Q: What is the difference between a real-time system and a batch system?

A: A real time systems processes all transactions immediately so information is always up-to-date. A batch system stores transaction information on individual devices and uploads it only when a device is connected (typically through the device charger with an ethernet connection) to the system at some point during or at the end of the day.

Q: What is the difference between a browser-based or client/server architecture?

A: A browser-based architecture runs an application directly from an internet browser on any device that has a browser (laptop, tablet, smartphone). In a client/server environment, the software on the server communicates with software on the device (client). Devices must have software that is matched to the server and only certain devices and operating systems will work.

Q: What internet connection is required to run browser-based software?

A: Any internet connection will work – wired ethernet, Wi-fi, as well as mobile cellular service.

Q: What operating systems are compatible with browser-based systems?

A: Any operating system (and version) will work that supports an internet browser – Windows, Apple, Linux, etc.

Q: What operating systems are compatible with client/server systems?

A: The developer chooses which operating system(s) around which the solution is based, which then must be matched to work on specified mobile devices. As software versions on new devices advance, availability of replacement devices with older operating systems becomes limited and system upgrades may be required if available.

Q: What is ‘configurable’ software?

A: Configurable software allows for users to customize the key elements their solution by changing tables in the application (think rearranging gears). This simple, easy method does not require changes to the programming code, making changes user-driven in a fast, easy manner as business requirements change (particularly useful in a Lean environment as changes can be made/tested during a rapid improvement event). Both initial set-up and lifecycle costs are dramatically reduced using configurable software.

Q: How is configurable software related to language capability?

A: The words presented to the user (including Help screens) are completely editable by the system administrator. Foreign languages are simply another table in the system that can be edited. Since the glossary table can contain multiple languages, each user can select at sign-on which language they would like to operate with, and individual users using different languages can operate simultaneously.

Q: How is configurable software related to workflow changes?

A: The steps that are presented to a user to complete a transaction are selectable in a table. They can be as many or few as business requirements dictate.

Q: How is configurable software related to business rules?

A: The ‘rules’ that drive the business can be imbedded in the software using a simple table. Examples are ice cream can only be moved to a freezer location, raw materials can’t be used for production until approved by quality control, or customer A requires that all orders ship complete.

Q: What is a ‘hosted’ solution?

A: Sometimes referred to as Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), the software application is hosted by the developer in a data center and the users pay for the right to use the application on a monthly basis, eliminating the need to purchase the software upfront or maintain the hardware/software needed to run the solution.

Q: What third-party interfaces should be considered when implementing a warehouse management system?

A: The most common is an interface to the ERP system in order to pass purchase order (for receiving), sales order (for picking) and shipping confirmation (for invoicing) between systems to insure accuracy and avoid double entry. Interfaces to UPS/FedEx, eCommerce sites, portals (Amazon, eBay, etc.), or internal systems such as factory automation, can also be useful as well.