Custom programming, like most things, starts with an idea. At IQMS, our manufacturers come to us with a need to automate a process that will make an everyday operation faster and easier. Together, the IQMS Automation Group collaborates with our customers to help them solidify that idea to the point where it can become reality. Once that idea has formed, what are the steps you should expect during a custom programming project?
Step 1: Development Request
The first thing a manufacturer needs to do is have a clear vision of what they would like the custom project to accomplish. It is very important to have a clear end-goal in mind of how the project should function, and how users would interact with that functionality. Be sure to be upfront with your needs, including background, goals at outcome and other requirements. The key is to be clear on what is trying to be achieved, not what should be designed. Well-thought out goals prevent feature creep, continuous redesigning and other changes that add more time and cost.
Some of the details that would be helpful in this initial stage of the process would be items such as documentation on the current process, screenshots, descriptions of how the system is currently being used and suggestions on how the proposed custom project could work within the EnterpriseIQ ERP and MES solution.
There is a famous quote by Edward V. Berard that illustrates this phase of the custom programming process perfectly: “Walking on water and developing software from a specification are easy if both are frozen.” The more detail that is provided with the project proposal, the easier it will be to design and develop.
Step 2: Discovery Phase
Upon receipt of the development request, IQMS Automation Group members would then discuss your project ideas and help focus the concepts into well-defined project goals. The Automation Group members have many years of experience across multiple industries, and can help provide insight, ideas and possible solutions. This part of the process is called the discovery phase and is usually conducted over multiple conference calls and a possible onsite visit by our Professional Services Group or Automation Group. When more detail is provided in the beginning, this phase can be expedited and the Automation Group can move into the design process to center the necessary technical components required to accomplished the desired outcome.
During this discovery phase with the Automation Group, it is also equally important to have a plan in place. This plan should include information like the version of software that you are currently running on, if you are willing to upgrade to a newer version and when you would like for the project to be completed and delivered by. Having a good plan in place allows for deadlines to be established and to evaluate all options available in designing the final product.
Step 3: Development and Delivery
After the design and an established target date are in place, it’s time to create your project! At IQMS, each project will have its own team of developers writing the code, multiple quality assurance specialists testing to ensure functionality is in place, and a dedicated Automation Specialist to assist with implementation and any issues that come up after the project is delivered.
Some ERP vendors do not employ a special development team to design the programs you need or they do not welcome that sort of collaboration. But at IQMS, we believe that investment in a long-term ERP solution should be a partnership. From start to finish, if you are looking to have a custom project developed, the IQMS Automation Group will help your ideas become reality. Looking for examples of custom programs the Automation Group has created? Download the whitepaper below:
This guest blog post was written by IQMS Automation Specialist, Courtney Schenkl.