Can you find your products in here?

Become a Mistral ‘Sponsor’ for a tiny fraction of your advertising budget. Or indeed, your IT budget!

Your company has to provide customers and prospects alike with a viable product selection system. There can be no refuting the truth of that statement. The alternative is commercial suicide! However you feel you would prefer to produce and maintain your own software system 'in-house'.

At Mistral we believe the argument in favour of delegating this very demanding process to specialists with both the rare skills and proven track record is overwhelming.

You might still not be convinced. Here is a simple analogy. You need a new car and thus buy or lease one. Not too many people these days sit down at a drawing board and design their own. Then set about fabricating or sourcing the components and building it! The same applies, or at least should apply, with sophisticated software systems. Particularly sophisticated 'Expert System' software. Still not convinced? Still think that a few thousand Pounds, Dollars or Euros paid to Mistral Associates is an excessive amount to pay?

We'll start with the summary!

* Save your money. DIY will cost you far, far more than you think. And then some more!

* Spare yourself the stress. No matter how good your programmers are the project is enormous. The learning curve will be steep and countless errors are inevitable (and expensive!).

* Who will maintain it? Keeping databases up to date is a daily task, day in, day out! Re-writing for unrelenting advances in computing technology is another.

* Who will provide customer support 24/7? What will that cost you? Continuously!

* Have you budgeted for re-writing it almost as soon as it's finished? You will need to!

* Are you fully conversant with your organisation's legal exposure? Have you even considered it!?

* Are you sure your customers want a second system on their computers? Particularly if it doesn't communicate with the one more than 80% of your customers and prospects are anyway obliged to run.

* Do you think you will need and can expect your software to gain 'End User' Specification status?

* Can you be confident you will not be exposed to accusations of plagiarising or worse, even of Copyright infringement?

* How much will you budget fighting software pirates and plagiarists that will constantly threaten to undermine the results of your hard work and financial investment? 5% of turnover? 10%? 20%? 30%? More?

* Who designed and built the car you drive?!


OK. Let's say you have perfectly qualified programming staff in your IT department (that can match Mistral's more than 200 man years in experience!) and they have a bit of time on their hands. You conduct a meeting or two and draw up and agree with your colleagues a shortlist of targets for your new program along with strategies and tactics for achieving them. Even with the benefit of established software running in the background, from such companies as Mistral Associates or even our competitors such as Business Edge, Whiterose or Wrightsoft, and which despite possible legal hazards you attempt to 'backwards engineer' or simply to copy. Your programmers even try to crack encryption codes and extract some data from it. Let's face it, there is enough essential data there to fill a library! All of which was either collected from the public domain or was 'Rights' purchased over a twenty five year period or was developed by pioneers that preceded your programmers. After a few months you have something effective running.

You issue 'Beta copies' for colleagues and discreet, 'safe' researchers to extensively test and debug. Your program's 'dynamic error trapping' might be a bit rudimentary but it appears to work. You check with your company Secretary and also with your company's legal advisors about the implications of releasing it to your market. To your loyal and trusting customers. Customers that you expect will trust the software your company has developed to help them run their businesses. Infallibly.

Everything works, there are no bugs, you anticipated and tested your software system on expensive simulation software that runs it on over 7,500 different possible permutations of computer Operating System, regional setting, keyboard type, monitor and video card combination, and even decimal point deliminator type etc.

So far so good. It is a resounding success (just like Mistral's). Everyone starts using it. Except they can't use it quite as completely as they might wish to because the data you have included in your system's databases naturally only features your products. It is missing the other 17,000 RAC product databases. Most of your users will still therefore be continuing to use Mistral's systems anyway. Even though your program can't communicate with it!

However that is what you want and your customers appear happy. Except many of your customers aren't too happy because they are no expert at operating even a PC (and why should they be!?) let alone a new and unfamiliar software system installed on that PC.

So how many staff will you recruit and train to provide an 'on-line' Help line service, around the clock? Who will maintain your systems' databases? An almost daily requirement with most leading manufacturing companies.

Assuming you have considered all the above and it is still more economical in your view to write your own and go 'DIY', how much will you be budgeting once you have finished it to start all over again upgrading it. So that it will cope with issues presented by the next Windows Operating System and of course the one after that!? Does your company even have Beta copies supplied to you by Microsoft of their planned future Operating Systems?