Chapman, MouseTrax Consulting
Dian Chapman is not only a Microsoft MVP (since 1995), but is a Word automation expert. These solutions are actual
projects that Dian has already designed, developed
and implemented—to help companies run more efficiently, as well
as save them lots of man-hours and money.
Isn't it time your company
took advantage of automation solutions like these? Think of how much time/money you can save when your paperwork can be handled...with a click!
Want more details? Have an idea you'd
like to implement? Have a problem you need solved? Submit a Quote
Request and Dian Chapman will be happy to provide you with more details,
suggested custom solutions and a time/cost proposal.
Dian Chapman has full, high-speed telecommuting
capabilities. So, even if you're across the country...it's not a
problem to get the job done for you.
Check back...new solutions are continually added.
Problem—Custom Volunteer Database
"I work for a volunteer organization and we need to have an efficient way of keeping track of volunteers so we can more easily contact skilled individuals when help with a project is needed. We attempted to create a database using Excel, but it's not working very well for us. Can you help?"
The organization's initial volunteer database was a simple Excel spreadsheet. However, since this repeat client was already familiar with the time/money saving benefits of automated Word forms, she asked me to provide a solution. Since creating automated Word forms with Access database connectivity is one of my specialties, I was able to reuse some of my custom code modules to quickly create a terrific solution that was also cost-efficient.
Their prime objectives were to be able to add/update volunteer records, track a volunteer's skills and easily be able to retrieve the project-oriented volunteer details in order to quickly find the right people for a job.
Using the project info from their Excel spreadsheet, I quickly created an Access database that would house the required volunteer details. An easy-to-use Microsoft Word interface was then created to allow the organization to interact with that data.
After the initial database connection path is inserted into the program, which is then inserted into the registry so it will automatically reconnect to the DB with each use, the user opens the automated program with a click of the template shortcut on their desktop. The form is connected to the database with no further user intervention required. They then choose which layout they want.
Although either layout can be accessed from the subsequent dialog box, this choice makes it simple to quickly jump right into the format they need...such as, if they just want to grab a quick list of qualified volunteers.
Should the user wish to update the volunteer's details, they can search to find the needed record. If they realize the user information had not yet been added into the database, because a match is not found, they can click Add Record to enter a new record right into the underlying database.
Whether they need to update a current record or add a new one, dialog pages allow for the easy entry of available information, from volunteer contact details...
...to data regarding what types of work they are willing and able to do.
A Project Comment field allows the user to add notes about a volunteer's skills, such as possibly being a certified computer user or union carpenter.
A History page allows the organization to add comments about each volunteer, or possibly how well they did on their last project?
Also notice that, when any data field is changed, the title bar notes the change as a reminder to click the Update button.
However, additional safeguards have also been added to ensure that changes are updated prior to moving on to other functions, such as printing a report. If the change was a mistake, it can easily be discarded.
Now when the organization has a need, they can easily acquire records about volunteers who can possibly fill those needs. Furthermore, they can choose how much information they want in their report.
For example, if a fundraising project is on the horizon, a quick couple of clicks will give them a printable Word document report that shows the volunteer's name, email address, whether the volunteer has approved to allow their contact information to be shared with other agents, any additional comments about projects or skills and details about the volunteer's work history (or any variation thereof).
The resulting document is a professional looking report that shows the type of Project Report selected, the date of the report, and a user-defined list of vital stats for each volunteer who matches the project's required skill criteria.
Thanks to the fact that this repeat client put her trust in my abilities to provide a viable solution for her needs, without a lot of delay caused by too many cooks in the project planning kitchen, she was presented with a cost-efficient solution to her problem in just a few days.
And now the organization can quickly gather volunteer data and retrieve fast printouts of people who can do the jobs they need to get done!
Problem—Automated Veterinary Hospital Release Forms
"We have a large Sybase master database containing all our Animal Hospital client/patient records. We would like to be able to automatically create medical release forms by having the data from our database inserted directly into the forms and then have the forms automatically saved to a special location on our network. We also need our forms redesigned to look more professional. Can this all be done?"
The first thing to do was completely redesign the client's generic release forms to give them a customized, professional look. Considering the amount of content required, this was a bit of a challenge, but the final version worked out well and was much easier to understand, as compared to the original forms.
The biggest problem with this project was that I was not familiar with using ADO to access a Sybase database. However, after some experimentation, testing and research, Greg Chapman, our Senior Systems Engineer, was able to provide me with the necessary testing environment and SQL Anywhere ADO Provider to allow me to successfully link to a testing version of the client's database on our network. It was looking good.
