall business systems) is critical. The end-result was a comprehensive Requirements Specification. This specification was used to analyse potential ERP solutions. Of particular concern were timescales, budgets, and the need for additional customisation work to ensure that the new solution fitted the specification.
Working will all concerned parties, we evaluated possible replacement options before settling on SAP BusinessOne.
During ERP migrations I am often required to write specialised programs that convert database records. Typically, I have migrated 50,000 SKUs, and fifteen years-worth of business documents: quotations, sales orders, picking lists, packing lists, delivery orders, sales invoices, purchase invoices, goods received notes, credit notes, receipts, and payments.
The biggest mistake that businesses make in upgrading systems is not putting enough effort into analysing the business information flows, before even exploring replacement systems. Management seem to make the assumption that an IT department understands detailed business requirements, and that replacement software is certain to meet those requirements.
In this case, my expertise is the ability to engage with levels of company staff, and understand each of their job requirements. I don't wear a suit.
|Sports Digital Marketing|
I was Head of Digital Marketing for the year that Singapore's top club travelled from Singapore to India to Vietnam to Malaysia to the Philippines (as part of our AFC Cup campaign). My team and I published over a thousand photographs and over a hundred videos covering travelling, behind-the-scenes, training, and match-day activities.
Website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram marketing channels grew our average-1,000 match attendance to a full 5,000 attendance when we moved into our new stadium at the end of the year. These marketing and promotional activities involved supporters, youth, women, and senior players, as well as the alumni community; plus club management.
I used programming APIs to upgrade an online sales business dramatically. This was achieved by writing specialist code to import 10,000 stock items into a database that sits behind an Internet webstore. The exciting thing here is not the ease of stock management but the use of APIs that link the sales module directly into eBay and PayPal.
Previously it took the business owner on average of 20 minutes to add an item to eBay; now they can do it in seconds. That is how you leverage eCommerce on the Internet. The business is now able to concentrate on building up their marketing network over social media. It is important to make use of the functionality that the big guys use.
I spent a year in London working for the world's premier financial database company: I.P. Sharp Associates (subsequently taken over by Reuters). I was responsible for a complete re-write of their Eurocharts Customised Plotting System that was used by major financial institutions in the City of London.
|Wired With Wireless|
In 2003, the Singapore government invested heavily in a mobile infrastructure program to boost the use of mobile devices and application usage. I put together a consortium that added mobile capabilities to the ZaraStar ERP system that we had developed. The consortium involved Palm Computing and three of our clients. Not only was our proposal accepted but we received the largest award of any of the thirty consortia.
With my technical and operations knowledge, I have been able to formulate and present customised training courses to many clients; including Hitachi Chemicals and Yokogawa Electric.
In addition, I have taught degree level Business Information Systems and Computer Science at colleges.
The Singapore car park operations company, Wilson Parking, needed specialist help in the design and development of a mobile solution that would allow the capture and subsequent analysis of car park attendance data. Running car parks for long-term contracts, on behalf of their owners, is a risky business.
I wrote the system that allowed workers to gather that data with mobile devices (this was in the days before mobile phones and the Internet) and upload it over its RS-232 serial port to an analysis system that calculated car park rates and charges to allow Wilson Parking to provide accurate quotations to the car park owners.
When the Singapore government started the process of automating car park operation, I wrote code and integrated remote servers with real-time cameras. Every vehicle that enters a car park is photographed, and its details entered into a database (along with its in-car unique identification).
The management training company founded by John Cleese needed software which would allow a trainee to control, through the swiping of barcodes, the playing of video sequences stored on laser discs (a forerunner of compact disks: CDs).
I designed and wrote the code that interfaced between the barcode input and the laser disc itself, over its RS-232 serial port. There were different (competing) standards that had to be supported - from Sony, Pioneer, and Philips. Written in C, the whole program suite had to reside in 4k of memory.
|Linux From Scratch|
LFS is a set of documentation to build your own Linux OS distribution from source code.
I actually did this twice in three years. The first time took about three months; as did the second time (mainly because I went further by adding in many application programs, in addition to the base operating system).
The second creation was released to the local Singapore community as 'Singanix'. -- the first independent Linux distribution in the country.
At the time, we were working as partners with Sun Microsystems who had just released their Solaris operating system as OpenSolaris. However, not all our customers wanted to align themselves with Sun, so we had a demand for a customised Linux distribution. Singanix satisfied that need.
In 2009, Google launched a platform that provided real-time conversational capabilities. Multiple users could see fellow conversationalists typing one character at a time. It was all very wild but it was clear that the code had been hacked together from multiple sources and was clunky and slow.
So, although the idea was very advanced, Google decided not to proceed with the project. They did, however, release the outline specifications and sponsor the open-source community to develop a replacement. After spending time with Google in San Francisco, I led the design and development of an open-source implementation.
To learn the print magazine business, I co-published a sports magazine. In particular, how the marketing of a print-magazine could integrate with online marketing. At the presentation level, we were offering content in a printed form that could also be offered online. Players! was used in conjunction with a digital marketing campaign.
In the process I made extensive use of several Adobe CC software programs, including: InDesign, Photoshop, Illustrator, and Lightroom.
It was this interest in football and my own children's education that lead to the development of a range of apps (under the brand Oreddy).