Small Business Software



  • I'm currently studying for my A+ Certification at my local community college, or its British equivalent anyway, and as a requirement of said course I'm taking a home-grown qualification called the IPRO. This involves a project in which we're given a profile of fictional small business (a SCUBA diving school with about ten employees and one premises plus a boat shed down by the coast) with next to no IT infrastructure and assigned the task of recommending ways to give it modern computer facilities and an e-commerce capacity.

    The first part was fairly simple; I listed the various options for basic software, hardware and staff training with some impartial and hopefully sound conclusions and recommendations. I'm now turning my attention to their online presence, and this is where I'm a little stuck.

    As is, this company takes bookings either face-to-face or over the phone, so their needs would probably be met with an Access database -or its OpenOffice equivalent- on a network drive and maybe a simple GUI with some code under the hood for handling sharing violations. However, since they now want online booking facilities, they're going to need something more sophisticated. The spec's nothing out of the ordinary; all booking information needs to go into one SQL database, including payment confirmation from PayPal or the credit/debit card reader by the till, but it only needs to run on a grand total of six PCs at any one time and handle about twenty rows a day for a month at a time. Some spare capacity to allow for business growth and a nice simple GUI would also be nice, as would a modest price tag.

    Fortunately for me, I don't actually have to code one myself, just recommend a few off-the-shelf examples and/or what language the company owner should hire someone to write one in. Which is where I could use a little guidance, CNET reviews generally being about as much use as comments on the code for SpectateSwamp Desktop Search and Computer Shopper tests being somewhat limited in scope. In short, what would a Daily WTF contributor do?



  • One thing I would not do is write my own, nor hire anyone to write their own.  Because if it's of good quality the hourly rate will surely blow your budget, and if you can afford it, it will probably be terrible quality.  Not to mention an off the shelf solution would probably have fewer bugs than anything custom written and a store with no presence would probably have little patience for the average bugs.

     



  • Small Linux server:

    Language: PHP

    Web Server: Apache

    Database: MySql

    (Known in these parts as LAMP)

    Or a small Windows server (Server 2003/2008):

    Language: C# or VB (.NET)

    Web Server: IIS

    Database: MS SQL 2005

     

    Those would be the easiest recommendations to just get you going. Both sets have their advantages/disadvantages and the ensuing flamewar should help [un]clarify that issue for you.

    Pick one that suits you and your needs and run with it.



  • I'm not keen on doing your homework for you, but I don't think giving you [url=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Web_application_framework]this[/url] and [url=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_web_application_frameworks]this[/url] is more than a push in the right direction.



  • @bstorer said:

    I'm not keen
     

    QFT



  • Do I want to know what QFT stands for?



  • @Jake Grey said:

    Do I want to know what QFT stands for?

    It's a tantric ritual of MPS's. Just ignore it and hope he doesn't start humping your leg.



  • @Jake Grey said:

    Do I want to know what QFT stands for?

     

    Qbert Fucked Ted



  • @bstorer said:

    It's a tantric ritual of MPS's. Just ignore it and hope he doesn't start humping your leg.
     

    STFU You said you liked it!



  • @Jake Grey said:

    Do I want to know what QFT stands for?
     

    • "QFT", internet slang usually meaning "quoted for truth" or "quality friend time"



  •  @MasterPlanSoftware said:

    Those would be the easiest recommendations to just get you going. Both
    sets have their advantages/disadvantages and the ensuing flamewar
    should help [un]clarify that issue for you.

    The real WTF is forgetting to consider Lotus Notes. It's not only a brillant piece of software that does everything you'll ever need (and more!), it's also sold by IBM, and that should speak volumes for the suite.

    Then there's always SAP to manage all other bussiness needs that your examiner may think of. 



  • All right, I wasn't going to give you the answer to your homework, but from what I've been told, Spectate Swamp Desktop Search does everything you'll ever need.



  •  @taylonr said:

    All right, I wasn't going to give you the answer to your homework, but from what I've been told, Spectate Swamp Desktop Search does everything you'll ever need.

    I hope I never dislike a client enough that I'd actually do that to them, though I have considered putting FileMatrix on a laptop and taking it with me when I'm pitching for a support contract (my long-term goal is my own sales and repair business) to make me look l337 to people who know nothing about computers. Besides, it appeals to the same part of me that loves Swiss Army Knives.



  • @Jake Grey said:

    I hope I never dislike a client enough that I'd actually do that to them
     

    Then go work a different industry while there is still time!!!



  • @taylonr said:

    One thing I would not do is write my own, nor hire anyone to write their own.  Because if it's of good quality the hourly rate will surely blow your budget, and if you can afford it, it will probably be terrible quality.  Not to mention an off the shelf solution would probably have fewer bugs than anything custom written and a store with no presence would probably have little patience for the average bugs.

    By far the best reply so far. Google for "booking software" and consider having it hosted for you by the maker.

    Suggesting the development of customized software to a ten-employee non-software company, now that's a true WTF.



  • @brazzy said:

    By far the best reply so far. Google for "booking software" and consider having it hosted for you by the maker.

    I'd rather have the database server on-site, communicating with the booking software on the workstations over the company intranet; ideally they'd also put their web server in some rack-space somewhere and set it up to display a "We're sorry, but Online Booking is unavailable at this time. Please call 0800 whatever instead" message if the office broadband connection goes down.


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