Unfortunately, the client was having network/PC problems and was not able to successfully make the link work at their end. However, the client was able to use Microsoft Access as a replicated database that would be regenerated on a daily basis. This eased their connectivity problems because the network connection needed to only navigate to the smaller database with a few needed tables versus the larger, full client database. This solution was agreeable to the client. So the code was rewritten to now accommodate a regular MS Access DB, versus the original SQL Anywhere connection code through to the Sybase DB on the server!
As with any Word <--> Access database front-end application that I create, I first provided input dialogs that would allow the user to easily link to their database or change the link should the DB move in the future.
This particular project also required connection dialogs to allow the administrator to easily set the location where the master release forms would be housed, as well as the network path to where they wanted the finished documents saved.
After a Welcoming message that the user can dismiss once they are accustomed to how the program works, a Search dialog box is displayed. The hospital can create and add new forms in the future. For now, they needed only their two main forms included in the program. The user first selects the needed form.
Because the records come directly from their client database, a Search dialog box is then displayed to allow the user to enter the client's last name, or portion thereof, to locate their records.
Once the client (human) listing is selected, a view of their information displays all the patients (pets) from that family who are currently registered in the hospital's main database.
The user chooses the proper pet from the list and clicks to create the requested release form. The necessary, current data are then pulled from the master database and inserted into the appropriate locations in the form. This helps to ensure accurate details are included in the form, since there is no need to type data into the form. All the data is derived directly from the main client database.
Just prior to the data being inserted into the form, a reminder message is flashed to make sure the receptionist remembers to obtain/verify the all-important emergency phone number for the day, should immediate contact be needed.
The release is then digitally signed through a special electronic implementation added by the hospital's IT department. The receptionist can then print a copy for the client and save a copy for hospital records.
However, to ensure that the form is properly saved, using a custom naming convention and saved to a special network folder, those details have been programmed directly into the application. And to further ensure that all forms are properly saved, the application close event for Word is captured so the form is properly saved before Word can close.
This allows the receptionists to quickly, efficiently and accurately complete Release forms by simply double clicking on the desktop shortcut to the automated template, choosing the needed form, quickly searching out the client, then patient records. Clicking a couple options for the needed services. And once the signature has been inserted, a quick print and Word can be closed while the form is properly saved in the format and folder required by the hospital.
Release forms are now assured to be accurate and take very little time to complete versus the old, manual method!
Problem—Automated Employee Review
"We created an employee review form, but we need some advanced automation added. The way it works now, users cannot change/update the review calculations without having all new information inserted into the form. We would like to be able to retain the content that was previously entered into the form when updating it. Can you help us come up with a better solution?"
The overall idea for this review form was good, as was the basic workup, but the template was very large due to multiple dialog boxes being used and very large static procedures that caused the code modules to add a lot of weight to the template.
I started by redesigning the way the dialog boxes were created so a new wizard allowed the interface to work better and that also allowed me to get rid of nine separate dialog boxes that were no longer needed. Static code was redesigned into more advanced dynamic procedures, which meant that they could now be used over and over by various events, thus cutting down the amount of the overall code.
Once the template was trimmed down and the code made to work more efficiently, it was time to solve the problem of retaining information. New procedures were added to store all details entered by the user. Some additional processes were designed into the form to decipher if content had been modified. This ensured that, even though the form is regenerated when updated, both original and newly modified content is accurately reinserted, meaning the user no longer needs to retype previously entered details.
My enhancements not only solved their retention problem, but the template now worked more efficiently and weighed much less.
The reviewer enters the employee's personal details.
Responsibilities related to their job description could be entered here.
Specific goal are documented.
A series of Wizard panels makes it easy to enter evaluation rating related to the employee's performance.
Code validates entries to make sure accurate information is gathered.
The ratings for each section are calculated.
Specific boilerplate content for each rating is compiled into a report.
The result is a customized review report. Content matching the ratings for each question are inserted into the report. The employee's name is inserted throughout to make the report more personal, including pronoun gender adjustments within the text.
A few form fields are located within the report where the reviewer can enter specific examples of the employee's accomplishments, or lack thereof. And should the reviewer later need to update the review, they can easily make changes without losing any of the unchanged, original content.
"As court reporters, we have several forms that need to be completed and submitted with each project. Separate forms need to be submitted to separate agencies, but much of this information is the same. We'd like to automate the process so reporters need only fill in the basic information and that information can then be added to all the required locations in the form. Can you automate our forms for us?"
