Customer Profile: Adam Bacon – SQL Database Administrator
Adam Bacon is a Systems Administrator in the United Kingdom for a mid-sized company in the Milk and Food Industry. Adam is often tasked with implementing or building solutions to provide information to various groups in his organization. From sales and marketing dashboards to vehicle fleet maintenance Adam was looking for a flexible solution that would allow him to quickly build a variety of tools for an end-user to use. Using a Universal Dashboard approach, Adam was able to use his knowledge of SQL and Powershell accomplish his goal.
Adam’s "Fleet Management" Home Page
I have been working in the IT industry since the year 2000. I started on a helpdesk and have progressed my IT career from there. The biggest IT change for me was learning PowerShell as this has saved me and companies I have worked for 1000’s of hours by scripting tasks that used to be done manually. Over the last few years, I have been doing a lot of analytical reporting. So to find a product like Universal Dashboard where I can combine existing PowerShell skills to now make super attractive reports, it’s a dream come true.
Adam’s "Fleet Stats" Page
Adam’s Universal Dashboard Experience
When you were researching Universal Dashboard, what problem were you originally looking to solve?
In my job, I often have the sales team asking me to write them a lot of sales reports to show a variety of detailed sales statistics in an easy to consume format. So I was originally looking to display the SQL data from a sales query, and instead of putting this into Excel and displaying the data in a pivot table or something similar, to instead display this in a webpage looking all fancy. My work colleague uses more traditional solutions such as Crystal Reports, and I have always been a bit gutted that no matter how hard I would try to make my hand-built reports look nice, they never seemed to look as nice as his crystal reports. So after seeing what Universal Dashboard could do with PowerShell I was very excited that I could finally make much better-looking reports than my colleague with Universal Dashboard and the rest is now history since out of the box Universal Dashboard looks beautiful and is easy enough to add your own customizations.
More recently I was also nominated to overhaul the current way our transportation vehicle mileage is recorded, in an attempt to move us away from the cluttered excel sheet that was being used to accomplish this task. After speaking to the staff members entering the mileage information, it quickly became apparent that they had many more items on their wishlist list, such as: vehicle costs per week, when a vehicle service is due, and recording damage costs. This information was all stored or being stored on different spreadsheets. So my first idea was to centralise all the data into one place, that being a database, then put a front-end to this database so I could populate it with data. Using Universal Dashboard I was able to accomplish this and provide a live interactive demonstration to management. As well as providing security using a login page linked to a security group I created in Active Directory so that only certain members of staff have access.
Adam’s "View Damage Cost" Page
Adam’s "New Fleet Vehicle Tracking" Page
Adam’s "Add Vehicle Details" Page
How did you find out about Universal Dashboard?
I have been following Adam Driscoll on Twitter for some years now, and I have seen him post about Universal Dashboard on twitter, so doing a few searches on Google I am sure I discovered PoshUD and thought I have got to get myself this product to display reports. At the price that this product sells for it was a no brainer in my opinion and was instantly given the company credit card to purchase this.
What’s your favorite thing about universal dashboard?**
The new gridlayout designer, just the fact it’s so quick and simple to design your initial layouts for dashboards you are building.
Adam’s "Fleet Vehicle Running Costs" Page
What are some of the challenges you typically face with products that would typically fill the role of Universal Dashboard in your industry?
Just the level of support you receive when phoning when something doesn’t work, it seems either very difficult to find someone that knows something or face having to pay a bill to get that problem fixed, as it’s outside the scope of their normal software support. I constantly get asked to provide statistical information these programs are incapable of displaying.
Adam’s "Fleet Vehicle Rental Costs" Page
How did you use Universal Dashboard to do what these products in your industry didn’t do?
Many of the applications in my industry have quite a few reports built into it them, but these are all very plain looking, and even the reports which include a chart, that chart even looks boring as it is all the same colour and all in the same bar chart format and not that easy on the eyes. With Universal Dashboard I was able to decide from a vast array of chart types, and have great customisation over how the chart looks in terms of colour and style. I was then able to display this data in a web-page and even make it mobile friendly for people working remotely on tablets, something which no other application I have used does. I am able to use Universal Dashboard to provide all the statistical information that people are looking for from the paid-for industry application that simply lacks this capability.
Adam’s "Active Fleet Vehicles" Page
You seem to be very active in the community (PowerShell and IronMan Software) what has the experience of plugging into the community to talk about your dashboards been like?
I have daughters which I am really lucky to have. I always try to teach them to be kind, share and help others. As the Universal Dashboard scene was all new to me, then for me the best way to learn it is to do as much research as possible and see how other people are designing it as well as being kind, sharing, and helpful to those asking questions that you can help out on. Everyone in the Forums seem to be nice people with great ideas. I just think when you are using something that you really enjoy and you know is a great product then spread the word. It’s nice to get feedback from people on what they think of your dashboards, and if you can help inspire someone else then that’s a big plus in my book.
Thank You from Ironman Software
We’d like to thank Adam for taking the time to share his story about using Universal Dashboard to build tools and dashboards for his organization. We really look forward to continuing to have him as a customer and community participant and can’t wait to see what he comes up with next!