Leonard Rubin Associates makes easy transition to modern applications using CTO interface

By Joanne Friedrick

Change is never easy, especially when you’ve adopted a data base system that has worked for you for 20 years.

But both Judd Love of J Squared Software LLC and his client, Howard Rubin of New York-based Leonard Rubin Associates Inc., realized that if they could phase in the change to a GUI-based platform from a character-based one with little or no interruptions to the existing workflow, it could enhance both their businesses in the long run.

To achieve this seamless transition for his clients, Love teamed with Revelation Software and its Character to OpenInsight product. CTO is built into OpenInsight versions 7.2 and higher and supplements the GUI interface that is tantamount to OI.

Love, who created his multi-value business application apparel industry software product more than 25 years ago, acknowledged it is difficult to go in a new direction, but realized it was becoming necessary for his future. Love said the majority of his clients are on legacy, character-based systems. “But new people coming in are used to point-and-click,” he said. 

“I’m happy I’ve been able to maintain many clients,” explained Love, “but some have left for another system. They see the ease, the glitz and glamour of point-and-click.”

Love said he approached Rubin with the idea of being the first of his customers to transition into OI because his business was relatively small in that it had a limited number of data base users and the environment was flexible.

“I was looking to work with someone who would be flexible in case it didn’t work out,” added Love. Because of their long-standing relationship, Love said Rubin was willing to invest the time and cost associated with moving to OI. For Love, the reward would be experience with OI that he could share with other customers down the road and “Howard’s goodwill” for a successful undertaking.

Rubin echoed Love’s sentiment about the initial reluctance to change, adding “I was not very interested in moving to something new.” Still, he said, his own customers wanted quicker access to invoices and product information that wasn’t always possible while using his existing character-based data base format.

In deciding to go forward, Rubin said he trusted Love’s judgment about transitioning to OI, and Judd, in turn, trusted Revelation to make the process easy for all parties involved. Both said when they needed support from Revelation during the implementation process, it was there. “I never found that they weren’t there to help,” said Rubin. “We got answers and results.”

What prevented Love from making the transition for his clients sooner, he said, was the all-or-nothing aspect of most options. He had looked at various offerings, he said, “but with the other solutions out there, you had to do 100 percent of it first. That was too much of a burden.” Or, he noted, the alternatives were too complex, or offered the graphical look but weren’t as powerful as OI.

When he was approached by Revelation, Love said he was pleased to see that going from character to graphical was possible without having to completely abandon the old system. Rather, the conversion could be phased in, beginning with GUI lookups and then migrating to an all-GUI set up.

Rubin, an avowed layman when it comes to computer systems, said he was most interested in accessing information that would allow him to execute for his customers, such as generating reports on how many units a customer had used. Others in his office handled invoicing and payables, which would also become more functional under the CTO format.

When the first phase began in June 2006, Love said the improvements may have seemed simple to some, but for someone working on a character-based system for 20 years, the differences were huge. No longer was a code needed to access the data. Instead, customer and salesman information was available via a graphical look up table. 

From there, they installed a menu-to-menu option and followed that with the ability to create reports that could be sent via email.

Rubin said there are plenty of little things offered through CTO that he is happy about, such as being able to look at two screens at once, something he wasn’t able to do previously. 

There are also time-saving processes, such as being able to preview reports without first having to print them out, as well as the ability to email reports he previously had to print and carry home to his brother, who is partner in the business.

Transferring information among the salesman is also important, said Rubin. “These are things I saw right away that will be beneficial to my business.”

In terms of seeing a return on his investment, Rubin said he recalls when he first implemented his computer system 20 years ago. The process then for aging accounts was done once every six weeks and took someone two days by hand to do it.

With a computerized system, said Rubin, the aging reports were now being updated daily. That, he said, allowed his company to get on top of its bills and save money.

“I hadn’t considered it back then, but that in itself paid for the (computer) 20 years ago,” Rubin pointed out.

“Now I’m anticipating that same cost-savings with this system,” he said. 

Rubin and Love both noted that the transition to OI is ongoing. “Soon,” said Rubin, “we’ll be able to email invoices to customers rather than fax or mail them,” which is something that his customers have been requesting. The completed installation is expected to be finished by January 2007, said Rubin.

While the transition continues, Love said Rubin and his staff have the ability at any time to run their system 100 percent character-based if they so choose. “We left him that crutch,” said Love.

However, said Rubin, it’s not one he needs anymore. “It took me longer than the rest (to fully adopt OI),” he said, “but to tell you the truth, I haven’t touched the old system in months.”