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BizMan Frequently Asked Questions

Why is the Program Called BizMan?

When I was headhunted by AMP in 1975 they taught me: It’s a numbers game - you make 10 calls, you’ll get three appointments and 1 sale. The reason sales people don’t succeed is they don’t do enough “10”s.

So in the Looking Ahead Plans Book they provided I kept those statistics religiously for 12 years. Sure enough, whenever I was not making enough money I would look back at the stats in the book and prior to the lean times I had not been doing enough calls. I’d increase the calls and the income would also rise.

That’s how I learned the value of "Test and Measure". Later on, as I added more business management functions to the simple contact manager I had created for my own use (statistics, graphs, production quotas, financial planning, and marketing analysis) I conceived the term BizMan, an abbreviation of Business Management.

What are the Origins of BizMan?

AMP helped me into my first computer in the mid eighties, a $15,000 package based on the IBM 286 AT with a 20 megabyte hard disk and 512 kb of RAM. I kept the names, addresses and other data in the ICIS (Insurance Consultants Information System) program. My wife agreed to the purchase on the premise that she would not have to help me hand address 500 Christmas cards each year!

In 1989 I run a roofing company for 6 months. To do quotes we had to look at several suppliers’ price formats and translate them: time consuming and error prone. To solve this I created a four panel spreadsheet that gave us an instant price perspective.

But I wasn’t making enough money. My wife suggested I get back into the insurance business. Very soon I was running a financial services business, The Money Professionals. I had 16 sales agents I needed to train and help make a dollar. Recalling what AMP had taught me I created a spreadsheet to do what the old Looking Ahead Plan Book had done many years earlier.

Well, by the time I had it computing ratios between calls and appointments gained and everything else I wanted it to do I had outgrown the computer memory and it was too big to load! Somebody told me I needed to move to a database. I rang Microsoft and asked if they had one but at that stage they didn’t.

Within days I was at a computer shop that had Microsoft R:BASE in a floor stand for $50. I took it home and loaded it. As I chose menu options it built the command at the top of the screen it was going to execute. Here was a tool that taught me how to program as I was doing searches and queries. I started building a program for my business and thus began the journey to being an application developer. Others looked over my shoulder and liked what I had done. They said I should be doing it full-time.

Circumstances conspired to grant me that opportunity. A print broker wanted a program. He needed to keep similar data to what I did. So, rather than create from scratch what he wanted, I took what I had built for my business and used that as the base for his program.

After the same thing had happened a few times it became a standard operating basis. When clients wanted a program, rather than build the whole thing from scratch I used what I had built for my business as a base, just adding what they needed that it did not have.

After about the third of these I realized that if I kept creating copies of the code for each client I would have a maintenance nightmare in future. The alternative was to have a single code base to which I could just keep adding functionality specific to that client.

Over time and a couple of rewrites with all the added functionality BizMan had grown so that by late 2006 we had written in R:BASE for Windows a 20 module program. It was huge: 4,400 menu options, 1,100 screen forms and over 500 reports. It did what would take 16 other programs to accomplish at a great cost of duplicated data entry.

But despite some ability to trim the menu to suit the needs of specific clients it was perceived as too big. The look of it was becoming dated. I could not do many things in that version of R:BASE that I wanted to do. The database could not accommodate more than 2 gig of data. It crashed occasionally. It needed a rewrite. But before I did it was time to relook at what the clients needed and the best way to satisfy those needs.

What Problems Does BizMan Address?

Half our BizMan clients want a complete solution to provide single entry of all data from promotion to balance sheet. The other half want to keep their accounting program but need operational functionality that their accounting package does not deliver.

As developers we need to be able to deliver to our users a program that gives them the functionality they need without at one end exposing them to more complexity than they need or at the other end incurring the cost of writing a program from scratch. We also need to avoid both of these liabilities without creating a maintenance nightmare for ourselves. Each client’s requirements are different so getting it just right is challenging. What is needed is flexible, customizable, extensible application at a price affordable to every stratum of business, not just the very large enterprises.

What is The Primary Function of BizMan?

The primary function of BizMan is to be a complete solution or foundation for the data requirements for a client organisation. That could be a Contact Manager\Call Center program, a program to handle the operational requirements or a complete or, when built, an end-to-end solution including financials.

What is The Primary Purpose of BizMan?

