Bespoke IT Services
A guide to the business systems development and the IT consultancy and training services offered by DMW Consultancy Ltd.
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Last updated on 2023-07-18.
Databases and Spreadsheets
Databases and spreadsheets remain the most common and popular tools for storing and processing business information on a computer.
From working with hundreds of clients, DMW has built competence in applying Microsoft Access and Excel to best meet specific business objectives. Find details of DMW services on Custom Database Design and Development and Business Spreadsheet Design and Development
Beyond application of the mechanics of data collection, management and analysis, this competence encompasses the marrying of IT to the convenience, skills and concerns of the people using it.
Key to making certain that databases and spreadsheets are at their best is the process of data modelling. Completing this process before committing to any new IT investment should be regarded as essential, as explained on Data Modelling in Practice.
If you have an Access database that was created years ago, then it may not work properly under a current installaion of Microsoft Assess. In which case it needs converting, as examined on Converting Microsoft Access Databases.
Beyond simply maintaining corporate identity across all your correspondence, exploiting templates lifts productivity in document production to the next level.
DMW would be pleased to help you with anything from mail merges for letters and mail-outs to pulling information from databases and spreadsheets into lengthy and complex reports, providing these with up-to-date data for charts, graphs and tables.
For details, please visit Custom Microsoft Word and Excel Templates.
Training and Support
This Training and Support section covers these areas:
Changes is working habits — paricularly working from home — have made it difficult for businesses to get people in on the same day to fill an on-site training course.
On-site training workshops are an alternative to formal training courses.
You engage DMW for a day and then book people into the workshop, individually or in small groups, for an hour or so. Each slot is devoted to the areas of interest of those attending — a time and cost effective way of targetting training.
Find full details about workshops on Office 2016, 2019 and Microsoft 365 Training Workshops.
Tailored On-site Training Courses
The onset of working from home caused a complete drop in the demand for on-site training. Nevertheless, DMW continues to provide on-site courses as summarised on Microsoft Office Training.
Working From Home
With working from home now commonplace, DMW provides training and support by phone call, text and email and via remote collaboration link-up apps including Microsoft Teams, Zoom and Google Meet.
The objective of mentoring is to pass on our expertise to one of your people — to bring expertise in-house for you. Usually carried out by remote link-up or email, a mentoring session is a very efficient method of increasing levels of skill.
During the pandemic DMW has experienced an up-turn in mentoring for clients who want to understand the workings of their databases instead of turning for help from external developers. Mentoring is on-going for clients in the UK, Europe, Canada and the USA.
Also, mentoring is a useful resource for people working from home who cannot immediately cross the office to get guidance from a colleague.
As an alternative to formal training courses and workshops, mentoring is less costly and less disruptive to the working day. Sessions are logged to the nearest quarter of an hour for billing purposes.
Differing from a one-off help-on-demand, a mentoring programme has a set of objectives agreed between mentor and mentee in pursuit of an overall goal. Mentoring allows the mentee to progress at their own pace.
Working With Your IT People
Many DMW clients have their own IT sections or departments, or rely on external IT companies for their support.
Whatever your IT provision, working closely with your IT people is a key DMW objective. Constructive collaboration will secure the delivery of data and safeguard primary sources, while making as little extra work as possible for everyone involved.
Occasional Help on Demand
If your users of Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Access, Project and Outlook need occasional help, then DMW offers support.
Stuck on an Excel formula or with a table in a Word document jumping all over the page?
Help can be provided via email — email@example.com — or remote link-up.
This service is charged on a time basis, with each instance charged to the nearest half an hour. Urgently required help, requiring evening or weekend work, is charged at double time.
Integrating Microsoft® Office
Microsoft has made it possible for developers like DMW to integrate the programs of Microsoft Office into comprehensive business systems, which include functionality such as:
- Sending emails via Outlook from Access databases and Excel spreadsheets
- Attaching Access reports as PDFs to emails in Outlook
- Outputting data from Access databases into Excel so that users can do their own thing without fear of messing up live data
- Using data from Access databases to complete mail merges in Word
- Loading data from spreadsheets into Access databases.
DMW works with the aim of blending the components of Office to increase efficiency in the workplace, hence exploiting computer data for business profit, whilst accomodating ethical considerations and privacy protection.
Visual Basic for Applications (VBA)
The VBA programming language is embedded in each of the applications making up Microsoft. Using VBA you can customise and extend the functionality of Access, Excel and Word, and of combinations of these applications, to tailor them to the specific ways in which your business functions.
If you use Microsoft Office for business-critical tools, then to have VBA expertise in-house is of considerable advantage. DMW will work with you to establish VBA skills so that you reduce the risk introduced by relying solely on external contractors to maintain your Office-based systems.
Preparing Specifications for ITTs
For the commission of a new database, say, you’ll get the best price when your ITT (Invitation to Tender) is accompanied by a comprehensive specification. For guidance on formulating that specification, you’ll probably find useful our article Data Modelling in Practice.
If your spec is sketchy, then potential suppliers or contractors may be reckoning whether 20% or 30% added into their quote is enough to cover themselves against all eventualities.
A well-constructed spec should help in avoiding unfortunate situations, for example:
- Significant unprovided-for time spent to-ing and fro-ing on points of clarification. In DMW’s experience this can put great strain on the working relationship between client and supplier
- Your supplier or contractor invoices for what they claim was work not originally specified
- Failure in your effort to pursue a claim that the outsourced work has not been completed satisfactorily.
DMW can help in stating your requirements in the language/jargon of potential suppliers.