2017: Back to the roots

2017: Back to the roots


At the beginning of the year in companies new projects are set off and projects that haven’t been finished after a first, second and third attempt are freshly tackled. Every year companies come to us, after their ERP manufacturer has provided them with a not easy-to-use, flexible graphical planning surface. They did although promise that “The new version will be something completely new”.

And those responsible for the planning boards turn to infoBoard although they have agreed with their colleagues to rely on simple Excel overviews. There is a lack of multi-user capacity, different access rights (writing, reading), and mobile access.

And so we come back to the primal basic need of visualization and representation of the most important information in a department or small business.

Images: the most important thing about our appointment calendar are the images of the parts to be constructed. In the calendar we want to link the image to the drawings and the project folder so that the sales department should be able to get access to the appointment calendar also from mobile devices.

Or: our customer expects to see on his/her next visit, a graphical planning board to be able to evaluate its utilization.

Or: my supply companies cannot cope with the many opportunities we give you. They simply lack of a general insight!

Does infoBoard provide too many functions for these simple requirements?

Well, you can make your planning board in just 3 minutes. That does not sound like too much functionality. Often a 2-hour webinar is enough time to talk about everything we have to talk about. Is it really bad when a program has drafts? Isn’t it a kind of insurance that it can take all future requirements or other departments with their different needs to the same planning tool?

From my many years of experience with large companies I have learned how the planning needs and requirements vary according to the different tasks of the different departments. But our clients are lucky enough to have a general scheduling tool available.

The use of infoBoard planning board software enables a scaling of the services. What is a scaling? The possibility to do more with the same amount of resources.

Or: you can easily start in a department and when it’s necessary other complex processes in other departments will also be provided with the same planning support.

More on this topic in the next blog post.













Workshop orders with infoBoard’s ‘Pool Order’ form

Scenario: Internal service providers within the company (eg. a workshop) receives orders through various different methods, such as by email, telephone, on-call responses or from SAP systems. Often, the orders would be expected to meet minimum requirements, and a performance record or even an SAP number may later be required.

According to increasing numbers of requests from customers, we have created a form creator. From this standard template, forms can be created: one form for each planning board. There are approximately 40 input fields available for transfer. Tooltip text is available, as is the enforcement of ‘mandatory fields’.

If a form field is used to access the user log, the customer can see the list of all of their orders when they call up the infoBoard Web system. A filter can also be used to make the list shorter.

A traffic-light system indicates the status of the job. Red is not yet scheduled, yellow is a scheduled date, and green – finished.

These entries can be printed by the workshop in the standard way using individual plugins.

The infoBoard user-defined attributes, value tables and type definitions are implemented.

Easily import Excel files into infoBoard

In the “Handbook for Software Entrepreneurs”, the connectivity of a software product is paramount when bringing it to the global market.

Therefore, using the infoBoard synchronisation server, we have offered synchronisation from ERP data from day one. Here, we were looking at simplicity and comprehensibility, but also had to offer the full range of import possibilities. This makes it difficult. As a result, we send typical import data to interested parties as Excel files. With the infoBoard converter, we can offer to automatically read data from .csv files without ERP programs.

But on a basic level, most planners work with self-made Excel spreadsheets, lists, and matrices, both with and without macros. It’s amazing how much time is invested in planning. There is no other way to keep track of an order’s status in a comprehensible manner.

With so many different Excel spreadsheets used for planning, the focus is suddenly not on increased connectivity with ERP-Systems, but rather on managing a large number of Excel spreadsheets. This is a serious task for the software producer.

Over the past twelve months, our developers have done more than ever before with regards to Excel modules, add-ins, and uploads over web pages. This proves another aspect of the simplicity of working with infoBoard – easing the workload of the user.

Every month, we import around thirty new Excel “Example 5” spreadsheets for prospective customers and take screenshots of the generated planning boards. We offer these easy Excel imports to our prospective Internet customers almost immediately. Surprisingly, multi-dimensional thinking, and respectively the presentation of tasks in a two-dimensional manner seems to be difficult for a significant number of people. This is accompanied by an inability to imagine the necessary structures of an Excel spreadsheet in an abstract way.

We have programmed an Excel add-in, which is able to import (and remove) data from an Excel sheet to an existing infoBoard planning board. Here, the parts lists are copied from a CAD program and then the work is distributed to machines with an estimated time.

