Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Zooming the Millennium

Sometime around 1998/9, I wrote a report for our old ERP program which was considered to be "the report to end all reports". I know the approximate date as I called the report "The Millennium Report" - in 1999, everything was millennium this and millennium that. The report traversed over purchase parts and collected data such as the amount needed for customer orders, the amount currently in inventory, the amount in open purchase orders, the average usage per month and other such data. This report helped the purchasing manager to maintain an optimal level of stock for parts which were frequently used.

When we moved to Priority, one of my first programming tasks was to translate the Millennium Report to Priority (this is after I figured out how to use the report generator). This was accomplished without too much difficulty (as far as I remember). The report has continued to serve as a backbone for purchasing. I even ported it to the company for which I am consulting (the contact person helped in developing the original report).

Yesterday I showed one of the zoom (aka linked) reports to one of the people who currently executes the Millennium. I had shown him a report last week but he didn't grasp the significance then.  Once he realised now what the zoom technology was capable of, he wanted the Millennium 'zoomed'; today he sent me a list of requirements.

As if 'zooming' the original program wasn't hard enough, the requirement was to display in one report detailed data from four different sources (amounts needed, amounts in inventory, amounts ordered and amounts used over the past few months). It's not immediately clear how to do this in Priority although I have done this before; it's a daunting but not impossible task. After a few hours of wrestling, I was able to create the required detailed report and insert it into the zoomed program.

The feedback was almost instantaneous - "To be honest, I can't remember when I was so excited about a report". I think that today can go down in history as a very successful day.

On the same subject: another person who uses this report generally sends its output to Excel so that he can fiddle with it and waste his time. I note with sardonic glee that a zoomed program does not work with Excel - the hyperlinks get lost during the transfer. Another reason to work in a natural manner within Priority and not to export data to Excel.

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