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Hollywood Video Puts Stores Audits on Pocket PCs using SYWARE's Visual CE® Database
Company's loss prevention program replaces thousands of pages of paper with handheld-based database application
Cambridge, MA (May 14, 2002)-In some businesses, like video rentals, inventory shrinkage is an unfortunate fact of life. So Hollywood Video, one of the largest video chains in the United States, faces this challenge by performing periodic audits of its 1800 stores to ensure that the correct policies and procedures are being followed. These quarterly audits, which consist of over 110 questions that address various areas of store operations, help the company hold losses as close to zero as possible. But the audits meant the company had to deal with tens of thousands of pages of paperwork each year.
To address this issue, Hollywood Video applied PDA technology to the auditing process. Using Compaq Aero Pocket PCs (http://www.compaq.com) and SYWARE's Visual CE database development software (http://www.syware.com), the company made the switch from paper-based forms to handheld applications.
Before the switch, the audit was performed using a 12-page paper form that was faxed to corporate headquarters and keyed into a database for analysis and reporting. With 300-400 audits every quarter, this represented a huge volume of faxed pages to deal with, and a massive data entry backlog. Now the company's approximately 20 loss prevention managers conduct quarterly audits using a new handheld application that puts the entire audit on a Pocket PC.
Rather than wrestle with paper, managers tap their way through the audit questions on an electronic form. Drop-down lists and other design elements allow the audit to be adapted for the constraints of the Pocket PC screen without sacrificing clarity or convenience. The program automatically calculates scores for each section of the audit, and assigns an overall grade to the store. Audit data is downloaded from the store directly into a Microsoft Access database at headquarters, eliminating all paper-based operations and making audit data available for reporting the same day it is collected.
The audit application was developed using Visual CE, an easy-to-use Windows CE database development tool from SYWARE (http://www.syware.com). Forms and underlying databases are created on a desktop system and then uploaded to the Pocket PCs. Audit questions can be easily changed, added, or re-arranged, and the changes synchronized to the handhelds - eliminating the cost of printing paper forms.
Another key benefit is improved accuracy. The Visual CE-based application performs calculations automatically as questions are answered, eliminating the need for mental arithmetic or to consult a calculator.
"The more hands that touch the data, the more chance of a mistake," noted Rackley. "Now the auditor enters the data and it goes straight into the report. There's no chance of a math error or a name being entered incorrectly during re-keying. The Pocket PC application does everything for us."
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