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HELLO AGAIN!

Welcome to Smatterings 2!

This time around we thought we'd introduce you to one of our customers, Wessex Park Homes. We're hoping this will become a series, introducing you to each other and demonstrating ways we can help you that you may not have otherwise thought of. Don't forget also to check out our brand new offer, discover the answers to last time's Word questions which give some useful tips, some Excel bits, and more.
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CUSTOMER PROFILE

NAME: WESSEX PARK HOMES
LOCATION: Okeford Fitzpaine, Dorset
BUSINESS: Modular Housing & Park Homes
wessx stock control database logo
wessex stock caravan Wessex Park Homes has been building residential park homes and holiday lodges for over 40 years. Located in the heart of Dorset, their 9 acre site incorporates the head office and full manufacturing facility, which is open to visitors. There are also two showrooms, one near Weymouth on the south coast, the other in the vicinity of Rutland Water in the East Midlands.
Originally referred to as mobile or park homes, or even static caravans, today's modern park homes have the outward appearance and ease of maintenance of a traditional detached bungalow once inside, there is nothing to suggest that you are anywhere other than in a fully equipped and luxurious modern dwelling.. Unlike conventional homes residential park homes are scalable to create homes of differing lengths and widths. The only real differences are the method of construction and that they come fully furnished. park stock example
inside stock caraven Manufacturing these homes is a complex process as every one is built to order. First the customer chooses which model they want, and then what they would like to change about it. Whilst each model has a standard finish, most people prefer to change various aspects of the d├ęcor and furniture to suit their own style. That's where Software-Matters comes in. One of the databases they have designed keeps track of all these changes and allows checking or changing any detail of an order, as well as making it possible to cost accurately.

The system enables Wessex Homes to produce an accurate specification of the customer’s requirements and a complete bill of materials.  In turn this ensures that our Production team build and finish each individual home correctly.  And that’s no mean feat – these homes contain some 5,000 parts! 

This database links to our Purchasing database (also by Software-Matters), which handles our stock and purchasing requirements. All of our stock is barcoded, and is scanned both when it arrives and when it leaves our storerooms. The database can read from the barcode scanners. In this way we know exactly what parts we have in stock and what we need to buy in to fulfil our orders.

Another part of the linked system helps us manage our Sales & Marketing activity, and yet another is in progress to manage the Production schedule. So with all this and the documents, reports and to do lists to help us keep to our deadlines, and you can see that Software-Matters is invaluable in allowing us to offer our customers exactly what they want!
stock control scanner
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Software-Matters guarantee

THE RESULTS

Last time we asked you to tell us what we help you with. Coming out top was:

e) Stay in control as your business grows.

This was closely followed by:

d) Increase your efficiency to lighten your workload.

Thank you to everyone who responded. Enjoy your 10% discount off new development work!

WE CARE ABOUT YOU!

Customers Matter...
...very much to us, of course. So here's our juicy offer of the month to thank our existing customers for being a customer:

10% off any modifications to
existing databases you ask us to do
between now and Easter 2008.

database modificationsTo qualify, tell us what you'd like to know about! Choose the article from the following list that you'd be most interested in reading in the next Smatterings:

a) How We Turn Your Needs Into a Database
b) Accessing Your Database from Home or Another Office
c) The Benefits of Securing Your Database
d) Make another suggestion! If you have an idea that's not on the list, tell us about it and you'll also qualify.

vote for your database discountClick here to email your vote by 14 February 2008 and you will automatically be registered for the discount.

The most requested article will appear in the next issue, so look out for it. If there's anything else you'd rather read about then let us know - if it's something we feel able to write about we'll endeavour to put it in a future issue.

Modifications to existing databases means a change or addition that introduces new functionality to the database. If you're not sure, just ask - we're not going to let you think you will get a discount if you won't.

TAKING THE TIME TO SAVE TIME

OK, so it's that time again. You know, when you have to do that job. The one that's really long and tedious. The one that gives you headache trying to keep track of everything. The one that absolutely must get done - perhaps monthly, perhaps quarterly or annually.

Maybe you have to sort out the wages or overtime for your employees every month. Maybe you're responsible for the quarterly stock check. Maybe you need to send out a stack of invoices. Maybe you have to provide the same statistics at the end of each stage of a project. Or maybe it's just that time when you try to find out what still needs to be done this month.

help with databases
invoing database uses

Whatever that job is for you, we can probably help you with it. Just take our own example from here at Software-Matters. At the end of every month Philippa has to do the invoicing and pay us all.

This involves checking what each of us has done in the last month, look at what we've quoted (where appropriate), and even seeing which customers have paid their invoices as this affects our bonus payments.. Even with all of our time logged in a database this can be a long job involving looking at various sources of information. So what's the answer?
For us, Philippa is going to integrate a few bits and pieces on the computer herself. The problem is getting around to sorting it out because the initial setup will take up some extra time. As is often the case databases can simplify the job hugely. The information is all easily available or needs only small changes, and databases are great at taking in all of your raw data and giving you back just the bits you need. It can become a huge mental block, but spending a little time now can save you many hours in the future Software-Matters coffee break

So here's the process you need to follow. When you find yourself getting bogged down, get away from your desk for a minute, clear your head, perhaps get a coffee!