This quick job was a matter of linking several fields together so the reporters could complete most of the required details for several forms by completing an initial worksheet.
A message box opens so they understand this is a special document. The message can easily be dismissed once they no longer need the reminder.
An initial worksheet allows them to enter the basic details.
The data entered into these worksheet fields are then passed to several other separate documents that require this same information.
Each document is created as a separate page so they can each be customized with the required details.
Once each form is customized, the batch of documents can be printed and all sent off in their respective directions.
The client needed only to send their individual forms and provide the specific details regarding which fields matched up with others throughout the forms. A few hours later, they were saving themselves tons of document filing time using this simple, but much more efficient, process.
Every time you repeating a process...you're wasting time and money!
"As a non-profit, children's advocate organization, we need to keep records of all incidents related to each child. But we currently fill these forms out by hand and then need volunteers to enter the data into our main database. This is time consuming, and we frequently have a backlog of reports that have not been entered, which makes tracking information more difficult. Can you help us make this process more efficient?"
Their form was redesigned a bit and various form fields and bookmarks were added throughout the document.
The form was linked to their master database and a new Incident table was added. This allowed new data to be entered into the separate table, while a relationship link would match newly submitted reports to the proper child's master database files.
When a new report is created, users search for the child's name. A resulting list of all matches provides other personal details to allow counselors to choose the correct name.
After locating the child's record, they move to a main dialog that allows them to enter details about the incident.
These details are then automatically dropped into the appropriate locations in the form and the user can then tab through the rest of the report...selecting choices and adding details as needed.
However, to ensure that the report is properly and completely filled out, code has been inserted to validate all required items. If certain information isn't entered as needed, a warning is displayed explaining the problem and the user is not allowed to close out of Word until the form is properly completed.
Once properly completed, the user simply closes the document. The report is automatically saved to a secure network location with the appropriate file name.
Authorized administrators can then follow-up on the incident and add additional details to the report. Security has been added to ensure that only those authorized can open reports and change data once the incident has been created.
After all details have been verified and approved by a qualified administrator, the datum is then passed quickly and accurately from the form into the master database, linked to that child's records, so future analysis is not only easy, but accurately submitted.
Does your company have forms that need to be properly completed for later analysis? Are you spending hours chasing down staff to obtain details that were not accurately reported? Are you spending money to have staff enter data into database? Think of all the time and money you are wasting when this entire process can be automated!
"We have an executive search process that requires our staff to create several documents in a specific order. Plus each document has standard paragraphs that may or may not be required, depending on the situation. Furthermore, each paragraph has some areas that requires custom details. But we spend too much time formatting and creating these documents over and over. Can you help us make this process easier"
I designed a custom Wizard application for this client. It allows them to choose which document is required. Then the wizard guides them through the process of creating that specific document. Form fields allow them to enter information into custom areas in the resulting document. And a custom programming solution allows them to update the document without losing previously entered information.
A click on a convenient desktop icon opens their custom Wizard creation application. The user selects the document they need to create. A click on each item provides a description of the document along the left.
Even new employees can easily walk through the process without much direction! A click on the Next Button and they move through the process for the selected document.
The user selected the confirmation letter. So the next panel requests the recipient's address. A optional click will set the first or last name into the salutation. And a description of the needed information in any area is ever present along the left...helping to guide the user.
Each users own signature is stored in their registry, so once they set it, they never need to modify it unless the information changes. Another quick click on Next moves them along.
Here they choose which sections are required for this particular customer. Note that all letters require the Introduction, so that is checked, but grayed so it cannot be removed. A click on any section provides a description along the left. Once the needed information is selected, the user clicks Finish.
A custom formatted document is compiled from the selections the user requested and the information they have provided to this point. Form fields are shaded and provide further details regarding what type of information is required in each area. The user tabs through the document, adding in custom details as requested.
Should the user realize that a section previously excluded should be included, a quick click on a custom menu brings back the wizard. They can now, still, add or subtract any sections.
A new version of the document is recompiled. However, note that any information they may have already entered in the previous form fields is still retained and reentered into the new version! No need to start over...just continue with the new version, as needed.
Think about your business. How many contracts, proposals or complex, custom documents do you spend your time creating over and over with special information required for each client? More importantly...how much time would you save if you had a custom application like this that would allow you to easily create professional looking documents customized for your business needs?
