Case Study: DSS Helps Fantasy Of Flight Museum Sales Take Off

Much as the Wright brothers struggled for years, cobbling together various parts to create the first airplane, Fantasy of Flight executives struggled for a long time with a hodgepodge of DOS-based POS systems that wouldn't communicate with each other and regularly lost critical data.

Then, in November 2001, POS at the museum took off forever. Fantasy of Flight executives purchased a Web-based ePOS system from Accpac International, a subsidiary of Best Software. With the help of solution provider Dynamic Software Solutions (DSS), Miami, the museum was able to quickly set up the new system and is now flying high.

>> Fantasy of Flight executives hired DSS to install the Accpac ePOS solution from scratch.

"Our entire approach to POS is better than we ever imagined it could be," said Becki Colding, director of accounting at the nonprofit museum. "Whereas before we lost track of critical data on a regular basis, we can now track every cent that comes through the front door all the way to the bank."

Many of the museum's 80 employees now use the ePOS system on five different terminals to sell everything from tickets to souvenirs. Museum data is more accurate than ever and, with the help of intermittent service from DSS and nearby tech support firms, employees can trace individual transactions over time.

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"At our facility, we have multiple users, and the Web-based interface is user-friendly and easy to train," Colding said. "No matter who uses the system, they know how to use it, and they know that if something is wrong they can fix it immediately without the data corrupting our entire database."

Colding joined the museum in 1999 and inherited two antiquated POS systems--SuperClerk and a DOS-based software from Accpac. The two systems struggled to communicate with each other. Uptime sagged. Data disappeared regularly. So in 2001, after two years of frustration, Colding decided to change things once and for all.

The move began with a brief request-for-proposal period and ended with the purchase of Accpac's new ePOS system. Fantasy of Flight hired DSS to install the solution from scratch, upgrading everything from back-end databases to the front-end terminals on the museum floor. Joan Alexander, vice president of DSS, said her company took its time with a three-phase installation so as not to rush the transition process.


"They wanted to get used to the system before they turned it on," Alexander said. "It was a huge change, and they wanted to take it slow."

A staggered implementation turned out to be the only option; data from the old systems was so unstable that DSS programmers struggled to find solid numbers to populate the new database. Other implementation challenges included training employees to understand the new inventory process--an endeavor that involved realtime inventory management tied to a new Windows 2000 server in the back office.

Accpac's Craig Downing, vice president of product management in the mid-

market division, described this approach as "highly unusual," but noted that the phased implementation allowed for greater flexibility down the road.

"One of the greatest advantages of ePOS is the fact that from an accounting perspective, you get a lot more insight into overall costs," said Downing, "Extra time for them meant extra flexibility and a better understanding of what was at stake."

Downing also said that the Fantasy of Flight installation was the first time ePOS had been used to sell tickets, but he stressed that the three-phase transition went off without a hitch.

Phase one included upgrading the back-office systems to the Accpac Advantage Series Enterprise Edition. Phase two focused on revamping the operations and inventory control systems, all with Accpac products. The last phase, completed in late 2002, included revamping the sales terminals with ePOS, which connects to the LAN and can be accessed by any standard Internet browser.

At Fantasy of Flight, ePOS has clearly taken off.