Then when you come back, make a quick note of what job you're doing, what you're trying to achieve and what's the most important information you need to end up with.

This doesn't have to take more than 5 minutes, and you can even jot it all down straight into an email and send it to us with a note saying, "Here's my long job that has to be done regularly, can you help me simplify it?" If you really don't have even that long to spend right now, make sure you remember later that you really do need to do something!!
software design memo

We will have a look at your situation for free and tell you if it's suitable for us to help you with or not - we won't do anything that isn't beneficial to you. Don't forget, even if you're using one of our databases to do the job already we may be able to help by giving you added functionality.

If you choose to go ahead with the project we will consult with you at your convenience, after all we don't want that job imposing on you more than it already does! And when we're done you'll never have to dread that job again. You'll save a huge amount of time, and of course wherever you save time you also save money. So next time you're doing that job, pause for a moment, take a breath, and think about how we could make your life easier!

PERSONAL PROFILE

NAME: James Dudden
AGE: 30
HEIGHT: 5'8"
RIGHT-HANDED?: Yes
CAR: Old Honda Civic
Q: OK, so we know your name, but have you ever had any nicknames?
A: DJD, Lostchild, The Meddler (and various DJ-style names).
JD is quite a common nickname so I get that a lot too.
Q: Where are you from?
A: Born, raised and residing in Frome, Somerset.
Q: Who do you live with?
A: My wife Amy.
Q: Which university did you attend and what did you study?
A: I went to Bath Spa Uni to study Computer Music Technology.
james dudden, software developer
headphones and speaker
James dudden, cycling Q: What hobbies do you enjoy?
A: I like to write electronic music and DJ, and have been doing that since college. I love cycling, camping, and going to the gym. If I can find any other free time I will usually spend it getting lost in a book!
Q: Are you a morning person?
A: Yes. I can be over-hyper some mornings, much to my wife's torment!
Q: Tea or coffee?
A: Tea with biscuits, coffee for a pick-me-up.
Q: Any interesting or strange facts about you?
A: I used to be part of a theatre group and we performed at Glastonbury Festival. One year we were the last scheduled act, performing on the theatre stage at 1:00 am to a huge crowd and followed by fireworks.
fireworks
computer solutions Q: How did you come to work at Software-Matters?
A: A love of the web turned me on to web design and development. Databases have a natural link to
the web, and so that all conspired to lead me here
Q: What are you passionate about?
A: Films, food, music, the web, the universe, Mythbusters, my family, technology and above all else cycling!
Q: What question do you wish someone would ask you? (And what's the answer?)
A: Question: Would you like this cheque for £10,000,000? Answer: Yes!

WORD FUN ANSWERS

microsoft word fun As promised, here are the answers to last time's quiz!
1) To stop a heading being stranded on its own at the bottom of a page, Click in the heading, then go to Format -> Paragraph..., choose the Line and Page Breaks tab and check the "Keep with next" box. It's a good idea to apply this to all headings so that they don't end up stranded when you edit your document or if someone prints it on a different printer.
MSWord fun answers
2) To stop the extra line between your paragraphs going wrong when you move text, don't use one! Instead tell each paragraph that you want it to have a line of space in front of it. Go go to Format -> Paragraph..., choose the Indents and Spacing tab and find the "Before" box in the Spacing section. Now change the value here to the size you want the gap to be. 6pt will give you a half line gap and 12pt will give you a whole line gap. Because the gap is "stuck" to the top of the paragraph it will always appear before the paragraph, no matter where you move it to.

3) To ensure that your formatting is consistent throughout a document you should be using Styles. Styles are just a way of combining various bits of formatting under one named umbrella. For example, you can set the font, its size, bold, underline, line spacing and more, and then apply these same settings anywhere you like just by choosing the same Style. This could be true for headings, subheadings and even the main body text in a document. Go to Format -> Styles and Formatting... and you will see either a new window or a side pane (depending on your version of Word). Here you can see and modify existing styles and add new ones. Select Modify... for the "Normal" style and change it to your preferred format using the options on the Format button. This will mean that typing in new documents will always be formatted to your standard style! Additionally you can go to Tools -> Options..., choose the Edit tab, and check the boxes to "Keep track of formatting" and "Mark formatting inconsistencies", which will put a blue wiggly line under any text formatted almost but not exactly the same as your main text.

EXCEL FUN

microsoft excel fun

The quiz this time around is all about Excel. Look out for the answers next time, along with a guide to the differences between Excel and Access.

1) How can you make your column headings stay visible at the top of the screen when you scroll down the page (and at the side when you scroll right)?

2) How do you stop the cursor jumping to the next cell when you press Enter?

3) How do you rename your sheets to something that helps you identify them?

software solutions top tips

database meaning
business referral sceme details

Don't just take our word for it...

"I would like to say thanks to yourself and your team for all your hard work.
We are very happy with the quoting system, for the first time ever we are looking at a system that we have confidence in."

Steve Ringsell, CFN Packaging

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