Phil Hearn: Blogger, Writer & Founder of MRDC Software Ltd.

Using MRDCL as an engine within another system

Although MRDCL is a long-established market leader for processing survey data, using and creating variables and producing crosstabs, an increasing number of companies are using MRDCL as an engine within systems. Whether you have an online platform serving many customers or an internal system to process various steps of a specific project, MRDCL can be the right tool to embed.

About this blog article

This blog article will explain why MRDCL could be an ideal solution and briefly explain how to use MRDCL within your system. This will be followed by three case studies outlining how customers have successfully utilised the power of MRDCL to provide a better service or a more efficient system. But let’s start with why incorporating MRDCL into another software solution may be advantageous.

Reasons for embedding MRDCL in your platform

  1. Requirements growing

If you have ever been involved in project management, you will know that what is needed today may not be adequate tomorrow. Customers may want more. You may wish to shorten timescales or improve efficiencies. Indeed, you may risk losing a client if you cannot respond quickly to a new request. Software development is unlike many business tasks. Often, conceptually quite simple things can be difficult to add to a software solution. This is where MRDCL can make a huge difference when used as an engine.

  2. MRDCL does ‘everything’

Well, the first point is fine, but that doesn’t mean MRDCL will help. Except it does. MRDCL is unmatched when it comes to processing survey data, building variables, generating crosstabs or making calculations, allowing data to be available for other processes. Besides the comprehensiveness of MRDCL’s industrial strength software, it is packed with features and options. Adding something like one of the many variants of significance tests, calculating medians, or handling look-up tables of information is simple, as MRDCL already has all the tools you need and is ready to hook into.

  3. Reduced development times

Adding new system features can be slow and painful, particularly if you add features to an existing platform. Also, software development costs have increased significantly over recent years. A client using MRDCL as an engine recently added a new feature within two days when their internal estimate before using MRDCL was two people working for three months. And how often have software development timescales been underestimated? That three months may have become six months.

  4. Rapid testing time and deployment

Perhaps the most unexpected gain from using MRDCL as an engine is the reduced time spent on testing, fixing, re-testing and deployment. MRDCL is a tried and trusted tool for handling survey data, making it a reliable engine. This reduces the testing time as well as reducing the risk of bugs creeping into any system you have.

How does your system ‘talk’ to MRDCL?

We provide you with a Dynamic Link Library, generally referred to as a DLL. Your system sends commands to MRDCL’s DLL. MRDCL then returns the information you have requested. This might be the generation of a new variable, a crosstab, an SPSS file or some data in a particular format – or many other things. The DLL provides the information in the most convenient form to process in your platform or system and use or present it how you wish. It’s a simple process that has a proven track record.

Let’s now turn to three case studies illustrating how MRDCL can be embedded successfully and profitably.

Case Study 1: Embedding MRDCL in an online platform

Our client had an online data collection platform with basic tools for topline counts and basic crosstabs. As the data collection component of the platform improved, they were finding more and more requests for greater flexibility within the reporting part of the system. They added a charting component and more features to the crosstab part of the system. However, the more they added, the more clients demanded. In practice, some of their customer base was moving from data collection only to data collection through to reporting. Eventually, they incorporated MRDCL into their platform and could deliver improvements quickly and cost-effectively. As a trivial example, a client urgently needed the capability to rank percentages in descending order, leaving ‘others’ and ‘not stated’ at the bottom of a list – they could deliver this within 24 hours! However, much bigger tasks like handling hierarchical data efficiently have been implemented in a fraction of the time it would have taken.

Case Study 2: Automating reporting for a complex tracking study

Our client had a three-year contract to manage a complex monthly tracking study. The questionnaire had regular changes, with brands and sub-brands added from time to time and question additions and deletions. However, the process was complicated as variables that used look-up tables to classify customers under different usage and loyalty levels had to be generated, amongst other calculations. The results from the analysis had to be pushed into an automated reporting system that had been customised to meet the client’s needs. With MRDCL embedded in their system, it became possible to get from completed fieldwork to producing over 200 reports in about one hour. Initially, the operation had taken days to implement, with human errors being a nagging problem. The highly specific demands of the project meant that a bespoke system could be developed quickly while being agile enough to deal with questionnaire changes and evolving customer demands. A success story! In this case, there was no need to transfer data to an online dashboarding system, but that would have been an easy development to add.

Case Study 3: Automating an internal project management system

A client specialised in delivering a research package that was templated with various options. They had built a project management system to which clients could log in. They had automated the generation of an online questionnaire. The MRDCL DLL was then embedded in their system to take the survey data, generate some variables, produce crosstabs and reports and then deliver the key variables to an online dashboard platform. MRDCL was integrated into the project management system so clients could be alerted when reports were ready, allowing downloads or access to the dashboards. To clients of our client, they always assumed they were connected to one system. However, products were linked together underneath the project system for efficient processing.

Is MRDCL a white-label product?

One of the concerns that users of the MRDCL DLL have is whether there is evidence of MRDCL being used within the system. The answer to this is a big NO. We are happy to license MRDCL as a white-label product, such that users of the system have no knowledge that MRDCL is being used as an engine. We are willing to sign non-disclosure agreements to ensure that MRDCL is a truly white-labelled product.

Interested? More info?

This blog article may raise more questions than give you all the necessary answers. However, we are confident that, in most cases, you can embed MRDCL in your platform or system, making your development more efficient and giving you far more powerful capabilities. Contact us and let us understand your goals so we can advise on how to meet your needs successfully.