I’m currently working on a project for a small manufacturing operation. They wanted to automate the way they schedule & produce work orders or jobs. Their biggest concern was what I like to call “forward compatibility”. Forward compatibility means that if they need to make changes to their system in the future, then they won’t need me to redesign their system, there should be a simple method to add, edit, update procedures, etc… When I took a look at their existing processes, I found a lot of Excel spreadsheets driving their operations. For instance, there is a spreadsheet that drives their “smart” part numbering system. There is a spreadsheet that drives their product testing operations. Plus, these spreadsheets are all Revision Controlled (that’s Version Control in the IT world).
My solution was to use their existing spreadsheets as inputs to my Custom Job Control System. I designed the system to always use the most current version of the relevant spreadsheets (which are always stored on the network in a static location) as data. That way, they can simply control those documents as they always have and they won’t have to reconfigure my system when they have changes.