Problem—Process Multiple Data Forms
"We regularly send out Word documents with many form fields that need to have data entered by our vendors. They tab through the form fields and enter the monthly data and then email the forms back to us. But having all that data manually entered into a database is very time consuming and not cost-efficient. Can a process be created to have this data automatically entered for us?"
I created a custom solution for this client that allowed them to process hundreds of returned data forms in just a few minutes. And as you can see below, these were fairly complex forms with many fields per form. This would have taken a data entry person many hours to process hundreds of these forms!
But my automated solution saved them many hours of data processing and avoided errors since the data are extracted from the forms exactly as it was entered by the vendor. Processed forms were also renamed with a _DataEntered designation in the file name to ensure that the same document would not be processed a second time.
The client needed to only make sure that each of the five different forms were saved in separate folders, one for each form type. Code was written that extracted data from each form field in each form and entered it into the corresponding data field in the respective database table.
When an accumulation of returned data forms needs to be processed, a click on a master template starts the process.
Once the initial database location is set, that information is retained in the registry so subsequent uses allows the master form to automatically connect to the database.
After that message is acknowledged, a selection dialog box appears asking the user which form they need to process.
Once the user has selected the form type, they simply need to tell the program where these files are located. A click on the Browse button allows them to move through their computer or network to locate the current folder containing the files to be processed. That path is automatically entered into the input box and the user clicks Done.
Code searches the folder for all forms not containing the _DataEntered designation that indicates that they have already been processed. All remaining forms are compiled...ready for processing. But first a message box informs the user of the count so they can decide whether they want to continue at this time.
A click on the Yes button processes all these forms. A few seconds per form and the data are entered into the proper database table. All processed forms are automatically renamed so the user would not only know that the data was successfully entered for that form, but so that form would not be processed a second time by the program.
And if by chance any form did not contain the proper information and was rejected per the clients criteria, that document was not processed and is labeled with a prefix of ERROR_. This allows the client to easily sort and remove the problem files. These could later be return to the vendor to request more complete information.
And if the user needs to process other forms, they simply click the Restart option on their custom menu and choose a new set of forms, set the location for those forms and in minutes all those will be processed, too.
Do you regularly need to acquire data from clients that needs to be entered into a database for further analysis? Think of how quickly this could be done with a little automation! Send out job applications or surveys and have that data quickly entered into a database so you can easily filter out or analyze the data you need!
"Our bank tellers often provide customers with details about additional banking services. We would like to track which of those referrals end up as sales so those tellers can get credit for their referrals. Can you create an automated solution using Word that will allow us to track these referrals and sales...then print quarterly reports?"
I designed an automated form that handled three different processes. Whether it was a teller accessing the form to add a referral to the database...a Personal Banker wishing to update a referral with a sale...or a Bank Officer running a quarterly report to track tellers sales so they could receive sales bonuses...one Word form and one simple Access database handled it all!
The tellers and bankers would easily search the customer database to find the customer record they need.
If it was the teller locating a customer, that customer's details would be added into the form to save the teller typing, including their ID number and the current date. After adding referral specifics, a click would add the data from the form fields into the back end database on the server.
After a personal banker runs a similar customer search, the results for them would show all referrals by all tellers. In the case below, two tellers told this customer about checking services. Therefore, when the customer returns to open a checking account, the banker simply selects both referrals so both tellers get credit for the sale.
The customer's name and the service is entered into the banker's portion of the form. The banker's ID is also pulled from the registry and the current date is added as a convenience. The banker then adds sale details and clicks to update this record in the database, which also credits all referring tellers with this sale.
Now it's the bank officer's turn. After providing the pass code to run a data report, she's presented with a report dialog box. She simply enters the needed report ranges and clicks Generate Report.
A professionally styled Word document report is created with range specifications included, as per the officer's report dialog above.
Just a week after they approved the proposal, this bank was tracking their data through an easy to use Word document interface!
Similar database connectivity solutions have been created for corporate and medical clients. By linking automated Word forms to a database, users could easily search for previous customer or patient records in their database to have that person's personal information quickly inserted into a new sales or medical form...saving the user lots of repetitive typing and ensuring accurate data by minimizing the need to have previously recorded data typed over and over in each new form.
Problem—Easy Document Creation
"Our executives have to create a lot of similar documents...faxes, memos and letters. Many of these documents take longer than they should to create and format. And each result usually end up looking very different from user to user. Can you provide us with a way to easily create fast, consistent looking documents?"
I created an automated template that provided the users with an easy interface so they could create repetitive documents more quickly. Memos, faxes and letters could be created through a simple user interface.
