Over our 25-year history developing and deploying manufacturing software for small- to medium-sized manufacturing companies, we've leared quite a bit about our customers' needs. For example, we've learned that, no matter how many standard reports you build into the software, your customers will want more. It seems as though every MISys user has some specific report in mind that they just can't do without.
Over the evolution of MISys, each version has included some form of custom reporting capability. Way back when we started, only software installers and consultants created custom reports for their clients. So the tools we offered required a good deal of technical expertise on the part of the designer. More recently, we've seen a significant up-tick in the number of software end-users who wish to mine the data hidden in their manufacturing systems.
The problem for us has been that the vast majority of our end users don't possess the technical expertise required to effectively user popular report design tools. They tend to think that data exists in one large, flat file and all you need to do is pick the fields you wish to display in a custom report. Don't dare mention words such as database engine, SQL queries, relational tables, inner joins and such.
The MISys Development team has been working on ways to let our customers mine the wealth of data contained in a MISys database. Until recently, our focus has been on tools intended for our business partners who typically have a working knowledge of SQL databases and industry-standard reporting tools like SAP Business Decision's Crystal Reports.
Unfortunately, SQL database engines such as Microsoft SQL Server and reporting tools such as Crystal Reports are far too complex for the avaerage business owner to use successfully. And yet most of our customers have legitimate needs for custom reporting capabilities in their software, ranging from making a minor adjustment to a purchase order form to creating complex production scheduling reports.
At MISys we are currently evaluating an array of third-party reporting solutions in an effort to find just the right mix of power and user-friendliness so that users without any other options can create their own reports for MISys Manufacturing. We are resigned to the possibility that a solution we adopt may not be capable of solving every custom reporting need. After all, the MISys database hasn't become any simpler over the years. But with more MISys systems being sold every day, the pressure is building for us to find something that is suitable for the common man.
Business partners and MISys users who wish to learn what they need to know to create custom reports using the tools available in today's MISys Manufacturing version 5.0 are invited to attend a webinar on Thursday, July 28th. Register for this webinar by going to https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/219873432.
Just remember, these are the tools available today: very powerful, but not as user-friendly as we'd like. Back in the lab, ideas for a much friendlier data mining and reporting tool continue to percolate.