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Rapidly Deploy Business Systems – Introducing FRONDS

AmpUp logoDataPlex’s AmpUp “Rapid Enterprise Deployment” software platform is being used to implement “million dollar systems” at a fraction of the cost. Each system is designed to enhance an organization’s already proven workflow, further leverage its business intelligence, and make it more productive and profitable. DataPlex AmpUp systems are 100% web-based and come already mobile and tablet enabled for access from anywhere. Example of already deployed systems are:

  • An Electronic Field Reporting System used by police officers to file incident report more quickly and conveniently
  • A Parking Management System that processes parking lot data to provide real-time dashboards with management-oriented charts and reports
  • PlexChex, a web service that constantly monitors and sends alerts based on website and business system performance
  • A Patient Management System with advanced EMR support to reduce the staff workload of medical groups
  • A new Fundraising Organization Network Database System (FRONDS) helps non-profits be more efficient at donor development and membership management
AmpUp-Based FRONDS Now Live at Descanso Gardens

FRONDS logoThe most recent AmpUp-based enterprise system developed by DataPlex is its Fundraising Organization Networked Data System, known as FRONDS, which is now live at Descanso Gardens and enabling their staff to more effectively interact with its membership of 18,000 people. The “back office” of development where all donations are managed went live on June 1st and the “front office” of the Visitor Center with membership and ticket sales went live on July 1st.

Intersection of Enterprise, Mobile and CloudNot only did DataPlex engineers design a custom version of FRONDS for Descanso Gardens called the Descanso Gardens Enterprise System (DGES) but they are hosting it on the Amazon’s high-performance EC2 cloud. DataPlex has become truly a one-stop shop that can work with an organization all the way from concept and design through development and hosting, and offers a suite of already developed modules for integrating enterprise, mobile and the cloud.

FRONDS is based on DataPlex’s AmpUp rapid development enterprise software platform that reduces the amount of time and cost to get a state-of-the-art web-based platform up and running. Many of the standard AmpUp features are available such as flexible searching, Excel/OpenOffice exporting, mail merging and consolidated “one button” month end reporting.

Some of the more interesting capabilities of FRONDS are:

  • Real-time dashboard display of daily activity
  • Print and scan ID cards
  • Point-of-sale (POS) operations: ticket, course and membership sales
  • Automatic letter generation with mail-merge capabilities
  • Track donor gifts by solicitations and campaigns
  • Donor communications Journal
  • Calendar of events
  • Budgets and Actuals: trend analysis and forecasting
  • Accounting Reports organized by General Ledger codes
  • Single-button Month-End Reporting
  • Multitude of workflow reports, document generation and Excel export

Descanso Gardens sample ID card

Descanso Gardens ID card

FRONDS prints membership cards, each one with different information including member name, ID number and an associated scancode. The Descanso Gardens staff decided to print all the cards themselves rather than use a commercial printer. With two printers set up, each of which prints one card every 7 seconds, the entire print job was under 20 hours. While printing, the staff was able to test scan the cards for quality control purposes so as to be sure to keep to their aggressive timeline. Now that the cards have been printed, the staff only has to print a couple thousand cards a month, a comparatively easy task, and has the option to offload some the ID card printing to the Visitor Center when people who sign up can get their ID card instantly.

The system dashboard shows the staff the current weather conditions and real-time visitation and sales figures, and compares them to the same day of the week of the previous year.

FRONDS Dashboard

FRONDS Dashboard

FRONDS also has an interactive POS cash register that is 100% web-based and compatible with all major web browsers including those for iPads and other tablets and which is also touch screen and barcode scanner enabled.

FRONDS Point-of-Sale Screen

FRONDS Point-of-Sale Screen


Descanso Gardens executives report how FRONDS is already proving its value:

  • Instantaneous reporting that will help us manage our enterprise better
  • Tracking member behavior, which improves our knowledge of a key, core constituency
  • Integrates POS with membership management
  • Provides us with much more powerful tools for member fulfillment and satisfaction:
    • instant enrollment and addition to the database
    • near-instant fulfillment of membership cards
    • much faster renewal process (soon to be also web-based)
    • better “member experience” at check-in
    • much better control of entrance gate
  • Much simplified and more user-friendly donor tracking, moves management, reporting system that is also much less expensive than the current systems in wide use such as Blackbaud’s Raiser’s Edge and DonorPerfect

Even though they had been using a different commercially available web-based donor management package, they will still realize a 25% savings in overall work effort by using FRONDS which aligns more closely with their fundraising and membership management requirements.

DataPlex FRONDS in the Descanso Gardens Visitor Center

FRONDS in the Descanso Gardens Visitor Center

For more information about FRONDS, AmpUp, one of the other AmpUp systems, or to discuss without obligation what DataPlex technical services can do for you, please feel free to contact us anytime.

