Why change?

When you're using a computer system that works perfectly well and does everything you want, why change?

Apart from it looking ancient... not having graphics and a mouse...


Green screen driven software, quick, efficient, but confusing for the young!

Astleys has been ‘computerised’ since 1970 when our late Chairman, Michael Astley, implemented the company's first computer system; a MALE2000 punched-tape driven system for stock control.

Moving to MUMPS

Having realised the potential of improvements to the business, the first upgrade to the MALE2000 was achieved only a couple of years later, in 1972, when a major change was made, taking on a Digital Computer Systems platform running MUMPS (Massachusetts University Medical Programming System).

This programming system was unique in being an integrated database and operating system. This type of system had the advantage of being incredibly quick in comparison to competitors, although we were still in the days where the year was recorded with two digits to save 2 bytes - memory capacity was small at the start of computing. And everything had to be created from scratch; there were no ‘off-the-shelf packages’ available back in those days. Consequently, many hundreds of programmes were designed and developed by Michael and a consultant, Mike Morris, with whom Astleys would have a close working relationship for decades.

Starting with stock and credit control, the systems revolutionised Astleys business, making huge improvements in efficiency and our ability to ensure that we had the right stock available for customers.

Continuous evolution of functionality

But it was only in the 80’s that we implemented systems for sales and purchase ordering. The ‘MUMPS System’ as it would be known at Astleys continued to be developed over the years, encompassing manufacturing systems for formulations and planning when we operated our Paint manufacturing facility.

There was a major upgrade to our sales systems in the late 90’s in conjunction with our consultant’s company, FutureCode. However, much of the programming was a continuous evolution of functionality and coded by successive members of the Astley family and our current IT manager, who has been responsible for some of the most significant recent developments.

It is incredible to think, but the system that we are finally transitioning away from, has been used up until this month, nearly 50 years after the introduction of MUMPS! So why are we changing? Future-proofing is the answer. The platform is not adequately supported at the operating system level and although we have made many upgrades over the years to both our hardware and software operating systems, we had to face the facts that staying with MUMPS left us potentially vulnerable.

Selecting the new system started over two years ago and involved many demonstrations and in-depth consultations. Finally, we elected to proceed with Netsuite, the ‘number 1 cloud-based ERP system’ produced by Oracle.

Selecting a cloud-based ERP system from Oracle

We formed a project team to work through the implementation of the new software. It was shortly after the first team meeting that we all understood the enormity of changing from a system where we had literally been able to make the computer do exactly what we wanted, to craft new funcionality as required. We had grown up with MUMPS, now we had to work out how to do the things we needed and relied on as a business in Netsuite.

Some things proved to be easy, a lot was far from straight-forward, so we all had to think precisely about what was needed and find ways of achieving the solutions the Netsuite way.

A major investment in the future of Astleys

It has been a long road and represents an enormous investment in our IT development. We finally have a new system that will take us forward, enabling us to make far more efficient use of data, improving the way that we communicate with our customers and suppliers, and opens up opportunities for us to enhance our capabilities through greater integration with our web-site and external sources.



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