PRO Scanner

Barcode Scanning Application – delivery checker

OK so been very busy lately and haven’t posted details on any of the exciting projects I have been working on. One such project is a PRO scanner. It has been written for Attache PRO but it can be changed to work with most accounting systems and it could be extended to do more in terms of features. The first version has been written for a food company here in Auckland. They need to record the best before dates on products as they ship them. The system scans a special GS1-128 barcode that has the product expiry date encoded into it.

In fact these GS1 bar codes are great as they have the ability to store business logic by way of what are called application ids. These are a predefined series of business information tags so (01)  means the product unique id ( GTIN) and (15) means expiry date. Similarly there are codes for user values so we use (92) to store the product code but you can store lots of other useful info.

Pick | Check | Ship

The application works like this

The delivery note is printed and sent to despatch

The stock is pulled form shelves onto a packing bench

The packer scans the items and enters the order number – each scan is logged and the best before date and stock code are extracted from the GS1 barcode

The system checks that what was scanned matches the order and highlights any mistakes

Then once the order is correct there is an option to update the best before dates back to the order. This is a requirement for food sales in NZ.

This system goes live in March and I really enjoyed the coding and the learning. Click to learn  more about GS1

Bad Client = Bad Project

When a project goes wrong it can be all to easy to look around for someone to blame.

It is also, very easy to blame yourself and ask what could I have done differently. It is easy to see why you would do this but it is also fair to say that the share of any blame should be evenly spread. That would therefore include the client. It also makes sense as the client has as much input as you if not more. They are also controlling the direction, attitude and the speed of the project.

When a project goes wrong you can almost always bet that the client has a hand in it. If the client doesn’t supply the content, answer your questions and doesn’t help you keep things moving, your project will be late and you will be left looking like you messed up.

So what should you do whe a project goes wrong?

Well this comes down to communication, and planning. The old saying “fail to prepare and you must prepare to fail” is never truer. You need to take control from day one. The client is looking to you for directio so either shit, or get off the pot. You need to have the plan and the project must be kept on track by constantly updating the plan which like all things in life must be adaptable and needs to evolve.

basecamp is a great collaborative project planning solution, as is MS Project. I have used both and they both have their merits. But you don’t need to pay money to get good results, a good checklist is often quicker and easier. In my experience anything that is easy is much more likely to be used, and that is the real key to project management. If you have a list of what needs to be done (some call this a functional decomposition – ie a list of functions) then you cross them off you know how much is left to do. When you find a new task that was never on your list (and yuo almost certainly will) add it to the list and make sure everyone involved in the project can see that new tasks have come to light. They will be much more forgiving if your deadline slips if they are away of any challenges than if you try to be a hero.

Please give me your feedbackI’d love to hear about your failed projects, and your successes but please only where the client made the difference…