HighPrecision: Transaction and Inventory Tracking Service
There is a need for increased precision in tracking the flows of materials within enterprises and between them. HighPrecision helps address that need, especially in eliminating unmeasured "blind spots" - such as intermediate or informal inventories held between major control points.
Business requirements for tracking material flows are becoming more rigorous, because understanding flows and holdings can help with cost containment and improve operational effectiveness. Also, applicable regulatory requirements are escalating, because materials flows have impact on Sarbanes-Oxley financial reporting requirements as well as on safety, health, environmental and security matters.
Typically, companies and other institutions have strong tracking and inventory management for mainstream materials flows and major inventory holding points, but still have non-automated supply chain "blind spots." These range from departmental inventories of consumables to maintenance spares in maintenance peoples' vehicles to salespeople's samples and a host of others.
Blind spots exist because: 1) formerly, few people cared about tracking niche inventory holdings and flows, and 2) even if someone cared, the high cost of addressing the blind spots from a systems perspective overwhelmed the benefits of having the additional information and control. Today, the payoff is increasing, while HighPrecision is designed to minimize the costs of "blind spot" reduction.
First, HighPrecision reduces starup costs of tracking because it is adapted to "apples and oranges" tracking. For example, using "vanilla" HighPrecision a given user could track incoming and outgoing automobiles by vehicle identification number, while simultaneously tracking cartons of copier paper by quantity. If requirements escalate and, say, the copier paper will be shipped in cartons uniquely identified by a bar code or RFID tag, the HighPrecision user can start tracking copier paper the way he or she tracks the automobiles. The demo HighPrecision implementation is set up to track inter-museum "loans" of art works as well as art-related consumables (e.g., frames).
Second, HighPrecision is simple to set up and simple to use. It follows a "less is more" design strategy, and it is based on four simple transactions: 1) in from a supplier, 2) out to the next step in the flow (e.g., the customer), 3) return from a customer and 4) return to a supplier. The net of these is the perpetual inventory balance. Users need only browser access to the Internet to use these capabilities and associated reports and downloads to a spreadsheet.
For blind spot elimination, even this basic design is sometimes more than is needed, so users do not have to use all the data fields or even all the transactions. For example, transaction logging - perhaps just of what came in, or just of what went out - may be more important than full perpetual inventory, and the user can elect to use only one of the four transactions and a preferred subset of the available data fields.
In contrast, for some complex needs, the design of "vanilla" HighPrecision may limit it to serving as a "port in a storm" role until the mainstream corporate systems are ready. Starting simple is often advantageous, because it gives mainstream systems implementers a better opportunity to understand the process.
For some in between needs, the customer may want some for-fee customization services from Colts Neck Solutions LLC, especially for integration with the customer's enterprise system, a third party logistics system or with handheld devices or other bardcode or RFID scanners. As an Internet-hosted application, HighPrecision was "born to communicate."
Inevitably a "less is more" design also has some "less is less" aspects. In particular, vanilla HighPrecision does not have document creation capability - for example, it does not print shippers, nor is it likely to. It also does not come out of the box with communications capabilities with handheld devices or scanners, but only because of the diverse means that might be used. It is very dependent on there being a power user to oversee its use and, if multiple users are doing updates, to watch over data quality. We have incorporated "power" features, notably a "learning" capability in which data put in today becomes part of the pick lists used tomorrow, but "correct" learning depends on mistakes or inconsistencies being corrected.
A sample implementation of HighPrecision is set up to track inter-museum loans of works of art as well as art-related consumables, such as picture frames. The field names and column names have been "customized," and renaming data fields is a built-in user capability. For further information see art loans.