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Case Study: Custom Software Development for Logan Labs

 
 
Oct/17/2017
  • Logan Labs - Soil Testing Laboratory

  • 8 Software Users

  • Data Collection and Reporting

Logan Labs is a soil testing company in Ohio that specializes in “analytical and consulting services to all areas of the agricultural community.” When Logan Labs first came to Pixis Software, it was using a Microsoft Access program, and while it worked, it required all of their data entry into tables. This was way too cumbersome and tedious. As Logan Labs found it was quickly outgrowing the functionality of its Microsoft Access program, it needed a brand new program for its data management, analytics and reporting. For this project, Susan, Logan Labs’ founder and director, found Pixis Software from a referral. Now, 10 years later, Logan Labs continues its partnership with Pixis Software and has completely moved beyond dependency on MS Access to a web application. “I like working with our account manager,” Susan said. “He gets us results and he gets them quickly.”

 

The Goal

Logan Labs collects roughly 50,000 soil samples a year at 12 parameters per sample. This means there are 600,000 data points that are reviewed and manipulated into reports every year.

Eight employees manage data in the system, including lab technicians completing the data entry from soil tests and supervisors reviewing the data and managing quality control. The software they use to manage this data they get from the field is incredibly important for data sorting and reporting. At the time Logan Labs connected with us, there simply weren’t any programs that could do what they needed.

Our goal was (and continues to be) to find a way to input, organize and analyze data from the soil samples in a way that was easy for lab technicians and supervisors to operate and didn’t take up a lot of their time.

 

The Solution

Converting MS Access Program to Web Application Using SQL

SoilReportExample.png

Understanding the company didn’t have a need for a full-time, internal IT department at their Ohio facility, Logan Labs hired us as their own external IT department. For this custom software build, we worked closely with Susan in person and remotely to make sure she got all of the features and accessibility she wanted out of the new system. We updated the user interface so the data input and management was not only easier, but foolproof for Logan Labs staff and made program web-based using SQL servers so it could be accessed remotely and host more robust features.

Automating as Much as We Could

Collecting large quantities of data from soil analysis, the new program needed to be able to sort out all of the data and convert it to the ideal units for reports that could then be printed and sent to Logan Lab’s customers.

Making It all Work Together

We created four different integrations to connect all of the machines Logan Labs uses to the system we built. These integrations act as bridges for communication between the data these machines collect and our analytics code.

Data is collected manually or imported from different pieces of machinery then ran through code we created to transform the data into relevant insights and meaninful analytics for Logan Labs employees and their clients. The code to generate a soil report is a mile long because there are so many different data points, calculations and formulas, but this solution took the calculators out of Logan Lab technicians hands and gave them the ability to input raw data and get out insights for their eight different types of reports.

“For every data rule that we have here, there are 20 exceptions,” said Susan. “So we have to report differently for each client and each exception.” Logan Lab’s Pixis Development team is continually creating new report templates to accommodate Logan Lab’s changing client needs.

Integrating Quickbooks to the New System

We also built a Quickbooks integration into the new system for Logan Labs. For the past 10 years, our system has tracked the not only the data collected and analyzed by the labs, but the physical soil samples from Logan Labs' clients. 

The custom program we created for them manages their information from the moment it comes into the office to the moment it goes back out.

With our Quickbooks integration, Logan Labs and its clients track soil samples from the moment it is received by the facility, logged into the system, sent to the lab, invoiced, tested and reported on. Thanks to our online portal clients can log in to see their soil sample analysis and Logan Labs can automate its invoices. 

 

The Benefits

Since working with Pixis Software to design a totally customized software solution, Logan Labs has greatly increased productivity allowing them grow significantly without hiring more admin staff.

With an out-of-the-box software package you don’t get the level of customization you get with a custom software development partner. With the work that Logan Labs does, there is always a new customer that wants something different. Sometimes they require different metrics. Sometimes they want a special type of report that is different from our standard.

These custom software solutions also give Susan peace of mind that no matter which lab tech inputs the data points to the system, the reports will be pulled using consistent metrics and formats.

Logan Labs' account manager monitors the system to make sure everything is working like it's supposed to behind the scenes as part of a monthly maintenance package - something not every software provider guarantees. “I think my favorite thing is that our account manager is just so accessible,” Susan said. “I mean, the follow up is always pretty immediate. If we have an issue it's addressed quickly.”

 


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Topics: Data Management, Custom Software Development, Reporting, Data Analysis, Case Study

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