The NMW Charterhouse Ltd arm of NMW Computers Plc, which just slipped into losses, was recently at the Law Society outlining its future strategy to its customers. The company specialises in providing the legal sector with business management software for the AS/400 but slipping delivery dates for the Trial/400 product – featuring client and contact […]
The NMW Charterhouse Ltd arm of NMW Computers Plc, which just slipped into losses, was recently at the Law Society outlining its future strategy to its customers. The company specialises in providing the legal sector with business management software for the AS/400 but slipping delivery dates for the Trial/400 product – featuring client and contact databases, time recording facilities and financial control modules – has led to some disappointment among users in the past. The product has now shipped and the customer base appears content – a happy customer is particularly important to NMW as there is as yet no supplier with significant market share in this area. Furthermore, a Touche Ross survey among lawyers has established that around 75% of its sample felt that their computer systems lagged behind those of their clients. This is a serious competitive problem as firms with effective links for dialogue and document exchange have the advantage in winning new business, so the legal sector would appear to be ripe for systems houses. Within the NMW Charterhouse’s three-year product plan, Trial/400 is positioned as the high end product as the company is now preparing low end products for both the AS/400 E series and the RS/6000. Trial Entry for the RS/6000 is written in RPG, which led some unkind customers to suggest it was little more than an enhancement of Trial/36 rather than being a brand new product. Marketing director Roger Clark admitted that modules from Trial/36 had been used, but added that a marketing database had been added to the front end. Both Trial Entry products have identical functionality and share the same source code with prices for a Trial Entry turnkey system ranging from #10,000 to #45,000. By May 1994 the company is confident that full Trial/400 functionality will be available on the RS/6000 with the same set of code supporting data structures across both OS/400 and AIX files. Trial/400 is written in the AS/400-specific development environment Synon/2 and it is not clear how NMW Charterhouse plans to move the system over to AIX. Managing director Gordon Crawford refused to be drawn on how this technical feat would be accomplished but said that a couple of products were being evaluated for the job. Aside from moving to AIX, NMW Charterhouse is also moving into client-server by offering a Windows interface to Trial Entry and Trial/400. In the long term there will be a full client-server implementation of Trial/400 as Synon is releasing some new products in the first half of the year to facilitate this move. For example, with these new products the Trial/400 time entry module could be regenerated to run on the PS/2. However, the AS/400 will continue to be NMW Charterhouse’s premier environment and client-server modules will only be presented when requested by customers. There was much interest among the company’s customers as to whether the company would soon be changing its name to SCC NMW Charterhouse. For Birmingham-based Specialist Computer Holdings recently upped its stake in NMW Computers Plc to 24.2% – only 5% away from the point where it has to declare acquisition intentions (CI No 1,882). NMW Charterhouse did not think a name change was imminent but did announce a joint venture with Specialist Computer. NMW Charterhouse will source wide area networks of personal computers, word processing packages and printing functionality from Specialist to provide a front end office environment for its customers. Gordon Crawford expects that this three year product strategy will enable his company to grow from its current customer base of 60 to support 175 clients over the next five years.