- Improving Office Operations Through Appropriate Technology
- The challenge is to see how database technology can be applied to the broad area of management.
Gary Braley received a Master of Science degree in Mathematics with concentrations in computer technology, physics and education.
He began his career in the aerospace field specializing in software design and development for the Apollo lunar program and other space projects.
As the healthcare field began converting to electronic records Braley became a program manager for the design and implementation of pathology laboratory information systems.
Computers had been used for billing applications but laboratory testing was the first real application of information technology to patient treatment data. Systems designed by Braley were installed in community hospitals, reference laboratories and The National Institutes of Health.
While staff members were being supplied with the latest technology, managers were still relying on word processing, spreadsheets and – most of all – human memory to store and retrieve their information.
As projects became more complex, managers were still wondering where their important information was and wasting hugh amounts of time trying to locate and organize their documents.
Braley realized that although offices looked different in many ways, in fact their was a common thread linking their record keeping systems.
At the level of “pure management” they were all dealing with lists of tasks, projects, meetings, events, issues, etc.
Whether it was a business or non-profit organization, a small consulting practice or an association, they were all doing the same thing.
The problem was that almost all of them were using the wrong technology in their attempts to structure their work. They were recording information in word processing documents and spreadsheets – neither of which had any capability to assist in retrieval.
As a consequence they had to remember where everything was stored whether it was in a paper filled filing cabinet or in a folder hidden away among thousands of folders in a shared server on the network.
After working on a particularly complex consulting assignment involving a dozen project teams and hundreds of people, Gary began the development of a database approach to management.
The general idea was not new – numerous project management packages are available using databases.
The breakthrough was to expand the concept to the entire management process.
The Management Tracker incorporates not only the ability to track multiple simultaneous projects but to handle all the issue lists, client management, equipment maintenance records and anything else that can be entered as a subject line with user definable keywords. There was one overriding requirement – the program had to be easy to use since managers do not have the time to attend a three day computer class.
They need to have something they can begin using with very limited startup time. The Management Tracker was designed to meet these demands.