A great variant is an Excel plugin for the infoBoard client. In the sample orders, all items with the necessary work procedures are stored. The (weekly) production log is exported from SAP to Excel. This Excel file with the item numbers and the number of pieces produced is read by the plugin and automatically creates the item sample orders with SAP production order numbers.

Do you see the advantages that the idea of an ideal, automated interface presents? Simple Excel imports are like “Bread for the World”. They satisfy hunger.

We look forward to receiving your Excel spreadsheets.

Why is infoBoard better?

In a typically American way, the usual questions is asked after two sentences here. We are in Chicago at the biggest trade show for manufacturing and are trying to be cool. The usual “how are you?” always slows me down. After four days, I answer “I am good”. Modesty is not a virtue here: let me tell you quite clearly, why you should be interested in Europe’s number one professional scheduling and capacity-planning tool.

Because infoBoard has spoken to over 20,000 respondents responsible for professional planning and has satisfied their needs by programming over 6,000 innovative solutions to problems. Because we have not looked away anywhere, making it a unique tool to have.. Because the interface is easy to understand and navigate and because, as well as looking beautiful, we are the only company to offer our second USP: the Critical Chain Project Management (CCPM) tool.

Oh yes, that is what I thought when I looked at the monitor! Easy!

After that has been explained, I now show our SmartWatch application and the two visitors are dreaming with us. Their enthusiasm is a reward for our many years of effort and, for a moment, America is giving something back to Old Europe.

Another visitor thinks that an integrator of engine data in the South Hall would also have an intelligent system. But he brought that from Germany twenty years ago. Oh! The arguments with the algorithm – the algorithm that can calculate and place everything perfectly. Not marketable! “Please talk to the people responsible for scheduling. Over 10 years, only 2 out of 20,000 wanted a completely automated planning system.” – all from from touch of a button. The other 19,998 wanted software that supported their thinking, allowing them to plan as they like, quickly and easily. That is the way it is.

I receive an email from an employee working at a US automotive supplier operating globally. The company is involved in re-manufacturing and is an OEM supplier of brakes and axles. His colleague would have taken a prospectus from the show, and they want to introduce a SCADA system with around six million operations a year at this location and further expansion planned at other locations. Can we arrange a demo “early next week”? Of course! But this is where cultures clash. I would like to prepare well for the appointment, whereas he would like to have it come to him. Instead of a concise, structured Excel table, he sends me prose. With my American ‘neighbour’ at the stand next to me, I analyse the text, extract the relevant information and build a five-columned Excel spreadsheet myself. Imported into infoBoard, made screenshots of the planning board, used the web reporting tools and evaluated the processes using BusinessController. Deadline for the demo: next Monday at 10am EST. Just how I need it. Concrete. Results oriented.

After the exhibition, we take the rented bicycles along the waterfront of Michigan Lake to the city, turn off the Chicago River into the city centre. We find a nice steak restaurant with a view overlooking the river. The sun still offers warmth and the strong winds cool our backs (yes, Chicago: The Windy City). The $80 listed turns into an unbelievable $150 – and not only because of tax and 15% service charges. Who can actually afford that? We live in Germany in a very different system! Not as much net cash but cheaper living costs.

Company-wide means inter-departmental!

At the Chillventa trade fair in Nuremberg, an infoBoard customer calls me: R&D, Design, Workshop and Production have very different requirements, meaning that the long processing chains for the following departments can no longer be logically combined due to the long distances and time sequences. Their needs are too varied, too different. Therefore, the planning boards also have to look different. Of course the orders are joined together but…

Talk to the manufacturer! We are developing new functions! Over 500 features every year.

How can infoBoard help? With a connected infoBoard SyncTool Server, tasks can be placed on transfer lines and delivered to other departments with other infoBoard planning boards. The planning objects are synchronised by the unique IDs: in the case of time shifts, the first planning board will be automatically informed and adjusted accordingly.

Why can I answer this so quickly: because this need is now being described to us increasingly often. The large companies are organised into individual departments, accepted as special requirements. Because these departments can present themselves better than “the without”, and management now wants the whole profit from the use of infoBoard. This is also our experience: growing companies need infoBoard to grow sensibly and quickly.

Another method of working with several planning board: You can drag and drop planning objects with complete contents from one to the other with several open plant panels.

By the way, we also use emails with fixed keywords to automatically generate planning objects. And from our CRM system, we generate new planning objects for reprints at the push of a button. Contact us!

A growing company with increased cases numbers, more employees, and more branches needs a reliable organization.

If you have any questions, we will soon see a photo gallery and maybe even a video here. Stay tuned!