“Are you wasting money on out of date software that doesn’t suit your business?”

As the economy continues to slow down and the formerly buoyant new-housing market dries up, if manufacturers and suppliers to the glass industry are to survive, then they have to dramatically improve their efficiency, and quickly.

One way such an improvement of efficiency may be effected is the re-evaluation of the software that drives a company, and Clear Thinking Software Ltd, one of the industry’s most reputable and established software solutions providers, believes that all glass companies should be doing that sooner rather than later.

Malcolm Searle, Managing Director of Clear Thinking Software, has set out a number of questions and criteria that he believes all glass companies should be addressing.

Malcolm commented: “At testing times like these, it’s imperative that companies review exactly what their software and their software supplier are providing. I think if most companies involved in the glass industry did an audit of their I.T. efficiency, they’d be unpleasantly surprised. At one end of the scale, it may be something as obvious as the fact that your supplier has ceased trading and simply not told you, so there’s no longer any support available! At the other end, it could be that your company has outgrown the software that was originally installed: the industry has changed, but the software hasn’t been upgraded to keep pace with it.”

Below are some other key issues and questions that Malcolm believes all companies should be scrutinising:

Is your present supplier providing the premium level of service that you are entitled to? Will he himself survive a recession, if it arrives?

Has the software grown at the same rate as your company? For example, is there a facility to automate the energy surcharge on your invoices, or are you still limited to old-fashioned, inefficient repeat cutting?

Do you want to move your business forward by installing new software or CNC machinery, but your current supplier is unable or unwilling to link to it?

Are you still using old technology like MSDOS or Windows 95, which will severely limit your ability to become more efficient? Do you still have dot matrix printers? Equally importantly, can you still find anyone to support this old software (and hardware) when it goes wrong?

If you are in a position to computerise your company for the first time, do you know how to take the next step?

Malcolm continues: ”As a minimum, you should check if your supplier is keeping you updated with the latest versions of their software so you are getting your money’s worth from you annual maintenance fees. Equally important is what happens to the software if you discontinue or cannot justify paying the annual fee? Some software vendors sell this as a ‘licence to use’, so if payment ceases, so will your ability to use the software.

“Also, people need to realise that if they decide to invest in a new software solution, it’s no longer a short-term consideration; you need to be confident that the supplier understands your business and therefore can help you to manage and grow that business with you. It’s certainly not a case of who’s cheapest. Properly researched and installed, your new software will become the cornerstone of your business’s success for many years to come. With hard times possibly around the corner, making the right decisions now are vital to the survival of any business.

“In conclusion, if anyone is unclear or uncertain as to whether they can honestly address the above issues in a positive fashion, or they simply don’t know whether their I.T. is running as efficiently as it should be, then they can contact our team via the Clear Thinking Software website: and we will give an assessment of how things can be organised and, if applicable, how they could be improved.”

Article first appeared in Clearview North, South & Midlands – September 08