Artisan Technology, Inc. provides business and technical consulting services, as well as custom software development, to small-to-medium companies with a vision and a willingness to invest in their future. We help these companies create new products or to Improve their business processes and business software, in order to:
- Grow their existing business
- Enter new markets
- Work more efficiently
- Provide better service, and
- Enhance their security
We are strong technical experts with substantial business management experience and savvy. This permits us to offer a range of services, in the mold of the expensive consulting firms (e.g., Deloitte), but without the massive cost and infrastructure. We do extensive business consulting with clients before recommending or constructing technical solutions, and this can begin as far back as helping to develop a strategic vision. We also are very good at evaluating business practices and spotting inefficiencies that raise expenses, diminish service, or impede growth. We then identify technical solutions for eliminating them.
We follow a somewhat formal design, development, and testing process, which results in higher quality and a larger probability of success than seat-of-the-pants programming. At the same time, we are flexible in our methods, because the necessary degree of formality varies with the situation. There is a cost associated with doing this analytical, design, and documentation work, so we do not typically serve mom and pop operations. Our target market is typically in the range of $5 million to $50 million companies, but we do not have a minimum project size. If there is potential for growth, we often start with a small project.
The bulk of our work falls into certain categories
- We work with existing companies whose systems no longer support their needs. This situation occurs because:
- Companies often start small, managing their business using spreadsheets, simple Access applications, etc. If they are successful, they outgrow the capability of those systems, but companies often keep depending upon them long after it is appropriate. Often they have elaborated these tools to the point at which they are toppling over from layers of band-aids which produce fragile and contradictory features.
- Companies frequently use custom or commercial systems that were built to support only the company’s original product set or market. Now the company either wishes to, or has already started, selling different products or entered other markets. They often do this by gaming their original system to force fit the new paradigm into old concepts. However, this often results in poor service, difficulty in training due to confusion about terminology and the use of non-intuitive processes, data that is hard to analyze, etc.
In these cases, we review the company’s data and processes, propose more appropriate systems, and devise a plan to develop and/or migrate. At times, we simply recommend the purchase of off-the-shelf solutions.
- We help companies fill in the gaps in their business application set. Often, companies have either developed a custom application or they have purchased a commercial application, but it does not satisfy all of the business requirements. This results in people exporting data to spreadsheets or documents, manipulating the data outside the system, and typically routing the information throughout the company via email, memory sticks, etc. This has a lot of consequences:
- It is inefficient
- It results in many uncontrolled versions of the information, with no clear idea of what is “current.”
- It produces discrepancies between the data in the original business database and the information that people are acting upon.
- It gets critical and often very confidential information outside of the perimeter of the security mechanisms that protect the data in the business systems.
Similarly, we find companies that have multiple commercial products, each of which handles a portion of the needed business flow. More often than not, these companies wind up entering the same data into multiple systems (e.g., the sales order management system and the accounting system). This can result in costly reconciliation efforts, or, worse yet, the transmission of contradictory information to customers.
In these cases, we again review the company’s data and processes to determine whether the existing applications can be enhance or extended, or whether they should be replaced. The course we recommend depends upon these findings.
- We design and engineer products for entrepreneurs (and existing companies) who have product ideas but not the expertise to build them. In this case, we:
- Help the client think beyond the prototype to what a real product would entail
- Product an actionable design
- Define the minimum viable functionality, either for pitching the idea to investors or to get an initial product to market
- Develop a phased plan to stage the development and testing of product releases
- Build the product
- Modify the product in response to initial and continuing feedback
- We also do industrial automation work. In these cases, we work with process engineers, machine vision experts, controls engineers, etc., to enhance and extend their manufacturing execution systems. We typically use the controller interfaces to collect data from the programmable logic controllers that operate the equipment or to pass back information from warehouse and other related systems. We then make the machine data visible for engineering studies or quality control. We have also built bridges between Allen Bradley (Rockwell) PLCs and SAP, since these two do not play together well. This is not a large part of our portfolio, but we enjoy doing it. This involves knowledge of the Rockwell interface tools as well as database and SAP gateways.
- We are now entering the market for adding mobile interfaces to business systems, using the Mono, MonoTouch or Mono for Android toolsets. These tools permit code written in C# to be targeted for Linux, iPad, iPhone, Android phone and/or tablet platforms. The key is that this permits companies that use the Microsoft platforms or that have a code base written using Visual Studio to:
- Add non-Microsoft mobile interfaces that interact with their current systems
- Target code written using Visual studio to run on Linux platforms, perhaps running on inexpensive cloud-based virtual machines.
The advantage is that the companies need not abandon their investment in existing code in order to participate in these other realms of delivery. The mobile applications can share some of the same code and logic as the rest of the environment, which reduces duplication and errors. The other advantage is that companies can target these dissimilar platforms with a common code base, differentiating only the displays but preserving the other logic.
Artisan Technology has been providing expert services since 2004. The company’s high quality business and technology professionals ensure clients consistent, high-quality, well-documented solutions.