DFAS finds multifunction app

He said he didn't need a "killer piece of flowcharting software" that could
perform motion and simulation modeling. Instead, Guarino, an organizational development
consultant with the Defense Finance Accounting Service's Human Resources Office found what
he wanted in Micrografx Inc.'s ABC Flowcharter 4.0.


At DFAS, users analyze different functions with network and organizational charts,
checklists and other charts. Some of the service's re-engineering projects rely on
timelines, spokes and Venn diagrams.


For these diverse needs, ABC Flowcharter is a jack of all trades, Guarino said.
"There's probably better application software in the market, but it's a good value
overall. When the price dropped to about $100 [per copy for volume orders], I thought,
'This is a no-brainer.'"


DFAS bought the software from Micrografx of Richardson, Texas, in 1994 after
considering comparable products from companies such as Visio Corp. of Seattle.


"We put a heavy emphasis on value and low price," Guarino said.


The organization paid about $5,000 for 50 copies of the software, Guarino said. About
30 of the 25,000 employees frequently use it. DFAS users run ABC Flowcharter 4.0 under
Microsoft Windows 3.1 on 75-MHz PCs.


Initially, the biggest use was in two human resources re-engineering projects, but the
heaviest use now is flowcharts.


"I've discovered more about the product over time," Guarino said. "It
enables us to use data meaningfully by tracking cycle time and quantities."


For 32-bit Windows 95 and Windows NT 4.0 environments, Micrografx sells the ABC
Graphics Suite 2.0 including Flowcharter 7.0, Picture Publisher 7.0, Designer 7.0, Simply
3D and 30,000 pieces of clip art for $259 on the General Services Administration schedule
contract held by Comark Government and Education Sales Inc. of Gaithersburg, Md.


To run Flowcharter under NT or Win95, a user needs a PC with 16M of RAM, at least 30M
free on the hard drive, a VGA or better display and a CD-ROM drive.


For Windows 3.1 environments, the applications are priced at $299 each. Comark's GSA
schedule discounts Flowcharter 7.0 to $260.


Flowcharter's intelligent line routing prevents confusion in intricate charts by
inserting jumps in lines and around boxes. Lines do not go through boxes.


Users can color the insides or outsides of boxes and lines, and change the thickness of
lines and arrowheads. They can draw their own shapes as well as edit existing shapes. With
Windows Object Linking and Embedding 2.0 links, they can bring in information from charts,
Excel spreadsheets or Internet connections.


Other Micrografx military users include the Air National Guard, Army and Defense
Medical Resources Office.


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