For web-based applications: these products are almost always charged by the user and may require lengthy subscription contracts that go on forever. Again, make sure you aren’t paying for modules and features that you’ll never need. Also make sure the vendor is willing to customize screens and printed forms to meet your needs.
Most Windows-based software prints on 8.5- x 11-inch cut-sheet forms by default. If you’re using odd-sized forms on dot-matrix printers, that will probably have to go away or you may pay a hefty price to keep them going. Barcode labels will need to be either on the standard 8.5- x 11-inch default form size or, if the software will allow, formatted for roll labels that print on inexpensive label printers such as DymoLabel.
Make sure the various forms such as work orders and task cards have form revision management. The FAA and some companies require you to keep forms revision histories and print the revision numbers and dates on the forms themselves whenever they are printed. The software should have a utility for the user to maintain all of the current form revision numbers and dates.
Users and security
All good software will have restricted access to only approved users. Make sure the software has utilities to manage users easily. Some applications allow the users to set up sophisticated user profiles with many options to manage and configure. For most organizations it is easier and more effective for the director of maintenance (DOM) to manage the users and access levels for his/her staff. A well-designed software package will have basic user security built in, and the ability for the software vendor to make specific adjustments to user access as needed so the DOM can turn on/off specific program screens and features to certain users.
Security can also be configured by the network administrator to allow users to have access to the folder(s) and databases used by the software application. Having access restricted at the server level is always the first line of defense to keep unwanted users out.
This point is the most important, and surprisingly the mostly overlooked — not only by the DOM but the software vendor as well. If you have a good, dedicated (and expensive) network server administrator, he/she will make sure this is done correctly and reliably. For the rest of us it’s a good idea to personally oversee the running and rotating of the backups on a daily basis.
However, just running and rotating backups is not sufficient. Be sure you verify the backups that are being produced. Most backup software will have an option or utility to verify the backup. Learn this function or make sure someone you trust does it. If your system crashes and you have to go back to the backup, it better work!
It is wise to test the backup system periodically by creating a test file, running the backup, deleting the file, and trying to retrieve it from the backup media.
There is an ocean of software alternatives out there to choose from. Using these tips and identifying your own company needs will enable you to narrow down your choices and make the right decision.
Gerry Merar is president of Decision Software Systems at AviationPro Software.
The following pages include descriptions of software products available for the aviation maintenance industry with company contact information so you can find out more about what might fit your organization’s needs.
Avantext offers an AD Regulatory Compliance Tool with built-in reporting capabilities, searchability within the software, and ongoing customer training and support. For more information call (610) 862-1057 or visit www.avantex.com.
AV-BASE Systems’ WinAir is a structurally integrated maintenance and inventory control software. Fixed and rotary wing operators can upgrade between editions or select additional modules for increased functionality and request customization based on their requirements. For more information call (519) 691-0919 or visit www.avbasesystems.com.
Aviation Core Matrix LLC offers Aviation Skills Matrix with STAReport. It utilizes data that defines employee/technician capabilities to ensure regulatory compliance, mitigate risk, and increase efficiency. For more information call (765) 848-1700 or visit www.aviationskills.com.
For technical support contact Pam Anderson, Director Customer Support, at (770) 419-1399 or email@example.com. 100 percent customer satisfaction. Hours: 7:30 a.m. - 6:00 p.m. EST.