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Using bar codes on student ID cards On-Tap Registers High Marks At Bentley College

Bentley College, located in Waltham, Massachusetts, uses bar code labels to make it faster and easier for students to register for courses twice a year. These labels, which are affixed to control cards, are used to identify both the individual students and the particular courses for which they are registering. The bar codes allow for rapid and accurate scanned data entry of student course registration into Bentley's administrative VAX computer system.

Until recently, the control cards were generated by Registration staff on the VAX system, and the bar code labels were generated by Information Services (IS) personnel on a separate PC. Since the data for both the student and course labels first had to be downloaded to the PC from the VAX, and then manually merged with the correct control cards, this process proved to be time consuming, costly, and error-prone. And since these functions were performed on a "time-permitting" basis, cycle times were longer than was desired. Even worse, the particular software used by IS to download data and generate the bar code labels is no longer a supported technology at Bentley. As a result, the application would have to be entirely rewritten.

With these factors in mind, Jim Proia, a Senior Systems Analyst at Bentley, undertook a thorough cost/benefit analysis for purchasing ISD's proven On-Tap/VMS software package and a new high-speed laser printer with the objective of migrating the bar code generation function directly to Bentley's administrative VAX system.

After completing his study, Jim recommended the purchase of On-Tap and the new laser printer based primarily on the following three benefits:First, On-Tap runs on the college's VAX system and can be called from any standard application - allowing bar coded documents to be generated using applications written in Bentley's standard programming language (hence eliminating future brushes with obsolescence). Secondly, the bar code applications are accessible directly to Registration Staff - eliminating the need to involve IS personnel. Thirdly, both the bar code labels and the control cards can be combined into a single application - saving time and money and minimizing errors. The highlights of Jim's cost analysis are as follows:

  • A labor reduction from $1,524 per run, to about $100 per run
  • A turnaround time reduced from over two weeks to under one week
  • A substitution of unsupported, obsolete technology with standard Bentley technology
  • A return on investment of 44% with a pay back period of 2.3 years

What's more, according to Jim, "Though these measures indicate an exceptional investment performance, when the On-Tap software and new laser printers are used for other applications on campus, their investment return will be magnified.


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