Death To The QR Code?

Recently, a business journalist posted an article suggesting that the use of QR codes should be dropped. He says in part “Mobile barcodes can be confusing and can waste time. And as mobile technology progresses, they probably aren’t even necessary.”

We disagree.

DataPlex QR CodeThis is one of those “insights” where the author doesn’t make his case. On one hand he presumes that technology will remain static and that the barriers to QR Code scanning — locating the right scanning app, waiting for the camera to focus, etc. — won’t improve and therefore users will be turned off. On the other hand, “near field communications” may arise in the next generation of smartphones to render QR code scanning obsolete. Which is it, is technology static or evolving?

We think that QR codes are a perfect ‘tweener technology that has virtually no extra printing cost and works with all smartphones. Yes, you have to be sure to use a compatible application, but once you figure that out for QR Codes (and again for Microsoft Tag codes), you’re set. Launching the app, waiting for the camera to focus and having the app autodetect the QR code and link to the corresponding URL takes no more than a few seconds. That is much faster than typing in a URL or keywords, if you don’t make mistakes or get distracted before you finish.

Also, when coupled with the right type of business software such as that based on our web-based, Rapid Enterprise Deployment engine known as AmpUp, the added cost of putting together a QR-code marketing campaign is negligible, so therefore the resulting ROI can be huge. Such systems can produce all of the differing QR codes, maintain a database, and then provide URL landing pages with corresponding and compelling content. Through web dashboards, company execs continuously monitor a campaign’s performance and even tweak it midstream if necessary.

The author suggests also that image recognition is a reasonable alternative. Not so. Mobile devices do not have the processing horsepower to implement broad-range image recognition, so they would have to upload the captured image to a capable server and receive the results. This might work for low-frequency use, but all the cell carriers now impose limits on data bandwidth, so this type of solution would really only be economically attractive when using WiFi networks, a severe limitation indeed.

It’s more likely that the author is taking a devil’s advocate point-of-view to make people think through their adoption of new technology, a process we employ as part of our technology strategy consulting services. If that is really the case here, then this author is to be commended.

Please feel free to contact us if you are thinking of using QR codes.

DataPlex now offers Web Hosting Services

Rather than having a client for whom DataPlex has developed an enterprise application arrange to have the application hosted separately, DataPlex now offers a cost-effective add-on web hosting service. Our engineers can more readily match the application requirements to server solutions, thereby bringing its clients an appropriate combination of performance, security and reliability.  The DataPlex data centers:

  • use TLS (SSL) to secure communications
  • have successfully completed multiple SAS 70 Type II audits
  • are HIPAA applications compliant
  • have achieved Payment Card Industry (PCI) DSS Level 1 compliance
  • have achieved ISO 27001 certification

To learn more, visit the DataPlex Web Hosting webpage.

Doctor Tracking System

DataPlex engineers designed several generations of “doctor tracking systems,” systems that consist of sensors and keypads around a medical facility that are used to keep track of the location of doctors, nurses and other staff members.  Doctor tracking systems are also called “personnel tracking systems” when they are used in non-medical facilities.

The first generation system, designed for Dr. Bosley of Bosley Medical of Beverly Hills, California, used room telephones, light bars and specially designed keypads.  As doctors, nurses and staff members moved about, they would press a button to inform the system about their location so that they could be located at a moments notice.  Dr. Bosley reported an astounding simultaneous increase in staff efficiency and patient satisfactions as doctors were able to more quickly get to them and answer their calls.

Display panels in the rooms would inform a doctor as to the queue of rooms for him or her to visit so the he or she would not have to take the extra time to return to a clerical station.  Also, the display panels would beep to alert doctors to emergency, highly urgent or expiring timer situations.

Doctor Tracking System panel

The second and third generation systems leveraged infrared technology and relieved the users from having to press any keys.  Badges that the doctors wear broadcast infrared signals that are picked up by infrared receivers that had been installed in the facility’s drop ceiling.

The fourth and latest generation of the Doctor Tracking Systems uses radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags.  While originally eschewed because of their signals’ ability to penetrate walls and be picked up by sensors in other rooms, technology evolved so that this “overage” actually became an advantage and that a doctor’s location could be even more closely pinpointed.  (This proved to be lifesaving in one case when a doctor collapsed out of people’s view but by way of the tracking system was found in enough time to get medical attention.) This generation system also supports voice intercom.

These systems have IT features that allow facilities to make better and faster decisions, such as when a patient should be revisited or when to clean up a room, and have tracking integrated with their enterprise systems so that doctors’ room visits can be correlated with patient billing.  We see other potential uses of this technology to track medicine dispensing and to better improve the workflow around a medical facility.