They'd enter their personal details the first time they'd use the template, and from there after, the needed information would be pulled into their documents, as necessary.
The letterhead was coded so all offices could use this same template by easily switching their location that would, subsequently, change their letterhead address details.
Several additional features were added, such as the ability to easily change the salutation or have the letterhead details removed if preprinted stationery was available.
Just open the template with a shortcut click, add the necessary content and create professional, consistent documents...every time. From faxes...
"We have a lot of paper
forms that we need to fill out at our office. Is
there any way to put these forms on a computer so it would be faster
than filling them out by hand?"
A scan was made of the form.
This served as a backdrop guide to a custom form template.
The image was placed in a background frame. Form fields
were added into
a top-level frame. (The header and document layer could have
also been used, as could double textboxes.)
Advanced formatting tricks were used
to get the form fields to lay out exactly into the locations
where the same information was needed in the form.
Being a complex form,
several test printouts were done to verify that all
the information was lined up properly. To save the preprinted
form paper, tests were done on plain paper and held against
the form with light showing from behind.
The finished form template allowed
users to fill out the form more easily from their
computer. Word was set to print only the field
data onto the preprinted form paper, which was loaded
into a special printer tray. (Or, it could also have been
used by manually feeding the paper, as needed, through
Problem—Repeat Customer Forms
"We have a lot of forms that we have
to fill out over and over. Many of these
forms are for repeat customers, so they contain the
same information. Can you help us make this process work
An automated form was created—coded
with database connectivity. A record matching Access database was
created. This allowed customer information to be stored within the
database, and, thereby, easily retrievable.
search dialog was added to the form's interface, which
allowed users to easily query the database to locate a previous
customer's data. With a click, the form
was populated, automatically and instantly, with the customer's
record. This saves lots of time because users no longer have
to retype the same information over and over.
Additionally, a second table was
added to the database so transaction records could also be stored.
And although this datum isn't being utilized at the present time,
this will allow the client to provide their customers with printed
histories of their business transactions in the future. An option
the client agreed would be beneficial. And since this option
was added into the initial development process, it will save
the client money on future, planned enhancements.
Even more man-hours
are now being saved because the users do not have to manually
enter the data into the database. With a click on the Word AutoForm,
all the initial information from first-time customers is passed
directly into the database. No muss, no fuss!
Problem—Employee List Updates
"Our company hires a lot of
consultants who work for varying lengths of time.
I am constantly having to update our employee list to make
sure that everyone has the most current employee data, such
as phone extensions, email addresses, and cell phone numbers.
Is there a better way to create these lists than cutting
and pasting to reformat them each time a revision is needed?"
This problem could have been handled
a few different ways . However, again, the most efficient
way to solve this problem was to use a fairly simple back
end database. The client agreed.
A Word document could have been
coded to linked to an Access database. The form could then
pull the most recent information from the database
and assembled it into the document. However, that would still
mean that one person would be charged with the responsibility
of making sure that the data was continually being updated
and distributed. Granted, a lot of time would be saved by
not having to reformat the document each time new
data was entered, because the form's code could handle
that job, too.
But an even better solution was
recommended and subsequently developed for the client—a
browser-based solution...a company intranet. A database was
still used on the back end, but ASP web pages were coded to allow
employees to edit their own profiles. This process was
more efficient. Each user was told to update their records
as needed, freeing up HR from having to do the job.
A master employee list page was
also coded and formatted to print out the most current contact
list, as needed. A date code was added to the template so users
would know when the last updates were made. A shortcut to
the list was added to the user's desktop. This allowed them
to easily access employee information with a click. And for
those who prefer hard copy printouts, they could print an
updated version as needed.
The web page was formatted
to print out just as efficiently from the browser as it could
have been from a Word document. If the client really needed
it in Word document format, the data could have been coded
back to Word, too. However, this would have been a little
more elaborate than was really necessary. Cool...but overkill.
The client agreed.
an Intranet, Even Without a Server
"My boss likes to share a
lot of information around the office with our employees.
There's always lists and documents that need to be emailed
or copied to pass to everyone for reference. All this copying
and distributing is very time consuming. We heard that an
intranet is a good way to share office information. Is
an intranet hard to create? What software, equipment and
skills do we need? Can you create a solution for us?"
Building a company intranet can
be pretty simple, particularly if you start with
the most pressing needs first and build it out as new ideas and
issues arise. And databases can be used to house data that can
keep the displayed information up-to-date.
To do it right, you'd want to have
a Microsoft IIS (Internet Information Server) web server installed.
