The IRC and Microsoft Access

http://www.theirc.org/

A few weeks ago there was a job posting on AlertNet.org for a ‘ProLogs Project Deployment Coordinator‘ for the International Rescue Committee (IRC).  Now, I have been involved in the roll out of various logistics database applications in the past as have most logistics officers.  What struck me about the IRC roll out is that the ProLogs system is built with a simple Microsoft Access database.  The posting goes on to state that,

“ProLogs is a simple Access® database intended as a tool for managing and reporting on Procurement, Inventory, Asset and Vehicle activities in accordance with the IRC global policies and procedures. The system has limited functionality but is intended to be a cost effective interim tool between the paper or multiple spreadsheets employed today and identification and implementation of a full logistics management system in 3 -5 years time.”

Here is one of the world’s largest aid organizations deploying a system to track probably hundreds of millions of dollars worth of assets and for the next 3-5 years they are going to rely on good old Microsoft Access.  We’re not talking a massive platform that requires years of development and fine tuning we’re talking about a system that has been used time and time again and that is going to cost IRC close to nothing.  Of course there are development costs but not like there would be if they were using Oracle or SAP.  It sounds like that will eventually be the case but for at least 3-5 years all that manpower and money will be going, we trust, right back to the beneficiaries.  Kudos to the IRC.

This, for me, is what it is all about.  Making do with what you’ve got on hand.  Trust the stuff that works and avoid like the plague the stuff that no one can really give you an answer to.  I know nothing about ProLogs but look forward to hearing more about it’s strengths and weaknesses.

At the end of the day you can roll out any system you want but if the folks in the warehouse are not getting their tallies right you are really just spitting in the wind.

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