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Keep it Simple with no nonsense software
I always find it difficult to give 'data management' software products an appropriate name because by their very nature their aim in life is to harness all the constituent parts of a business together so describing them accurately is somewhat challenging.
You'll often see them branded as ERP/MRP, data management or production control systems but the truth is they can be all of those things. A decent software package will handle the whole shooting match from order enquiry to despatch – and everything in between. MIE refers to its MIE Trak Pro product as a 'production, scheduling and cost control system'.
Some systems are quite complex. Often they're module-based and customers can select the functionality they need. Some software developers will happily modify their products to suit specific client applications – an approach that is no doubt effective, but also time consuming and perhaps not suitable for mass markets.
As a business, MIE Systems takes a different approach – when you buy MIE Trak Pro you get the entire package. There are no different versions, variants or choices – it is what it is, one size fits all. Sales director Sam Hawkes explains: "From day one we made the decision not to sell the software in modular format and there are two main reasons behind this approach," she says.
"Firstly, we don't believe that customers should have to spend money on part of a package only to realise later that another module is required, resulting in more financial outlay. With MIE Trak Pro, customers pay one price for the initial purchase and that's it – no hidden costs or extra charges – what you see is what you get.
"The second reason is based around functionality. How is the production scheduling module going to work efficiently if it isn't aware that the raw material for a job hasn't arrived or if a machine is down due to maintenance?"
Because it is essentially non-modular MIE has worked hard to make MIE Trak Pro as comprehensive as possible. Actually to be entirely accurate, the product does offer one optional module should customers require it and that's Shop Floor Data Capture which involves the integration of hardware such as kiosks, barcode readers and touchscreen devices like tablets.
Comprehensive is actually a bit of an understatement because from an operational perspective there's virtually no stone left unturned by MIE Trak Pro. At the front end there's modules for Quotations and Estimating and at the back end there's Shipping and Invoicing but you really need to take a deep breath for 'middle' section.
This comprises: Customer Relationship Management (CRM); Sales Order Processing; Job Card/Works Order generation; MRP; Purchasing; Shop Floor Data Capture (optional); Inventory/Stock Control; Production Control; Capacity Planning; Quality Assurance (for ISO 9001 and other quality systems); Scheduling; Repair and Maintenance;
"It's important to note that not all customers will need all the modules," Ms Hawkes adds. "In fact some clients will only ever need around 50% of the total functionality offered by the package. However this has never been a problem simply because our pricing is so competitive."
In terms of implementation and installation, there's no set format with MIE because customer requirements differ significantly:
Keeping things simple is a mantra that runs throughout the company at MIE. Some software installations can involve weeks of consultancy, implementation and training but that's not the case with MIE Trak Pro. In fact after the initial consultation has taken place, the standard installation/
But there are real tangible, operational benefits to purchasing a software system – better utilisation of data, less data duplication errors, greater control over costs and better efficiencies generally to name but a few – but part of MIE Trak Pro's appeal is the fact that it's very affordable, and because of the highly transparent way the company operates, there are no hidden costs.
The software itself costs £2,000 per user licence with additional training and ongoing support contracts being 'a fraction of the price offered by our competitors' the company claims.
MIE is also very accommodating regarding actually purchasing the software: "We're a very friendly, flexible company" Ms Hawkes enthuses. "We can offer finance agreements, renting options and flexible payment terms. We really go the extra mile for our customers."
The future looks pretty positive for MIE. Year on year growth means that the company has outgrown its current premises and a move to a new facility is imminent.
MIE Solutions UK Ltd / Sam Hawkes