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Modernizing Legacy Apps for Parts and Service Industries


For decades, many commercial and residential door sales and service companies in North America relied upon a legacy DataFlex character-mode system containing 500+ software programs to support their business processes. The system included comprehensive modules for accounting, inventory, payroll, counter sales, sales orders, service orders, job costing, maintenance contracting, etc.

Door Service Companies logosRecently, two large garage door companies, Crawford Door Sales/Service Company and Colorado Garage Door Service, created a joint venture to engage Data Access’ Professional Services team to modernize and extend their shared legacy system and produce a state-of-the-art, user-friendly Professional Services System for use within their separate Windows-based environments or via the web.

"The legacy DataFlex system they originally used was designed in the 1980’s and worked very well through decades of extensive use," says Jack Baugh, Data Access’ Vice President of Professional Services. "However, to meet or exceed the expectations of today’s users, it really needed to be updated and extended to take full advantage of today’s modern user interface, reporting, emailing, and web technologies."

At Crawford Door Sales’ and Colorado Garage Door Services’ request, DAW’s Professional Services team modernized, organized, integrated, and dramatically improved the original system’s functionality into a new, modern, state-of-the-art, fast, and user-friendly Windows-based software system that is also extendable to the web and successfully competes with more expensive ERP systems.

“Our legacy system was unsupported and unable to keep up with simple advancements in computer technology, which left us with the real possibility that it would fail with no way of recovery. It was a catastrophe waiting to happen." says Michael Hemming, Crawford’s Director of Operations.

"With Data Access’ help, now we have a system that is not only supported and able to keep up with changing technology, it will also allow us to begin integrating other services like linking our mobile credit card payments directly to AR, allowing our service personnel to access work orders and inventory electronically via smart phone and tablet, and allow us to access the system from anywhere with an internet connection all while knowing our data and system is secured and backed up.”

The new Professional Services System (PSS) can direct any of its reports/output to the screen, any Windows-based print device, text files, and paperless PDF files using any Windows PDF printer driver. The system can also email customer statements, employee paychecks, counter sales invoices, sales order invoices, service order invoices, purchase orders, etc. to their respective contacts.

“The new PSS system utilized our existing data which eliminated the need for costly and time-consuming data conversion during the development and implementation process," Michael says. "The modernized system allowed our internal reports and our invoices to be generated electronically in a PDF format. Among other benefits, we were able to reduce our need to print which provided a significant savings in printing supplies."

“A constant issue many companies encounter is in getting paid in a timely manner, something made worse when mailing paper invoices to customers which would get lost one way or another. The modernized system allows us to send emailed invoices directly to our customer’s accounts payable, greatly reducing our payment lag because of a misplaced invoice.”

Future plans include making the Professional Services System even more “paperless” to enable service technicians to remotely access and update inventory information, complete sales and service orders, collect payments, etc., directly from their mobile devices. The system will also be made available for remote use within Data Access Worldwide’s Amazon-Web-Services-based “DataFlex Cloud” environment as a SaaS application.

Businesses with high-value legacy applications that want to update their operations should consider the efficiencies and modest cost of utilizing DAW’s Professional Services to modernize their existing systems. The modernization approach typically results in far less training, greater control, better user satisfaction, faster implementation, and less long-term cost than a risky conversion to an entirely new system. And, operations can usually continue during the modernization process.

Michael says that during the process of designing, implementing, and modifying the new PSS software, "we were able to run our current system concurrently allowing any updates done in the legacy system to immediately update the enhanced system and vice versa. This made for a transition that was virtually painless and caused very little disruption to our staff and our daily operations."

“Our old software, though resilient and capable, was difficult to navigate at times and was not an easy system to teach to new employees. Our modernized software is far more user friendly, using a windows-style interface which allows for easier training while retaining its much-needed resiliency on top of additional capabilities.”

Read more about Data Access Worldwide’s Professional Services Group.