But many companies already have this capability and don't
even know it or don't utilize it.
This client had an IIS server, but
wasn't making use of it. They are now! I built their core site by programming it with ASP/ADO/VBS (Active Server Pages, ActiveX Data Object, and
Visual Basic Script). I created it in such a way so that users can now perform
much of the site updating through simple web form interfaces.
This means that users don't need to know HTML to make updates
to the displayed/linked information.
However, even if they didn't have
web server capabilities,
a pseudo intranet solution could have been implemented, as long as they had a
shared directory. All that is really needed is the ability for
all employees to be able to access a central location, be it
on a server or even just through a peer-to-peer computer.
Using ADO automation with Microsoft
Word, it could have been created to provide nearly all the same
features. I have constructed this type of process for other
clients, as well as on my own laptop. This allows me to share
files with the ease of an intranet-like format while connected
to client networks, without having to access their server.
This is because Word documents can
be coded to access a back end database just as if it was an AutoForm.
Main browser pages can be linked to these documents. And with
a little trickery, most users won't even realize that they are
simply using a bunch of Word coded documents to imitate a dynamic
in-office web site.
Think of how much information you
can display, regularly, to your staff. You can link employee
manuals, newsletters, templates, office rules, even birthday
and anniversary lists and events. With a little extra coding,
even employee project lists can be worked into the process. It's
a great way to create a central depository for valuable and fun
office information. A very grown up solution!
To see more details about some of
the web/intranet solutions you can have put into practice, take
a look at some of Dian's samples here: Internet/Intranet
Documents Don't Look Professional
"Our employees have to create
a lot of documentation. The problem is that we end up spending
a lot of time fighting Word styles to properly format the documents.
Most of us don't understand how to do this properly, so our documents
always look different and not very professional. We end up spending
so much time formatting documents. Can we make this process
better, but still get sharp looking print outs?"
When documents look consistent, they
look more professional. I created this application that allowed the users to create consistent documents, easily, using a custom template with solid styles. Adding
custom menus to the templates can help users more easily format
text so the results look great.
But even when busy teams have difficulty
following a few technical instructions, code has been added to
the templates to help, or shall
we say coax, users
to add the correct information. The automated template then adds
that information into the proper location within the document
and even formats the text with the proper styles.
In fact, in some more elaborate cases,
dialog boxes have been added so users just fill out panels
of information, similar to using a Wizard. After all
the dialog box data is completed, a click builds a custom
document...looking as sharp as if they'd spent months taking
a document design course! Why make busy executives fuss with
formatting documents when they should be concentrating on writing
(AND Asset Management Assistance)
"Our ordering process is a nightmare!
The prices are always changing so we have to stop and look up
the current price. Worse, accounting needs a bunch of numbers
entered into the form and finding this information is time consuming.
Could you create some type of automated process to
make all this less of a hassle?"
This was not only one of Dian's first solutions,
developed in 1996 using Word 6 (a sales processing form at
that time), but she has even created a video
course available for users who want to learn
how to automate invoices and other forms, using Word VBA.
Years later, one implementation
of this same type of process was to create a database to
house all the cost and accounting records. And because
the company already had a widely used intranet system, separate
forms were added to that interface to allow the accounting
department to easily change price data directly through to
the database. This meant that, even if a user accessed the
order form seconds later, all the pricing data was as current
as updates were added by accounting.
On the user end, they had a shortcut
to the order form on their desktop. When they needed to order
software for their staff, or even just check a current price
to see if their budget could handle a new purchase,
all they had to do was open their form.
Two ActiveX command buttons were
added so the user could choose whether they just wanted to
display the dialog to get a price check or whether they wanted
the full form automation to start rolling.
With a button click, the form's
dynamic dialog box would be displayed and be populated with
the most current data from the database connection.
The user would choose
from the optional categories at the bottom of the dialog
box to pull that specific data set. Then they could scroll
down the results and choose the individual item they needed.
The form would handle
pulling all the related data, such as SKU numbers, item cost,
department numbers and would even tally the number of items
needed by unit cost to provide a line item total. A message
box would ask if they needed to continue ordering more items.
If yes, the automation would continue. If the user was finished,
the form would total and finalize. The user need only
print it and run around to get approval signatures.
IT department was able to utilize this software ordering
data to quantify their license purchases, because this
software purchase was now properly registered with the requesting
department and purchase order number. Nothing like having
your asset management updated for you by the user! When
does that happen?
Only when a
custom solution is put in place!