The primary purpose of BizMan is to be an easily maintainable and extensible business application that delivers a highly configurable and cost effective solution to satisfy the data requirements of an organisation that wants to take their business to the next level.

What was the Rebuild Brief for the new Version of BizMan?

We wanted to rebuild BizMan. We knew the basic concept of it was valid: A powerful, flexible, extensible foundation for clients who wanted a custom solution. We wanted:

What is the Overall System Architecture of BizMan?

We looked at various tools with which to build a solution. We researched and created prototypes with various alternatives before settling on:

The Java® language
The NetBeans® IDE (Integrated Development Environment)
The CachCaché® database from InterSystems
The iReport® report writer from Jasper Reports

We created the user interface in Java so BizMan will run on nearly any operating system and hardware platform.

We chose the NetBeans IDE because the NetBeans modules deliver the functionality we wanted and save an enormous amount of development time.

We chose Caché from InterSystems based on its speed, scalability and cost effective pricing model. Quite simply it is the fastest database in the world.

We chose iReports to give our users the most flexible and cost effective reporting tool with which they could modify or add to the available reports.

How Do BizMan Users Benefit?

The major benefit is the ability to customize the application to the client’s specific requirements. This will facilitate a higher user acceptance level, shorter learning curve, faster adoption rate and increased chance of success. Considering up to 80% of CRM implementations fail, these benefits will make the difference between failure and success for a great many installations.

The secondary benefit is productivity improvement from integrating functionality not readily available in a single package including document and task management.

One business application that can scale from single user to global enterprise

A major benefit of the tools we have chosen is that they provide us with a solution capable of satisfying the needs of a single user at one end and a global multi-national at the other.

Why Did You Put So Much Effort Into Making BizMan So Customizable?

We’re in the business of saying “Yes” to customer requirements. If another program can’t do it, we need BizMan to do it now or be able to do it without a cost prohibitive redesign.

Therefore we need to have an architecturally superior solution in both the database and application. We need a solution that presents no brick walls when we want to say “Yes”.

This requirement necessitates a database and application design that is very comprehensive. The trouble with a very comprehensive application is that for most of our clients the size of a program that does everything is at least daunting if not overwhelming.

Over 17 years of demonstrating software applications to potential users I have observed that the more features an application has, the more you can say “yes” when a user asks if it has a particular feature. Sadly, you also stand more chance of overwhelming them!

As illustrated in the graph, a simple application has few features and low acceptance. As you add features the acceptance level grows, to a point. Beyond that point, complexity causes the acceptance level to begin to wane from where it goes into a steep decline. With all the complexity in their lives most users want an application that delivers just what they need, no more, no less. Offer too little and the application won’t meet their minimum requirements. Present too much functionality and the program is judged too complex.

User acceptance curve graph

If there was a way to hide unneeded functionality, to alter the menu structure and text, rename the field and button labels and to select which fields to display or hide then the end user could be in total control of the appearance of their own software!

There is a law of diminishing returns that probably explains why the acceptability of any application will be lower after a certain complexity/size is reached.

What the ability to customize an application accomplishes is to allow a single application to be an appropriate solution for a vastly wider range of potential clients than would otherwise be the case. This overcomes initial resistance to a new program and opens up significant potential for grassroots word of mouth endorsement of a well-liked application.

What Are Some of the Features and Benefits of BizMan?

The majority of the features that you will go “ahhhh” over are in the configuration module so make sure you check it out. Another that is useful throughout BizMan is what we have done with reporting.

Dynamic Reporting

We have used iReport for the reports in BizMan. The users can create additional reports and add them to a reports table in the database and include them in the menu structure.
This screen shot shows the Person report with all the sub-reports that can be selected to print at run-time. The ability to select at run-time which sub-reports to print reduces the number of menu options the users need to confront and gives greater flexibility.

Reporting screen shot


The BizMan design allows us to deliver a very high level of customization for you, our client, so we deliver all and only the functionality you need while allowing us to maintain only one code base no matter how many clients we have and how diverse their requirements.

1. What we have delivered is the ability for you to customize BizMan. You can:

2. We have built stage one of a data and task management tool that delivers a competitive edge to our clients.

In short we have leveraged the features of our development tools to deliver a powerful, scalable, flexible, extensible and customizable application to empower you to take your business to the next level, and beyond.

If you would like further information or an on-line demonstration of BizMan please contact me on +61 2 9552 3311.